Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You must remember this, a kiss is still a...

the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."
--Rick Blaine (Casablanca)

Happy 33rd birthday, Martial Law. Argued by some as the best time we ever had. It should please them to know that the good times are back in fits and false starts that slowly become more confident incursions into someone else's legal rights: specifically someone "poor" or "inconveniently biased against the Administration" (Sedition, anyone? A justice secretary is so desperate to stamp it out he'd find it anywhere). Not quite Marcos's smiling martial law-- he could enforce it better thanks to the absence of the Internet and his stranglehold on the mainstream media-- but someone is likely trying to get us there.

In those days Marcos would publicly blame the communists for the bombings and sedition threats that his own men were carrying out. Remember that the "last straw" that broke Marcos's "tolerant" back had been then defense secretary Enrile's staging his own ambush (under Marcos's orders). He'd even drum up the Philippines's role as the United States' right arm against the Global Red Threat in an effort to get more funding from Uncle Sam. (Sidebar: you all know where that money went. )

The Commies at the time had only a few (30? I forget) men hiding out in the mountains with about as many rifles. When Marcos publicly made them his whipping boy, his goons started making inconveniently biased people disappear. People like farmers protesting the loss of their money in a government bank that was supposed to help that money grow (Hello? Hello, Danding?).

The painful irony is that Marcos would piss off so many people that they turned Commie Red in droves. He helped create the NPA we're still trying to get rid of now.

A new-made acquaintance of mine asked one night why we were "celebrating" this mess. I knew she wanted to forget what it was like in those days; so did my mom and pop. I didn't have the words-- too tired, too grateful for a roof over my head that night, too preoccupied with the dissolution of my relationship with a woman I will forever call Honey.

We weren't celebrating Martial Law. At least I'm not. But we have to remember. We as a people forgive and forget far too easily to learn from history. This is why we keep putting the same jerks back in office to push us around.

Getting rid of Gloria --any president-- isn't the end, it's just the beginning. But as a people we have yet to learn the meaning of the words "follow through."


I miss her so much. The night she broke it off with me for good ("There's someone else now; I'm not offering you hope." I told her I would wait) , all the clocks I could see in the houses I visited slowed down or stopped completely. So much was amiss but there was a feeling of hope that things would turn out better.

At the wake I attended, I ran into so many old friends from Los Baños that my heart was near to bursting. Here in this now-hallowed place, illuminated by a full moon, old friends who weren't on speaking terms had put aside their differences and were peaceably coexisting for the duration of their stay. Someone lent us a guitar and Coke and I sang to honor our pain and the loss of our loved ones (Coke for his mother, I for my wife-to-be). Also to celebrate the people we still had with us.

I spoke at Coke's mother's casket. Not to Coke's relatives but to her. The last time we'd seen each other we argued about where my life was supposed to go. She was right, but I had needed to make my mistakes at the time. I could swear she was listening, and giving me motherly encouragement untainted by the insecurities and fears that plagued the living.

There was magic that night. The kind that soothed. It was like living in a Dragonlance novel, the kind penned by Weis and Hickman, the kind that spoke about how everything and everyone fit in some divine tapestry.

I saw butterflies the following morning. One lingered near me and flew away, flying above the sidewalk pavement, moving along the path it made faster than I could follow.

Honey, I miss you so much.

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