This is why, if I could still vote in the Philippines, I’ll never ever vote for Mar Roxas:
The Obscenity That Is Mar Roxas
For years, I took photos of them.
I had no idea why I did this. I am a lazy photographer preferring to take in whatever’s in front of me rather than document.
But in the middle of our medical missions, as I took a breather in the designated area (gym, school house, basketball court, munisipyo) full of patients who walked miles to be seen by a doctor, I would take out my iPhone and snap about.
There was something compelling about them. I couldn’t look away. Their eyes were pools of sorrow, of terror and of despair.
And the ridges that lined their weather-beaten faces were deep and filled with dirt and you could tell that that dirt had been semi-permanently lodged in those ridges because, well, because they live like dogs with no basic services like running water available to them.
And they came to me with diseases that, in all my years in medicine, I had never seen.
Pus-filled boils as huge as an adult’s head on babies that when you lanced took forever to empty and would run down your arms and form a pool on the muddied floor. Whole-body sores that had rotted and festered with an odor that was an assault to the senses.
And it seemed like there was an epidemic of stomach pain until I finally got that what it really was was an epidemic of hunger. Illnesses that were simple but became fulminant for lack of medical attention.
It didn’t matter if I saw them right after Yolanda or 4 months later. Or 6 or 8 or 18 or 20. There was no improvement in their living conditions.
None. Can you beat that? cry emoticon
Trapped in the endless and vicious cycle of poverty.
In increasing alarm and in increasing rage, I saw the truth: this government and the man charged with caring for them, Mar Roxas, in fact, cared nothing for them.
And the only presence you could discern was international and local NGOs.
The government, the rare times it was present, was an accursed presence: giving the hungry rotten food, not building homes for them and when they finally did amidst pressure from all over, all they could manage was a handful of hovels that were no bigger than dog houses.
And I’ve often wondered, looking at my folio of hundreds of photos, what it was I was searching for when I took those photos.
And now I think I may have figured it out.
Besides wanting you to look. Besides wanting you to help me carry this burden because this burden dug in my flesh and the pain I felt was excruciating.
I finally get that a crime was being committed right before me and I was being asked to bear witness.
And I was compelled to take those photos so I could show you too.
And so you could bear witness as well.
And for you and me to never forget them nor the crimes committed against them.
And I am hoping this will make you less susceptible to lies peddled by those who would seek to cover up the crimes they have committed on some of our country’s most vulnerable.
NO MATTER THE SLICK INFOGRAPHICS AND PIE CHARTS AND COMIC BOOKS FILLED WITH LIES.
The obscenity of Mar Roxas is that for him, the poor are nothing but pawns in the deadly game of politics he plays.
This politics of faux pieties and disgusting civilities, this ‘decency’ that masks a most indecent disdain for the severely impoverished.
The manicured fingernails of the oligarch who cloaks this disdain for the poor with posturings that would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire.
The obscenity of Mar Roxas is that
he saw their despair, their mad grief, their terror. he heard their pleas for food, for water, to please please help me look for my child, help me bury my wife, my husband is dying. Help me please. He smelled the stench of decomposing bodies around him.
Help me. Help me. Help me.
And it was as nothing to him.
He saw but he was blind. He heard but he was deaf.
The callous elite who has no idea what being hungry feels like nor what it means to be cold, in despair and homeless.
And has not made it his business to know.
The obscenity of Mar Roxas is his overriding concern for image.
He misses the whole point of public service.
He thinks public service is about looking good without having to do anything of essence. He thinks public service is something you do in front of the cameras, pulling smart sounding numbers and statistics out of thin air and make it seem like you’ve done something.
So he becomes that clown who directs traffic out of nowhere to make it seem like he’s so concerned for us (and in the meantime the MRT lines grow ever-longer. And the trains break down with increasing frequency. And the traffic ever-unbearable.)
Empty, shallow, clueless.
And this weird equation in his mind of what public service is has him drinking water from a plate and eating rice from a glass. It has him fist bumping a poor kid who is creeped out by his insistence that their fists meet –so it seems like he is one of us.
For him this is all it takes to be one of us.
And for which he has richly earned our scorn and derision.
Noblesse oblige–this inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged–Mar has none of this.
We’re all just subjects to rearrange this way and that to prop him up so he looks good on cam.
That is the obscenity of Mar Roxas.
There is always day of reckoning for each of us.
I believe Mar Roxas’ day of reckoning is close at hand.