I read a very chilling news story this morning about a young 32 year old mother who forced her children, aged 4, 3 and 2, to drink a bottle of liquid toilet bowl cleaner and having herself drink the same out of desperation due to extreme poverty, midnight of Monday in Magdalena, Laguna. This made me shiver in fright because I know that there are people in dire straits everywhere in the country and that this story can be repeated over and over again. A person with an empty stomach cannot think logically. The pangs of hunger coupled with sleepless nights is a deadly combination which can lead to depression with catastrophic effects.
What is frightening is that in a land where there are people who live in extreme poverty like ours, crime and other related activities can and will take place. The young mother, depressed and hungry could have opted to steal, join a bunch of thugs and sow terror, or resort to drug peddling like the others who have broken the law just to gain leverage in life. However, she did not choose to. Instead, she decided to end it all, depriving her kids of a life, which she was certain would have been lived in misery anyway. Whose heart would not bleed for a parent, who out of desperation, will decide to kill the little angels whom she has carried for nine months, fed, bathed and cared for lovingly in her arms? Who would not be sympathetic to a life full of misery that one would force her children to death and commit suicide herself?
In another story a justice of the appellate court has been dismissed by the Supreme Court due to grave misconduct while some of his peers were either suspended or reprimanded as a result of the battle for management control of Meralco by the Lopezes and the GSIS. Allegedly, there is a Php10M - Php50M bribe being discussed. This is nothing compared to the ZTE broadband deal which seems to have died a natural death. And to think how magnanimous in proportion the powers that be are quarelling over in that event in our history. Then I get to thinking, yes, there are people who have been numb to the sorry plight of our countrymen. They have been numbed by greed and power. We must remember that a great deal of our misfortune is brought about by corruption, an ill which our leaders seem to have perfected. A malaise which they have been afflicted with making them lose their conscience much so for the lone witness of the ZTE deal Lozada advise them to "moderate the greed."
We must face it. We are living in a country where majority of the populace is clinging to a knife for dear life. A hungry man will not care whether he goes to hell or not. How much beating can they take? There will come a time when these rich, powerful, unconscionable, sordid men and women will not have a fence too high to protect them, there will not be enough bullets for their guns to kill the multitude of people wanting to merely get a whiff of the comforts they cherish, there will not be enough cordon sanitaire to fend off thieves wanting some cash from their deep pockets and not enough armor to shield them from a hungry mob. Edwin Markham says it best in his Man with the Hoe when in the last stanza he says:
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings--
With those who shaped him to the thing he is--
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?
Sometime in 2005, I wrote a tagalog poem entitled Malapot na Tubig which appeared in the first chapbook produced by Pinoy Poets and in an American ezine produced by Filipino expats called Our Own Voice. Never did I know that I would be reading the same story in real life. I am republishing it here and it goes like this:
Malapot Na Tubig
Ni Rolly delos Santos
Ipikit mo ang iyong mga mata anak.
Humimlay ka sa matigas na sahig.
Pawiin mo ang mga bantulot,
Pabayaan mong liparin
mga agam-agam sa himpapawid.
Kukumutan kita ng telang manipis,
mabigyan man lamang ng konting lunas
pangangatal ng iyong mga ngipin.
Sasabayan ko ng yakap na mahigpit
nang ika'y makatulog nang ubod himbing.
Sana'y iyong patawarin
Amang hungkag at nagdarahop
Pinalaki ang iyong hubad na isipang
Walang natutunan dahil sa karalitaan.
Ininom nating malapot na tubig
tanging lunas upang mapatid ang gutom natin.
Bukas, kung sakali mang ito'y dumating
Sa langit na ang ating gising
© Rolly delos Santos