One Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said this: “The world embraced EDSA I in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA II in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA III, but it will instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable.” [Read story]
What a thoroughly graceless, tasteless, ungrateful thing to say. Of course, it’s not surprising that she should mistake EDSA People Power II for herself since she often mistakes God for herself — or God’s offspring, as in “God put me here.” In fact, the world merely tolerated her, it welcomed EDSA II with open arms.
Nobody really wanted her or liked her. Cory Aquino had every right to bristle when Louie Beltran suggested even in jest, or as a figure of speech as he argued, that she hid under the bed while the battle swirled around her. She was at the frontlines in EDSA, she was at the frontlines during Juan Ponce Enrile’s, or his subalterns’, failed coup attempts. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, well, she merely hid under the bed while her countrymen did the fighting, and emerged from it when the smoke cleared, or when it was safe to cross to EDSA, hastily donning the robes of a conqueror which had been readied out on the bed and rushing to Malacañang to grab Joseph Estrada’s crown from his weary head.
I don’t know that hiding under the bed is entirely figurative. I do know that hiding under Cory’s skirt and Jaime Cardinal Sin’s even bigger one is not. That was all she did, documenting her war deeds for posterity by being photographed between Cory and Sin, hands clasped prayerfully. We can bet she was praying with all her might. We just don’t know to whom; we only know that Cory and Sin were praying to God. That reminds me of what I said the other week, that unlike Jesus Christ Mike Arroyo will be crucified between two honest men at the end of the day. His wife will too, by way of closure, by way of karma.
Sin was at least lucky he died before the creature he helped to become president could disown him, as she has disowned EDSA II and as she has disowned Cory. And with a spawn from the pit like Raul Gonzalez to deliver the message, suggesting as he did when Kris Aquino worried about being bugged that Cory was doing the bugging, snickering all over the place at his j/oke. With Sin dead, the creature he helped to become president would bury his name along with him, like Eleanor Rigby, or his spirit, or his emanation, or his incandescence, propping up instead like El Cid the bishops and archbishops and cardinals with dead eyes and deader souls, who like to think that wearing a funny hat and carrying a staff entitle them to con the world into believing they are the voice of God on earth. It is a wonder their mouths have not been stricken with lockjaw from the sacrilege of opening them. Ah, but God’s humor is truly sublime: he caused his Church in the Philippines to have for its Cardinal Virtue Cardinal Sin.
Well, his humor is also truly mysterious he causes, or tolerates, one Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to pontificate on what is welcome and what is not. In a way of course she has become a perverse authority on it, having braved rain, sleet, and hail, like the frontier riders of the US Postal Service to get to see Barack Obama. That is not altogether figurative, as witness her walk on the tarmac in Washington at 2 a.m. on a cold, dark, and snowy early morning from a sudden urge to attend a Breakfast Prayer Meeting—only to have Obama not welcome her at all. One is tempted to say, only to have Obama tolerate her there, but he doesn’t even know she exists. Or he wants to convey that impression.
What is the surest sign a country does not have a political system that is hopelessly unstable?
A beneficiary of People Power who became so reviled by the people she had to vow to quit about while she was ahead, or behind, but went on to not quit anyway and to show no sign of wanting to quit to this day? A beneficiary of People Power who was caught in a conversation with an official of the Commission on Elections going along with his proposal to kidnap the family of a public schoolteacher in Tawi-Tawi province to keep her mouth shut about the cheating she witnessed? A beneficiary of People Power who badmouths People Power at every turn and extols the virtues of Mafia Power, pointing to a country reduced to smoldering ash in the wake of its rape and pillage, as the surest sign a country is hopefully stable?
What is welcome to the world? The spectacle of a once thriving democracy now brought to a pass where the good are punished and the wicked rewarded, both relentlessly and with indefatigable zeal? The spectacle of a land once lush and green sucked dry by leeches on two legs, everything that is not nailed to the floor crying out, “Steal me,” including the vote, including the souls of peasants and priests, wise men and jokers, including the lives of people who, like Jonas Burgos, longed only to help others? The spectacle of a people that once, or literally twice, refused to brook tyranny driven to silence, or acquiescence, or passivity, and mocked thereby as showing maturity and political stability?
I do hope one Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tries something to keep power. Then may she know the difference between her and EDSA II, between what is tolerated and what is welcomed. Then may she know that the public’s apathy is merely a sign of their willingness to tolerate her until next year, after which they mean to loose upon her the hounds of heaven or the legal eagles of earth, whichever is the more implacable. Then may she know that the people whose generosity she has repaid with malice and abuse have not forgotten to say, “Tama na, sobra na, bwisit na,” and move their asses to prove the point.
Then may she see the world rise to welcome an act of absolute sanity and transcendence.