By Orlando Ali M. Mandane Jr., Ph. D
University of San Carlos
I write this article as a reply to my colleague, perhaps not only to stimulate discussion but also to help find that solution wherever it lurks. I agree with Ryan Maboloc with regards to a possible hopeless scenario: at the end of the day JDV and GMA will savor their comfortable life served in china—pun intended. And, I agree that a common tao may wake up and ask: "unsa ug asa ko mangita ug pamahaw para sa akong lima ka anak?" (Loosely: where can I find breakfast for my five kids?) I disagree to his interpretation.
True enough, a poor man’s concern is food to eat; he needs to put something on the table for his kids, for his loved ones. But there is in that search for food something that need not be said but ought to be remembered; there is in that search for food no manna from the senate can give but only evoke. And that something is the key for what we can do.
You analyse a poor man’s putting food on the table, you will find the solution to the current crisis, a solution and basis for political action. Perhaps, I can do a reality check. A kargador (baggage helper) in Carbon market, for example, may smoke to death, may drown himself in mestiza, or may enjoy the sensual pleasure of Angel Locsin’s mirage. Perhaps, he may have, what you may call, some human flaws. But when a kargador in Carbon carries goods for the sake of putting food on the table, his concern is not only the end of putting buwad (dried fish) and puso (rice) on the table; his concern is not only that he provides them but that he also procures them with dignity and truth—that he provides them with moral ascendancy, that he can look straight into the eyes of his kids and wife and assure them that no matter how materially deprived they have become—perhaps because of other’s immoderate greed—they can be proud of themselves.
You exclude this element in a kargador’s attempt at providing necessities for his family, you miss the most important element why he prefers to be a kargador than a snatcher, or a thug—or worse, a Malacanang lapdog. You ignore this moral element in a poor man’s attempt at providing “Atami” or “Quick Chow”, you take away every bit of dignity that he has. You take away this moral decency in his providing food for his family, you reduce him to a robber. You exclude this element, you take away every bit of dignity in a teacher, doctor, religious, academic, lawyer, priest, nurse, or janitor. You exclude this element, you take away everything human in him, everything Bicolano or Davaeno, and everything Filipino.
Ryan means well when he claims that no solution can be had for now. And I agree that there is no holistic solution now. But we can also offer some solutions now as a part of the search for holistic solution.
True, you ask a poor man to take part in the political action he may fear what awaits him tomorrow. But it’s no reason enough to exclude him from political action; and his inability to actively participate need not be an alibi for others to do the same.
This brings me to sowing the solution, to sowing the basis for political action. In several parts of the country now, discussions are being held among students, religious, professionals, academics, lawyers, priests, youth, etc. Everyone can participate; everyone is “free” to make this “life worth living.” We can begin by showing in these forums what a kargador has that “immoderate greed” has erased in others; we can show what a kargador has that congenital lies have blurred others credulity. There in these forums we can see the light of political action.
What he cannot do; we can do. What he does not show, we can show. We can make him an example. We can make him a model—never mind if he is not a bishop; never mind if he is not a president.