December 8, 2023

As any tourist who has visited the City of Legazpi in Albay and Tagaytay City in Batangas, Taal Volcano is smaller than the majestic Mayon, and hardly a perfect cone.
But the “smol and teribol” has wrought more havoc and devastation than Mayon when it erupted the last or other year.
Tiny as it is, Taal V is akin to a runt truck driver stepping on the gas of his 10-wheeler in reckless abandon, hitting everything along the way, including women and children trying to cross the street.

In this country, miniatures are quite eager in asserting themselves, and a midget whose ego has been pricked will take on King Kong or Godzilla to salvage his pride.
But bless his romantic heart, he will grapple with Goliath himself if only to win the hand of a maiden whom he is smitten with.

Not to forget that Vilma Santos of “Trudis Liit” fame was a three-term governor of Batangas, also the home province of the Laurels known for their patriotism and volatile temper, like the late speaker Jose Laurel, Jr., a shade under five feet, yet feared by men twice his size.
Even the ants in Batangas are not scared by bully rats, and no Chinese operates a business there.
Maybe we should follow their example.

But hey, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had a childhood after all when we were kids going for a swim in the Lucban River, we would make little craters out of sand or mud, and piss on them after.
Like the man says, “Ihian ko pa ang TaalVolcanong ‘yan.”
Sige po, Mr. President, show them who is boss.

The rehab of Baguio, so say the planners, will take some time, and might go beyond Magalong’s term. Why? Where is the mayor going, to the Senate?
What I know is that he will go to court to testify against (Ret) Gen. Oscar Albayalde, who, with 12 of his ninja cops, has been indicted for plunder.

Like going back to grade school, where atop the blackboards, is a message that reads, “Honesty is the best policy.” Beside it is another sign that says, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
So tidy yourselves up, all ye politicians and government officials, (you too buster), drain out your pockets of the grease, brush the slime that has engulfed your blackened hearts.
But we digress.

Rehab is what former mayor Bernie Vergara was trying to do while he was still running City Hall – take out the old pipes, replace them with new culverts, construct overpasses to ease traffic, put up modern public buildings, etc.
Far from getting support, his political enemies and critics accused him of engaging in money-making schemes.
So, what are Secretaries Cimatu, Año, Puyat and Magalong up to?
Get on with it then, and have BMV enjoy his laugh.

Baguio also underwent some kind of rehab over half a century back.
In 1944-45, the surrender of General Yamashita to the liberating American forces headed by General Douglas McArthur, yes, one of a few who made good his promise to the Filipino people – marked the end of the war in the Eastern Hemisphere, and following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war between Japan and the United States formally ended, even as General Patton had the Desert Fox Rommel on the run, and European overall Commander Dwight David Eisenhower was chasing the 3rd Reich Army all the way back to Berlin.
The war was finally over.

But wait up. How was it that Hitler was a monster who had millions of Jews killed, while the Americans’ bombing of Japan that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and left many more scarred for life, was a necessary prelude to victory and not a violation of human rights?
Again, as Chief Red Cloud would say, “Paleface in Washington, speak with forked tongue.”

Anyway, the war left Baguio in ruins, with buildings razed to the ground and many homes in state of disrepair.
By some miracle, pine trees were untouched, despite all the aerial bombings and shelling from ground artillery.
And by the time peace time came around, the flowers were back in bloom – gumamelas, trumpets, calla lilies, and sunflowers growing all over – as far as the eye could see.
And when the ‘50s came rolling in, public schools were filled with children of varying school ages – seven, nine, and 10 years old attending grade one.

Soon the city was back on its feet – Ilocanos and Batanguenos selling different wares at the public market – blankets, scissors, malagkit, fruits, and even dirty ice cream.
The Pangalatoks opened tailoring and barber shops, with the Chinese putting up panciterias at every corner, while the Bombays opened their department stores to customers.
Three cinemas were in operation – one (the Plaza) offering Tagalog flicks, another (Pines) showing Hollywood blockbusters, while the third (Session) had Tarzan movies and cartoons.
No traffic, with only a few owning cars, but the Royal taxi and yellow taxi, provided private transportation.
It was the best of times; President Elpidio Quirino making sure that prices of commodities would stay low, and Baguio’s Finest had an unblemished and outstanding record, except for one policeman caught filching a pair of shoes.
There was some corruption, to be sure, but there was no need to use a lamp when searching for an honest man.
Today, alas, you will need fireballs and infernos in your search for one.
Meantime, I need to go down to visit my first granddaughter.
Oh yes, Happy Panagbenga!