Living in Paradise
Living In Paradise
Last week I returned from America to my mountain home in Valencia. I felt
the usual sense of exhilaration and well-being as the aircraft approached
Sibulan airport. After the inevitable haggling over prices, an ancient
*habal-habal* charged through the bustling Dumaguete traffic overflowing
with throngs of laughing people. Soon the mountain range of Mt. Talinis
loomed invitingly in the distance. I was home.
Have you ever briefly met someone whose conversation subsequently impacted
you in a significant way? I have. It happened again during last week’s
flight from Cebu to Dumaguete. Details of the conversation with the young
lady who chatted with me keep resurfacing. Since she was soon to marry, we
were discussing the importance of good parenting. Suddenly, she opened up
about her evil father who, for some unfathomable reason, she still loves. I
won’t go into significant details about this monster’s behavior, other than
to say his reprehensible physical and emotional abuse of his defenseless
children should have resulted in him being jailed for the rest of his life,
and the key thrown away.
Adding insult to injury, he repeatedly taunts his now-adult daughter about
the “conquests” he makes with young girls. He even shows his daughter
photos of these unfortunates. Despite his abhorrent behavior, all his
lovely daughter wants is some confirmation of love from him. Last Father’s
Day when she called to wish him well, he put the phone down on her.
My heart breaks for this young lady, and for all others who suffer at the
hands of evil monsters. If there is hell, let evil parents such as that
father burn there, screaming throughout eternity.
As my column title *Outside Looking In* says, I fully understand I’m an
outsider and literally ignorant about most aspects of Philippine society.
One element that I’m at a total loss comprehending is the never-ending
circus of scandals, alleged and too often real corruption, resulting in
tribunals being set up, and televised senate and congressional hearings
about alleged misdeeds of countless individuals.
What’s the reason for this corruption? The answer I’m usually given is that
it’s a trait inherited from the Spaniards, an unwelcome gift from the
colonial days. But surely, that’s no excuse to allow the perpetuation of
this cancer in our society.
The recent case of alleged corruption involving the Chief justice of the
Philippine Supreme Court particularly disturbs me. As a former attorney,
I’m not naive about the sanctity of the legal system, but the possible
impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno greatly disturbs me.
You know how critical I can be of America, but one shining jewel in the
system there is the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court. It
would be unthinkable for any Justice at that level to be involved in such
What’s happening here is tragic, and reflects poorly on the judiciary,
politics, and Philippine society in general.
Never make any woman, particularly a Filipina, sufficiently angry to spew
venom at you. This is a lesson belatedly being learned by yet another
politician currently running for cover. COMELEC Chair Bautista is involved
in an embarrassing public display with his estranged wife Patricia, who
alleged he has illegally-acquired a large fortune from the government, and
placed in properties and cash accounts.
The presumption of innocence stands, but sadly, it’s another case in the
never-ending series of probes into corruption in Philippine politics. And,
as usual, it will probably lead to no jail time or any significant
penalties if the accused is found guilty. But if a person from the ghetto
is caught with three hundred pesos worth of shabu to harm only himself, he
may be shot dead and nobody cares.
Is it perhaps a form of spectator sport, an over-the-top drama that
Filipinos enjoy, an alternative for the regular TV soap operas? Don’t
people ever get tired of the ridiculous posturing of the politicians, the
accusers and the accused, as they loudly proclaim guilt or innocence? And
according to the accused, regardless of the merits, charges of corruption
are *always* politically-motivated.
It’s revolting to see the politicians from all parties strutting like game
cocks for the TV camera either indignantly proclaiming their virginal
innocence, or vehemently condemning their opponents.
It would all be laughable were it not for the incalculable cost to
Philippine society, and the harm it inevitably does to those most
vulnerable. As always, after the dust settles, and the ignored Commission
reports gather dust, those politicians and others who are corrupt will
prosper, while, as always, the poor cry unseen tears.
Earlier today, I sat quietly sipping coffee while light slowly broke
through the darkness, and the jungle erupted into its ritual morning song.
A rich cacophony of sound moved with increasing frenzy across the valley.
Then further down, mist slowly drifted, showing me the ocean, with the
island of Cebu in the distance.
Yet again, I’m reminded of my privilege living in paradise here in Negros
Oriental. And for that, I’m deeply grateful.
This Article was first published in the Dumaguete Metropost on September
The author’s latest book “More Almost True Irish Stories” may be purchased from the Amazon
Shortly after arriving into Dumaguete, Michael intuitively knew it was the right place for him. Everything seemed to be right. It was and is. In addition to enjoying the way of life, he also met a special Pinay, and is living contentedly with her near the city.
He now operates Veritas Consulting Group, a company dedicated to helping other expats and Returning Filipinos with their transition to life in Dumaguete City and surrounding areas
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org