Just as we learn more about Filipinos getting rich off other Filipinos, we also learn about even more Filipinos who’ve done more for their fellow Filipinos and continue to do so without expecting anything in return.
For the past few days, the extent of corruption exposed in the news has filled Filipinos with varying degrees of outrage and it had been further stoked with the floods in Manila and the tragic collision of two vessels at night despite generally calm weather.
The scenes of suffering contrast sharply with the obscene displays of wealth in the leaked video on the birthday celebration of Janet Napoles’s daughter and the photos of her 30 mansions (that includes both houses of Congress as one wisecrack said).
The twin tragedies served to mirror what is best and worst about the Filipino. That they both happened days ahead of the anniversary of the assassination of senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino shows just how far we’ve come together as a country and how far ahead we have to go to achieve true unity.
While government officials blabber on for and against the abolition of the pork barrel, we see Filipinos giving more of themselves by helping out neighbors or even strangers, either by rescuing them from the floodwaters or donating cash and kind to the flood victims.
While we see the grieving families of loved ones who perished in the sea that Friday night because of costly human error, we also see ordinary Cebuanos working the phones, contributing human hair or chicken feathers in order to stem the tide of the worsening oil spill.
They are joined by other Cebuanos and foreigners who’ve volunteered to plumb the depths of the sea to salvage and retrieve bodies of passengers trapped in the sunken vessel, never losing hope and never giving up despite adverse weather conditions and scarce resources.
These are the same Filipinos who, for want of an outlet to ventilate their frustration and anger at the corruption and the criminal negligence of their elected officials and profit-driven company owners, may join next week’s march rally to denounce the manipulations and theft of hard-earned taxpayers’ money and demand accountability from those they’ve elected to office and even those to whom they’ve paid and expected safe, quality service.
Their voices may or may not be heard. But it’s the people’s right to demand accountability either through protests or court actions. What people are after are not only pledges of reform, but concrete results that address their grievances.
For starters, that means detaining, prosecuting and jailing those who’ve betrayed their country and fellow Filipinos.