POSTSCRIPT / July 1, 1999 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A kid should blurt out: Erap has no clothes on!

THERE was only a sorry sprinkling of teenagers who responded to the Postscript survey on the first year of the Estrada administration. We were groping for an explanation when an email from “criosdan KM” came purporting to explain it.

We wonder what the young think of his thesis:

“Your other reader was quite right when he said that he was not that disappointed since he wasn’t expecting anything from an actor’s administration. Once you don’t bring your hopes up, there’s nothing to shatter.

“I was among those who volunteered for the ABS-CBN’s Halalan ‘98 coverage. When I saw what was happening, I was not a bit surprised. Actually, there was no initial or final emotion from me. Estrada won, so what? It was expected. Everyone knew what was going to happen. It was inevitable.

“The question in the upper and middle classes’ minds was ‘What country can we stay in for six years?’ Sad to note though, we are stuck here.

* * *

“I’M 20 years old. Still I consider myself part of the generation that is already adult but has not gotten the hang of it yet. No teenagers in their right mind will respond to your column because they do not care. Just like the 20-25 generation that also does not care. We have had enough lies and deception in movies that real life politics bore us.

“The Estrada administration is something we don’t want to talk or think about. At the end of my generation’s day, we watch TV or surf the Net. We do not sit and grumble about how obvious the President is in making a fool of the people.

“Yes he is doing what he can to make the country better. Yes he lies and deceives, but who doesn’t? The only problem with him is that he does not give a damn about what the people think. He does what he does because he wants to do it. He says what he wants to say because he wants to say it. And frankly, it’s pretty funny. The boring circus before is now a wonderful splash island ride.

“Everyone in the 30’s and above is on his toes tiptoeing behind Erap, hoping to get on his good side but at the same time slowly nibbling at his head hoping it would just drop and roll to death. Others, well, they try. They try really hard to make a difference to change his mind, but to no avail. They should know better than to confront a man like that. Think, think, think. Use your manipulative brain.

* * *

“POLITICIANS, lobbyists, media and the teens… You know who is the happiest? The teens. Not because they don’t have anything to worry about or because they’re still supported by their parents or because they’re not adults yet, but because they know what’s happening, they see what’s happening, they hear what’s happening and they know the solution.

“The problem is that everyone thinks he doesn’t know anything when in fact, he has the answers to the Estrada administration. It is as simple as the story of the vain emperor who paraded the streets with no clothes on thinking that he was wearing a fine robe.

“The kid saw what others tried not to see. And that is what my dear elders are doing now – playing blind.”

* * *

WE had a good laugh browsing through the papers yesterday, especially their bulging special supplements on the supposedly monumental achievements of the Estrada administration in its first year.

Adding to the fun was the sidebar that the Social Weather Stations has produced on cue a survey showing that the Estrada administration’s public approval rating had soared to a dizzying 77 percent, which happens to be a Marcosian lucky number.

Looking again at the results of our own survey of Postscript readers, we are at a loss trying to bridge the yawning gap between the SWS’s 77-percent approval rating and our readers’ resounding 99-percent rejection of President Estrada.

One ready explanation is that our universe consisted of readers who were mostly upper middle class, although there was a scattering of plain folk. But we pointed out this point from the very beginning, mentioning that most of our respondents read newspapers and had access to a computer with Internet connection.

One reasonable conclusion is that, as the head of our last column said, Erap has to mend fences with the upper middle class. Maybe he should ask me to assemble a personal computer for him so he could – no, not play online casino games – join the lively exchange in cyberspace.

* * *

“ARE you the same Federico Pascual of GSIS,” a distraught reader asked, “who’s planning to sell the GSIS property near Philcoa to Ayala Land to build a 30 to 40-storey-high condo and shopping mall?”

The reader, who works with the Asian Development Bank, explained her concern: “I live in Teachers Village (just outside UP Diliman). I like the place. It is within the city, but it maintains its serenity because there are no tall buildings around. Allowing Ayala Land to build a tall edifice will destroy the environment and eventually the character of the place. Please do not allow Ayala Land to rake in more profits at the expense of the environment.”

Unfortunately for the reader, I am not the Pascual she mentioned who has the power – and I would say the duty – to stop the deal. “I’m not him, but if I were him,” we told the reader, “I would not think of congesting open spaces, erecting buildings where trees now stand, defacing nature…”

* * *

ONE could get into trouble on account of his name. There was this businessman who contacted us days ago. His problem: Somebody with the same name sent Postscript a survey comment critical of the Estrada administration and we published it. Now, he’s afraid the hounds, wiretaps and all, would go after him.

We assured him that if he really were not the same person who responded to the survey, he would be safe. If you noticed, we told him, we did not publish the addresses of the respondents so there is no way the hounds could pin them down.

There was another reader who complained that his wife had used his name and email address to send Postscript a long comment that the Estrada administration might resent and use to ruin his business. We advised him to talk to his wife, and consider changing his password.

We don’t know if their fears are symptomatic of the mistrust that many people have of some police operators of President Estrada.

* * *

STILL on confusion over names: There was this provincial scribe who had wanted to write a column for the mainstream Manila press. So he started whispering to a key executive of a paper I was working with (during the last presidential campaign) that I was with the inner circle of the Erap crowd.

Sure enough, a certain Federico Pascual was being mentioned then as one of the heavies in the Erap think tank. Since not everybody who runs a newspaper is that discerning, the scribe succeeded in tagging me as an Erap adviser on account of my name.

But his intrigues have paid off handsomely. He has been rewarded with a regular column in that paper, finally fulfilling his boyhood dream. Maybe I should be happy for him.

* * *

WHILE reeling from the unconscionable increase in the toll rates at the South Superhighway, listen to this report of reader Vic Bonus:

“Last Tuesday night, June 22, there was a monstrous traffic at the South Superhighway. This was caused by heavy flooding at the same points that were supposed to have been addressed by the PNCC and Hutama Rsea in their recently completed upgrading project of the Bicutan to Alabang segments.

“Obviously, the drainage works undertaken, which along with the asphalt overlay and the refurbished toll plaza is being used to justify the 520-percent increase in toll rates for the segment, did not function as desired.

“Those who used the Skyway that night and paid P30 are thankful for having been given parking space for their vehicles (for hours) at a safe, elevated level that could not be reached by floodwater. The floodwaters at ground level were so high that light vehicles had to stop (and block the traffic) to prevent damage to them.

“Considering that parking cost in Makati is at P25 per hour, what became in effect a P30 parking fee on the Skyway was not too bad, after all. Frayed nerves, gasoline cost and man-hours wasted were the result. It may be time to ask for a refund.

“My neighbors and I will be pleased if you can call the attention of Mr. Vigilar, who is chairman of PNCC and head of the Toll Regulatory Board and the PNCC management to this engineering, management or maintenance failure.”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 1, 1999)

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