THE GENIUS OF MEDIOCRITY

Work ethic is absent in the Filipino psyche. We hear of the enviable work ethics of our fellow Asians. The Singaporeans work as if tomorrow is the end of the world. The Europeans come up with the best literature, scientific theory, music, poems, and designs. The Japanese, their gadgetry. Work to these people means a confirmation of their humanity. To them, miracles happen because of work. As a migrant, the Filipino works his head off. In his own country, time and again, Rizal’s sloth theory of his fellow Filipino is validated.

Notice: in most groups in this country there are only a few movers, while the rest are in comfort zones. This country is apparently run by a handful of men and women, not necessarily the best and the brightest. Our institutions allow only the worst. An honest job in this country is not the meaning of work. Work is thievery in large scale. The bigger the theft, the grander the thief. There is always truth to the truism that “behind every great wealth, is a great crime.”

One story has it that Congress does its business thru a small number of congressmen. A clique that is composed of the doers and the getters. The doers are the honest-to-goodness public servants who push pro-people legislations while the getters are those who delight that Congress moves after all, and ram their own selfish agenda. In the end the getters prevail.

When Joker Arroyo was a congressman, he was in the centre of the legislative mill, like fish in the water. He knew the rules like the back of his hand. He scrutinized every national and local piece of legislation. And his views were sought after by the media, chiefly on his one-liners. When he moved to the Senate, the Lower House was made poorer. The pork barrel was never his reason for being. Joker Arroyo is a legend in the making, within the same moulds of Recto, Laurel, Sumulong, Padilla, Tolentino and Osias,

On the other hand, we have a group of shysters in Congress, responsible for moving “strong medicine” legislations. Too tough that powerful sectors frown not on their poised effects but on their attendant shakedown in exchange for a watered version.

Remember the Oil Deregulation Law? Its effects are anti-poor. Instead of a spirited open competition and the attendant fair pricing for the consumers’ benefit, the big players manipulate their prices to the detriment of the public. Its first version was chopped down as unconstitutional. Its resurrection was inevitable given the lobby money of the oil industry. Ironically, its principal author was eventually appointed to the Supreme Court.

These notorious congressmen manage to get re-elected, thanks to the endless lobby money they corner and repack for their clueless colleagues. They operate in the dark. They have no time for interpellation and look down at their conscientious peers as grandstanders or do nothing dorks like a lost nerd inside a classroom. They talk of millions on their cell phones while the sessions are going on, substituting cell phone talk as work. They twiddle on the gadget, and like Linus, holds on to it as security blanket, giving them the semblance of being busy. “May negocio ba tayo diyan?” When asked what is going on in Congress right then they reply, “Ito daldalan ng daldalan sila, wala namang pera.”

Once cut by term limits, they have their spouses warming up their seats. As barnacles, they make Congress a stranded ship. With these crocs in the lower house, they add nothing to it but notoriety. One story has it that during the last election, an incumbent congressman known for his vaunted war machine wanted to impress the President about his clout. Unopposed, ika. He personally visited his announced rival by portraying himself as eating humble pie, and dissuaded the challenger from slugging it out with him. Pang-speaker ako, ika. The elder brother of the aspirant appeared convinced, and uttered in good nature, “umurong ka na utol, dahil sa totoo lang lalamunin ka lang ng buwaya!” Feeling slighted for the buwaya attribution, the congressman left in a huff.

They have clients in the construction, re-insurance, telecommunications, and import-export industries. They, however, are the first to breach customs laws by importing their own top-of-the-line vehicles. They toy on the tax on soft drinks, for example, and see how the soft drinks industries tremble. An innocent call merits a fine dinner at the Manila Peninsula. And the tax measure was never heard again. Tax on banks is floated. One bank is placed on the legislative block for investigation allegedly for some tax misreporting but the obvious motive was to get even with it when that bank foreclosed the congressman’s house when he was a struggling shyster. Foreign-financed infrastructure projects are squeezed dry for pet subcontractors, since they have no role in the bidding. To make sure that foreign-grant projects are credited to them, the shyster congressmen name them after some obscure relatives whose only claim to fame was siring the hotshot crooks.

A privilege speech by a crusading peer on the doer side is capitalized by the shysters group. A government financial agency head is called to a committee hearing only to be offered by a re-insurance contract from the shysters’ client. Once the contract is clinched, the shysters group boycott the committee hearing resulting in adjournment for lack of quorum. Even in plenary, some sessions get snagged for lack of quorum, thanks to the pocket money sent by the shysters.

There are, by all accounts, congressmen of modest means who give in to temptations. A bursting envelop is enough to cause a sore throat. Visiting one’s district is no mean feat. One needs money for the local rah-rah boys. Their constituents seek the warmth of their congressmen. Congressmen admit that the people in general have a negative regard for them. Yet, they brag that their districts display wild paroxysm on their visits. Had not the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, Romeo Jalosjos would have been re-elected again and again. Unbelievable.

But of course there are exceptions in the person of Way Kurat. To make a coffin, he removed a part of his home for a dead poor constituent.

Congress is the microcosm of the country. There is no work ethic there. In fact, congressmen abhor any semblance of work. Work for them is being seen, heard, or in some occasions, felt. Once criticized, they react violently by describing the critic as, ironically, an idle brat, “walang magawa.” Their take on their position is a never ending trip to Neverland.

We look at them as a bunch of do-nothing, and the feeling is mutual. In that case, if they don’t work, and we neither, then who makes this country move?

We are consumed by the genius of others.

A very few laugh all the way to the banks. Henry Sy, the owner of SM, gets our weekends. The coffee shops, our weekdays. The tabloids, a couple of hours. Kris Aquino with her inane TV shows that invent controversies has a share of our time. The cell phone companies, DVDs, the church, scandals here and there, etc.

Nothing remains for us to meditate on what exactly is good for us. We are not a reading people. Neither are we a writing people. Our view of the world is according to the ignorant congressman, governor, mayor and their ilks.

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