IF IT IS ANY consolation, at least she gets to retain her acronym of nine years, PGMA, albeit with the “P” bearing a surreal meaning this time. With the presidency now part of our nation’s past (Thank God!), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Philippines’ most reviled leader since Malakas at Maganda, potentially faces a bleak tomorrow—a future more sour than her insincere smile, more distracting than her facial mole, and even much less encouraging than his son Mikey’s movies, monumental flops at the box office.
This dim tomorrow, of course, she will fight against using the vast wealth she stole from the people and whatever is left of her political might. It is no wonder that the PGMA’s first legislative measure is to tinker with our constitution. It was filed on day one of her newfound job as representative of a district somewhere in Pampanga. She had to act immediately. It could not wait.
But of course. A truth commission, mandated to gather evidence and prosecute abusers in the previous regime, is already in place, and less than twenty four hours after Gloria stepped down from office, which marked the end of her immunity from lawsuit, various groups filed before the Department of Justice piles of cases against her.
I am sure PGMA is ready for the showdown. She is not unlike Voldemorth, the dark lord in the Harry Potter series. Having been defeated by a young boy in a magical duel, Voldemorth vanished, but not without leaving enough minions who would eventually make possible his return to power. Gloria left, but not without wreaking havoc on the bureaucracy with dubious midnight appointments, including that of Chief Justice Renato Corona, her former chief of staff. This on top of leaving empty government coffers, the biggest debt in our history, and oh-so-many scandals conspicuously hidden under the rug.
Sure, she had, long before June 30, devised ways to elude justice and to circumvent the law. Who knows, given the extent of her callousness, she might even be expecting monuments built in her honor, and not just in Pampanga. But fret not, dear karikna, it should be enough consolation for us that there is at least one law that Congressman Gloria and her faithful cohorts cannot, even with all their dark powers pooled together, repeal or amend. The law of karma.
Karma–from the Sanskrit word kri, “to do”–is the means by which you become the architect of your own destiny. Every human action–in thought, word, or deed– inevitably leads to results or consequences, positive or negative, depending upon the quality of the action. A cliché puts it simply, “what comes around goes around.” The universe has a perfect accounting system for all of our actions. No debt ever goes unpaid, no evil deed goes unpunished.
Although this concept is of Hindu and Buddhist origins, it also resounds in the Christian faith. “Be not deceived,” says Galatians 6:7-9, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that also he shall reap.” There is no escaping retribution.
To balance the equation, Malacañang carried out an expensive media blitz to showcase her “legacy,” the supposed fruits of her labor. In fact, even after President Noynoy Aquino was sworn in, Gloria’s TV ads, featuring a priest as host (how much, father?), continued to trumpet the fallen queen’s supposed achievements in her nine years of (mis)rule. But are we supposed to say thank you?
She bastardized our social institutions, politicized the military, and tolerated human rights abuses. She made world history as president of the country where the most number of journalists were killed in a single day. She swam unabashed in the murky waters of corruption—NBN ZTE deal, Fertilizer Fund Scam, and overpriced infrastructures like the boulevard she named after her father. She also dined in fancy US restaurants, spending millions, while the nation grieved the death of a mother whose integrity is in stark contrast with hers. The only good job I know of her is her b**b job. Yes it leaked, and she had to be rushed to the hospital to have it repaired. But at least the twins did not explode while she was doing her SONA or while she was on that to-die-for photo-op with Barack Obama. All is well.
There were times during her nine-year regime when I almost gave up the struggle, for I thought time of reckoning would never come. I particularly remember one incident when I almost did something I am not sure I can be proud of now if I did. I was invited to a public official’s birthday party where Gloria was special guest. At that time, I was fuming mad over the Fertilizer Fund Scam, knowing too tell how many farmers, including parents of my students, find themselves neck-deep in debts, as the fund was distributed in areas where there were no farms, only crocodiles farms—only politicians, and only those chummy to their supreme reptile.
At that party, there was flowing wine and beer. But not even SanMig Light, which usually makes me happy, was able to keep me cool. I was burning with anger as I saw her. My shining, shimmering, widening forehead was hot as coal. They say part of every human being is an aggressive, violent, uncivilized animal, that part of me awoke on that starry, starry night. I was drinking beer, and, with every gulp, I was plotting how to embarrass Gloria. I wanted to burst her bubble, and burst it hard.
Will I shout, “Magnanakaw! Thief!” or subtly whisper in her diminutive ears, “Hello Garci”? Funny thing is while I was engrossed in all of these thoughts, I was sharing the same table with the members of the Presidential Security Group. God, can they read minds? Did they smell what I was cooking? I didn’t know, I was busy drinking SanMig Light.
The party was coming to an end, and the president, as protocol dictates, would be first to exit. People lined up at the carpeted aisle while Gloria inched her way out. She shook hands with people she passed by. Cameras were flashing. Excitement was peaking. And then there she was, La Gloria, just three meters away from me… two meters… three feet… two feet… What shall I do now? How will it go? (Heart thumping widly) And then there she was, La Gloria, two inches away from me, she looked at me, smiled at me widely, offered his hand, and greeted me: Goodnight.
Stunned, I stood motionless… Everything seemed in a haze, but I had to act quick. I looked at her eyes, forced a smile, dragged my hand to hers, and replied: Goodnight, ma’am.
I went home that night trying to make sense of what happened. I wanted to shame her, but how could I have embarrassed a little girl who said good night? After a lot of processing, I eventually arrived at two important realizations: 1) that I can suppress my wild animal tendencies, and be civil even to objects of my wrath, and 2) that SanMig Light leads me to no harm. (Cheers!)
Justice is served in its own sweet time, and it will happen, in PGMA’s case, sooner than you can say soon, but that is if we do not falter, that is if we do not forget as easily as we usually do, and that is if Noynoy makes good his promise of leading us to the right path and of delivering Gloria to her rightful cell, sans the counterflow, sans the wangwang. And I did not even have to be arrested by the PSG, and be blacklisted in social functions, and be sent to jail where no SanMig Light flows.
And God knows, dear karikna, how much I love SanMig Light.