Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"The need to replace GMA" for beginners

Let me try to explain it this way: Our political system is like a rundown bus that's more and more frequently breaking down, and we are the passengers who find ourselves in a very extended trip, much of it over rough routes with many detours -- in a sort of Extra-Challenge and Pinoy-Big-Brother type of reality game. (How we got on this bus and over this route is a long story.)

When the trip started, we were told that we would periodically vote among ourselves who should be the driver. (Many of us are capable drivers and mechanics, and others have been acquiring the same skills along the way. And by the way, some of us are armed -- supposedly for the protection of all the passengers.)

The problem is that one extremely ambitious, abusive and irresponsible driver named Marcos took it upon himself to make all trip decisions, prevent efforts to replace him with other drivers, and bribe the armed escorts to do his bidding. He not only abused the other passengers but the bus engine itself, choosing unknown detours and worsening the entire situation.

Most passengers wanted him kicked out, but he in turn began to hogtie or kill other drivers. In a fit of hubris, he called for an impromptu election at gunpoint. The passengers supported a charming lady named Cory who wasn't really a good driver (there were many much better drivers), but she could persuade everyone to cool off and sit down for a while while rethinking what to do next.

The abusive driver was kicked out, we stopped for repairs, the periodic driver change was resumed -- not really perfect choices and the very rough route tended to turn good drivers into bad ones. For some weird reason, we soon chose a driver who was very popular but a committed drunkard, gambler and womanizer. He was a clear and present danger to the bus, and so we had to kick him out before his time was up.

(How we persuaded the armed escorts to agree with us in kicking out Marcos, and later Erap, is another matter.)

But this time, we chose to get along with Erap's assistant driver -- a Nora Aunor look-alike who had a winning smile and seemed capable. She was indeed capable of doing unimaginable things. She turned out to be a Marcos-like gremlin who used black magic to reelect herself, and who is now driving our dilapidated bus like Rocky Horror Picture Show over precipitous mountain trails.

Most passengers are now screaming, "Get that monster off the wheel, for God's sake, she's gonna kill us all!" Some of the more responsible passengers have actually organized a plan to jump the gremlin and wrestle her to the ground while a temp driver -- any capable temp driver, for God's sake! -- shifts to engine brake, goes into to a controlled skid before we all fall into the precipice, and maneuvers to a safe stop.

A few passengers don't like the idea. One asks, "Is this constitutional?" But we've been through this before, when we replaced Marcos with Cory, Erap with GMA. Another thinks, "But who's going to be the next long-term driver? Won't he turn out to be a worse gremlin?" Another passenger wants to simply get off the bus and hitch another ride. One guy doesn't want to be disturbed because he's busy selling tranquilizers to other passengers. A few others doubt if the plan will work, and have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

You are particularly interested in who's going to be the next driver. Most passengers certainly will have their say on this matter once it comes to a vote. But first let us all move to stop the gremlin in her tracks. Any capable and responsible driver (or team of drivers) already located near the seat should do for now -- after all, the task of the moment is to bring the bus to a temp halt and let the engine rest for a while as the passengers cool off, regain their bearings, and agree on the route, where and how to repair the bus, who will be the drivers that must cooperate to take us there.

Oh yes, we are a contentious lot of passengers, and some of the armed escorts are up to no good themselves. But the most important concern is for all passengers to take directly responsibility for the bus, and kick out the gremlin -- NOW! -- before she drives us all into perdition.

I rather like the idea of bringing the bus, even if very slowly, to the next crossing, where (hopefully) all the passengers can agree on an alternative route to our final destination, and organize a convoy of locally assembled but tried and tested jeepneys, even tricycles kung yun lang ang meron, to get there, still as a group.

As for the tired bus, we can return later and haul it to the museum, and I can try to answer truthfully when my grandchildren ask, "Eh, Lolo, bakit kasi ang tagal nyong nagtiyaga diyan sa sira-sirang bus at nagpatali sa paisa-isang driver na dinala kayo sa mali-maling ruta, e pwede naman pala kayong mag-convoy sa maraming dyip at mas maraming driver na susunod sa gusto ninyong ruta?"


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