Contrary to what many say, the move of the Gloria Arroyo-controlled House of Representatives to ram through our throats a change in the Cory Constitution through a constituent assembly, with the lower part of Congress—the silong as venue—was not a desperate move.
A calculated step it was. A neatly-planned gamble, with hedged bets running to millions of pesos and with expected windfall running to millions more. It was a closely-knit operation: hatched on the birth date of the NUCD-LAKAS-Kampi merger.
It, too, was a masterfully-executed stratagem, with no less that Speaker Prospero Nograles and company breaking bread and clinking wine glasses with the devil in the last day of the regular session; very late into the night when most of us were in deep stupor because we didn’t have a proper dinner.
No, the operation was not a clutching-at-straws thing. It had a conspiratorial tone in it, a “let’s-screw-the-people” script written no less by a director and her fawning assistants who had done it before, but who had failed. Restrained.
To this blogger, however, who could get tribal as he can be naive, this brand new political theater is humorous—not horrifying—entertainment. The play is no less than an attempt to make the Philippines, once and for all, a Republic of Pigs.
Past experiments of the past two presidents, Ramos and Estrada, did not succeed in transforming the country into a parliamentary banana, although there had been observations that we need not wear a coat to become one, as we, these observers further say, were already the monkey’s favorite food since Ferdinand Marcos cheated his way into re-election in 1965 by making a squash out of the father of today’s Malacanang tenant.
A pig Republic? Hmm, why not, for a change.
In Sibale, the silong of a house is tall and large. In a silong, one can stand erect on his full head and not touch the paruyos—the parallel-series of lumber on which the sayog, or the floor, made of bamboo slats, are fastened and nailed. In the main house, one can see, observe fully, through the bamboo slats the events that happen below, in the silong, and make something of the coming and going of its exalted denizens.
The silong is a menagerie. It is—with a single entrance and exit—a fenced abode to dogs, cats, goats, pigs and fowl that at dusk assemble and make the cool, shaded place home through the uncertain night. On the earthen floor of the silong these animals lie to take a rest and sleep their dreams away or to contemplate the future. They mostly quarrel though.
Thus, tere is no peace in the silong, for within its quarrelsome ranks the pig asserts itself as tyrant, not merely because of its heft, but more so because of its attitude. He—if it’s a boar; she, if a sow—claims, no, devours, everything that the human ruler, the resident on the floor above, throws under as a matter of course.
This ‘everything’ includes leftover food, dish water, or yayog, root crop and fruit and vegetable peelings, spoilt milk and stale cheese and smelly fish, all of which are collectively called bahog, or animal feed. In bahog and yayog pigs thrive. We don’t call these kaning-baboy for nothing. They are for this glutton of an animal. Pig.
Do pigs pig out? I think yes. Throw in them the kitchen sink and they will devour it. In another house, also a menagerie but inhabited by humans, leave a roll of bathroom tissue lying around and the chance of it getting signed—if a promise of good tidings is forthcoming—is greater than winning a bet in lotto. That’s gluttony.
In the silong, the pig muscles its way through, bares it teeth, to deny the fowl, the goat, the dog, and the cat a fair share of the bounty the human master allocates. It declares enmity to whatever animal crosses its path, even if only accidentally or coincidentally. The other house very similarly looks like this.
The pig, this selfish, ill-considerate animal, groans to sound off that he is at war with his fellow creatures. If the pig can talk, he will, during their nightly assembly in the silong, might even file a resolution expanding the boundaries of his earthly turf. If he can argue, he might say, "No, don't you worry fellow animals. Only the economic provisions of our charter will be touched to ensure that we are well-fed." And who will—can—prevent him? He is the pig, and even the mild-mannered goat can only nibble at a dry twig at the corner, helpless.
How about the dog? Ah, the loyal creature may have eternal dislike for the cat, but he, too, in the face of a rampaging boar, can only hide his tail between his hind legs, while the cat can only lick its paws and scratch her ears, helpless.
Never mind the hen. She lays eggs, so she can retire to a safe corner in the silong, far from the pig’s line of fire. She is not only helpless. She could also be helpful as fodder to the pig, if anything just as a hair of a feather is caught by the animal.
This situation in the menagerie I have observed to be true when I was a child in an island called Sibale. As I observed, my contempt for the pig and his unmitigated selfishness and insatiable hunger, grew in proportion to my appetite for pig tails, pig ears, pig innards and pig intestines cooked in pig’s blood, ginger and coconut vinegar. As rinug-an, pork is much, much harmless than the living creature.
As a grown-up and not so unlearned in the ways of politicians, I observed a similar brusque, in-your-face, muscling-in, so-what, the-people-are-stupid, what-are-we-in-power-for, conduct in the other house, the House of Representatives; the very same, if not worse-than, pig attitude that led to the constituent assembly conspiracy which is now the object of the public’s ire and civilized societies’ ridicule.
Let us not, however, limit the circle of interested parties who riled and made a case—and cause—against the constituent assembly stab-at-the-back.
In Sibale, I phoned a friend to ask how the animals, notably the pig, in the menagerie, reacted to the news.
“They were amused that people would flock to the streets to oppose it,” he said matter-of-factly.
“I think they welcome the news and believe that Filipinos are trying be like them,” he added, “because I heard the pig said,”
“Now, it would not be difficult for us to have a quorum. We can decide to kick out our master and occupy the whole house.”