The writer must suffer solitude and society, sometimes in turns, sometimes simultaneously, but always both even if she denies one or the other.

That Friday of the first mass-up at Ayala caught me by surprise. I was in a bus from Los Banos to Makati and the conductor tuned the TV to news. They came in like hold-uppers: footage of the ongoing rally, the face of Susan Roces, the lapse of judgment “apology” of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her call against our “the dangerous pattern” of disregarding the constitutional process. One of my aesthetic options was to pray.


Object of Revelations
Pray for us
Mother Most Apologetic
Pray for us
Child of the Dangerous Pattern
Pray for us
Champion of the Constitution
Pray for us
Defender of the Nation and Its Laws
Pray for us
Pray for us
Upholder of Truth in all Its Manifestations
Pray for us
Reviler of the Dangerous Pattern
Pray for us
Mole Above All
Pray for us
Word Made Flesh
Pay for us

The gall of this person to talk of dangerous patterns! What of the “constitutionality” of “Hello Garci?” What of the lethal leitmotif of presidents singing the high note against traditional politicians and personality politics while negotiating votes in the soundproofed backroom?

I had to visit an Internet station before walking home to get my facts straight and ask people what they thought of everything. It was my weekend and all I looked forward to was time with my family. But I ate to the tune of media hyping everything their way, and her excellency’s excellent voice droning on. Maybe hypnosis would succeed where apology failed? I ate much less than I needed and much more than I wanted.

For a Healthy Constitution

Ate Glow, Go! Grow
wise with our years
and pick – for peace –
a deep blue dress,
royal and true.

Ate Glow, Grow. Go
shake the right hands,
shake the hands left-
over and then
make that good call.

Grow, Ate Glow. Go
give us PR.
Grow in the dark
mother-pearl teeth
for all our sakes.

Go, Ate Glow, Grow.
Up that ante,
raise them stakes high!
Then take us, take
us right down them.

Go Grow, Ate. Glow
red as hunger.
We’re not just votes;
we can take you
down, count on it.

Then, my countrymen spoke. I found comfort in some sentiments. Even when outrage became moot and academic in front of the camera, there was a soundwave of solidarity that flowed between people who wanted to do something or have something done to right a wrong. Even if that wrong wore the presidential seal for her underwear.

There were responses I chewed but couldn’t bring myself to swallow. For example, some agreed that something downright stunk but didn’t want their share of justice because of one or more of these three reasons.
a) she’s not the only president who ever cheated,
b) nobody favorable could take her place, and
c) the economy couldn’t take the crisis.

Could I be blamed for keeping some silence, some cheap sanctuary, and approach oracles for grand answers or a tinge of sense? So I took in more of the religious opium. The altered state of communion just might yield answers that would lead to justice. For hours, I burned sacrifice on an abbatoir altar. Then, a prayer came upon me–not in the form of a dove–but with the flaming tongues of pigs.

The Instrumental Prayer of Somebody who Cared Deeply for Animals Before One Went Ahead and Became President

Maker, there’s someone we want You to meet.
So before You make us Your love or Your Pardon,
please craft us into Your wrath. And a pillar
of fire will go a long, long way if we are ever
to become Your joy.
Do You hear the cry
for her supreme sacrifice? That’s not a proper
way for the most proper lady to go,
Her eyes down on us, head held high?
Million votes bought, wham! bam! and we thank
this Madame? Dear Providence we’re kneeling on
a great stone, but grant that we could pitch it.
That is, if You won’t have the pleasure. No,
our hands aren’t clean,
but we know priests
with sacred detergent; they’ll clean us up good right
after, for a fee, of course. We bear true
witness that she’s got enough cassocks and
incense, dear Lord, to mount a show.
Oh, we sound
like a legion; so fine, Master, draw us
out from the pure people and cast us
out to possess such swine.
You’ve got a good hand
so kindly hurl us like a stone, high then deep,
but kindly refrain from taking too much of Your time,
agonizing over it;
it will positively pain us
to see you troubled when there’s no trouble. All
we want is for You to meet somebody, and we dare-
say that of all your mysterious ways,
Good Teacher, the one finely fitting her is down,
way down. Head first. Amen.

That I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console, I kept away from the influence of friends who would justify the stance of apathy as if it were the latest fashion. Retro, man. I don’t seek to be understood, but don’t put me through understanding this presidential poser, this phony who I know now stands to cheat us out of our sympathies as she did our hearts. How could she do this? She’s not even charismatic!

Justice first. Then I’ll understand her.

Let justice be done though the heavens fall, an ancient said. Allow me to reply to the aforementioned three replies in this fashion.
a) Let justice be done though it was not done unto others.
b) Let justice be done though the vice can’t take it.
c) Let justice be done though the economy falls.

A person must enjoy solitude and society, sometimes in turns, sometimes simultaneously, but always both even if she loves one or the other more. There’s comfort in numbers, yes. Who denies it has not felt the electricity of becoming of one mind with her barkada. Or with a throng.

But there is strength in keeping to the right thing even versus public opinion. Maybe one among many knows this. She is the kind of person I crave for; she, despite the poor taste of others. It is in this true individual that I want to establish hope. It is for her and her future that I work and write and eat and pray. But it is her existence–her sacred, fragile, critical mind–that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (and those who shares the country with her) endangers.

Head Count

A bleeding land, cows rotting,
and stillborns we would have had
had this been Greek. A bleeding

river, shattered calves of gold,
and promptly felled firstborns, had
this been from Jews recalled.

This is Filipino, so
no less than the head must roll
or we’re better off below

blood-tides, mad cows, and wild
heavens, than suffer the fall
of bearing another child.

Dennis Sarmiento Aguinaldo works at UP Los Banos where not only cows bleed.

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