While on my way to watch the Pacquiao-Larios fight this morning I was thinking about how easy it is to please Filipinos. Just give us a good show, a tearjerker soap opera, a good boxing match, a Rico Blanco concert and, maybe, even a live telecast of the World Cup, and presto we all forget about our problems.
I was thinking, while driving on the almost deserted Quezon Avenue, where have all the people gone. I was just trying to entertain myself. Of course, I know where they are. They're at the Araneta Coliseum (at least those who could afford the P30,000 ringside seat), inside their homes, ears pressed to the radio set, or in front of their television sets agonizing over the many commercials between every round.) I would have preferred to jog around the Quezon City Memorial Circle or to just go around the weekend market at the Lung Center and hunt for a "Made in China" pair of shoes, but I have to watch Manny Pacquiao batter Oscar Larios. I have to upload the story and beat the competition.
While entertaining myself, I remembered a text message earlier in the morning about the burning of a radio station in Cagayan Province before dawn Sunday. Eight masked men entered the station, hogtied the staff and poured gasoline on the equipment inside the announcer's booth and the transmitter. But who cares about that faraway village in that faraway province or that never-heard station that is not even affiliated to a broadcast network. We have an international boxing fight to watch, a story to upload to beat the competition. (Unfortunately too for President Arroyo, her arrival from her seven-day trip to Europe was forgotten because of the boxing match.)
Anyway, there I was, trying to be relevant, trying to think about all the things we’ve forgotten – like the rising cost of sugpo (a kilo of medium-sized prawns already costs P480.), the killings of journalists and activists, the war in the countryside, the corruption in government, the environmental destruction, even broken-hearted friends and those who broke their heart – because we’ve been had.
We've been had, wittingly or unwittingly. We've been had because we chose to forget. We've been had because some people want us to be entertained to forget. I wonder why we hype “positive stories”, “good news”, the success of people who climb mountains because they just want to, the pride of being able to pulverize the faces of Mexican boxers, the knowledge that such a bar exists in such a place where the rich, famous and beautiful gather in the evenings to watch the World Cup, while all around us are stories of death and betrayal, of war and conflict, news of illegal deals and corrupt government officials, denuded mountains and lives of slum dwellers and farmers being pulverized and lives kicked out of existence by imported bombs and bullets.
I enjoyed the Pacquiao-Larios fight. I even rushed to the office to really beat the competition and to be able to be the first one to upload the “good news” on the internet. A good friend of mine said I should write how I too forgot, that I too am part of the system, of a situation wherein, if we are not careful, would swallow all of us alive, hair, toes and fingernails.