Watching you

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Monday, April 28, 2014


WE ARE watching you.

This is the real-life version of the fictional novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984. Life imitates the dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949.

In the book, Orwell’s setting was the pervasive State government surveillance and public manipulation, oppressed by a political system controlled by Ingsoc in the government’s invented language, Newspeak) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that suppresses all individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrimes.”

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The tyranny is epitomized by Big Brother, the demigod Party leader who imposes an intense cult of personality. Big Brother and the Party justify their oppressive rule in the name of a supposed greater good.

In real life, however, Orwell’s story has come full circle. It’s not Big Brother who’s watching the people. It’s the people who are watching the big brothers.

And the weapon they wield is name and shame—that act of defiance that say that a person, group or business has done something wrong. “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” wrote Orwell in the book 1984.

In the year 2014, it’s not Newspeak that the people use, it’s the power of social media. This time, alert netizens are watching the San Cárlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem, an environment advocate and works for Tatak Recoleto of the University of San José-Recoletos, posted the petition on the website change.org.

The website lists among its successes the campaign against SM Baguio for balling pine trees to make way for its expansion. In the petition “Sting can’t be saving rainforests and enabling SM to rape the environment at the same time!,” the campaign convinced music icon and environmentalist Sting to transfer his Back to Bass Concert Tour in Manila from the SM Mall of Asia Arena to the Araneta Coliseum.

Now it’s SCBI’s turn to squirm. Its general manager Jojo Salvador virtually admits that the company has discharged their waste water into the sea, emitting foul odor and had allegedly caused a fish kill.

Netizens called on the online public to sign an online petition to stop the ethanol pollution, as the petitioners said that the foul odor coming has direly affected the communities in San Carlos City and Calatrava.

The petitioners insisted that the foul odor has affected the health of the people as there are recorded cases of hospitalization and other respiratory-related problems and that the pollution in rivers and coastal areas had affected the marine life.

Replied Mr. Salvador, “We find ways and means to address the concern.” The management acted on its own volition, he said, adding that the company lost millions of pesos after it halted its operations from April 14 to 16.

He explained that it will take two to three weeks for the organic matter in the waste water to decompose.

As an environmentalist, I haven’t signed the petition. Yet.

But as Orwell’s Big Brother said, “I’ll be watching you” until the third week of May.

Or as Sting sang, “Every breath you take/ And every move you make/Every bond you break/Every step you take/I’ll be watching you.”*

***

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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