Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘government’

Movie Perspective On “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno”: Clashing Political Woes

I couldn’t wait to get into that cinema as my friend and I were antsy at that line to get our hotdogs and popcorn. We have waited to see the second part of Rurouni Kenshin movie for weeks. And the day has finally arrived.

I have been an ultimate die-hard fan of the anime series since highschool. To prove it, I have a few Kenshin collectibles like posters and soundtrack CDs (and I’ve memorized every song!). I never got tired watching the English/Tagalog-dubbed series over and over, regardless of being replayed on-air for the nth time. And when the live action series came out on silver screen last year, of course I did not miss it.

Just like for most Kenshin fans, both films did not disappoint, as they captured the very essence of the original series. Though there had been some changes in the storyline in order to crunch it to cinema time, the films remain faithful to the series, which was retitled then as Samurai X. The actors, which I believe were well picked, captured the very soul of the characters we had so well-loved, and the well-choreographed sword fights brought back my nostalgia of excitement.

Though the Rurouni Kenshin remake sticks to the original, the difference it made is how I viewed the story now from when I watched it more than ten years ago.

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno depicts one of the series’ darkest yet most significant battles. Kenshin was called by the Meiji government to eliminate Shishio Makoto, who was a former assassin like him at the fall of the shogunate. Seeing the dangers of Shishio’s backlash against Japan’s reformed government and to the innocent lives of its constituents, the former Battousai had to make a hard decision to take the assignment given to him. That means, leaving his newfound friends and the possibility of returning of becoming a killer once more.

When I was younger, this part was like a linear battle of good and evil. But if I would see it again at this point of age, I’d see more of its political point.

Though the story’s set up is in 1878, the political woes operating within its government reflect what could be happening right now. When Home Minister Okubo Toshimichi sought for Kenshin’s assistance, he gave him a truce to be rewarded and to acquit the atrocities they might have faced — like Megumi’s involvement in the opium operation. Though the public officials asked Kenshin “in good faith”, it is a cover up of the consequences they had committed. In the first place, Shishio had been serving them before the shogunate fell. But Okubo admitted that they had him eliminated because of the horrible murders he had committed, which were actually done for the sake of the Meiji government. Now, they did not expect for Shishio to be alive and was planning to take over the government that once betrayed him.

So, who’s right and wrong? Seems easy to answer when I was 16. But what complicates here was Shishio’s poisoned viewpoint and bitter hatred was just the result of another’s betrayal.

Today, I could see how those who want to remain in power try their best not to let their enemies have a seat in the government. If one dynast or administration loses its power in the government, their enemies who take their place can have the power to put them in jail or just get rid of them. They had to make sure that no one can stand against them so that their atrocities against the country would be kept secret and to remain in power. Heads of state would call this reform. But, actually, this is revenge.

The reformed government in Kenshin’s time reflects this fear in most of our present leaders. The terms of diplomacy they have as their weapon appears useless to a militant force who uses war as its strategy. Apparently, both sides could not meet, so they had to hire someone like Kenshin who has the skill for battle. Though the political perspective is not highlighted in both anime and film, it was made clear they the government is one of the binding forces that try to shape destiny, trying to pick on soldiers and ex-soldiers like chess pieces for their own purposes.

So, who’s the victim? Each becomes a victim when a vengeful decision was made against the wrong done to them. Even Shishio himself was a victim — to the hatred he kept against his enemies.

Kenshin himself had a different viewpoint from these political leaders. He saw the changes of the times, which are made by the choices those in power and the simple people, as well. He’s no politician, and never vied to be one. But, as an ex-soldier turned civilian, he was moved to fight Shishio when he saw innocent lives being trampled by these clash of powers. Here is a man who forsake the way the sword for peace and exchanged bloodlust into mercy. His character sounds too good to be true, but that’s the Kenshin we love. And this is the positive viewpoint he wanted to impart and leave in this bloodstained world.

So far, we left the cinema with a cliff hanging effect in us. Oh, yes, it’s a cliff hanging film, so as not to spoil those who have not seen it yet. But, I can’t wait for its third part The Legend Ends which will be on September! Right now, all I want to do is revive that Kenshin nostalgia by listening to my CD…um, anybody got a CD player? 🙂

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To the Old Leaders (and the Leaders After)

Dear ex-politician.
We’re through with your speeches. It’s not yet 2016 but you sound like resonating it. Are you haunted by the ghosts of your guilt in office that’s why you keep on ranting your past achievements? Or are you scared that we not convinced enough of your contributions? Besides, you did not run to be famous. This lame motion had driven most to a misconception that politics is part-time showbiz. If only I can move the motion for the seperation of entertainment and state.
What I have heard from you is maddening for a sane person like me. What did I get from your fancy buildings and weird structures? Did it lessen the poulation of the poor and isolated? Did it brought up exposure to who’s guilty of corruption? We’re not asking for gods in the pillars of government. We’re looking for fathers and compassionate leaders ready to sacrifice their self-worth for the good of his people.
Your so-called achievements can only come for a season, but it is the meaningful legacy that lasts forever. Your name can be erased from the etches of time. But the sacrificial love you leave to the people you serve matters most. It is through this selflessness that changes a generation. This can make an impact to the next and can enrich the values of the generation after.
New politicians are emerging. I’m searching for the ones who would be kind enough to think of the people around them. Making robust speeches won’t work. We’re through with gimmick. If you have had been selfless enough when you we’re in position, I wonder how much had been changed in my generation today.
Sincerely,
Watching Citizen

Vetoed

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pwede kong pinirmahan itong batas na ‘to, pogi tayo, pero alam ko hindi mami-meet ng gobyerno. (I can sign this law. I’d look good but I know that the government cannot meet this).”

Such was Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s honesty when he was asked yesterday on why he vetoed (or “voted against”) the Magna Carta for the Poor. He straightforwardly told us reporters that the law sounded good, but the government still does not have the means to meet its demands.

I’ve appreciated his stand on why he vetoed it. As he said, he did not do it because he was anti-poor. He cleared that the law was good, as it is his administration’s priority to look at the welfare of the poor. Only, he said, this law lacked “progressive realization.” Let me explain his take.

As the Philippines is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic Culture and Social Rights of the United Nations, this treaty realizes that the government, if it can have the ability, to meet all the rights of the poor.

While leering over his copy of the Magna Carta of the Poor, the president read to us Section 4, which states:

“The poor shall have the following rights, the enjoyment of which is an essential step towards poverty alleviation:

a) the right to food

b) the right to employment and livelihood

c) the right to quality education

d) the right to shelter

e) the right to basic health services and medicines.

The government shall, as a matter of duty and obligation, provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of these rights of the poor and which the poor can demand as a matter of right.”

There’s just one problem — our budget cannot meet all of these rights. At this point, about 26 percent of the 95 million San Juan City-20121226-00480Filipinos belong to the poverty line.

In order to meet the right to housing and shelter alone, the president cleared that the government would need P2.320 trillion pesos to build housing units to every poor families.

This estimate is larger than the very national budget itself, which is at P2.006 trillion.

The president added that if he had signed it, it might end up government agencies being sued due to lack.

As I read and reread the transcript of his ambush interview, I appreciated how he had saved our fellowmen from another felony and from dire consequences.

Talking with fellow palace reporters, we agreed how this law would have been another burden to both government and the people. One of them said that government should not just give away “perks” to the poor easily to spoon feed them — it’s better to teach them to work for it.

And so, the saying goes, “Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This is not just said in schools. This should be true in our society. It’s easy to give to please anybody, but it doesn’t help all the time. Giving out these basic rights sounds good. Yet, there are setbacks in just distributing them without teaching society how to be good stewards of these rights. My fellow reporter even said that it would have better if the government uses the funds to focus on the education of every men. I agreed, adding that the mindset of many today is to depend on the feeder without getting off the table to get his own food.

Besides, what are your rights if you do not know how to use them? It’s like giving an extremely expensive, brand new toy to a reckless little kid who would just wreck it completely after a few hours. It would be a waste. Until all in society is ready to be responsible to these rights meant for them, the government should not succumb to the thought of giving it away.

After the vetoing of the law, the president ordered a social cluster group to study and come up with a substitute law for the poor.

A law may sound good, but it should be balanced with the realization of the targeted needs. The law is not meant to label one a hero, without realizing it would be a liability to many.

I just hope that the substitute law would be realistic and would be more strategic in meeting the needs of the poor without plunging anybody to the gutter. To make such a law is complex, and it would take a thorough study for an absolute poverty alleviation in our society.

Unifying Diversified Thoughts

To know both sides is a matter of humanistic fairness. We are all made in diversity and yet we try to be as fair as we should be, listening to every angle to know the truth behind. In my work as a journalist, I noticed how different government and civilians views are to one another. Besides that, in every sectors of society, different groups have emerged, taking up a stand for something…or someone.

It’s fortunate to be a free nation, giving a chance for every voice to be heard. I’ve been to different rallies, and I wonder how and where do they get their passion to fight for their cause and rally in the streets no matter how small their numbers can be.

The government in turn tries to appease every groups. But no matter how, not everyone can be appeased. The fight and the call will never end…until both sides will humble themselves and listen.

It’s not an evil thing to be passionate for a cause. It is the one thing that keeps us determined to fight for it. Without it, there’s no reason to live. Yet, one thing that society lacks is humility. I understand that if we lay down ourselves, unlearn the twisted views we have on one another, and listen, nothing can be solved and it will remain as a cycle in generations after generations.

No matter how the government tries to make the most systematic plans for the economy, no matter how loud every NGO’s cry for appeal, every action we make will just bounce on each other’s wall of pride. We expect the government to do everything we demand, the government in return maintains its auspiciousness despite of the transparency it magnifies. It takes two to tango. Without humility, we’ll be blinded by our suspicions until we grab the power handed to us.

But here’s the One thing that we’ve been missing in our society. Our trust in God. Ok, I don’t mean to sound religious here. The Philippines has been considered as the only Christian nation in Asia…but that does not mean we fully trust Him. We can say “In God we trust,” just like the first American government, but we can say without leaving our hearts to Him. Once we do, that is the sign of genuine humility. It’s like saying, “We’re partners in nation building, God.”

It is not an easy thing and to see this must take a lot. We have to be ready to lay down and unlearn our poisonous doctrines in order to push through for a revived society.

Shifting Local Parameters

I’m not astounded by the pool of Korean correspondents who went to the Palace last Monday. Together with the palace’s usual reporters, they had arrived to watch out SK Pres. Lee Myung-Bak’s state visit to the Philippine’s highest leader. Somehow, though they look totally different from us, I find them as a common sight. Maybe, because I meet a lot of their brothers anywhere I go.

The sight of SK media and diplomats remind me of how they are flourishing in the city streets, especially in posh, business districts like Ortigas. But it’s a wonder that even though I see them blend in the dusty, Manila façade, I rarely see them go along with Pinoys.

Birds of the same feather, flock together, they say. I somehow understood that foreign nationals would go with their own kind because of the similarities of their interests, much like we Filipinos would go along with our own brothers when staying abroad. But I notice that we, Pinoys, are confident enough to be friendly with the other nationalities. My theory: we have become adapted to an international tongue called English.

And this is what other Asians envy us for. This is the reason a rich nation like SK would be willing to send its people so we can teach them a language not born in our motherland. Indeed, Pres. Aquino see this as a positive indication that the nation is getting an improvement in its working environment. It’s no wonder English Korean schools came about like mushrooms.

I used to be one of the jobless people given a short stint in a small English school – for at least two months. Thanks to these English schools owned by Korean heads, we’re given jobs and our economy is given a chance to boost a healthy influx of wealth. I tried to be happy with the nicer students, though. But soon I realized that I wasn’t being productive at all because I felt I was not taken cared of as an employee.

It’s the same when I worked in a BPO company. I realized I wasn’t enjoying my job because it’s not my dream. But here’s another reason: this local employee produces wealth for the foreign employer.

We might be thankful that foreign investors come into the country and help our economy. They make themselves rich through our manpower and resources. The government in turn, get a good deal through the influx of money through our skills. But the law of investments is something that does not get a balanced give and take rule. I believe it’s the investors who get the largest percentage of these investments while we only get a small part of it (even though the salary looks big in our terms because of our low way of living from these foreign investors).

I’m not saying that working for a foreign boss is a sin. I’m also not saying that having foreign investors make money in our country is bad. I appreciate how the government makes an effort to invite these big guys to help the economy from falling into a case similar to the Eurozone crisis. But I just hope we won’t depend too much on them. Pinoys got their own skills to manage a business. But I just guess it’s the attitude that hinder us to do so.

We have this get-rich mindset. We rather waste our money for a lotto ticket everyday than investing one-time-big-time in a small business.  When we do get a good business, most of us are focused on getting rich rather than serving its customers – a major reason bankruptcy sets in a business. Having a selfish goal makes one a not-so-good leader in a business. Most of us do not understand that one who has a business should be a leader – not a devilish tycoon – especially to its employees.

It’s no wonder a business website named the Philippines as one of the worst countries for setting up a business. It just takes character and determination. I’d really like to agree with PNoy that we have to change our mindset if we really want to be a well-off country. Being rich is not because of how large our wealth is. It is by becoming good stewards of this huge wealth; just like the parable of the talents in Luke.

It’s time that we mend our ways. Thanks to the government who’s doing its job for the people; but it’s really up to us people to make up for the better. No need to depend on foreign countries. We are capable of sustaining our own provisions and expand it to bigger levels…it just takes the positive side of us to make it possible.

…And the Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulders

As a reporter in the political realm, I’ve become aware of the law and its technicalities. It used to be such a boring subject to me. But because it’s my job, I have to learn and understand it or I would not be an effective media personnel. Little by little, I was becoming used to it and soon, I was already enjoying it. But what amazes me more is how the Lord had shown that He is sovereign over any human law and that the government rightfully belongs to Him. No matter how clever a man of power can be, his wisdom is foolishness in the sight of the everlasting God, as He brings kings and leaders to rise and fall.

For the past week, I’ve monitored developments on a former president’s watchlist that turned sour. Cong. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or CGMA had been defying the law as she tried her best to remain in power as president for 9 nine years. And yet the government today is set out in putting down into justice all those who had done the nation wrong in her administration. One of these was her involvement (or her leading) in the 2007 election fraud.

As cases were filed against her regarding the electoral fraud, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed a watchlist against her. It’s kinda weird that she would suddenly become sick and be in need of a bone biopsy at that point in time. I got doubts about that. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court (SC), where which a majority of its justices were her appointees, filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against her watchlist. The Aquino administration, due to the fact that they were not given a chance to be in an oral argument before releasing the TRO, filed a motion for reconsideration (MR). What the nation watched out for was the en banc session, in which I was assigned to be last Friday.

While waiting for the result of the en banc, I was praying that the Lord would intervene and justice be served. Those charged for a big crime against the nation should not be released to another country, especially when there are doubts on the countries where she wanted to be. But imagine my great disappointment when the SC spokesperson came out and said that the MR is null and the TRO is in full effect. Majority of the justices voted for such results in the en banc session. But I was still hoping that GMA would not leave the country. It would be unfair for her not to be out of the country while a case was filed against her. Besides, I myself found it too weird for the need to get a bone biopsy in abroad while we got good doctors who can perform that here in the Philippines. Wouldn’t that be an insult to our own doctors? On the other hand, it’s unfair that she gets a good treatment for her “condition” while we got thousands of Pinoys who suffer without receiving the proper treatment for their condition because of lack of money

The developments were quick. Earlier that day, DOJ and COMELEC filed electoral sabotage charges to CGMA and other a number of former COMELEC and government officials. Right after the en banc session and before GMA was able to get to her 5:10 pm flight to Singapore, a warrant of arrest was issued against her. Such speed in the Philippine courts is very rare, especially in high-profiled cases like this. Indeed, the Lord intervened because only He can make this happen!

At that point in time, I realized that God is moving in the government. No matter how corrupt or weak it is, when His people pray, He rises and moves like a restless lion. But He needs His children to pray as we have been given authority over the earth (Genesis 1:26). And yet we have to give it back to Him as it is really His all along (Psalms 24:1). But as a gentleman, He will not intervene until we ask Him to.

The government, as one of the pillars of society, rightfully belongs to Him. For the time being, it is lent to man, and yet it is He who appoints and brings down kings (Ps. 75:6-7).

It’s time. We have to continue breaking down the walls of corruption and injustice through prayer and worship. The battle still rages on. God is really at work. He is indeed God and His reign is established – not only in heaven – but also on earth which is His footstool.

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