IF CARMEN Castro Deunida could have her way, there would be a protest rally every day and she’d be right smack at the frontlines. Never mind that her right toes still ache after almost being run over by a fleeing buko cart during the dispersal of the last demonstration, or that her doctor has warned her about her enlarged heart, and her children have repeatedly pleaded for her to just stay home.
TOWERVILLE, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan — Every day, around lunch time, hungry mothers and children hang around Nazaria Castillo’s carinderia in the hope of getting food. Castillo knows they have no money, and so she herds them inside her store and feeds them whatever humble meal she is selling that day.
IMAGINE uprooting 40,000 families — twice the entire population of the municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila — and relocating them elsewhere.
By any stretch of the imagination, this would be a logistical and sociological nightmare. The financial cost alone would also be staggering. This is exactly what is happening in the government program to relocate those who will be displaced by the North Rail Project. The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) estimates that the government needs to shell out at least P6.6 billion in resettlement costs, but it is not clear where this money is going to come from.
LIKE IT or not, Filipinos will have to accept the fact that Noli de Castro might just be president one of these days. It could be sooner, if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo suddenly gets stricken with delicadeza and resigns, or later, if Congress eventually decides to put an end to the crisis and impeach her. Either way, Filipinos will have to get used to the idea of a de Castro presidency, especially if they don’t want Susan Roces heading a caretaker government or Jose de Venecia becoming prime minister for life.
LUPANG PANGAKO, PAYATAS, QUEZON CITY — Orlando Wong lives in the shadow of the huge dumpsite here, and there are times that he and his family can’t eat because of the stink of the place. But Wong, 42, is surprisingly optimistic about his future and that of the country. “The Philippines,” he says, “is going to walk the path of growth and development.”
THE POOR, who make up the bulk of Filipino voters, have been blamed for the sorry state of electoral politics and the low level of election discourse. Pundits, analysts, and media commentators say that because of poverty, many voters are vulnerable to patronage, vote buying, and simplistic messages. The masa vote is popularly perceived to be dumb, unthinking, and prone to manipulation.