Velez: Dissecting the cockroach


HOW can a little pest symbolize the state of our nation and our leaders? A cockroach shows the way.

The president was talking about his senatorial candidate Imee Marcos, that daughter of the late dictator, when he felt someone smacked his left shoulder. He turned around and saw a female staff with a roll of paper, chasing that cockroach crawling on his shoulder, which he gently brushed off.

That roach stopped the world, the DDS, the anti-Duterte, the rest of the country for a moment. No tight security, no matrix of ouster plot, no fiery words could stop a pest landing on the highest official of the land. I think it was simply happy to show he was existing.

In a journalist’s view, this is the first time such an animal landed on a national leader. President Noynoy had a dove land and peck on his head during the EDSA ceremony, which kind of symbolize how that EDSA celebration seemed to turn on him.

That cockroach can symbolize many things. Perhaps the poem of National Artist for Literature Bienvendio Lumbera, An Eulogy of Roaches, could explain things with these lines:

“Blessed are the cockroaches.

In this country they are

the citizens who last.

They need no police

to promulgate their peace

because they tolerate

each other’s smell or greed.”

A cockroach fits in the animal farm we have in Congress, with the buwaya, hogs, and snakes. Indeed, our politics and our election is one big mess, figuratively and literally. Adding the roach seem to put the gutter in the middle of the political circus.

“Not knowing dearth or taxes,

they increase and multiply.

Survival is assured

even the jobless roach;

his opportunities

pile up where garbage grows.”

We equate the roach to the filth of our slums or the dark of warehouses and alleys where they breed. The way they creep, like that moment on the president’s shoulder, reminds us that we are still living in a place where poverty and stench is still aplenty. No matter how high the satisfaction rating, how plenty the Facebook likes, how high their senatorial bets are ranking, the roach is an equalizer, to remind us, the poor are trying to survive.

This Monday we will all go out to vote. The World Cup has an octopus that predicts the outcome. Maybe this time, the roach is just there simply to say how dirty our politics are and they are to get rid of. The only way to do so is to stomp our feet with authority. Let’s vote with clear hearts and minds then for a clean future.



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