Achieving Happiness

April 30, 2008

Pre-International Labor Day musings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:49 am

Been watching episodes of the sci-fi comedy series “Eureka” and so far, am enjoying them. It’s the kind of program that grows on you — you feel less than enthusiastic about it, but you’re also slightly curious; the fact that you have some time to spare at night also helps, but the most compelling reason to see it is because your geek of a husband and geek of a sister have been raving about it (or at least saying that the show has been receiving rave reviews and they want to find out for themselves whether there’s basis for the raves or not).

Sometimes when there’s a lull in the work (or more often, when I begin to feel a little stir crazy and I need to reboot my brain by reading something universes apart from the work at hand), I google people, places, movies or tv shows, and last night I read Wiki entries on old 80s and 90s programs I used to watch – The A-Team, Silk Stalkings, ALF, the original Battlestar Gallactica, Automan, Forever Knight, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, The Real Ghostbusters, Starman – and I felt more than a little shocked: where the hell did the time go?! I really don’t remember getting old. It’s like only yesterday I was rushing to finish homework or gulping down my dinner so I could camp out on the sofa in front of the tv and listen to the theme of the Cosby Show, My two dads, or Perfect Strangers…

Tomorrow is International Labor Day, and May First has always been my favorite event of the year (this is why Kim and I chose to present ourselves as a married couple on May 1 three years ago). I’m crossing my toes and fingers that there will be a massive turnout tomorrow because jeez, workers (and the rest of the poor and working people) have so many reasons to take to the streets for, to speak out and protest and demand immediate, genuine and effective change – like, say, bringing down the cost of commodities and the rates of basic services such as water and electricity.

Only today there are newsreports that fish and meat prices will be going up in June – holy heck, as if they weren’t already expensive. Today LPG prices go up by P2.00 per kilogram. Rice costs as much as P38-P40 per kilo, and even the prices of tinned food like tunafish and corned beef have gone up. Where the heck will ordinary working-class Filipinos get the additional money to pay for these increases? Steal or resort to prostitution?!

Pag nagtangka ka namang maghanap-buhay nang disente bilang manininda sa palengke, the hired thugs and goons of the MMDA will swoop down and confiscate your goods , wreck your small ambulant store, and drag you to jail.

What rubs more salt into already gaping wounds is the continued flood of statements from Malacanang and its phalanx of idiot spokespersons and spin masters that the food crisis is under control and that there are alternatives being prepared in lieu of an actual wage or salary increase. Freaking hell! Pampalubag loob . What are people supposed to pay Meralco, MWSS or the neighborhood LPG store with – copies of Malacanang press releases printed by the Philippine Information Agency?! Sana kung lahat ng tindahan nagpapautang tapos ang sisingilin ay Malacanang – hanggang Tuguegarao and back ang haba ng listahan kada araw.

So what with the endless economic problems besetting laborers and the rest of the working people, coupled with the relentless political scandals and scams that make you feel sick to your stomach and wish you had a way of throwing up all over Macapagal-Arroyo, Ignacio Bunye and the rest of the damn wretched crew, why celebrate Labor Day at all? Who feels like celebrating at a time like this?

I do. Because I still have hope for this country. Because I believe in a cause that will survive all chaos, despair and degradation; a cause that stands for a kinder, more compassionate, humane and poor and people-oriented way of life. I have to continue believing in this or I will be consumed by anger and bitterness and hopelessness, and one cannot live without hope. My greatest happiness lies with the knowledge that I am part of a living, breathing movement that stands in opposition to all that makes living in the Philippines an endless series of painful experiences.

Nakakabuhay ng loob ang makita, marinig at malaman na may mga patuloy na lumalaban at hindi pumapayag na sila’y basta na lang apakan at manatiling api. Hindi man mawakasan sa ngayon at sa agad-agad ang kaapihan at kahirapan, sa diwa man lang, sa pag-iisip, pag-unawa at pagsusuri ay makamit ang ganap na kalayaan.

More importantly, ang sarap sumigaw laban sa lecheng gobyerno na ito at sa walang-kasing kapal na mukhang presidente!

Tutoo ang class guilt. Kahit di naman kami alta de sosyodad.

Sa tutoo lang, it’s really harder to enjoy things fully these days; somehow everything is tainted and feels a tad superficial and hollow because at the back of your mind you feel a little guilty. Kakain sa Yellow Cab, you end up computing how many kilos of rice for a family of six the pizza’s cost could’ve bought. Aaaaagh!

To explain – we live right next door to a small community of ‘squatters.’ They’ve built their ‘houses’ from corrugated cardboard, wide strips of discarded tarpaulin, rusty, leftover galvanized steel or aluminum sheets probably picked up in Payatas, construction sites, or brought from itinerant garbage pickers. Their children run around half naked or in sun-faded, much-too big, tattered clothes. They cook their food using bonfires, no stoves. Sometimes we get to peek into their homes and we see a sleeping/living space that’s only slightly wider, bigger than a pig pen. We walk past them every morning on the way to work and at night when we come home, and one is always consumed by alternating guilt, pity and outrage on their behalf. Really. Call it class guilt, but heck, it’s true.

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