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Home Columns A Cup O' Kapeng Barako Is Metro Manila the "Gates of Hell"?
Is Metro Manila the "Gates of Hell"? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - A Cup O' Kapeng Barako
Friday, 31 January 2014 09:25


By Jesse Jose

A Cup O' Kapeng Barako 
 
F inally, I've finished reading Dan Brown's latest book, Inferno.   I've read all of his best-selling books: Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol, Deception Point. 
 
Like all of his books, Inferno is an exciting book to read.  But also boring and tedious in some parts, like reading a textbook on Italian art.  You have to be a Literature major in college to be able to catch on and understand quickly all the information Dan Brown tells you.  I had to stop several times in the middle of my reading, to google some of the information he gave for further explanation. 
 
I majored in Lakwatsa, Barkada and Chicks while in college, you see.  Not Literature or the Arts. 
 
But I plodded on to read this book, because it was sumptuously written, interesting and entertaining ... and finally I've finished it after a month of reading and perusing the information.  Though fiction, it's a well-researched book, with a lot of facts mixed into it.
 
AND FACTS ARE FACTS.  FOR INSTANCE, THE FACTS BELOW ABOUT MANILA THAT I'VE BOLDFACED AND QUOTED VERBATIM FROM THIS BOOK.  If you don't believe me, get a hard-bound copy of this book, and check out pages 351 and 352 and you'll see:

"Through her acts of public service, Sienna came in contact with several members of a local humanitarian group.  When they invited her to join them in a month-long trip to the Philippines, she jumped at the chance.

"Sienna imagined they were going to feed poor fishermen or farmers in the countryside, which she had read was a wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant sea beds and dazzling plains.  And so when the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila---the most densely populated city on earth---Sienna could only gape in horror.  She had never seen poverty on this scale.

"How can one person possibly make a difference?

"For everyone person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gazed at her with desolate eyes.  Manila had a six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consisted primarily of young children, many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.

"Amid this chaos of child prostitution, panhandlers, pickpockets, and worse, Sienna found herself suddenly paralyzed.  All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival.  When they face desperation ... human beings become animals.

"For Sienna, all the dark depression came flooding back.  She had suddenly understood mankind for what it was---a species on the brink.

"I was wrong, she thought, I can't save the world.

"Overwhelmed by such a frantic mania, Sienna broke into a sprint through the city streets, thrusting her way through the masses of people, knocking them over, pressing on, searching for open space.

"I'm being suffocated by human flesh!

"As she ran, she could feel the eyes upon her again.  She no longer blended in.  She was tall and fair-skinned with a blond ponytail waving behind her.  Men stared at her as if she were naked.

"When her legs finally gave out, she had no idea how far she had run or where she had gone.  She cleared the tear and grime from her eyes and saw that she was standing in a kind of shantytown---a city made of pieces of corrugated metal and cardboard propped up and held together.  All around her the wails of crying babies and the STENCH OF HUMAN EXCREMENT HUNG IN THE AIR.

"I've run through the GATES OF HELL...."
 
E XACTLY WHAT I WROTE: Susmaryusep!  Ika nga....  But those are facts.  Though not exactly in the same words, those sights are exactly what I saw, felt and smelt, and then wrote, in my Kapeng Barako column when I visited the Motherland in 2009.
 
The pollution, the noise, the stink and the stench, the poverty, the basura everywhere, the overcrowded streets and traffic jams, and small, malnourished children begging or selling cigarettes or sampaguita flowers on the streets.  The small houses made of rusting yeros and cardboards, where the squatters live.  The lagay system with the cops.  The crimes....  It was maddening.  It was sickening.  
 
That I cried for the Motherland.  This land of my birth. 
 
Like all mothers, she used to be vibrant and beautiful and lovable.  In fact, she used to be called the "Pearl of the Orient."  But because of the non-stoppable corruption and greed of political families and the powers-that-be in the country, the Motherland has become the "Armpit of Asia."
 
I've titled my story: "Philippines, my Philippines, the Land of Wawa We."  Google it and you'll see.  It's a story in three parts.  I've gotten a lot of hate emails because of it.  I answered  the haters that I am a journalist and a columnist, who writes what I see, hear and feel, and in the way I want to write my stories ....  NEVER, never in the way other people would like me how to write my stories.  
 
From what I understand Dan Brown had also gotten several hate mails from many kabayans on what he wrote in his book about Manila.  Well, facts are facts.

Facts are truth.  Who was it now who said that the "first reaction to truth is hatred"? 
 
But in this case, my first reaction was, "Philippines, my Philippines, the Land of Wawa We."  And that became one of the most-hated stories that I've written and collected in my book, "A Cup O' Kapeng Barako, Collections of my Best and Most-Hated Writings." 
 
Dear Readers, I am not saying that I write like Dan Brown, the best-selling author of several books.  Far from it.  Just being old me, the Barako writer.  That's all.  JJ
 





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Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 09:31
 

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