A modest explanation, and a thank you
Thank you to all who have expressed their understanding and best wishes for me and my family.
There are a number of reasons for suspension of the blog.
At the root, as many supposed, is a concern for my family’s well-being, cast against the unkindness inspired by a leader who seems to want to use threat to remake the Philippines in his own image, which, as far as I can tell, is without remorse or respect for the values of civility and laws that bind diverse peoples to one community for the well-being of all.
I am not a citizen and am not afforded the protections of citizenship. Indeed, there are obligations under my visa that I must respect.
I also have an increasingly hard time staying connected because of Globe’s deteriorating service. It is hard to do research or respond to comments. I can’t maintain the quality of blog I envision.
The tenor of the discussions is turning to crap with the arrival of Duterte agents who don’t come to discuss, but to flame the blog by challenging my personal integrity, seeking to restrain the blog’s voice and demanding that we give the President time to show us the promise of his decisions. I grow disheartened with the arrival of this caliber of character and intellect, one that refuses to respect the elegance of the blog’s discussion format. It’s a disease I don’t want in my brain or blog. It is not an accident. It is the way the Duterte internet bosses run things.
Under President Duterte, I suspect that there will be a good many big winners and many, many, many big losers, and of the latter we already have over 1,000 plus their grieving family members. With more on the way. I get angry, too much, too often. We are losers, too, those of us who want nothing more than sincere, honest, earnest debate stripped of the gameplaying.
This government is unkind, is it not? On some days it seems a veritable ship of fools.
I say ‘ship of fools’ with a wince, knowing that the motto of the blog, concocted from some long-lost literary chemistry with Edgar Lores: “O’ rise ye land of happy fools!” It is meant fondly to cheer the rise of the nation and grant respect for the travails foisted upon resilient, fun-loving, fiesta-warm Filipinos bound in poverty and struggle by a class of entitled, self-involved barons.
By way of example, I cite Senators Pimentel and Cayetano, grown-up adult men smart enough to pass the bar exam but not smart enough to figure out that a candidate who challenges a reporter by questioning how smelly his wife’s vagina is just might not be in tune with modern standards of compassion and care found in human rights principles.
Well, they excuse it and spin it as a joke and thereby hold no one accountable for one of the most gross verbal abuses I’ve witnessed in my rather lengthy life. And then there were others, many any others, to follow. All excused. Rationalized away by a set of people who deny that civility is important. Thus, we see the entitlements of the class of impunity. They say they have to kill people because the courts are slow, but they are escape artists themselves. And they help their fellow con men escape, too. They built the laws that make the courts work badly.
And so, as the bodies roll in, and these two characters hold to their positions, denying any respect for the integrity of democracy and decency, quite willing to enable the abuses of the Duterte-inspired thugs who threaten us and demand that we forgo our free speech rights so the President can execute his killings without anyone saying, “Hey, STOP! That’s not RIGHT!”.
The number of intelligent, powerful people who are quite alright with things is astounding. And discouraging.
These people have control over the ship of fools. They are leaders or they are enablers.
My advice, my opinion, is so simple that I feel like an idiot having to tell any modern man or woman this: Stop the abuses. Stop the nonsense. Understand and LIVE right over wrong, not “What’s in it for me?”
Drugs are a problem. Agreed. But exterminating a slice of Filipino humanity to justify ruthless one-man rule . . . well, it’s a game we’ve seen played out in history time and time again, and it’s one game too far for this sailor.
. . . . . . . . . .
This blog has become infinitely more than I could ever have imagined.
I would first like to think the Society’s Chief Marketing Officer, President Benigno Aquino III, who sent the blog fast-forward in his SONA a couple of years ago. Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for your over-abundant kindness in hosting my family to a thank-you lunch as your term wound down. I do think Joe Junior is well on his way to being another MLQ3, a font of Filipino knowledge and insight, thanks to that little excursion.
President Aquino for sure had particular requirements for the people he hired: integrity, decency, intelligence. I appreciate having had the chance personally to meet Secretary Cesar Purisima and his wife Carazon, Edwin Lacierda, Abigail Valte, Manolo Quezon III, Secretary Mar Roxas, Eric Gutierez, and others who always, always, welcomed me with a smile and good wishes. I still owe Leah Navarro a hug, and understand I am owed one by Secretary Dinky Soliman. Leah was my conduit to Mar Roxas and the President, and a more stalwart loyalist I cannot imagine. Sings pretty good, too. If legislators had even one ounce of her character, this nation would have good laws and good behavior, too.
Next I would like to thank three-enduring veterans of Filipino blogging from the days of Filipino Voices, long-time contributors Bert, Karl and manuelbuencamino. Three more stalwart, generous, but firm nationalists of the courageous and humorous kind, I cannot imagine. They mentored me, taught, explained, repeated until I learned that the Philippines and her peoples should be judged for their own integrity, which is substantial, if just a tad different than America. Well, I was a slow learner at times, but they persevered, and I finally got to the place where few foreigners get . . . acceptance and appreciation and a huge, huge fondness for the riches to be found here, if one just stops trying to fit people into the wrong box.
Ah, and then there are the five amigos, the first guest-writers, the people whose amazing insights and way with words took the blog from one guy’s ramblings to a place where real thinking took place. Mature thinking. Good thinking. Edgar Lores single-handedly extracted and enumerated the lessons and the lingering questions from my articles and pasted layer upon layer of order and wisdom and REASON upon them. Cha, the humanist of all humanists, one of the kindest people I know, even with her famous elephant doing its business. Andrew Lim. Josephivo. Juana Pilipinas. Ah, my. Such good, good people. They brought their own personalities and insights and richness to the blog. They brought professional work and I paid them nothing for it.
During the past year or two, we were privileged to have new guest writers publish, and grew even deeper with the real-life experiences and historical file that is the inimitable Irineo B. R. Salazar, the heart and love of Will Vilanueva, and the thorough professionalism and financial expertise of Chempo. Absolute brilliance in three very different packages.
Lance Corporate X challenged us to get outside our conventions and start taking care of the earth, and each other, better. Popoy the poet and artist (Andy Ibay), Caliphman, Micha, Primer, Taga Bundock (Steve), Bill in Oz . . . all gave us slices of themselves and fresh perspectives, like the spices added to make a fine dish delicious.
Loyal readers, so many. NHerrera, our numerologist, a friend. Sonny, a man of grace and good will who knows the Philippines and major players like few others. Also a friend. Mary Grace P. Gonzales, everyone’s angel. Our conscience.
I’d like to thank the journalists . . . Tomas “Buddy” Gomez III, Raissa Robles and her husband Alan, and blogger Noemi Dado (momblogger) for welcoming me as a colleague and giving me room to be myself. I actually felt I belonged . . .
I dare not go further because I am sure to omit someone who deserves mention. The blog has tabulated 88,000 comments. Can you imagine? So much intelligence and GIVING. If it could be marshaled to lead this nation, we’d be first world in six months. And wouldn’t have to kill anybody to get there.
We have some 8,500 people who receive the blog when it is published. Such honor they grant us. I thank each and every follower, the readers and the lurkers, for giving meaning to what we write.
Giving and receiving, that’s the method of the blog. So much good thinking, you know? Such a success . . . and honor . . . I could not imagine a few years ago when we were pulling in 50 reads a day and Edgar and I were manning the chat room ahahahaha.
Even my favorite Chinese troll, Obed, helped by teaching us how it is done. The Duterte trolls are amateurs by comparison.
Thank you all. Every single person who made this blog tick.
I’ll be around. I’m not abandoning ship. Just pursuing a needed change to take care of my family, getting some rest and exercise, and being true to the terms of my visa. I will miss our eloquent, elegant arguments. But we graduate, you know? There are new ways to contribute . . . we can find them . . .