Buenas dias, amigos e amigas. Como esta usted? Donde esta la Hacienda?
Do I hear singing? Why, I believe I do. Look! Over there! A bunch of farmers, singing joyfully!
Su casa est mi casa!
Su casa est mi casa!
Nyahh nyahhh nyahh!
Ah, Tarlac. I'm in Tarlac. Yes, yes, I know the place well. It sits upwind from Pinatubo and downwind from those heavy breathing socialists who display a great deal of envy toward land barons. Land barons are the connivers who ended up with all the land in the Philippines, by hook and crook. They got the land and lorded over it until the socialist Legislature and its lapdog Judiciary got their hands in the pie.
Never mind that socialism is dead, dead, dead, unable to figure out ways of converting passion to profit or land to cash. Never mind that 6,800 small farms are not exactly the way of building a powerhouse export nation.
The top bastion of apolitical, scholarly learning and honorable bearing, sloppy SALN's, and a tendency to go for President Aquino's jugular or balls, depending on the day of the week (I refer here to the Supreme Court), decided to give a big land baron's land away for a P200 million song.
Thereby writing "basket case" all over the Philippine rendition of justice.
Here's a brief historical review which I stand ready to correct, for we confirmed Mexicans, merely Spanish of a different colored serape, confess to being confused by Filipino values and logic.
Some people once owned some land. They hired workers to grow crops on the land. The workers became known as farmers, although they owned no farms. But it was a kind name, and they did live there. The farmers grew the crops and, when they sold them, they were taxed a small amount to fund a cooperative program, sort of a mutual assistance league for farmers . The Chief Landlord, an hombre named Cojuangco, borrowed the cooperative's money to buy up a big hunk of land that became known as a hacienda. The farmers argued the money was not intended for that purpose, and shouted "you, Cojuangco, used our money to grab the land we are working on. Give us the land, as we have worked hard and earnestly there, and paid our taxes. So give it to us."
Now if Philippine farmers sound a lot like commie pinko beggars to me, please forgive me, for my eight gallon sombrero sometimes inadvertently tilts down and blocks my eyes and ears, and weighs heavily on my brain.
One day the argument got out of hand and Cojuangco's hired enforcers shot some of the farmers. This is, after all, the Philippines, where the law is not the law. The pistola is the law, especially if wielded by a rich don.
And it came to pass that the fight got down and dirty and rolled from the mud pits of the hacienda to the feeding trough of the court system. The two are hard to distinguish, one from the other, but many of the court system's inhabitants are robed and, although attorneys and pigs have similar values and ways of foraging for food, the attorneys are not pink.
It came to pass that the highly efficient courts, absolutely dying to be thought of as respected and independent, kicked this hot potato around for a mere 23 years. They finally determined that the Conjuanco land, under Philippine laws, needed to be distributed to the farmers at 1989 market value. Or P200 million. Not the 2006 value placed on the property when the courts ruled that LAND must be distributed, not shares of stock in the land. From P5 billion pesos to P200 million . Inflation does not count in Philippine courts, an amazing feat of economic prestidigitation that turns judges into dictators and rich enemies into paupers.
Well, as we learned from Pancho Villa, revolutionary shit happens, just as the mobs of France stormed the Bastille one day long ago and chopped up and hanged the ugly, the bad and the good, no matter the right and wrong of the chopping and hanging. If they had money, let the suckers die. That's an expression I picked up when I sneaked across el rio grande into the land of the gringo. "E pluribus unum" they exclaimed, unless the pluribus is Mexican, then "let the suckers die!"
I also learned that it's the principle that counts. And here, the main principle seems to be to ascribe some kind of honor to sticking it to the Conjuangco family in a really fine way. They are, after all, the target of more envy than any clan in the Philippines.
Of course envy would be the national flag of the Philippines if anyone could figure out how to paint it.
Or is it ego, I forget . . .
Especially after some hombre down the Cojuangco family tree a ways who happened to be President made the mistake of driving for impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That got him hollered at real loud by his in-laws. He was supposed to be coddling and cuddling up to the ethically challenged men in black.
The critics of the Cojuangco family also castigate the poor President, which makes for an interesting situation for him, rather like damned if you do and damned if you don't.
He had the foresight to unload his share of the family hacienda when he was elected President. He wanted to be seen as unattached to the legal case so he could do his job better. But people, critics that is, refuse to let him get away with having honorable values. He has the wrong name for that. They know he is out to get the Chief Justice. Just as they know he is representing the Conjuanco's who are hollering in his ear for going after an allegedly corrupt Chief Justice.
If none of this makes any sense to you, don't worry. A lot of Filipinos will tell you what the correct version is. THEY know.
Filipinos always know the facts, and how to tell what is right from what is wrong.
And every Filipino can tell you what is in the heart of their President, that sly, manipulative, scheming-dog relative of a land baron. With certainty.
For myself, being of a different cultural ilk entirely, the land of wild-ass murderous drug gangs and police who shoot first and never ask anything, I'm rather of the opinion that you can lead neither a Chief Justice nor a mule to agua nor can you make it drink.
Hasta la vista, Baby, and have a tamale on me.