It paid off big time with this duly sycophantic editorial from PDI, which today is full of hosannas for the liberator of Saudi Arabia's biggest Filipino headaches: several hundred Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) who are in Saudi jails for a variety of alleged crimes. Now I am sure not all these people were in jail for just causes, but I also doubt that out of the millions of Filipinos working the Middle East, that they were the best behaved. PDI says,
Still, the President was received by the new Saudi king. She got to meet and greet Filipino workers, and following her home was the first batch among hundreds of Filipinos languishing in Saudi jails. On that score alone, her trip was worth it, and deserves the nation’s appreciation. Still, the President’s efforts placed a spotlight on the tragic side of the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) experience. And the question is what sort of follow-through there will be.I have no admiration whatsoever for the Saudi system of justice, but it seems to me the Saudis just emptied out their jails of certain Filipinos that are now suddenly back here on the people's peso, courtesy of the triumphantly returning liberator. How many of these OFWs actually deserve to have their hands or heads cut-off under Saudi justice and yet are now magically free? Are they all the rape victims of evil Saudi predators unjustly accused of stealing the Maharani's jewels to escape? Some likely are. As many, likely are not. I suppose the President will now present these returning OFWs as the trophies of her magnificent conquest of the Saudi Prince, heroes of the Great Filipino Diaspora and give them all house-and-lot packages as she did Angelo de la Cruz? But the only "follow-through" we can expect is for the people to pay for GMA's publicity coup.
PDI also likes this turn of events because, as the voice of political correctness in the Philippines, it has been their contention that the OFW phenomenon does not really benefit the country. Note the phrase the "tragic side of the OFW experience" -- by which they really mean a characterization often seen in those paper's pages: "OFWs are just the toilet-bowl cleaners of the world."
Reporting to her Cabinet about her voyage to Arabia in glowing terms aimed straight at the camera, and with her cronies arranging for the warm hosannas of the Press, Mrs. Arroyo also announced how admiring the Saudi royalty is of her "political will" -- a thing about which their own tenacity is legendarily infamous. So admiring that the Saudi Prince was said to have promised her "his first investment in Philippine tourism." What? Another seaside tropical brothel far from the prying eyes of Muslim chastity for Arab potentates with a taste for the sultry pulchritude first glimpsed in an imported FilipiNA or FilipiNO domestic helper?
As for the purported real objective of the visit, to lobby for a seat on the Organization of Islamic Conference and to secure "guarantees" on the price of oil from Saudi Arabia, -- ha ha! -- we can only guess at the polite response, from the utter silence of the President on that score, and her ballyhooing, preening and smiling at herself on winning the release of not 80, not 100, not even 200 OFWs "languishing in Saudi jails." So they sent her home with a bunch of her countrymen and women, saved themselves a great expense in food, shelter and clothing for their Filipino headaches, and won themselves some brownie points.
What does the Philippines get? Look at the title.
I like far better, the consolations of Pablo Neruda, such as --
By the cathedrals, clotting
the walls they deploy
with their bundles, their black looks, their limbs,
ripped tins of provender,
the livid increase of the gargoyles;
beyond on the obdurate
unction of stone
they nurture a gutter-flower
of legitimized plague, in migrations.
The park has its paupers
like its trees of extortionate
foliage and root forms:
at the garden's margin, the slave,
like a sink at the verge of humanity,
content with his tainted disymmetry
supine by the broom of his dying.
Though charity bury them
in the pit of their pestilence,
they suffice for the human condition: they prefigure us.
Our wisdom is this: to trample them under,
to harry the breed in the sties of contempt,
servility's creatures, wearing servility's livery--
we may show them our bootsoles
or interpret their lack in the order of nature.
American panhandlers, '48's offsprings,
grandsons of church doors,
I do not commend you.
I will not invest you with ivory usages,
the rhetorist's figure, monarchical beards,
or explain you away with a book, like the others.
I efface you, and hope--
who never will enter my discipline's love,
neither you nor your pieties, nor pass to my pity.
I exile your dust from the earth
and those who contrived you to soil
a contemptible image--
till metals remake you
and you issue and blaze like a blade!
UPDATE: The Hillblogger, a Filipino based in Belgium, has many interesting comments on this, the Aragoncillo matter, and the great battle of the Fork and Spoon in Canada. She is fresh from a voyage into Eastern Europe and adds a valuable voice to the discourses on many, many blogs in the Philippine blogosphere, including Philippine Commentary. I am sure we all appreciate her substantive and incisive comments. Her blog is a regular read for me. It should be yours too!
Glenn Omanio of Newsroom Barkada has a post describing the profile of the returning, Filipinos, for whom, according to the report, the Saudi King paid "blood money" to give them freedom.
Jon Mariano at the Hong Kong Big Mind has a nice take on Ed Ermita wearing a cilice on his head, oops, I mean getting into Yahoo!News for his remarks (also an obvious sop to the Catholic Bishops) suggesting that the movie, The Da Vinci Code be banned in the Philippines. Well Mr. Ermita apparently has the Lucena City Board agreeing with him, with many more to follow in an irresistable two-step that will demonstrate how devout and holy Their Honors truly are. The commentary of Jester-in-Exile: "And I thought the Inquisition ended all those years ago. Apparently it's still ongoing here in Timog Katagalugan."
Oh well, as in past attempts to impose the Official Morality in a country where the Evil Reality is easily ignored by the sanctimonious paragons in Media and Govt, such a ban and boycott led by the Opus Dei is sure to generate a huge box office for the heresies of historical fiction.
But here is the Director of the movie, Ron Howard with his own remarks about the movie to be released on 18 May, starring Tom Hanks.
Update: ED ERMITA SHOULD WEAR A CILICE ON HIS HEAD AND THROAT I just realized that the statements of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on the movie, The Da Vinci Code, are an excellent opportunity to explain the principle of the Separation of Church and State, or Religious Liberty, because what he is calling for is a culpable violation of that cherished Constitutional principle--
"I think we should do everything not to allow it to be shown," he said. "I don’t see how we as a Catholic nation or as practicing Catholics would tolerate such a plot to be propagated in the name of freedom of expression."This is a clear violation of the following provision in the Constitution:
Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.Most people are mistaken when they apply the Principle to the actions of Church men, which this provision does not limit in any way. Separation of church and state addresses itself to the government and the State itself, enjoining it from either promoting Religion or prohibiting it.
But Ermita claims we are "a Catholic Nation." It's like when Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban exposed his own religious bigotry when he claimed the Philippines is Monotheistic Republic. Both men are amazingly oblivious to their transgression. Or are they?
ZAMBOANGA JOURNAL has this wrenching story about a little girl kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf. Grrrr!