Issue of September 19, 2021
     
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The best and the worst of times

Because nearly all Filipinos live a wretched existence today, with only the corrupt and the dishonest having the fun of their lives, one wonders, was there ever a time when we were a happy people, not having to worry about poor or bad leadership, economic woes, and social gaps, with the crooked getting richer by the hour, while the honest are having a hard time trying to make both ends meet.

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Understandable that a plain housewife like Cory Aquino would upset a Bar topnotcher, a (supposed) war hero, a three-term congressman and a former Senate president, given all of Marcoses sins, but following the incumbencies of former presidents Erap Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino, and “Ang Butangero” Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos is beginning to look more like a political hero than a villain.

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I guess, having capsulized the country into a mini-Davao, “nakukuha lahat sa sigaw or pananakot” (pwera ang mga Intsik – sorry Chinese).

But when did it all start, when our choice for President was the lesser evil.

For example, a nervous Filipino people rallied behind the untested Noynoy Aquino fearing the return of a convicted plunderer.

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And although the voters preferred a woman with brains and brawn over a retired military general, the magic of computer technology hatched up in a hotel worth P300 million (this was in 1992), poor Miriam could only scream and scream some more.

Fernando Poe, Jr. didn’t call and say hello to Garci, and that one single call made by the other elected, another woman president.

And Duterte succeeded Aquino because the Filipino people were hoodwinked into believing that he was the man of the hour, Mighty Mouse come to save the day.

Little did the electorate know that it would be him that they needed to be saved from.

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But was there ever a time when the choice for president was between two good men?

It happened only once, and it would never happen again.

Elpidio Quirino, the sitting president, and his former Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, were the standard presidential bets of their respective political parties.

When Quirino was president, basic commodities, including rice, meat, fish, and veggies were within affordable range of the minimum wage earner.

Crime was minimal because the police were there to serve and protect, and citizens had great respect for the men in uniform.

Except for a younger brother to whom Quirino couldn’t say no, corruption was confined to only a few, like the senator who bragged, “What are we in power for?”

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The numbers game was localized, not nationwide like today. Drugs? An opium den in Chinatown exposed by newsman Isagani Yambot – no ice, no crack, no grass.

Illegal logging? Only in forest rich Mindanao.

But then and now, Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and smuggling continue unabated.

But mostly grease money, no disappearing 90 containers, no tax evasions in the millions or billions.

And while military generals didn’t exactly live poor, they didn’t have mansions, farms, game farms and mistresses.

No Euros for them.

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Magsaysay won over Quirino in the 1953 presidential elections largely because a CIA agent named James Lansdale was given blanket authority by Washington to ensure the victory of Magsaysay.

So, Lansdale concocted false stories of Quirino owning a gold chamberpot, had four golden bedposts.

In those days, presidents should be like Caesar’s wife – beyond suspicion.

It seems the U.S. government didn’t like Quirino’s nationalistic policies.

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When Magsaysay became president, the Americans felt betrayed because Magsaysay too had become a nationalist, and so he perished in a plane crash in 1957.

Now the Americans are disappointed with Duterte because of his leanings towards China.

But what gives with our president? Is he a Chinese pawn or is he playing with both the Americans and the Chinese?

Straightforward with the Chinese, he is wishy-washy with the Americans.

Goddamn you today, thank you white sir tomorrow.

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He is playing the same game in politics. He is deflecting flak from Sara so that when she declares, it will be with his blessings with Sara coming out squeaky clean.

Let’s hope Sara is more a Zimmerman than a Duterte – meaning kalmado, easy lang.

Gaya ng sinabi ko, ang babae magaling sa lalaki.

Si Ping, forced to good na. Si Leni – kunu-kuno pa. But once her ratings go up and financial help starts to trickle in, de-declare na ‘yan.

OK lang,magsabunotan sila. Sa dalawa, kay Sara na lang ako. Kitang-kita mo siya.

Si Leni, makunwari masyado. Actually, talo siya kay Bongbong, alam lahat yan, no matter what the courts say.

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The burial of Manuel Carantes will be on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m after lunch.

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