Sorry, Earth Hour freaks, but Mindanao may not make it tonight.
Turning off lights — even for an hour — may prove to be too much to ask, especially if you currently live in the Philippines’ second-largest island.
And it’s not because residents fail to appreciate the urgency of saving Mother Earth. Nor is it because residents dislike Earth Hour’s organizer — World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — and its partner companies, including the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the Philippines’ largest electricity distributor.
Never mind that the WWF supports clean coal technology — which traps toxic emissions from coal plants — a process that remains undeveloped, and that Meralco buys power from plants that use coal, the cheapest yet dirtiest fuel.
It’s just that for months on end, Mindanao residents have been doing Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes’ version of the Earth Hour — the island has been suffering from blackouts spanning anywhere from three to eleven hours every day.
And so, if the world sees Mindanao all lit-up like a Christmas tree from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening of March 27, Saturday, let’s cut the island some slack.
Instead, we should blame God for the island’s widespread blackouts, just like what the energy secretary earlier recommended.
After all, playing the blame game is so much easier than actually providing long-term solutions.
Just like turning off a light switch.
Or blogging, for that matter.
But then again, I digress.
Thanks to paleo.wordpress.com for the highly-relevant picture.
On November 23, the humor died.
On that day, a day that Filipinos will be unable to live down, fifty-seven people were murdered in broad daylight; their mutilated bodies later buried in mass graves especially excavated for the purpose.
Suddenly, a people not given to remembrance nor reflection fell silent, prompted by cruel circumstance to take stock of their collective life.
Even the cynics were rendered speechless, at least temporarily.
The bloodbath forced those who cared enough about this country to re-examine their lives, their values, their dreams, what it meant to be Filipino, what it meant to be part of the civilized world.
It was — and still is — a task neither easy nor pleasant.
For far too long, we have indulged in the illusion that our political system, however feeble, remains stable enough to merit membership in the world’s democracies.
The Ampatuan atrocity proves that wrong.
The fact that anyone can murder scores of human beings along a national highway in broad daylight shows that Philippine society remains in the grip of the Dark Ages.
For as long as animals in Ampatuan roam free, for as long as anyone — public official or private citizen — remains confident of committing and getting away with such brazen, barbaric acts, this country cannot claim to be a part of modern society.
While the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of government officials, a portion can be attributed to ourselves — our parochialism, our selfishness, our indifference.
Every single day, we Filipinos compartmentalize our lives, always ignoring the bigger picture while in pursuit of short-term, ephemeral, and perhaps even insignificant goals.
Motivated only by our petty concerns, the urge to make a living, to beat a deadline, we take short cuts, flout rules, circumvent laws — acts that serve to support the already endemic corruption that has taken over the system.
It’s about time that changed.
Or else the fifty-seven people who died in Ampatuan — and thousands more who perished in similarly brutal tragedies — have, without question, wasted their lives.
From the Intellectual Property Department. The logo designer accompanying this blog entry will be credited as soon as s/he is identified. To whoever you may be, thanks.