June 23, 2018, 10:37 am
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Losing focus

WHY do I feel that we are at a point in our history where we are at our most divided, maybe since the Martial Law years and the five years immediately after EDSA?

Maybe social media magnifies things but it seems to me that society is so “truly, madly and deeply” polarized. The main division is on the question of whether you are supportive of or opposed to the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, where being someone in the middle and opting to be selective in one’s supper and/or opposition is hard to defend to the partisans of either side.

From this main question follow so many others, on issues that matter to the President – the drug war – how it is being carried out and what its results are; the moves to amend the Constitution; the issue of our national territory and the related issue of foreign relations; as well as the issue of language, civility and “right conduct” exemplified by the words the President speaks. These are all intertwined but each issue is like a pinprick, or a hot potato that leaves people burned one way or the other.

Issues on which not just friends but even families divide, and sometimes divide in a manner that is most painful to witness when seen by an outsider.

The more I read up on the division, listen to and sometimes even engage in the argumentation, or watch the division played out in the news every day, the more I am worried that we are losing focus on what matters most especially at this crucial juncture in our history.

No matter how controversial Rodrigo Duterte is as president, it is the controversial nature of his term that should make it a perfect moment to take a step back, accompany it with a deep breath, and ask ourselves – what do we expect from our country, and what should it expect from us?

Too often we only ask one of the two questions, and it is the first: what do we expect from our country? But it is a question the answers to which should be clear, and generalized in two words: opportunity and security.

The other half of the equation is the question far less often asked: what can the country expect from us? Think about it: what will your answers be?

Last week I drove home to my father’s hometown in Laguna so I could pay my cedula. I’ve been doing this for years, as far as I remember from the time I started working with Don Enrique Zobel in 1988 and all throughout the time I was with the Coca-Cola Export Corporation. This time as an employee of Nickel Asia I had my ITR in hand so I could pay my cedula based on my income – as the law requires, yes?

But how many of us pay for a cedula based on the lowest possible amount – which used to be P50 if I am not mistaken, or is it P5? Now if the law requires that a cedula is paid based on our Income, why don’t we?

Maybe it’s because the law requiring the Cedula isn’t a law we want to or need to comply with? With lawyers preferring to use your passport details in an affidavit rather than your Cedula number, why do we keep the law and the cedula in existence? In the hope of a future Bonifacio-like dramatic moment?

At the same time, it remains the law. And so it has to be followed. So we follow, yes?

Or is it one of those laws honored in the breach? And if it is one of them, why do we wonder why our country isn’t what we expect it to be?

It has been my deepest wish that amid all be bickering that fills Social media spaces, some of us would come together and provoke a discussion on what should be our more basic considerations: what do we expect from our country and what could it expect from us? We have to be clear about these otherwise our bickering will only create deep wounds and ugly scars and yet not result in the building of something better.
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