Velez: 2017 was the year of fire

I LOOK back and realized 2017 was the year of the Fire Rooster. Not that I believe in astrology and predictions, even of the Chinese kind, but the year is aptly defined as the year of fire, and fighting cocks.

Fire can be the source of light, of inspiration, but too much of that can be incendiary and combustible.

For that, the fire of the President is much like the latter. His fiery words, his fiery forked tongue and wrath burned critics and the evil he perceives. Drug lords and terrorists were number one. But then the words roll out against the poor, the drivers he blamed for being poor, the journalists for being “destabilizers”.

His fire is one that burns, literally. Like the burning of Marawi. No words can soothe the city and its 200,000 inhabitants. Not even his apology to Maranaos (which he later buried by blaming them for ‘allowing’ terrorists in Lanao), not even his declaration of ‘liberation’ could build up the soul of Muslim Mindanao here.

How his wrath continues against Lumad children whom he warned he will bomb their schools. And how I fear that wrath continues as his minions in Congress approved the extension (or expansion) of Martial Law for 2018. How many more hills and towns and even schools to be bombed?
His wrath continues to burn bridges of peace with the Reds. The way he huffs on reports of NPA attacks, betraying his usual calm display of understanding the 50 years of conflict. His word war with his professor.

The fire found many other things combustible: our biases, our fears. His allies, family and his Facebook army spreading the fire of fake news and vitriol that burned down sensibility, decency and relations.

But somehow we learn to fight fire with fire.

The candles that lit for the death of Kian. The candles that lit the September 21 rally. The torches that lit the marches of Lumad children and parents in their Lakbayan in Manila.

And the Reds now are ready to fight for 2018. The National Democratic Front Mindanao said this year alone, they fought nearly a thousand tactical offensives. They said they are prepared for more.

It is a fiery year for the President. It is a fiery year for the people who felt his wrath.

Sadly, we will also remember this year with fire that ended the lives and dreams of 37 employees in a Davao mall.

So on 2018, expect more than fiery things, because 2018 we welcome the Year of the Brown Dog. Dogfights, tuta, and growls are expected to come.

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