THE MOB: the press of the multitude

It is not only in the halls of Congress where numbers count. It is not only during elections where the inclinations of the many will dictate the course of the whole. Man, being social, will seek to be where the herd moves thickest. The mob: the press of the multitude – the block of humanity that surges like the river rapids, caring neither for its destination nor the course on which it flows.

photo from: http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Philippines/Illocos-Region/blog-252525.html

A man in the middle of a throng will lose his sense of individuality and becomes part of a single entity, the mob. He neither chooses his destination nor care what ground his feet are treading. The throng seeks the way with the least strain, where it can disperse and be relieved of its congestion.

The multitude in our country is slowly becoming a mob, marching towards whichever course gives the least pressure and can assuage the discomfort of living the Filipino life. This is not a sign of a positive national unity; but a unity of suffering, of misery. The Filipino dream is just that, a dream, and when the dawn breaks the nightmare of reality comes with it.

One thing that is of note about the mob is that, he who holds the way the way out will control the mob. History is replete with examples of men that became great or infamous because they were able to control the multitude. The one that can show a way out is the hero to the eyes of the congested many. This has been the rule, and seldom are there exceptions to this rule. This is what makes the mob terrifying. A double edged sword, that can be used both to achieve great things, but as well as for terrible and horrifying acts of human savagery.

Why is Willie Revillame still adored by his fans despite the many scandals that he is involved in? Is it because they really love him and find his jokes and comments funny and endearing? Or is it because he offers an opportunity to alleviate the suffering of them, the  hungry flock, through giving away prices and whatnots on his TV shows? When Willie was removed from his former TV Network, many of his fans cried against what was done to him, and those comments made by those fans are elucidating as to why they are for Willie. The cry of the multitude that adored Willie was mostly that “Dapat hindi siya tinanggal. Mabuting tao si Willie, marami siyang na tutolungan sa game show niya.” (He should not be removed. Willie is a good man; he has helped many in his game show.) What they are basically saying is that they do not care if Willie deserves to be removed or not, they only cared for what he can give them out of his game show.

This kind of devotion being showed to Willie is not unique to him. Take for example the devotion that supporters have for most politicians in this country. Why do politicos that are already widely known for their corruption and vile greed, and probably even for their ruthlessness, still retain the support of the common folk? Why is it that, regardless of the fact that most dirty politicos cheat during elections, they still retain a sizeable support groups? The universal response would always be: “Kasi marami siyang na tulongan” (It is because he has helped many).

It does not matter to them if the politico is guilty of corruption, or if he has killed or raped or trampled on the rights of others. It does not matter to them if he is living an immoral life. It does not matter to them that basically the money that those politicos are “helping” them with comes from them, from the taxes that they are paying. What matters to the multitude is that, they were given rice and sardines every once in awhile; that they were given money for medicines when they are sick; that when they die they are provided with coffins to bury them in. What matters to the multitude is that there is someone that can alleviate whatever strain life dishes out to them. What matters to them is that there is a savior they can turn to when the going gets tough. They don’t care if that savior has horns and drinks the lifeblood of the whole.

Such is the reality of our Filipino life. The desperation for release has become the driving force behind the surge of the mob. There is an impending doom for us if this state continues, or an impending splendor, such course depends on whose hands holds to the way out.

The apathy of the multitude will drown the empathy of the few. It is not always true that he who shouts loudest talks wisest. Sometimes the voice of the many may not be the voice of God, but that of the devil hiding behind a façade of goodness just so he can spread his malice and vileness to the world through an ignorant mob. “Beware of false prophets”, so says the Bible, no truer words were ever said.

To be a Knight!

I was raised high up on the tall mountains of Bukidnon, in the heart of the island of Mindanao.

 

A goodly part of my life so far had been spent roaming the lush green valleys and the cool clear springs of this dear land which I call home. As a child, I was fond of playing barefooted under the cool rain showers that are a constant even during the hot summer days. The trees that stood tall and proud near our house had been my childhood towers as I played out my dreams of magic and adventure. I was a chivalric knight off to defend the castle from a rampaging dragon. Wooden sticks were my magical swords, and the fallen branches from a tree- my noble steeds.  Those were the days: where the sweat on my brow and the scorched brown flesh of my arms were my armor as well as badges of nobility and testaments to my supreme courage.

 

As I look back to those times I always marveled at what a life I had lived back then, alas, I could not say much for what I have now. Reality is a far fiercer adversary than my dragons back then, and the vileness of a corrupted society a far painful thing to confront than that of a bruised knee or a sun burnt skin.

 

I am now in my twenties; the reality of adult life had already started making its hard poundings on my yet semi-virgin conceptions of life and of the world.  And as I reminisce the past it also got me thinking about what I had stood for then and what I stand for now. Would my past childhood self be proud of what my present self had become?

 

I guess it is not so much about being proud of what I have become and what I have done but more so if I had become the valiant knight that I had wished to be back then. Was I able to courageously face the evil that threatened my castle? Was I able to defend the helpless and the oppressed? Was I able to stand for what is true and pure as befits a true knight? Questions that I am afraid in asking myself for fear of the wretched answer, for fear that I had become far from the man I once wished to be.

 

To be a knight, one must be courageous. When I was but a boy, courage for me was about being able to climb the tallest trees or to fight-off the neighbor’s dogs. What is courage for me now when I have more years to my name and more pains to my years? I read a book once that said that “courage is not about the absence of fear but of having the strength to face those fears”. I am no coward, that I am sure, but it would also be a lie to say that I had not let my fears dictate my life. My fears back then had stopped me from pursuing love, excellence and freedom. My fears had stopped me to be kind and considerate. My fears have led me now to the path far from my dreams of knighthood.

 

Call it epiphany or call it plain childishness, but I still wish to be a knight. Not a knight with the shining armor and the magical sword (though having both would be damn cool!) but to be as a man who stands for what is right and what is good and to have the courage to defend them. I guess it is not so much about being prudishly righteous, but more so about simply doing what is right.  I guess it is not so much about being brave, but more so about having the strength to defend the things that matters most: Love, Family, Friendship and Freedom. The castles that are worth defending are the homes and the lives of those that I love. And the evil dragons that should be fought-off are the malice that corrupts the mind and the personal fears that preyed on our hearts.

 

I will be a knight – nay,  I am a knight!  And as such, I will stand for what is true and what is pure. I shall be courageous in my actions without giving fear room in my heart. I shall give aid to the needy and protect the helpless and the oppressed.

 

Those were my dreams when I was a child, and I will spend my life pursuing those dreams. For a life spent without a dream to attain is a life spent in darkness.

 

 

If you want to be a knight, then ride with me in the pursuit of love, honor and excellence as what befits a knight.

 

Be a knight with me! And we shall go forth on this life as men that would make our childhood selves proud. Let us live our dreams and not let fear chain us in the dark corners of apathy and mediocrity.

 

Ito ang taya ko para sa aking sarili. Ito ang taya ko para sa Bayan. 

 

 

 

-pacb2

Beggars? Who cares?

photo courtesy of: http://my_sarisari_store.typepad.com

                    Outside the University where I am studying, there are dozens of kids wearing tattered clothes with dirty faces, running and playing with their bare feet. Giving a weathered smile and blank stares to passersby while asking for some alms; some huddling in the street corners on cartons that they use as their mats. Hollow eyes, bereft of hope and love, that somehow, due to their constant fixture in our lives, we hardly give a care anymore. Passing them by each day, seldom giving them a glance, and afraid, even angry that they would come near us with their extended hands and strained mumblings for some charity.

                   This scene is not unique; there are hundreds and thousands of them populating the streets and alleyways in every city and municipality in our country. And I guess, them being a common sight made us unaffected by their misery and loneliness. Maybe because most of us that thronged the streets have our own problems to bear that we seldom give notice to the misery that others are bearing.

 

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I must admit, I am one of the many that seldom give them notice. I have my fair share of giving angry words to these dirty children when they pull my sleeves with their soiled hands when trying to get my attention, in the vain hope of me giving alms. Each encounter with them is a nonevent in my comfortable life. So what if I don’t give them notice? It is their parents’ job to take care of them. A menace to society, that is what they are. These were my constant refrain.

          

Then a couple of months ago, I was eating some burger in a small snack joint near our school when this dirty kid, with his matted hair and shoeless feet, approached me. At that time, there were some beautiful girls standing close by. A part of me wanted to impress those beauties with a show of generosity and friendliness to this street urchin. Being fat and well fed also made me feel somewhat ashamed that I was eating that burger while this dirty kid was obviously hungry. Probably haven’t had a good meal for that day, by the looks of him.

                    I assure you; no feelings of real charity invaded my thoughts at that time. I am no Saint, nor am I trying to be one, I just want to impress those girls. So I thought, why not go the extra mile and try to act friendly to the kid, worth a shot getting more pogi points out of it.

I proceeded with some light banter, which I guess he did not get nor find amusing, judging by his response to my inane chatter. Finding nothing else to talk about, I asked the kid where his parents were, and how come he’s not in school. I thought he did not hear me at first because he did not answer me for awhile and just went on eating his burger. When I was about to ask him again, I heard him answere in a parched whisper: “Wala na si mama, ni layas. Si papa permi ug inum, dili ko gusto mag tambay dadto kai kulatahon napud ko.” (Mama is gone, she left us. My papa is always drinking; I don’t want to stay there because he always hit me.)

                    I just stood there while he continued to munch on with his burger. I did not even notice that the girls that I was angling for already left. I just stood there and watch him eat.

                   Beggars? Who cares? Most of us just go on with our lives and wallow in our own problems, in our own misery. We seldom give them any notice, not even a single thought of kidness. There is little room for sympathy when we are already full of our own self pity. There is seldom room for caring when all we want is for others to care for us.

                    I guess it is human nature to be selfish, how else can we explain the apathy of the multitude? I guess it is human nature to be a slave to the multitude, how else can I explain my failings, my failure to care?

                   And here I was, fearing that the end of the world will come this 2012. But for that small kid, his world ended the day that no one cared for him.