Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Venus Crossing the Sun

There must be a reason why it only happens once in a hundred years.

As dot moves across another bigger dot in the blue vastness of a post-summer skyline over this sweltering tropical archipelago, millions of stargazers around the world watched transfixed, even spellbound, savoring every passing moment of a phenomenon that will never happen again in this lifetime. By the time the passing of Venus over the sun is repeated it would be already a hundred and five years from now, year 2117 to be exact, which means every single human being young and old, that breathes today, and in fact including those still in the formless stages of conception will not be able to live long enough to see the moment happen again.

If only the planet Venus could speak, maybe she would have profound stories to tell us not only about her journey. I do feel that she would have a whole lot more to tell us about ourselves.

She might tell us that the first time ever that she strayed across the sun’s path, there was no earth to speak of, at least not the earth as we know it today, but just another dark, barren and lifeless piece of rock, one among the countless millions of such objects floating perpetually in space. Maybe she didn’t even notice earth at all.

Several hundred years later, when it was time to cross the sun again, Venus looked back to the direction of planet earth and saw man-apes scurrying to their caves in terror at the sight of a dot emerging on the face of the flaring sun fearful that a monster would emerge from somewhere in the vastness to devour them.

Still several hundred years later, Venus was amazed at how far we’ve come. The man-apes no longer cower in fear, running for cover, but instead they waited and watched her arrival with the same perpetual curiosity that actually propelled them from a primal state of oblivion to civilization. They have learned to question, to plan, to improvise. Where before they watched with their naked eye, now they had instruments with which to catch a closer glimpse of a rare occurrence millions of miles from where they were.

Maybe by now Venus feels differently after every rite of passage. And just like us, she now awaits the event to repeat itself with the same perpetual curiosity that we have. Curious at how much we have excelled in nearly the same manner and extent that we have ruined ourselves.  Curious that so much of us have remained the same, yet desperately we insist on becoming different in trying to create division, to put up barriers and to live in the illusion that the world should only revolve around our own needs. Curious at how much we have loved and how much more we have hated, Curious about all the wars that we have fought, for God, country and ideology. Curious at our imperfections, at our self-inflicted pains and curious even more at our quest for the perfect self.

Maybe, Venus is already exasperated at us, because her every journey across the sun follows the same painstaking pattern in the time clock of eternity – that of happening once and only once every hundred years…  and in fact her journey delivers the same message to us over and over again but for some reason we refuse to comprehend and accept the meaning of that message over the course of several hundred years from Jesus Christ to Adolf Hitler… we refuse to comprehend the message about life in this world being fleeting and transitory… that when this life is finished, the whole pattern is bound to be repeated with or without us waiting and watching for the moment when Venus once again would drift across the sun… the message that our faiths and convictions are pitifully tiny and gravely irrelevant no matter how much we exaggerate their worth because eternity doesn’t give a damn about what we think or how we feel, the message that no matter how desperately we try we could not make a dent in the universal order, let alone to inflict a heartbeat’s delay in the general cycle of birth and death and renewal because we are just humans and our understanding of our wisdom and energies borders on the delusional. Venus is telling us all of these, over and over again, and she has been doing so every hundred years. Someday we shall all be gone but the universal order goes on and on.

To accept that we are miniscule compared to the infinite realm is not to lose our self-worth. On the contrary, it is one significant step towards the discovery of the great secret of making every moment count and leaving an indelible trace in the course of our journey through life, just like the life well lived that will continue to inspire and to give hope long after it ended. The journey that Venus takes every hundred years across the sun speaks not so much of the fact that we are too small, and our life too short. Those things incidentally are facts and we cannot change them. However, the reason why people would like to witness the journey of Venus should not be overlooked or ignored. They do, we all do, because that one moment in time is so rare and unique and it is in the nature of man to value and covet that thing that we couldn’t have. But we must realized that these very attributes of rarity and uniqueness are inherent attributes in every man, the same way we find them in the journey of Venus across the sun. There will not be another sighting of Venus crossing the sun in a hundred years but we don’t have to look too far to realized that the bigger irony is this: there will be no other person quite like you or me forever and ever and until the end of time.

Each person is not quite like any other and for that matter, each one is a bigger miracle than all the journeys across the sun that Venus will ever make.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Completely Worthless Opinion on the Impeachment Trial

From the very start, I never wanted to comment on the issue. But I changed my mind in the end.

Now that everything is said and done the conviction of the disgraced Supreme Court Chief Justice should make you think twice before you despair or celebrate – whichever side of the fence you chose to be. With all due respect, I do not find the Chief Justice, rather the former Chief Justice as someone who could inspire me to get off the couch and take to the streets and try to rekindle the old flame of idealism of my youth. To be honest about it, were if not for the high-handed manner he was unseated, perhaps I would be among the first to march in the streets and call for his immediate removal. Fighting his fight can be disheartening, and in fact just the mere thought of doing it depletes my enthusiasm instantly, because frankly, there was no cause worth fighting for with him at the forefront. For nothing in this man or whatever he stood for or symbolized to us could reasonably agitate my hatred for corruption and the social ills.

I couldn’t relate, much less identify with his torments because as we all should know by now, he had it coming. In fact, I am almost completely swayed by the argument, as beautifully articulated by both the suit-clad lawyers from congress and by the sidewalk vendor that I spoke to, that the disgraced Chief Justice must be understandably measured against a yardstick of moral and ethical fortitude that rises over and above the standards by which we must judge the ordinary men. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I should quote a line I overheard from the loud conversation of neighborhood drunks just last night that, Corona’s lying declarations on the senate floor are unforgivable as the specter of the Pope committing an act of indiscretion. While the comparison is grossly exaggerating the point, it only meant that no allowance for human frailty should be given the man who stands alone and without peer in accepting the role of the ultimate symbol of justice and faith and hope to his people. Whether we like it or not, forgiveness is not for everybody.

However, that doesn’t mean I have been converted overnight into a believer of the Senate and for that matter, of the current administration. For every single reason I have to despise Corona, I have ten more reasons to feel like, figuratively, pounding the balding head of the man in Malacanang with the Senate President’s gavel. Here is the man who has done nothing to deserve the Presidency except that he remembered to insert his parent’s bio-data in his job-application. In between speeches calling for moral reforms and a shifting of the national direction into the straight and righteous path, he would emerge from some showroom behind the wheels of a mean slick Porsche and would be dating the likes of Grace Lee, although as of this writing, they are rumored to have already broken-up.

And while 80% of our people eke out a living on a dollar a day, the President’s sister would heroically wage a courageous battle against dandruff and oily skin by endorsing the latest beauty products for which she was being paid a “measly” talent fee of a few million pesos. In fact, his nephew Baby James at such tender age, is already taking his own share of sacrificing for the country by enduring the monumental task of gulping down a glass of milk before the cruel and heartless television camera for which the boy was paid predictably, talent fee the equivalent of a “paltry sum” by his family’s standards. Now that’s public service.

I wouldn’t applaud either, the act of the senate as a demonstration of high principles as all this funfare is plain and simple politics. The impeachment trial is flawed right from the start not having emanated from the legitimate cry for help by the poor and the oppressed but rather it was made to serve the purpose of the oppressor himself. Heck I will build a life-size monument of the 23 senators who voted yes and kneel in front of them every night and say a prayer in their honor before I retire to bed had the impeachment trial been the product not of presidential manipulation but of a simple and honest to goodness complaint from an ordinary citizen who got the wrong end of a Supreme Court decision. Then and only then can I say that the intention behind the whole exercise is laudable and pure. That the end justifies the means. But the way I see it, the senators have gladly accepted their demotion to a baby-sitting role next to a power-tripping spoiled brat of a president, who had already been served everything he wanted on a silver tray for no reason other than his pedigree.

Those who keep harping about the argument that the moral standards by which  to judge the Chief Justice must be of the God-like level of infalliability, let me throw these questions back to you. Wouldn't it be fair to expect that since we are dealing here with the Supreme Court's highest leader, don't you think it follows that the persons to judge him should themselves submit to the same exacting standards? If I were Chief Justice, would it be too much to ask that the person to pass judgment on me must at least be intelligent enough to know highschool-level English, or someone who did not earn his fame as a former comedian? And that the person to lead the whole process of my impeachment has no shady past? 

You can say all you want. Cite every legal citation there is to be found in the books. But all the legal doctrines and all the lawyers in the whole world cannot change my opinion on this one.

It’s not about principles. It’s all about politics.

Thank God, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a liar. Ha-ha-ha…