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Siete Palabras and The Many Crosses of Juan de la Cruz
"Pinoys no longer need to commit acts of penitence," says our blogger. Every waking hour in this metropolis is a nail pounded on our sanity."
Published on: Apr 2, 2012 - 4:37pm


( Notice the redundancy of the title. “Juan de la Cruz”— the all-purpose nickname for the average Filipino— you know, that perennially smiling twerp wearing a salakot and a barong. In Spanish, it translates to “John of the Cross.” We share the same name as the 160th century mystic saint who wrote “The Dark Night of the Soul” (Or in the even more dramatic-sounding “La noche oscura de alma”).


Now, if we are to believe in feng shui, in the self-fulfilling prophecy of names, then we’re fucked right from the beginning. It is widely believed that the name came from McCulloch Dick, founder of the Philippines Free Press, after noticing that it was the most common one in the blotters (Blotter pa talaga!). In editorial cartoons, the character of Juan dela Cruz was also always portrayed as small and helpless against the evil Uncle Sam.


Then, Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” says Matthey 16:24.  In Luke, the same exhortation is repeated: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” The concept of penitence should be of no special significance to us Pinoys. Every day seems like a slow, endless plod to Golgotha. Every day we tread our own collective Via Dolorosas (which is not the name of a personality enhancement school, by the way). Add to that the atavistic pervasiveness of a religion that constantly reminds us of our inherent unworthiness, of how we are sinners and all that nasty stuff that threatens us with images of sulfuric lakes and dudes with horns, hooves, and tails. It’s the same urge that drives us to plunge into a heaving sea of brown bodies just to touch a statue of— yegads!— a figure bearing a cross. But that’s another matter altogether. Bottomline: we are all martyrs of our own personal and shared Golgothas.


What we’re trying to say is this: we Filipinos—especially Metro Manilans—no longer need to commit acts of penitence. Every waking hour in this metropolis is a nail pounded on our sanity.  Those flagellants are just drama queens—or just atoning for something profoundly nasty.


Or maybe we truly, deeply like pain. It is stamped on our psyche like a National Meat Inspection Service seal on a pig’s ear. Almost every aspect of our daily life is a Torquemadan exercise in agony and suffering.


You want a job? As long as you’ve got the necessary requirements, like the ability to read, brush your teeth, and not looking like a serial killer, fine. But try getting an NBI clearance. The sight of the slow, long lines is enough to make you faint.


Riding the MRT at rush hour is sheer masochism. Take the goddamned train if you wish to experience the sensation of being sucked in a moshpit, if you want to exchange faces and maybe some bodily fluid with random strangers. Take it if you want to experience the terror that grips a claustrophobic’s mind tighter than a fat girl holding a Twinkie. What’s that? I have an option? I can very well take the bus? That’s probably okay, if I intend to watch three Steven Seagal movies from Cubao to Makati.


Driving, too, is such punishment. Sitting behind the wheel of an expensive European SUV? Not an assurance that you won’t lose your sanity. Sure, there’s the celestially quiet cabin, the fancy dashboard and all the trimmings druglord-and-jueteng-and-tax-evasion-money can buy. But good luck with the carjackers and all the Jason Ivlers and since we’re at it anyway, good luck with the Nova buses (I wont tell you anymore about it; you’ll just feel one crashing into your side or rear. Take note of the name: Nova Bus Line). Oh, wait, speaking of Ivler, by the way: Marlene Aguilar is about to release an album called She-Dragon: In the Name of Freedom.

In the spirit of Lent and all its attendant elements of woe and misery, here are the Seven Last Words in the context of contemporary Philippine society.



Which can be very well said of everyone in many levels of society— from the prosecution panel in the Corona Impeachment Trial to some traffic enforcers who just wave and wave you by (even on a green traffic light) and right down to bus and jeepney drivers who got their lessons from the Pontius Pilate School of Driving.  The geniuses in the public works deparment and their seemingly constant inability to keep a road free from potholes, blockages, and noise. And speaking of noise, there’s also noisy, noisy social media. Heck, now they’re making a big deal about some ice cream brand that has a price tag that could buy two meals for construction workers.


But the prevailing theme of the first of the seven last words is forgiveness (dah). So in this light, we all must pardon one another’s transgressions.


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  • bean norelle
    Online jobs -data encoder . Part time/full time
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    4 months ago     Reply  
  • Mark
    ngayon ko lang napasok ang feed na ito. Cynical balikbayan, I guess FILIPINA AKO was not able to read this that is why she was not able to comment. Now, I do not think she'll be able to read this anymore too because she is nowhere to be found in any feed. Vacation mode, sick leave mode I guess. But I do not know with GLAD TO BE PINOY, haven't seen him either.
    Jun 01 2012 @ 11:13am     Reply  
  • Blackwidow
    On riding buses, provincial buses especially: not only do passengers get hostage by those st*p*d action movies, in the morning these buses tune in to local channels the reception of which is static, thus causing eye strain. Is there a law about turning on the tv or dvd while travelling? Please.
    Jun 01 2012 @ 10:47am     Reply  
  • parang di ikaw to lourd
    may ghost writer ka ba? umamin ka na! get out of the closet!
    Apr 09 2012 @ 05:33pm     Reply  
  • akberto glory
    i agree with the n.b.i clearance.ubos ang oras mu.'yun lang maaasikaso mu whole day.this easter something to improve.gusto ko malampasan ung mga good works ko last year.aleluya!
    Apr 09 2012 @ 09:18am     Reply  
  • don_miguel
    lourd your the one we need to run the republic of the philippines
    Apr 05 2012 @ 09:22pm     Reply  
  • Castigo Boy
    The Gospel according to Lourd: Existence and Living in the Philippines is pure unadulterated PUNISHMENT ENOUGH for THE ORIGINAL SIN!
    Apr 04 2012 @ 04:58pm     Reply  
  • cynical balikbayan
    " It is paradise, if we are to believe extremely onion-skinned Pinoys who bristle at every little bit of criticism from foreigners."

    God bless you, man. you can criticize the country and get away with it. and look, Filipina Ako and Glad to be pinoy have steered clear of this post. :)) you're amazing!
    Apr 04 2012 @ 11:52am     Reply  
  • tiwop
    Praise the Lourd !!!!!
    Apr 04 2012 @ 06:58am     Reply  
  • Genuine
    Another shared Golgotha of this country is it's got the largest number of crack users aka shabu in southeast Asia. Several millions would be a conservative estimate. Truly, many of its peoples' love affair with crack reminds me of that quote; "I love you like a back-alley hooker loves crack."
    Apr 03 2012 @ 10:48pm     Reply  
  • anonymous
    Haha. Nice one! But you forgot another bus company, Safeway. Both their passengers and other motorists must be praying hard whenever those buses speed along EDSA.
    Apr 03 2012 @ 08:30pm     Reply  
  • mylourd
    who needs religion, MILF, Al-Qaeda, Nazis and Zionists when we have LOURD!!! :D
    Apr 03 2012 @ 07:11pm     Reply  
  • xpietian
    isng malking tsek!!! isng malking skripisyo at penitensya ang araw araw na pagbyahe sa kalsada ng metro manila...
    Apr 03 2012 @ 03:13pm     Reply  
  • Material Boy
    I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! It's like reading what I've been thinking of all these years... ;p

    @emmanuel lobrino: the fact you clicked on the article and tried to read it, you should be proud of yourself...
    Apr 03 2012 @ 02:10pm     Reply  
  • Carla Mendoza
    This: There’s that scary phrase at the end of the Rosary that never failed to conjure terrible visions in my once-young mind: "Save us from the fires of hell."
    Apr 03 2012 @ 10:46am     Reply  
  • Carla Mendoza
    "Add to that the atavistic pervasiveness of a religion that constantly reminds us of our inherent unworthiness"
    Apr 03 2012 @ 10:40am     Reply  
  • Jeff

    I also don't want to be "hostaged" by awful action movies while I'm on the bus. That's penance enough.

    Apr 03 2012 @ 09:43am     Reply  
  • emmanuel lobrino
    wow so deep. di ko na binasa page 2...
    Apr 02 2012 @ 08:50pm     Reply  
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