He said it was a word that had been “vulgarized” too much, that it was a word unfortunately made negative and difficult to understand. Nonetheless, Pope Francis insisted on his return flight to Rome last Monday that “resignation” was a term of substance. Speaking with admiration for the Filipinos, he said, “A people that know how to suffer (are a) people that are capable of rising up.”
Filipino resilience certainly deserves papal (and everyone’s) commendation. A typhoon hits and we routinely take the necessary precautions. We wade through the floods, suffer the damage, and often endure the inevitable illnesses that follow a dousing. And at the end of it all, we exchange stories of our troubles with a smile. I agree that we are able to carry on because we have learned to “resign” ourselves to forces beyond our control. We wisely succumb rather than resist them, humbly acknowledging the Divine power who is supremely in charge over all.
But I’m not sure I endorse the Pope’s meaning as it applies to our mundane lives generally. The fact is, we are often too resigned, and I don’t like it.
It’s when Pinoys mistakenly assume that the forces at play are beyond their control that resignation becomes their default mode. These are the times when devout submission surrenders to fatalism and tragically leads to mass inertia.
Take for instance, the phenomenon of corruption. It is a catastrophe arguably on a par with a category five typhoon, even worse, and wreaks commensurate damage. The difference is: a typhoon is a natural calamity that must be endured; corruption is man-made and must be defeated. One cannot resign one’s self with equal piety to both.
I have been avidly following the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee hearings on the Makati City Hall Building 2 and have been increasingly nauseated by the labyrinthine trails of greed, deception, and complicity uncovered so far. I am amazed at the capacity for duplicity our public officials have, even those who have turned whistle-blower – which, by the way, does not absolve them, in my book.
The only thing that tops my dismay over this is my disgust that every new survey shows Vice President Jojo Binay still leading the polls, regardless of his alleged involvement and (most assume) certain culpability in the unearthed scandals. Despite his face being unflatteringly emblazoned on the broadsheets and in social media, his name derisively bandied about by radio anchors every hour on the hour, and being the subject of every other barbershop debate, he is still topping the charts. Why? I imagine it is because there are scads of people out there who believe that nothing can be done to stop him. Ano’ng laban dyan? And so people resign themselves to the inevitability of it all.
The shame of it is that may laban e…something can be done. We can say “no, thanks, we’ve had enough.” All that has been reported so far is reason enough for action, but even more so when an institution as benign as the Boy Scouts of the Philippines is sullied. There is tinder here to ignite the fire of outrage within us, to make us stand up and fight against the malevolence that stains the BSP which millions of parents have trusted to instill values in their sons and make them, it is hoped, men of honor. This is not an occasion for passive acceptance.
I am not calling for a rabid anti-Binay revolution or for the unthinking defamation of a man who has displayed both intelligence and courage in his career, particularly against the Marcos dictatorship. What I am calling for is accountability from the second highest official of this country and the bravery, the decency, and ultimately the patriotism, to own up to his actions. What I am hoping for is that not only the educated and well-entrenched in society might have the will to clamor for the same, but also the masses who identify with him. As a nation we can stand up against these anomalies, if we want to. I concur with Pope Francis on this: it is because we have suffered the ravages of corruption that we are capable of rising against it.
This is not a time for Filipinos to be resigned, not when the Vice President adamantly claims his innocence but stubbornly refuses to justify it. Definitely it is not time for our resignation. But I sincerely believe it is time for his.