Thursday, June 30, 2005

Yubitsume-- send us a finger, hope to die | Self-exile (PJI editorials 30 June/1 July 2005)

THIS snatch of private conversation between a putative official of the Commission on Elections and an anxious Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June 2004, this dialogue explains itself:

“Okay ma’am mas mataas ho siya pero magcompensate po sa Lanao ‘yan.”

GMA: So I will still lead by more than one M overall?

“More or less but it is still an advantage ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas.”

GMA: Oo pero it will not be less than one M?

“Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan. Pero as of the other day, 982.”

GMA: Kaya nga eh.

“And then if we can get more in Lanao.”

GMA: Hindi pa ba tapos?

The chit-chat starts off with an innocuous remark that someone is taller (mas mataas) than the petite incumbent. But it’s not about growing taller she’s interested in. GMA insists she will lead and the lead will not be less than one million. The chivvied official parries and lets out the tell-tale “Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan”—we’ll do what we can, “if we can get more in Lanao.”

There’s indeed something fishy about the chit-chat—and fish get caught by its mouth. After a long period of silence, GMA mouths a few well-chosen sentences telling the citizenry that she’s that voice on the Gloriagate tape and she wanted that unnamed official to protect her lead.

We heard what we heard— “I will still lead by more than one M overall?” “Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan.”

Pipilitin ho nating matanggap na natarantado ang mga bobotante—but a casual high five, cross your fingers and hope to die or feigned earnest handshake with dullard voters won’t be enough as honorable gesture. There is honor among thieves—part of their tradition is something called yubitsume, cutting off a digit or two to as genuine act of repentance and atonement.

Yubitsume is a yakuza thing. But then, seppuku or ritual disembowelment is only done by samurai warriors who adhere to a strict code of honor.

A finger or two ought to suffice.
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MAY lilitaw na linaw sa ilang tilad na usapan ng isang pinuno yata ng Commission on Elections at alumpihit na Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nitong Hunyo 2004:

“Okay ma’m mas mataas ho siya pero magcompensate po sa Lanao ‘yan.”

GMA: So I will still lead by more than one M overall?

“More or less but it is still an advantage ma’m. Parang ganun din ang lalabas.”

GMA: Oo pero it will not be less than one M?

“Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan. Pero as of the other day, 982.”

GMA: Kaya nga eh.

“And then if we can get more in Lanao.”

GMA: Hindi pa ba tapos?

Nagsimula ang usapan sa tila walang malisyang pakli na may mas mataas kaysa mababang pangulo. Pero hindi pala siya interesado sa pagtaas. Iginigiit ni GMA na lalamang siya at dapat na mahigit isang milyon ang kanyang magiging lamang. Sumalag ang taga-Comelec na “Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan?—gagawa ng paraan, “if we can get more in Lanao.”

Umaalingasaw na tila malansang isda ang usapan— nabibingwit ang isda sa bunganga. Matapos ang mahabang yugto ng pananahimik, nagbuka na rin ng bunganga ang GMA, sinabi sa balana na siya nga ang tinig sa Gloriagate at nais lang niyang pangalagaan ang kanyang lamang sa bilangan ng hindi kinilalang taga-Comelec.

Mapagkakatiwalaan naman ang ating pandinig—“I will still lead by more than one M overall?” “Pipilitin ho natin ‘yan.”

Pipilitin ho nating matanggap na natarantado ang mga bobotante—pero hindi sapat ‘yung give me five, magsa-krus ng daliri at umasang masawi, o kunwang marubdob na pakikipagkamay sa mga bobotante. “Ang taong bulaan, kapatid ng magnanakaw,” anang salawikain.

May tinatawag na honor among thieves o dangal kahit sa mga magnanakaw. Bahagi ng kanilang tradisyon ang tinatawag na yubitsume, pagpuputol ng isa o dalawang pambilang na daliri bilang wagas na pagpapakita ng pagsisisi o pagtitika.

Oo, pinaiiral ng yakuza ang yubitsume. Nakalaan lang ang seppuku o laslas-halukay ng sikmura sa mga mandirigmang samurai na ginagabayan ang pamumuhay ng mahigpit na pamantayan ng dangal.

May alingasngas sa bilangan. Sapat nang magputol ng isa o dalawang daliri na pambilang.

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FIRST Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo opted to go into self-exile. He is set to leave the country on July 5 for parts unknown to keep distance from, as reports have it, conflict of interest issues that can further undermine a beleaguered and thundered presidency.

Naughty coffee-shop pundits are keeping both fingers and eyes crossed that Mr. Arroyo won’t be setting foot, paw, or claw in Reno, Nevada where posh hotel suites can fetch a scandalous $50,000 a night.

Noteworthy self-exiles come too few and far between. Their reasons for taking to such a quaint rite of passage were manifold.

In 1948, one Choi Baedal went to the top of Mount Minobu and steeled himself for two years pushing his body and spirit beyond the limits of human strength and endurance. He took to the mountain until the mountain couldn’t be taken out of him. He returned to civilization sporting a new name Masutatsu Oyama, fought and won fights, went on to be known as the “Godhand” in martial arts circles.

Two centuries earlier, a certain Musashi Miyamoto repaired to the same haunt after winning some 60 sword fights. Before fading into history, he turned up ink paintings and “The Book of Five Rings,” a classic manual on fighting strategy that also sheds light on living a full life, leadership techniques, and investment tactics.

One Siddharta left behind his family and his kingdom, led a hermit’s life for a clutch of years and went on to gain enlightenment as Gautama Buddha. He went back to civilization to share his light.

As the Scriptures have it, a Nazarene carpenter spent 40 days and nights fasting in the arid wastes. He returned to civilization a changed man. He worked miracles, shared spiritual insights, and gained a huge following. He was later crucified.

Ah, there’s also one Bruce Wayne who turned up as Batman.

Those are tough acts to follow. Mr. Arroyo is least expected to take after the less-traveled paths of such self-exiles.

In going into a self-exile, Mr. Arroyo will not be missed. The self-effacing move will likely be dismissed.

Of course, public reaction on his self-exile will be a tad different should Mr. Arroyo bring along his wife.

There’ll be cheering across the land.

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Tiwalag muna

PINILI ni Unang Ginoo Jose Miguel Arroyo na itiwalag muna ang sarili. Nakatakda siyang lumisan palabas ng bansa sa Hulyo 5 tungo sa kung saanmang lupalop para lumayo sa mga alingasngas at usapin na maaaring magpahina sa nayayanig na panguluhan.

Nagkrus ng kanilang daliri’t tingin ang mga pilyo sa mga kapihan na harinawang huwag tutuntong ang paa, kuko o anuman ni G. Arroyo sa Reno, Nevada na may mga magarbong silid-hotel na kakaltas ng karumal-dumal na $50,000 bawat araw na panunuluyan.

Mabibilang sa daliri ang maipagbubunying nagtiwalag ng sarili. Malalim ang kanilang dahilan sa pagtahak nila sa ganoong kakaibang landas.

Nitong 1948, isang Choi Baedal ang umakyat sa tuktok ng Bundok Minobu at pinanday ang sariling diwa’t katawan upang umigpaw sa mga hangganan ng lakas at kakayahan ng karaniwang tao. Pumaloob siya sa bundok at pumaloob ang bundok sa kanya. Bumalik siya sa kabihasnan bilang Masutatsu Oyama, nanaig sa mga paligsahan, at kinilala bilang “Kamao ng Diyos” sa larangan ng martial arts.

Naunang nagsadlak ng sarili sa naturang tuktok ang isang Musashi Miyamoto matapos manaig sa 60 labanang mortal. Bago lubusang naglaho sa kasaysayan, nag-iwan siya ng napakaraming guhit-sining at ang “Go rin no sho” (Aklat ng limang sinsing) isang klasikong akda ukol sa pamamaraan ng pakikilaban na naglilinaw din sa mainam na pamumuhay, mga paraan ng pamumuno, pati mga taktika sa pamumuhunan.

Isang nagngangalang Siddharta ang nag-iwan sa kanyang pamilya at mamanahing kaharian. Naglagalag ng kung ilang taon at tuluyang nagkamit ng kaliwanagan bilang Gautama Buddha. Bumalik siya sa kabihasnan at ipinamahagi ang kanyang liwanag.

Nakasaad sa Banal na Kasulatan, isang anluwage mula Nazareth ang nag-ayuno ng 40 araw at gabi sa gitna ng disyerto. Bumalik din siya sa kabihasnan, gumawa ng maraming himala, namahagi ng mga kabatiran at pagkain para sa diwa. Sa huli’y ipinako siya sa krus.

Ah, meron din nga palang Bruce Wayne na bumalik bilang Batman.

Mahirap sundan ang mga ganoong halimbawa. Hindi aasahan na susunod sa kanilang yapak si G. Arroyo.

Ni hindi nga hahanap-hanapin sa kanyang pagkawala si G. Arroyo. Ipagkikibit-balikat lang ang kanyang pagpapalis ng sarili.

Pero baka maging iba ang reaksiyon ng balana sakaling isama ni G. Arroyo sa kanyang pag-alis ang kanyang ginang.

Tiyak na aapaw ang kasiyahan saanmang panig ng ating bayan.

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