Wednesday July 18, 2018

Estremera: Overloaded, recharged

FRIDAY was one of those days when everything seemed to be happening all at the same time.

Thus, today, as I try to dig deep into my thoughts for this Sunday reverie, all I have to show for it are two notepads full of notes, all wringing my emotions and brain power leaving me exhausted even by just the thought of sifting through them and extracting stories.

This, aside from the fact that I am exhausted, having gone home at 3 a.m. after a near all-nighter with the President.

I'm sure many journalists were as whoozy yesterday as I was. We were all there, listening to the President ramble on, twice. On the early part of the media night and on the last hour.

We're not complaining. That is the best way to listen to the President, uninterrupted. This is what mainstream journalists cannot grasp as their main concern is to get their questions in, and then challenge every answer. Such attitude does not create a good environment for greater understanding. How can understanding be forged when swords are drawn? Under such situations, animosity is there at the get-go. Us? We chill. It's been some time since we've just let the old man ramble on.

As expected, he rambled through the anti-drugs campaign the drug lords and narco-politics, lumbered on to the historical injustice on the Moro people, made a very brief pass through the Spanish colonization, particularly on the taking of territories, and then a new one... Creation. Yes. The Biblical creation.
That saw me and my long-time dive buddy Carlos bantering about the longer track he has now taken. But that's normal, the banter. Had the round table been not that big, we would have been directly bantering with the President after his long talk about Adam and Eve. But the singer singing in the background required a louder voice. Never mind.

At the Presidential table as the entertainment wound down for the night (or morning), conversation became hushed as the topic turned to the mundane. Usually, when conversation takes on this track, I'm the quiet listener who sometimes get the blame, but never an active contributor.

Conversations like this never make it to the news. It is, after all, inconsequential, like many conversations among friends even when sometimes, the topic becomes bawdy.

Notes are taken only of the important things that have bearing on the lives of the Filipino people. Those involving other people's lives, like the stories you share among friends about your neighbor's fetishes are allowed to just pass on, acknowledged but not given more than the cursory acknowledgement they deserve. In hushed tones too, you get to hear about life as the President and all the security details that have be attended to just to go out.

Before the long day that stretched on till dawn was a morning talk with a Maranao woman who bore with him tales from the frontlines and the sufferings they have to endure as a result, the uncertainty of tomorrow, and the cry for acknowledgement of the very personal crises every Maranao is going through. People of pride, the devastation rendered on their city is beyond just humbling, and many are having a difficult time coping with this reality. Just listening leaves a big hole in the cavity where your heart resides, and it's not a very comfortable feeling.

You swallow the lump and pretend to be preoccupied with your notes as you let emotions pass.

As details of her family's life today emerged, you remember the four other Maranaos you have spoken with the past two months and see a tapestry of shared realities much more debilitating than the sight of bomb and bullet-pocked buildings in photo dispatches from the field. As the hour hand ticks closer to 2 a.m., you watch the President, in his elements, not needing to defend himself. Just talking and talking and talking, and then laughing. It was worth the long night as a President given a brief respite from animosity and antagonism will always be a better-performing one. Till next. May the wishes of the Maranaos be carried on the wings of positivity that long night was all about.