Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Our socialistic and feudalistic bent
Our store sits at the intersection of CM Recto and Magsaysay, two of the busiest thoroughfares in Davao City. As such, when transport groups decide to call a strike -- like yesterday, for example -- I always enjoy a ringside seat to the festivities.
Do I mind the shouting and the flag-waving? Not in the least bit. Rallies add a touch of color to the humdrum existence of Davao City. Without this outlet, who knows where all the pent-up rage would go? Besides, the rallyists aren't really a bad sort. They smile and wave and pose gamely for pictures. In the end, we're really all just folk.
If there's any criticism that I might level at our cause-oriented groups, it's the disappointing lack of focus. Rallies nowadays aren't nearly as charged nor as deadly as they were in 70's and the 80's; but that's because they suffer from a smorgasbord of issues that the rallyists want addressed.
Case in point: yesterday's rally mean to protest the high pump prices. And yet the banners and placards presented a whole list of grievances, ranging from oil deregulation to Charter Change to human rights violations to excessive fines to EVAT to the perennial and venerable US-(insert administration name here) regime. Each one of these is a worthwhile cause to rail against, in turn, but all of them at the same time? Yes, they're all interconnected somehow, but:
Ano nga ba talaga, ate?!
Over the typically muddled messages, calls against oil deregulation came at the forefront during yesterday's rally. No surprise here: oil deregulation has been a favorite whipping boy since well during Ramos' tenure. As with many things, deregulation looked good on paper but stumbled in the implementation with too few players in the field at the time it came to being. Have things improved since then? Nowadays, we have smaller players like SeaOil and the home-grown Phoenix, ventures that might not have been possible without deregulation.
But putting that aside, the rallying cry calls for a return of fixed gasoline prices, with government pegging the mark. Does anyone else see the irony in calling for more government control in the same breath as calling for the same government's ouster?
Ano nga ba talaga, ate?!
At the political grassroots, it seems to me that we tend towards socialism. We demand government structures that aggressively redistribute wealth in favor of the masses. The chances of that are nil, considering economic and historical evidence; and yet many continue to delude themselves with that hope because of the small and marginal concessions doled by the political chieftains.
At the same time, the concept of the benevolent political chieftain who will magically solve all our problems continues to loom large in our landscape. It's ingrained in our culture, this concept of a village head to whom we turn to for arbitration and dispensation, be it the barangay captain or the mayor or the governor or the congressman, ad nauseum. In Davao City, you only need to turn your head this way and that to see how much of it politicians have already apportioned for themselves: basketball courts, streets, sidewalks, barangay halls, and schools all constructed "through the initiative of."
So we live within this state of constant tension: on the one hand, looking for a change in leadership, and on the other, apportioning them more power and more control and more leverage over our lives.
How does it end? Take a guess.