POSTSCRIPT / December 18, 2003 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Lazy voters must share blame for list-up mess

RELIVING THE PAST: If you have time this Christmas vacation, drop by Intramuros and allow yourself to be carried back in time to our historical past by the hour-long “Intramuros and Rizal Light and Sound Museum” presentation of the tourism office.

Two years in the making, the museum-show is a review of Philippine history in lights and sounds. It affords both Filipinos and foreign visitors a crash course on our past as a people, highlighting how our forebears lived, loved and fought colonizers.

The show is for free. Its presentation is via life-size diorama in a 1,800-square-meter setting. There’s nothing like it in the country.

“You will be awed by what you see because they are so real,” Tourism Secretary Dick Gordon said. “This feast for the senses gives you a feel how it must have felt during those times.”

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DAILY SHOWS: You can catch it 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. from Monday through Friday at the former Beaterio de Colegio at Sta. Lucia corner Victoria Sts. near Baluartino de San Diego in the Walled City. On Saturday and Sunday, it runs from 10 a.m. to midnight.

The museum ground floor portrays the colonization of the Philippines by Spain. The second floor is devoted to the Filipinos’ fight for independence.

Children who have been exposed to cartoon heroes would be mesmerized by a Lapu-Lapu gallantly standing against Magellan. They can almost find themselves attending the first Mass in the Philippines and witnessing the famous Blood Compact.

How would you feel being inside a Spanish galleon? You almost smell the musty wooden planks and barrels. You are transported to the past watching mechanized mannequins play the roles of ship officers and crew.

The figures of the Gomburza — the martyred native priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora — are so lifelike, as are Rizal’s characters Sisa, Maria Clara and others in his novel “Noli Me Tangere.”

Reflecting our colorful history, the show is dotted with scenes of uprisings led by Gabriela Silang and Andres Bonifacio. Rizal’s charitable work in Dapitan is also shown.

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PINOY-MADE: All the moving mannequins are Philippine-made. Although foreigners helped in the conceptualization, the museum pieces were created by Filipinos sculptors, painters, carpenters, robotics experts and costume designers.

Among them were around 30 artists from Paete, the Laguna town noted for its wood sculptors. They carved the figures, which were then fabricated in fiberglass to build in the mechanisms. The workmanship is remarkable.

A proud Gordon beams: “I assure you, when you’ve seen this one, your one hour shall not have been wasted.”

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NOISE POLLUTION: The fly in Gordon’s ointment is a bar-restaurant that has squeezed itself into the touristic attractions of WOW Philippines.

Long-time residents have been complaining that the entertainment joint blares deafening noise (music?) deep into the night. They lament that the Intramuros Administration, which is mandated to keep the peace, sides with the intruder.

In response to the complaints, Gordon acted to remove the tiangge eyesore in the area and tone down the noise. But the bar-resto operator reportedly turned up the volume with vengeance whenever Gordon was not looking.

Maintaining peace and order is actually the responsibility of the Intramuros Administration, not Gordon’s, but it seems the tourism department’s mannequins move faster than IA officials.

Since the IA appears unable to do its job, it would be wise for Congress to repeal the Marcosian decree placing the Walled City under the IA. Jurisdiction over the historic site should revert to the city government of Manila.

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REGISTRATION NOTES: Judging from feedback streaming into our email inbox and our text facility, Postscript readers are split over the reported confusion that had marred the just concluded revalidation of registration of voters.

We said last time that we did not see the Commission on Elections showing enough concern and action in maximizing the number of voters registering for the May 2004 elections.

The resulting disenfranchisement of a great number of voters does not contribute to ensuring credible elections. We hope electoral disputes in May will not erupt into civil strife.

One reader, Dr. Manolo Cristi, had a more balanced view. He said in his text message: “Both the Comelec and the voters are remiss in their duties. The Comelec for lack of info and the voters for their mañana habit.” Postscript agrees.

Another reader, coded by the cellphone company as HYT704, said: “Registration or validation of voters rated 0 percent. My household has five registered voters. Only one validated due to office time. Let’s use the old system.”

Reader Tes Flores said: “Five of us 25 years Makati residents went to revalidate in new register but long lines, unposted requirements and change of venue prevented us three times.”

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POSITIVE REPORT: But Leah Macaspac of the GHD (an Australia-based multidiscipline consultancy firm) office in Makati has a more positive report:

“I went to the Comelec office in Quezon City hall on Nov. 15 for my validation. I was expecting it to last the whole day so I arrived early. I was quite surprised that it only lasted for a few minutes. I gave my validation forms, waited for my turn on the data capturing machines, then they took my picture and fingerprints. It was all over in 20 minutes!

“I was so glad that I encouraged my relatives and friends to go and validate their registration. My mother”s validation was even shorter, and that was already in the afternoon.

“As for the lack of information dissemination, I don’t know in other places, but our neighborhood has posters that tell us the deadline of the validation. That’s how I learned about it. Voters should also have the initiative to find out when is the deadline if that information is not readily available.

“I asked the Comelec people, who were mostly young by the way, why there weren’t many people. They told me they think it’s because Filipinos are used to doing things at the last minute.

“Lastly, I don’t think it’s biased versus workers because they were open during weekends. Working people can validate on Saturdays and Sundays.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 18, 2003)

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