Zara, Gloria and Demosthenes walk into a bar…

I rarely write about politics. I disliked Political
Science 101; perhaps my teacher wasn’t entertaining or annoying enough, but
there you go, three hours a week for half a year now mere neuronic

Over the weekend, I received a
text message from Budj. He was in Rockwell, marveling at the volume of people
lining up at Zara, which is Spain’s attempt to relive its days of world domination through frocks and frippery.
First they came with the Cross and the Sword, and now it’s the Shrug and the
Floaty Skirt. The queues were a sign, for me, of how dislocated Rockwell truly
is from the rest of the Philippines. It floats in its own space-time continuum.
Its trimmed hedges and clipped grass and aligned bromeliads have never felt the
trudge of tired protesters going home after yet another fruitless rally. On
weekends, Rockwell actually closes streets to make room for tables and chairs
and night owls having dinner and drinks – in any other neighborhood, you would
be assaulted by street children pointing at your unfinished food, or ballpen
sellers pretending to be students in need of tuition

In the Great Unconscious of the
Philippines, it’s places like Rockwell that breed evil. It’s where the evil rich
family lives, the one that speaks English and abuses the poor maid from the
province who is both pretty and has a golden heart. It’s where the villains live
off the broken backs of the serfs, who suffer quietly and go to church. It’s
what is held up for scorn by opinion manipulators like ex-President Estrada, who
blamed the rich for the further impoverishment of the poor, never mind that he
was never poor, and in fact took steps to make sure his balance sheet was as far
away from poor as possible.

It is
simple, and its simplicity makes it sound true.

We are not equipped, by our schools or
our media, to pick our way through gray. We are culturally unprepared for
“win-win.” To negotiate is to admit defeat.

And so Gloria is the villain, and
whatever she does is viewed through that lens. I don’t think there’s any room
for the truth, if there is such a thing, or even if it is needed beyond the
revolution its various versions are meant to ignite.

Of the truth of which it was
thought to be no small sign, that he was very rarely heard to speak upon the
occasion, but though he were by name frequently called upon by the people, as he
sat in the assembly, yet he would not rise unless he had previously considered
the subject, and came prepared for it. So that many of the popular pleaders used
to make it a jest against him; and Pytheas once, scoffing at him, said that his
arguments smelt of the lamp. To which Demosthenes gave the sharp answer, “It is
true, indeed, Pytheas, that your lamp and mine are not conscious of the same

Plutarch’s Parallel Lives