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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

All the frangipanis

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
October 11, 2004; posted at www.thefreeman.com

Countless white frangipanis have started to come off the temple tree now. One by one, the wind’s unseen hands pluck them off their niche. Soon, more would be joining a pile of these white blooms on a journey to decay, blown beyond the concrete high fence where I believe they chose to lie.

This has been the umpteenth time I have been watching those fallen frangipanis ten meters away from the verandah of this rented space I have in San Antonio Village, Mambaling. If only frangipanis have the eyes of today’s youth, certainly those would hold the stories of the hurt and anxiety of a lifetime.

If frangipanis could stand to symbolize the young generation, for sure they would have cried out loud to the winds to never ever stop from blowing so as to cut themselves off from the temple tree that has long been attacked by some frangipani rust and has caused them misery.

It would be impossible to attempt a count on how many frangipanis had fallen to the ground haplessly, or had chosen to be, or had preferred to be with the decaying ones since I arrived here six years ago. Maybe, seventy times seven. What I’m pretty sure of is that one, or two, or ten of these frangipanis would celebrate a thousand deaths than to be shaken or confronted by the country’s pressing issues.

If frangipanis are the youth of today, they are suffering the complications of frangipani rust. They have felt the acceleration of free trade and investment that opened doors not only to one but more countries to further rape our country’s natural resources. Sure, frangipanis do shudder at the thought of the easy entry of multinational corporations that further rape our hills, mountains, and pollute our rivers.

Again I watched the fallen frangipanis. Towards the end of the rainy season, most temple trees become deciduous and drop their leaves. The rainy season has only begun and yet a handful of frangipanis were already taken to the ground like some fallen soldiers. I liken frangipanis to our crop of young people - so delicate, so fresh, so beautiful, so full of life and vigor and vitality, but so vulnerable.

The youth of the nation today have been suffering the brunt of a government working on the ethos of “profit for profit’s sake”, implementing programs and pursuits that are delinked from social, cultural, and environmental considerations.

Most frangipanis do become beautiful blooms as they respond well to fertilizers, horticulturists say. I think what makes them beautiful is this ability to respond so well to human touch. Give a slight brush of your hand over those tricolor blossoms of white, rose and yellow lying on top of narrow leaves rolled backwards at the margins and they will sing soulful hymns of thanksgiving. To make the youth obey their leaders, this would require sound direction.To make them follow, leaders must guide. They are very much like frangipanis. They respond well to human touch.

But confronted by the talons that subject them to becoming preys of the illegal hiring of casuals for regular jobs and the unlawful subcontracting that deny them their right to security of tenure, and other issues like the lack of chairs and desks in schools, lack of work opportunities, broken homes, and many more—they respond with rebellion.

Of what good are the fertilizers of good laws authored by well-educated and intelligent legislators, when the ones who make the laws are the ones who first break them? Of what good would it make being attached to a temple tree when all that it has offered these years is suffering?The drug menace tops the list of frangipani rust, killing softly one beautiful temple tree. It has its tentacles of contagion slowly disabling the youth sector.

About 80% of the crimes committed in the country are related to drug abuse. It is deemed impossible to cut the head of the monster because of the illegal drug trade. Being a very profitable business with an earning of over P30B a year, it is being backed up by legislators, elected officials, hoodlums in robes.

All the frangipanis have started to come off the temple tree now. One by one, they prefer to be plucked off a decaying niche by the wind’s unseen hands. One by one, they choose to shut eyes that hold stories of hurt and anxiety of a lifetime. There are plenty of concerns to blah about, yet all the frangipanis prefer to lay their cases back to the dust.

(For your comments, reactions, suggestions and contributions, crank up my addies: wild_pechay@yahoo.com or pinay_mangatkatay@yahoo.com)

***Addy buddies. “Good day to you! I have read the Monday issue of The Freeman newspaper and admired the article you wrote “…And Dodong got the job”. It really takes confidence and determination to get what you want. The article gives me a whole perspective of how am I gonna be dealing with the challenges of being a struggling advertising student. I have always looked up to these people who really work hard. Dodong should serve as inspiration to those who are at the verge of giving up. He is such a hard worker and delivered well, and yet his feet remain planted on the ground all through these years - willing to help other people in need and serve as inspiration. Well, I should know because he is my dad. More power and kudos to your next articles! – squeezed orange <rainetala@hotmail.com.>

“Sinubukan kong pag-aralan ang pagsusulat ng alibata noong mga huling yugto ng 1998. Ginagamit ko yata iyon para ikoda ang mga “sikreto” sa mga talaan ko, para hindi agad mabasa ng mga mapag-usisang mga mata. Sayang at hindi ko tinuloy ang paggamit pa nito. Nakakatuwa rin kasing mapaalalahanan na napakayaman na ng kultura ng mga katutubong Pilipino noong panahon bago dumating ang mga Kastila. Kinakatawan ng sarili nating sistema ng pagsusulat: tulad ng alibata, na may potensyal na sana sa pag-unlad ang mga katutubo noon pa. Pinagmamalaki ko ang mga katutubong kulturang Pilipino, at di mabilang na yaman nito. Mabuhay ang kulturang katutubo!” – Mouse “Bubwit” de la Torre .