Maybe anger is the only emotion that moves me these days, that’s why I like provoking it. My latest method is accepting writing assignments that involve the government. It’s impossible to stay apathetic when you keep learning anew just how much bullshit they feed us everyday. There’s an anomaly everywhere you probe and you don’t even have to dig that deep.
The saddest was that time I researched about a certain organization that helps out marginalized communities. You might have already heard about this one—the PEACe Bonds scam. As per usual, it caused “some” money to be pocketed by certain people and certain private companies. Know what PEACe stands for? Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates. It’s been more than a decade and this one’s still unresolved. If you research further, you’ll find that the person who spearheaded this project is Dinky Soliman—she has since become the secretary of the, ehem, Department of Social Welfare and Development. You might have been hearing about her in last month’s news because Sen. Miriam is out to probe her about the unaccounted for 5 billion pesos over at Philpost. Even this news is old now and Dinky’s dirt is just getting absorbed into a word that’s been dulled into something people have just gotten used to. Oh, you know, “corruption.” Shrug. (Read about the PEACe Bonds scam here.)
That’s just one. It’s a given that Philippine politics is nasty business, but it’s even nastier. If you look beyond trending areas covered by the media, you’ll only find more. And then more.
There are more government projects other than the overpriced Makati buildings you need to dig about. I’m reading about heritage projects right now. So far, it’s not yet as bad as the last subject I researched—that one made me so miserable I actually cried.
Come, let’s work ourselves into astronomical rages.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing."
Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.
"Is this seat taken?" has got to be my favorite introduction. And because I am always out solo at some cafe trying to get some writing done (while keeping my eyes and ears perked for interesting going-ons)—the seat in question is always free.
This happened at a coffee and doughnut shop I frequent. Of all the coffee shops I like going to, this one is the nearest and the cheapest, but not the quietest. Aside from accommodating the spill of people from the adjacent mall, this shop is home to students who prefer taking selfies of themselves studying instead of actually studying.
It has a whole cast of recurring characters. There’s the shop manager who’s present every day, even on weekends. There’s the Chinese man whose hairline has completely receded—he always sits facing the window but is too busy tinkering with his touchpad to notice the view. There’s a barong-wearing man who is probably some hotshot executive from the chain’s office next door. He acts like he owns the place and I hate him. One time, just outside the shop, barong-guy stopped an errand boy hurrying inside from the drizzle and gestured for a cup of water as he was too busy talking on his phone. He didn’t even mouth or nod a thank-you—just grabbed the plastic cup, finished the water, and left the litter hanging on some trellis when the trash can was just two steps away. Having watched his show of arrogance in its entirety, I gathered all my things, marched outside, retrieved the plastic cup with a flourish, and made a spectacle out of throwing the damned thing in the trash can. And then I sashayed away, breaking eye contact only because my neck ain’t 360°-capable.
Then there’s me, with the mess of magazines and papers, scribbling away on a notebook in between intervals of unapologetic people-watching and eavesdropping. The staff recognizes me by my customary strawberry doughnut and black coffee combo, and the way my eyes dart from side to side in case barong-guy attacks from a piña bush.
And lastly, there’s the main character of this story—a man called Bong.