Monday, November 12, 2007

Political Questions

I try to avoid talk of current events on this blog. This is for quite a few reasons: First, there are a ton of other sites out there that already offer sterling commentary on such issues (professional or otherwise). Second, I don't see my discussion of current events as providing anything beyond mad rantings from a writer who is often ill-informed about them. And third, I feel that I risk eliciting controversy from my comments -- if I want to get people buzzing about what I said or did about a certain subject, then I'd rather that it involve the literary field instead of the political arena.

For that matter, I don't read blogs with a political bent either. I figure that personal opinions on the issue/s of the week are a dime a dozen, and unless I have some solid stake in the affair, I'm usually not interested in what these people have to say. If I want a political opinion, I can come up with one myself. If I want to get the facts straight, I can read a newspaper. I only dwell on independent editorials if there's a good reason for me to do so.

Regardless of that, I'm still a citizen of the state with access to newspapers, radio, TV and other forms of media. Beyond that, I'm still a denizen of the world at large; with access to Internet, e-mail and notes from the fine people who actually take time to put messages into my comments box. I still hold opinions, beliefs and modes of thinking for the issues of the day; I just don't put them up very often.

Lest you think that I would prefer to be a solitary recluse who remains ignorant of current events, however, I might as well do a round of statements here. I don't pretend to be a political expert, much less a yahoo who goes around foisting his version of governance on other people, but everything that follows is what's circling my head at the moment. I'm not willing to debate people on any of this, either -- if you want to post a scathing rebuttal to my beliefs, then feel free to post something on your own site.

1. So... this Estrada guy... do you think he's guilty?
My personal assessment on Joseph Estrada, former president of the Philippines, involves the phrases "incredibly naive", "egotistically unrealistic" and "barely tolerable". I've seen him at parties, and I've lived under his rule as mayor of my little municipality; this may or may not change depending on how much more I learn about him. For now, however, I figure that he was simply too stupid to have planned and executed an elaborate plot to gain money from illegal gambling receipts.

2. Was it a bomb that exploded in the Glorietta 2 mall last month, or was it some tragedy involving negligence and large amounts of methane gas?
I'm firmly in the "methane gas" camp. The investigative teams surprised me here -- they came up with an explanation (diagrams and live tests included) that sounded plausible to me. They'll still need to come up with some hard evidence, though.

3. Did the President of the Philippines really authorize the giving of bribe money to local congressmen over the ZTE Broadband issue?
I don't think so, and while I believe that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a highly incompetent president, I think that giving out sacks of money during House sessions would have been an extremely obvious mistake. She goes back on her words, she ignores the blindingly obvious, and she has an almost comic sense of timing... but even she would have seen this coming.

4. Did the American television networks really insult Filipinos?
The American television networks insult everybody. These were statements that were represented as the beliefs of a fictional character. Jon Stewart probably came closest to the level of "irresponsible remark", and even his presentation was clearly planned to get a rise out of people... which I feel is a far cry from Don Camus and Howard Stern's offhand talk.

5. Was the suicide of an 11-year-old girl indicative of the Philippines' state of poverty and desperation?
It's tragic, yes... but I really don't see the difference between this issue and that of the homeless who sleep on cardboard boxes in the sidewalks. Or that of the group of women who die at a stampede for a popular game show. Or that of the scavengers who get buried under a mountain of trash. Every day there is a new social anomaly that draws our attention. We can blame our feeble efforts against poverty all we want, but I don't see anybody coming up with a solution. Or, for that matter, if one even exists. Is this suicide really all that special just because the victim happens to be younger than we expected?

6. What is your take on the Burma junta's recent violent crackdown on demonstrators?
When your government has faced public complaints for decades with no sign of acceptance for your rule, then you should know that something's wrong. When your country's religious sect actually starts marching in protest of your actions, then you should know that something's really wrong. And when your solution to the problem involves killing your critics, maiming innocent bystanders, and generally thumbing your nose at the checks and balances... then you should know that you really don't care about doing a good job with the governance bit.

7. The death penalty... yes or no?
Once I was a "yes"... now I'm a "no". The spectre of a death penalty has hung over Philippine heads for about a decade now... and amazingly enough, we have shown no propensity towards committing less crimes.

8. Did La Salle deserve to win the UAAP title this year?
Why not? They beat a team that had taken fourteen straight victories this season, didn't they? Now if only our college basketball players wouldn't start so many fights on the court...

9. What did you think of Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs" and its message on the War on Terror?
I felt that the movie was preachy and talkative, with little in the way of actual plot movement or action. While that's passable for an essay, it's not what I like to see in a movie. I actually advise people to avoid it like the plague. Go see "30 Days of Night" instead.

10. What is your take on the recent breakup between young sweethearts Christian Bautista and Rachel Ann Go?
You know, regardless of what I mentioned at the beginning of this article... there are some things that even I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.


Ida said...

Hehe, this entry is funny. :P

4. "The American television networks insult everybody." << Yup, I totally agree. It's not just the Jon Stewart show, but a lot of other shows, and not just the Philippines but a lot of other nationalities. Americans are just arrogant that way. (Oops, will that start a debate in your comment box? I'm sorry if it does.)

9. That's too bad. And here I was thinking it was going to be something like A Few Good Men. :(

10. This one just made me laugh. It's like that time during Estrada's trial and I was refreshing the Inquirer website to see the verdict, and just for fun looked to see which articles were the most read--the most read was about Estrada's trial, the second most read was about Luis Manzano and Anne Curtis' relationship. Hehe, that was really funny. :P

Sean said...

Ida: Well...

4. We can each be arrogant in our own special ways. I mean, what stops anybody from insulting everybody else? We're all human, I think.

9. A Few Good Men at least presents a moral dilemma that we tend to overlook -- its questions would be comparable to a study on hazing and irrational fraternal "brotherhood". And I think it was written well; I liked the fact that it had characters who were as flawed as the system they tried to protect (and alternately pervert).

Lions for Lambs, however, is all about preachiness. It doesn't present a moral dilemma more than it continues to beat the tired old horse of moral opinion. I didn't even feel that it had "characters" -- instead, it had self-proclaimed authority figures who engaged in perpetual debates. I sat for two hours waiting for something substantial to happen without the movie telling me, to be honest.

10. Well... to me, it's somehow sad and strange at the same time. I used to think that we were the only celebrity-crazy people in the world, until I actually read through an issue of the National Enquirer. Now I think that we're all nuts. :)