Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Once More, with Feeling


Okay, first off, this is what I get for doing the ostrich bit. In one very real sense, it is infinitely nicer to jump into Junon and go hunt Aqua King along with the rest of the pROSE population than give a damn about what these stupid polticians are doing to the country. Besides, I think I'm more of a use there than in RL, since other players thank my Escort for healing them and keeping them from losing 3% of their experience points.

Anyway, enough off-topic peregrinations. As I said, this Tuesday seems to be the opening act for the nth escalation of the Gloriagate. If I was still acting as the Mentat for my generation (and not, as mentioned above, going adok over pROSE), then perhaps I would have noticed that there was a political angle to one of the most... confusing "holidays" I've ever seen. "Semi-holiday," as other pundits described it.

Sometime today, Ma'am Dinky, along with Sec. Butch Abad and some of the "Hyatt 10" members (Hyatt TEN, okay, Sec. Bunye?) alleged that the Palace, specifically through Gabby Claudio with orders from La Gloria herself, ordered the filing of the Lozano complaint. This is a serious charge. A lot of people, whether in pol-ops or not, CivSoc or general public, believe that Atty. Oliver Lozano filed the first of the impeachment charges as a ploy from MalacaƱang to torpedo the whole impeachment. One, it can prevent the passage of other charges because the '87 Consti was clear on there being only ONE complaint, per year. If in case some technicality allows the passage of others, like the Amended Lozano, then the thinking was the Lozano complaint could act as fallback for the anti-impeachment people to either strike the complaint on the Committee level for lack of sufficiency in substance, or it'd be a weak case vs. the President if in case it ascends to a now-seemingly hostile Senate.

There have been rumors going around political and CivSoc circles that the House Committee on Justice will "kill" the impeachment today. In fact, we've just heard that LP stalwart Tony Roman of Bataan will vote "abstain," and this is one of the "hardcore" pro-impeachment reps of the LP. Rep. Vargas resigned yesterday from the Party, officially because he was anti-impeachment (being pro-status quo) and as an objection to the pressure being exerted by the pro-resign Liberals for Party congressmen to sign the impeachment. We've heard that the Palace is using a carrot-and-stick approach to keep congressmen from signing the complaint.

What are the implications of what's happening - and probably will happen - this week? People have been talking about, and looking for, Gloriagate's "Second Envelope." This is, of course, in reference to the legendary trigger event that launched People Power II last 2001. God knows the anti-Gloria groups have tried so hard: the setting-up of Bunye with the first release of the Gloriagate tapes; the coming-out of Samuel Ong; the rallies after the fallout stemming from the President's apology; July 8. That's at least four major assaults on a supposedly unpopular president and she's still there. And as Jove Francisco reported in his blog, the President and her men are still largely, kampante, confident.

Is the killing of the impeachment Gloriagate's "Second Envelope?" Two Sundays ago, the former KOMPIL II groups gathered at DLSU-GH to convene the "Black and White Movement." I was supposed to go but my body thought it was much nicer to oversleep on a Sunday and I woke at past 2:oo p.m. I don't know what happened there, and, more importantly, how the gathered Moderates went about the whole gathering. In such crisis situations, the mood of the people involved is a much better gauge on where the body will go than whatever slogans are chanted or manifestos released. When we held the All-Leaders Conference in January 2001, the mood was rather dark, and some of us in the youth contingent were going for each other's throats during debates because of the sense of impending defeat. In fact, the discussions ended on the option for civil disobedience.

One week later, though, the "Second Envelope" happened and PP2 was well on its way...

Nnnnoooo, we didn't plan that. Well, we were hoping for one, since October 2000, but... Well. C'est la guerre, I guess.

So. Do we have an escalation? Still monitoring. In my opinion, the impeachment is dead outside of an Act of God (like last time?). The oust-GMA movement may be, too. The mood of the general public is... different. What about the surveys, you say? Well, what about them? Although I have an appreciation for such tools of research, I am still skeptical about the claim that what a thousand people say is truly reflective of the moods and thoughts of 80+ million people. And as Heisenberg implied in his celebrated Uncertainty Principle, the mere act of observing the subject of study changes the natural state of that subject. A person who probably wouldn't care less about Gloria on a usual day would probably tell you how horrible he/she thinks the prez is when you ask that person. It's like with Values Ed class: everyone will say smoking, boozing, cheating and pre-marital sex is bad, yet will not think twice about doing the abovenmentioned in the first possible instance.

Again, I am not pro-Gloria; I think she has messed up royally. I am also pro-impeachment and would love to see the proceedings happen again.

But, the rules of this war seemed to be so vastly different from the one we fought so ardently four years ago...


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pleasantly Surprised

Sometime ago, I made a post about being "pleasantly surprised" by Pope Benedict XVI. It stemmed from the many - and sometimes acrimonous - discussions and debates about the latest successor to the Throne of Peter and the man who had the ill luck to be chosen head of the Roman Catholic Church after the much-loved John Paul II.

My point in that post was that we were prejudging the man; at that point, what did we Catholics really knew about (the then) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger? That he was the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the body tasked by the heirarchy of the Church to... maintain the sanctity of its beliefs. To some, we know that it's the modern-day version of the once-feared Inquisition. To "liberal" Catholics, Cardinal Ratzinger was the figurehead for the orthodoxy that is choking the faith, which also prevents the Mother Church from both being responsive to the needs of its members and relevant to their lives. Especially to the young of the Church.

But, sometime after seeing the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI give his "urbi et orbi,' I somehow softened, at least, my stance on him. Considering that I am a self-confessed liberal Catholic, I should'v bemoaned his ascension to the Papacy. Instead, I was defending the man, especially in light of the horrible tirades the British press gave. I said that Pope Benedict XVI, instead of being the cause for consternation of us Catholics, just might "pleasantly suprise" us. And what better way to find out than at the 20th World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.

From what I heard, I was right. Far from being "God's rottweiler," Pope Benedict XVI came across as a lovable, gentle and inspiring figure. During lunch with a dozen young delegates, one of those in attendance even said that she wanted to give the 78-year old pontiff a hug "because he looked like a teddy bear!" Imagine, comparing the Pope, the most powerful religious figure of our time, to a plush toy. But somehow... it was apt. And it brought a smile to one's lips because, of all the imagery one would expect of the new Pope, a teddy bear was the last thing you'd think of.

Yet this says something of the man, of the impression he made to the future of Catholic Christianity. I've always said that we young people, especially the young of the Catholic Church, are not rebels because of some mistaken Western belief that this was de rigeur for young people, but because we're searching for answers and the world of our parents seemed to murky for our liking. We see too clearly, we who grew up on the celfone and internet. We see our elders keep trying to stuff into us values and beliefs that they themselves do not follow. How would you feel if you get so confused at what exactly is right or wrong? Thus the youth rebel; we refuse the sordid, broken and vicious world of our elders, they who wrecked so much of the future that will be our present. But amidst this darkness the young search for the light, for a sure path amidst the pothole-filled roads of our forebears.

That, I believe, is what Benedict XVI is offering to the Christians of tomorrow: not just hope, but the stability of values and ideals that is the bedrock of Catholicism. Does this mean we "liberals" have to sacrifice many of those beliefs we treasure? I don't think so. If I understood his messages clearly, that won't be the case. It's just a... reorientation. A re-centering of our lives and paths to Christ.

In his opening message for WYD '05, Pope Benedict XVI said, "Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: It is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With Mary, say your own "yes" to God, for he wishes to give himself to you. I repeat today what I said at the beginning of my pontificate: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation" (Homily at the Mass of Inauguration, April 24). Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world."

Many times - and these days it's more often than not - I hate being right, but only because it is in the context of my work as a Mentat, and analyst. I sometimes complain that it seemed as if the things I see as most likely happening that do come true are the bad ones.

But this time, I'm glad I was right.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

An Escaflowne Situation

Well, maybe not really, but it's probably a lot closer to one than I would deem comfortable.

(This from someone who got a 36% hit rate in a Zener test...)

To those not familiar with anime, Escaflowne is a steampunk-and-fantasy mecha series. One of its central characters, Hitomi, has the power to predict the future - among other things - especially when she does a tarot reading. Of course, Esca is also, in my opinion, a very good example of quantum mechanics at work (watch until the near-to-the-end episodes to get what I mean), but for purposes of this post, the tarot readings in the series will be the starting point of my discussion.

And, oh, yes, I just came back from Davao City last Friday. Wonderful place; it's not my Manila, but it was wonderful, nonetheless. Maybe more on that later.

Before we left for KALIPI's Mindanao Congress Monday last week, I went into a frenzy of searching for programs and other files to download to my recently-crashed palmtop. I thought that, since it just got memory-wiped and I was going to the field again, I might as well "stock up" on neat stuff. Besides, my BB asked for games to be installed once again in my "geekisized" Handspring Visor. So there I was on a Monday evening, surfing Download.com and looking for programs to install when I came across a program for Zen tarot.

"Zen tarot? And it's in the games section? What the..." But with my curiosity piqued, I decided to include it in the packet I was compiling for installation. Heck, I've always wanted to have my own genuine tarot deck (it's right up there in my wishlist's Top Five), so why not try the electronic version for now? When the program opened, I opted to leap straight in and was presented with a screenful of blank rectangles, which I presumed to be the back of the "cards."

Part of me was very skeptical at this point. Understand that I (believe I'm) psionic. My parents got some sort of training when they were younger and the potential seems to be there when I look at the things I and my siblings have done throughout our lives. I also did some studies on the matter during my time in the Ateneo (and I think Fr. Bulatao couldn't see my aura... clouded, he said...), and scored rather well in the Four Aces test for clairvoyance. I used to frequent the websites of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit of Edinburgh University, the Consciousness Research Labrotary, the old Stanford Research Institute, and found some readings and proceedings of Project Stargate. Heck, I'm from Ateneo's Communications Department, where Spirit Questor mentor Tony Perez is headquartered and where a "nexus" of sorts supposedly exists in the righthand wall of the film room. I may not agree with some of what the Questors do, but I never questioned the reality of what they face.

Besides, mysticism aside, tarot readings can be used as a method of introspection and self-inquiry. Sometimes we really are afraid to face certain things about ourselves. I'm one proof of this: I've been aware of some things hounding my mind for some time now, but I refuse to confront them.

So I began to randomly pick the required number of cards for a Celtic Cross reading. Heck, I didn't even frame a question. I just tapped my stylus here and there, and, oh, here looks fine enough... there we go... last one...

Until now, I haven't wiped the reading from the palmtop's memory. I guess the results truly disturbed me... because they seem so apt.

For the last few weeks, if not months, I've been quite... disturbed (there's that word again)... about the things happening in my life (see my "cascade" posts). It comes from quite truly having a world you've known for a long time, and a life you've accepted you'd be living, oh-so-suddenly seemingly come under threat of utter dissolution. On that morning when Bobby Guevarra did that fateful de Mello reading in LibTheo class, my lifepath was (again) changed when I decided to be true to the promise I made to God when I was nine to serve Him. Not as a priest, no (Light's sake, do you want a scandal?), but in whatever capacity a person who said no to the utmost of Calls can still do.

That was 1998. Seven years later, and I suddenly find my life without direction, and therefore for the first time in my life - even in that time from 1994 - 1996 where we lost everything - I realized I didn't know what future I was facing. Even worse, the foundations of my life were being eroded, if not utterly annihilated by the events that seem to coincide with Gloriagate. It was as if my personal life decided to further complicate matters - as if they weren't complicated enough! - by putting the losses I've suffered within the context of this latest of national crises.

It all seemed so... clear... then. Eleven of the student councils of the Catholic schools gathered at Ateneo's ISO to create an organization that was their own, as a message to the ND-dominated NUSP and its ilk that we were taking our schools' destinies in our own hands, and to the Republic at large that the Catholic schools would be engaging more actively with the concerns of our constituency, sector and the nation but on our own terms. Back then, it seemed that when I asked God, "so where do You need me?", He gave an answer that was immediate, complete and, as I would eventually learn, to my liking. So much so that when the UCSC's current generation began to kind of... ostracize me (heck, even my own premier protege did so one time...), it felt really bad.

Understand that I will be the first to defend the Union's right to non-interference, even from its Alumni; I was the one who asked Roben Savares, then the Chairperson of the CORE, to remove any voting rights for the Alumni representative to the CORE, and insisted that we Alumni and members of the Board of Advisors should attend meetings only "upon request" by any of the officers or members of the Union.

But, still... (sigh)

And then I heard that after the... disaster at the Palace, when GMA's handlers pulled a fast one on the UCSC to make it look like we were supporting her, there were calls for its disbandment, for schools to pull out, and even questions about what exactly were the schools getting out of it. I guess the tipping point for me here is when one even voiced that NUSP was better. NUSP! That training ground for idealogues of the communist movement?! I think I was never insulted in all my years of service to the Union, for someone in the UCSC to say NUSP was better in terms of giving back to the schools, in "doing something," and in being democratic.

And there's the Party. During the start of my service with the LP, I was skeptical. But that was understandable, considering where I came from. Eventhough I never mouthed the slogans of the Left, I was still a part of the new students' movement that rose in the late-90's, the ones who eventually became the "field officers" for civil society in the Erap RIO. To me in 2000, the term "good politics" was as oxymoronic as "democracy in a communist system."

But because I was primed by my upbringing and Jesuit education to appreciate systems, and abstractions, the more I engaged in the promotion of the liberal democratic ideology and the Party that espoused it I realized that (a) I was a libdem even before I heard of the term, and (b) what better way to bring about change than for the "good guys" to take hold of the reins of power and guide the Philippines to a Bright Tomorrow? I had been with CivSoc and understood the inherent weakness in it, despite the the power, reach and capability of the "Fifth Estate." I knew of the corruption of the Fourth Estate, and its being a slave to the almighty Bottom Line as much as the Third was (entites like PCIJ being the exception). I believed in the LP, its ideals, its principles and vision. This was where I wanted to be. I thus found the third of the important defining terms for my soul: Catholic, Atenean and now a Liberal.

But now...

I still believe in the Liberal Party. I still think that, especially with Roco's death and the obvious track of the revived Nacionalistas, we're the best chance to reform the political culture. If the Philippines is to get out of the rut it has been in since the Americans stole our independence in 1898 and get moving, then change must come from all sides. And there have been signs of that in all the other sphers of Philippine society, but in the political sphere we Liberals are supposed to be it. If no reform happens here, the Philippines would just be like a wounded person who didn't get fully treated; there's a big chance that wound you left out will get infected and endanger the whole person again.

It's just... hard. I feel the cold claws of apathy clench around my heart. It seems that everyday it gets so hard to care, to find the fire inside that makes you Move, that makes you Act. I keep thinking, I'm going to be thirty in less than three years and nothing I've done in the last seven have made a difference so maybe it's time I looked after my self now? Because no one else seems to care for me anyomre. Not the org I built, the Party I served, nor the people who I stood by whether as comrade, colleague, friend or lover.

There are times I feel even God has abandoned me, a failed experiment, a failed Knight. I don't feel the surety of His hand in my life anymore, like when he brought me to the Ateneo, to the NYC, to the Union, to the LP. Have I lost so many of the battles He has asked me to fight that I think He may be asking me to go to the rear of the front and let others do the fighting? If I'm not being asked already to resign my commission as one of His Knights and become a "civilian."

For that was what I saw in the tarot cards: a slowing down. Although the cards put it in a positive light - a time to introspect, to take stock, that I should be appreciative of this moment given me by God to look, to study, to see where my life is going - I still feel... bad. Sad. Horrible. Confused. Eversince that first day that I met the other schools in the 1st UCSC Congress, I felt that this was my life. I threw away any chance at a financially- and personally-fulfilling career with the corporations when I took this path. Not becuase I hated the rigid structures of corporate life - hello, I grew up in a corporate family - but because... this seemed right. Because it felt as if I was doing something with my life, helping other people. Because I remember how I felt the last time I looked into the eyes of the anawim, how much revolted and angry I felt that people lived in such conditions, that their souls lost so much of their dignity and beauty and that I wanted so much to do something for them. No, alms, the crumbs of a rich table, aren't enough for me to give: they must share the table with me, otherwise it would be unjust!

Yet, yet...

One of the primary precepts of Precogntion, the first in fact, is that we who see the future do not see an absolute; rather, we see the most potentially real of the varied futures, given the current circumstances (Heisenberg's fault, I guess, as much as it was Einstein's for the lightspeed limit).

The Jesuits taught us that there is a profound Paradox in Commitment: it sets you free. Because you have dedicated yourself to something (or someone) the future is no more a state of confusion or arbitrariness because you now have a solid foundation for decision and Action, freeing one from the state of indecision and from being tossed to and fro by chance and chaos.

My future is the cloudiest it has been in all my 27 years. The foundations of my commitment are breaking down or are being taken from me.

And now the cards tell me something I have long been denying.

So what do I do now?