August 18, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

In Orwellian country

YOU know you’re in Orwellian country when martial law is declared in the south and a “lone wolf gunman” walks into an upscale hotel and casino to set the place on fire, killing dozens of people. It is a tragedy of untold proportions, something which concerned citizens as well as netizens should not let pass without a moment of national reflection if not introspection. Wait a second, aren’t things surreal enough, that every day we have to deal with various gradations of terror, not necessarily the Isis kind?


Regards to big bro, we’ve heard it said, and pretty soon there will be CCTV cameras at every corner, a national ID, and registered SIM cards, drug test labs in every barangay. Have you ever wondered why the Philippines is such a magnet for expats, both wholesome and pedophile, what’s with its comparatively wide array of freedoms, not to mention the beaches, smiling hospitable people, cheap food and drink that stretches your dollar to the max?

Well there’s something in the air for sure, and not just screaming headlines. In a recent dream, a late editor in chief of a leading broadsheet was asking how I was, how come I never transferred to her paper as I opted to keep stalling from taking the drug test until, how does that go, momentum was lost. Nawalan ng buelo.

Notice too how the current administration seems to point to drugs as the root of all evil, that addicts have shrunken brains and deserve to die and not just any death mind you, but execution style à la “tokhang,” which in the warped minds of vigilantes would be akin to a mercy killing. The best minds of my generation have been both destroyed by drugs, as well as opened if not enlightened by them. I guess it depends on the narcotic, as well as the specific person, so that you can’t generalize.

And what’s wrong with taking a more benign drug to wean a person away from a dangerous one? Science has proven this to be effective, and that’s not due to western decadence and liberalism. You have to try all means to get back to the land of the living, a step at a time and easy does it. You can’t rush four million addicts to their graves.

Ano kaya kung naging addict pa ’yan.” That’s our chief executive mayor speaking, referring to the loser gunman who shot up Resorts World into a circle of hell. Yeah, what if? Again dare we say that the right narcotic or perhaps counseling might have weaned him away from the more dangerous addiction of gambling. But that’s morning after quarterbacking, and from where we sit, there are too many dead strewn around it’s beginning to smell.

Not just in Marawi, but in the general landscape and vicinity of our cynical minds. Not everything can be set in black and white, sometimes there’s duotone, and a whole lot of rambling going on. As the press release says, things were generally peaceful.

Juaniyo Y. Arcellana is a desk editor at The Philippine Star.