Just a few hours before the CBCP released its statement, Lito Banayo at the Senate’s NBN-ZTE deal hearing, was explaining an “ecosystem of corruption” diagram which Romulo Neri presented to their group last December 2007. As Banayo narrated what he recalled Neri said about the different groups indicated in the diagram, I remember he mentioned Neri saying something like, “She has the bishops.” (referring to GMA and why calls for people power would not come from the Church or something to that effect).

After eagerly awaiting if the bishops would finally join most protesters’ call for Gloria Arroyo’s resignation, many were understandably disappointed, others even incensed and dismayed that the CBCP once again (in July 2005 the group also refused to join the calls for resignation during the height of the “Hello Garci” tapes) decided to choose such a bland stand (ayan nag rhyme pa). Unfortunately, it appears the Church leaders still think they can trust Arroyo to lead a fight against herself.

While for sure the defenders of greed and corruption will be quick to use the bishops’ statement as leverage, people should still resist the urge to label the bishops as in cohorts with the enemy. People who believe that GMA must go should not be disheartened. Maybe this time there would be much more meaning when it is the people who convince the Church’s leadership when it is time for evil leaders to go than vice-versa.

People seem to be coming to a decision on their own, anyway.

The power is really with the people.

* * *

Kudos to Studio 23 for deciding to air yesterday’s Senate hearing (rather belatedly lang nga, starting after lunch pa ata). A big “Boo!” to other major networks: GMA 7, QTV 11, ABS-CBN 2, ABC 5, who deemed their regular programming of cartoons, Koreanovelas, afternoon soaps and sports events replays more important than the people’s right to know. That’s public service for ya.

In my daily commute to fetch K from school, taxi drivers have been engaging me in conversation about recent events, particularly Jun Lozada‘s testimony at the Senate’s NBN-ZTE Deal hearings. I guess one reason is my destination. When they learn I am bound for the UP Diliman campus, it almost always triggers questions like, “Ano hong tingin nyo dun sa sinabi ni Lozada?” or “Di po ba nagbigay na ng stand ang UP, Ateneo at La Salle?”

I take this as a good sign, of the keen interest of the people to know how others feel or think about the issue. What has really struck me though is the disenchantment and shared distrust for almost all people in government. This morning the taxi driver I talked to posed this question to me (which I think is what most people are also asking): “Sino ipapalit natin sa kanya? (referring to Gloria Arroyo)” For a second I wanted to quote Conrad de Quiros who said in his column today:

A dog is an alternative to Arroyo. At least it is loyal, at least it is cute.

It seems the enormity of the problem — graft and corruption (which does not end with Arroyo’s removal from office) and the deeply rooted social malaise — is not lost on the people. Sadly, while the problem has long been identified, at the moment, people still seem to be at loss on what to do.

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In what could be an auspicious way of greeting the coming Chinese new year, on the same day we caught our first bubwit (on average, I think we catch 2 -3 a year), Curlytop brought home this stuffed rat and its litter. While as toys they may look cute, in reality rats simply repulse most of us.

You’d think that being born on a rat year I’d have a bit more affection for the creatures. That has never been the case for me. Rats of all shapes and sizes will never fail to get a shriek out of me. And the sight of one clearly unnerves me. I’m glad that in recent years we have only encountered an occasional mouse, and one that can be easily caught in glue traps. Just like this one-

daga1.jpg Although I actually dread this part as much as seeing them scurrying around.

I’m still grateful though, that somehow no sewer rat has managed to find it’s way in the neighborhood (I hope). Or if one exists, surely the stray cats (Ser included) would deal with it.

Mercury. Quicksilver. Liquid silver. While enchanting to behold — shimmery, shiny and “magically” disappearing when held between your fingers — it can be deadly too.

Read more about the mercury problem and what the Philippine health care sector is doing to address it as the PCIJ’s iReport concludes its Power and Poisons series.

 

Today I can breathe a huge sigh of relief as I put the final touches on a task which took nearly three months to finish. This is probably the hardest endeavor I had to accomplish this year. Much of the difficulty, I’m quite embarrassed to admit, comes from several days – even weeks – of inactivity. I had been, during that period, no different from this lazy feline –

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Btw, this is our cat, this is not our cat. This stray cat that Curlytop named Ser, has found shelter at night or during lazy hours of the day in our home. Or it could be, that we humans have found his shelter which Ser so graciously allowed us to inhabit. Nearly two years of living together haven’t endeared us to Ser. Most times we are regarded with varying degrees of contempt, condescension (This silly humans) or treated with outright indifference.

Our pleasant greetings of, “Hi, Ser!” are never answered with any semblance of being heard or our presence acknowledged. Even repeatedly calling him, “Ser! Ser! SER!” will surely fall on deaf cat ears. Ser will simply continue what he is doing like licking himself, looking the other way, or keeping his eyes shut until we tire of trying to get his attention and simply leave. Rejected once again. By a cat!

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Our frustration and dejection from this cat’s oooh so annoying behavior sometimes tempts us to maybe fling something at him — like an old slipper — but we can never quite bring ourselves to do anything more than cast angry glances at Ser. Our eldest child tells me Ser has some mysterious power that holds us back. I tell her, no, kindness stays our hands. Darn.

It’s eleven days till Christmas, I can sense our videoke-loving neighbors gearing up for the celebrations ahead. I don’t think I’ve encountered any other place where Extreme Magic-singing is taken very seriously. I mean, how else would you explain doing karaoke at high noon? While the singing may not be that bad (we even find ourselves singing along to some tunes from time to time), some of the oft-repeated songs are just grating to the nerves.

Ushering the new year with “singing” however, may seem to be a safer alternative. But sans a firecracker ban in Quezon City, karaoke and firecrackers are air and noise pollution at their worst. I remember close to midnight last New Year’s eve, some guy turned the darn videoke machine full blast and kept shouting “Boom tarat tarat!” over and over, his “song” and the barrage of firecrackers (something else our neighbors take very seriously) turning into a horrible crescendo. While it did drive away the evil spirits, the living nightmares are still around to haunt us this coming holidays.

I told Curlytop, if ever I pulled something like that, I wouldn’t know how to face anybody afterwards.

The other night, both of us dreading what would be in store for us come New Year’s eve, we started to consider holing up in a hotel room where the kids could watch some fireworks display from a safe distance (if going out of town wouldn’t push through). Seems a bit anti-social no? Unfortunately, I don’t know how turning this relatively peaceful neighborhood into a war zone come New Year’s eve could be a (welcome) community event.

How I envy Davao City residents who can stay in their homes and welcome the new year in peace.

It’s been several months since my last trip to Salon.com and I was a bit disappointed that the featured articles weren’t very interesting. There is one on Go green this holiday season — timely — but I feel there are too many articles like this going around, posing as being Earth-friendly and yet trying to convince you to keep buying stuff. In keeping with the true, green spirit of the season, one would be better off with this Greener and Simpler Christmas article by the EcoWaste Coalition.

From Salon I checked out another favorite, Slate.com and got a bit overwhelmed. Literally, too much info. If you want to know, though, why Shrek’s “better out than in” motto doesn’t hold true anymore, check out Hold the Fart and Global Farting. Peta scores, while as carnivores, can we simply not care or are (tasty) alternatives in sight?