POSTSCRIPT / January 2, 2022 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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For auld lang syne, hold on to old ways?

“SHOULD auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”

Traced to an old Scottish folk song, “Auld lang syne” is sung traditionally to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, sometimes also as an expression of fond thoughts of the recent past.

We are already on the second day of the New Year, yet some of us still have not felt that a new one has sneaked in. The more we try walking away from the shadow of the old year, the closer our past seems to gain on us.

Some of us remain trapped in our old selves either by choice, out of ignorance, or by force of circumstances. A number of people think they are staying within their accustomed comfort zones but are actually holding on to an old crutch “for auld lang syne”.

Btw, for ambience as we write this, we’re listening to British pop singer Rod Stewart’s rendition of Auld Lang Syne at Stirling Castle. The recording was an oldie given us by Chinoy colleague Virgilio Tung who covered City Hall with us decades ago.

Every year, pre-Christmas surveys show a huge majority of Filipinos rising above difficult times to tell pollsters that they face the coming year with hope. Ever sentimental, the hardy Filipino is also an incurable optimist.

This yearend is no exception. Some 93 percent of 1,440 adults polled in a nationwide survey last Dec. 12-16 by the Social Weather Stations said they were welcoming 2022 with hope despite the dismal economic situation on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remaining seven percent of the respondents said they were entering the new year with fear. The SWS did not say what exactly they were afraid of, assuming it had asked them.

Not belonging to either the 93 percent optimistic or the seven percent pessimistic group, I count myself among those who are standing by to “wait and see” what 2022, which happens to be an election year, would bring.

The 93 percent in December 2021 welcoming the New Year with hope is not statistically significant compared to the 91 percent at the end of 2020, the SWS said. But both figures were below the 96 percent toward the end of 2019 before the pandemic broke out.

The optimism this time was buoyed likely by Christmas being in the air coupled with the increased spending stimulated by the election campaign. Despite the pandemic, these economic factors kindled a kind of false prosperity fanned by the increase in the money supply circulating.

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WE trust the younger generation taking over the reins of business and political structures. But they deserve an honest account of the Marcos martial rule chapter of contemporary history before it is rewritten and stripped of truthful content and context.

Voters must have a firmer handle on election issues that are now being manipulated by the best propagandists that the fabled gold hoard could buy.

There has been an “iwas, hugas” washing of the hands that were stained during the looting of the treasury and the hounding of political foes, and the courting of critics to help make for a softer landing of the heir to the lost throne.

With the systematic revision of records of the corruption, torture and killings, the younger generation is made to see only a stage washed of the marks of plunder and persecution to prepare it for the total reconstruction of the dictator’s family name.

We continue to be amazed by Filipinos’ willingness to gloss over Guinness record-setting plunder and inhumane treatment of political foes and critics of the late dictator whose son and namesake now presumes to seek the presidency in the May 2022 national elections.

No wonder, some victims and survivors of the unlamented martial rule are asking – while the revisionism and the election campaign run parallel to each other – Will 2022 see “pagbabago o panggagago”?

The serious voter asks if optimism, or self-delusion, could deliver a better life for most of us, or sink us deeper into the morass of last year’s double whammy of an economic decline and a pandemic?

 LGU tolerates rich squatter

SOME 35 years after we threw off the yoke of a corrupt and cruel dictatorship, sending the strongman fleeing into exile, it seems we are back to square one asking the same basic questions about life, liberty, and justice and a Filipino’s right to enjoy his constitutional rights.

Here we are again at the threshold of another year uncertain if we will be able to move closer toward balancing the scale of justice that is upset sometimes by the usual employ of wealth and power.

For instance, will I have this personal problem resolved in my lifetime? I own a one-hectare lakeshore property in Pililla, Rizal, where a big businessman has built and continues to expand a restaurant complex without getting my consent and signing a contract with me.

In court, he admits the validity of my title. Yet for the past 10 years, he has refused to pay rent although he derives substantial revenue from his thriving business while I who hold title to the land dutifully pay the realty taxes. Is this just?

For some strange reasons, local officials have been tolerating and rewarding the irregularity by issuing business and other permits year after year for his business despite his having no contract with me, the owner of the land where he squats.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 2, 2022)

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