POSTSCRIPT / January 1, 2009 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Madam President, we don’t feel safe…

FOREVER HOPING: Pollsters say that 92 percent of Filipinos, at least the few hundreds who were asked, claim to be optimistic about the incoming year. That is typically Pinoy, perpetually plodding on despite the lashing of cruel winds.

But really, what else can Juan Pasang Krus who has neither wealth nor power do except hope for something better? In some desperate cases, self-hypnosis may work.

Many of us now live in fear — fear of losing one’s job and running out of food, of the roof caving in, of one’s kids getting into trouble, of getting sick and being zapped by a huge bill, of getting in the way of swaggering politicians and their cohorts, of being cut down by a stray bullet.

Now I am afraid even when driving on EDSA. I normally refuse to give way to arrogant officials who zigzag through traffic with motorcycle escorts and security vans (with rifles sticking out the window).

It just occurred to me: What if an overzealous bodyguard fires at me?

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HORROR STORY: Nobody is safe anywhere anymore. Look what happened to golfers the day after Christmas at the supposedly sedate Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City as narrated by golfer Bambee dela Paz:

“My brother and I are playing golf at the South Course of Valley. We are on the 3rd hole, and we see two golf carts going past us, overtaking our flight, and setting up to tee off on the next hole. My dad goes up to them and asks why they would do that, why they would overtake us without even asking our permission. Golf etiquette 101.

“One of the guys says that they’re with the flight in front of us. (That doesn’t give them the right to just pass us WITHOUT asking.) So, we go to the 5th hole. The flight behind us catches up with us, and asks what caused the hold up. We say that this flight just slipped in front of our flight.

“So we complain to the marshall. We play the 5th hole and walk towards the next hole, where there is a teehouse. Both the flights in front of us are there, talking with the marshall.

“Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr. of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur, talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices are raised. He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe two or three of them, rush to his aid and beat up my 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I rush to break the fight.

“My brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it, to not hurt my dad. His words still ring through my head… ‘Sorry na po, sorry na po…tama na…tama na po…’ with his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defends himself.

“My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There are four or five of them attacking now.

“Someone breaks up the fight. The mayor shouts to his caddy: ‘Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!’ And believe me, I had no idea who this person was. But now I know. He’s the person who, with four other men, beat up my 56-year-old father and socks a pleading 14-year-old kid in the face.

“I lash out, but my dad holds me back. I am screaming, shouting to this mayor: ‘Nakakahiya kayo! Singkwenta’y sais anyos ang tatay ko. Ang kapatid ko kakatorse anyos. Anong ilalaban nila sayo?’ 

“The mayor looks at my brother, points to his face, and says: ‘Tatandaan kita!’

“We leave. We walk to the clubhouse to file a complaint. My brother asks for a doctor. My dad can barely walk. Their group comes to the clubhouse, sees my brother. Once again my brother pleads, says sorry, and is crying. But no. The relentless mayor still punches him in the face, and then sees my dad and goes after my dad again.

“He and his friend pull my dad to the ground, pulls at his feet, and steps on him like he’s dirt. I run to him and try to hold him back, holding him back by his shirt, while this other guy and this girl try to stop me. I pull at his shirt. I didn’t even see my brother getting beat up.

“People pull them away. I get my dad, and I see my brother. His right ear is bleeding. I freak out. People are separating us.

“My mom and my older brother come. I tell her Bino’s right ear is bleeding. They both look like they could kill. My dad holds my brother off, I hold off my mom. Two of the mayor’s bodyguards pull out guns. I embrace my brother from the back, just holding him back, crying.

“The receptionists comes to us, crying, hugging me, my dad, and my mom, whispering to us to just leave. ‘Ma’am, umalis na po kayo, may mga baril sila… Ma’am…umalis na po kayo please….’

“Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman just watched all this happen. He watched two of his sons beat up my father and my 14-year-old brother. He didn’t do anything to stop it. And this person is now what? A Cabinet member. A politician!”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 1, 2009)

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