Angelhouser | A Journal By Angelica Bautista Viloria

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Of Goats, Guava Trees, and Paying this Country Back

By this time, we all know what transpired during the Senate hearings on the ZTE deal when Jun Lozada appeared last Friday. I may believe him. You may not believe him but I guess that is beside the point. There comes a time when circumstances may force you to do something -- not for the good of anybody else but for yourself. More than anything else, I think Jun Lozada was concerned about saving his soul. If he saves our country, the Philippines, in the process, then that would be a pretty good bonus.

I am usually amused by Tita Miriam and this case was no exception. My personal favorite was her reference to the imported goats that Jun Lozada bought while he was president at Philippine Forest. With the goat expose and the other things that she mentioned, she had meant to "test the credibility of the witness." I guess that was tit for tat. The witness, after all, was heavily testing the credibility of government and several of its institutions.

You have to hand it to Mr. Jun Lozada. He uttered a lot of memorable lines as he told his story but I particularly liked his tale (a real one) about the guava trees. He narrated that he traveled to the province once and noticed that the guava tree had plenty of fruits. He suggested to the man that he was talking to to get the guavas and sell these so that the man could earn some money. The poor man answered: "Hayaan nyo na yan sa mga ibon." (Let's leave the guavas for the birds.) It was at this point that he felt uneasy about what he had suggested initially. He found it ironic that the man that he was talking to, who did not have much could still be focused on caring for the birds while prominent, well-off people in Metro Manila were so greedy.

Asked about his motivation for doing what he did, he brought up the story of his Chinese father. His father was so poor in China and decided to come to the Philippines. After coming to the Philippines, their family's life improved and his father's businesses prospered. His father then loved the Philippines so much and would remind Jun Lozada from time to time to "pay this country back." To his mind, Jun Lozada had been paying this country back to "pay honor to his father."

That's as good a message as we will be able to get on any day. We all need to pay this country back in our own little ways. For us to pay this country back though, we must first realize just how much good we have received and appreciate just how beautiful and blessed this country is.

What will come out of this Jun Lozada incident? Not much I think. Government will probably remain the way it is and real change will not be effected. Clarissa Ocampo and Jun Lozada can probably have coffee in the near future and talk about the time when they each paid the country back. I hope that they don't need to wait too long though to see more Filipinos doing the same thing.