THE newspapers are delayed and much too formal, restricted by old codes. The free TV is dumb, to be gentle about it. For us, in touch with our Internet-selves, the social media provided the data of who we are and what we are after the election.
The landscape was bleak; the prospects grim.
People admitted to being depressed. A filmmaker asked, “Am I the only one depressed?” To this rhetorical question, some responded: “Hindi ka nag-iisa” (You are not alone). For those with clear memories of our political histories, those lines harked back to the period of awakening after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.
That awakening went from waking up to standing and looking around. But, we know what happened. We went back to sleeping, if not, to feeling lousy and tired. The dictator or what was left of him was back before we could even count the number of years he was away.
History does not touch on language, but takes place in it. Theodor W. Adorno said that. Our words about freedom are not merely affected by historical processes; our words about being free and being ourselves are in history or histories.
The social media takes place in the present histories. Look at how we see and define and describe ourselves now in the present dispensation.
Language tells on us. Language betrays us. Language speaks to us as it speaks of us.
At 6 in the evening of May 13, the counting stopped. There were many explanations, each one obfuscating another, each word mystifying the listener.
For 7 or 8 hours nothing happened. What is happening, we asked? The Commission tasked with this responsibility to choose the next group of leaders was not articulate enough to explain to us the situation. Java Error.
It was the first time that the term was heard. Unless you are a techie or a student of IT, then Java and its error conjured an exotic place, the unknown.
Then somebody posted comments attributed to Dr. Pablo Manalastas of Ateneo de Manila University. It says: “This explanation of “Java error” causing a reduction in tally percentage is made so that “normal folks” (quotation marks mine) do not question Comelec, and to calm down people.” Manalastas goes on, however, to say that the explanation of a generic Java error is just not acceptable to the community of source code reviewers and the community of Filipino computer programmer. Simply put, the normal people – us- will accept or not accept the explanation but we have no way of engaging the Comelec in a discussion.
In the end, Manalastas simply asked: “What is the actual error, Comelec? What are you trying to hide?”
And so it came to pass that one person simply asked: What happened in the seven hours the transmission of votes stopped? What happened indeed? The metaphors are running berserk in these queries: What happened in the seven or eight hours you are not in your house while someone was there? What happened when you allowed some strangers in your room for more than six or even more hours? What could they do?
The latest from Comelec is their expression of willingness to allow a technical audit to address what people perceive as transparency server mess. But even in that sentence, we see language rearing its fierce head. What is a transparency server? It is a server that accepts all the election results so that they could be distributed to media networks. As of now, this transparency server is under the sole control of Comelec. In one post from a certain “John Ultra,” he calls the transparency server not transparent enough.
Please take note, however, that we are able to talk about these servers and these transparencies because we are, as I said, in touch with our social-media selves. What about the 40-plus million in the C-D class structure and 8 to 9 million in the E sector? Would they be bothered by these disputes? Would they be even interested in the discourse?
In the meantime, the posts on Facebook are about loving but leaving this country. My dear friend, Chito, advises his other friends that if they are so capable then could they bring their children abroad and thus provide them a good future. For those who do not know my friend, I know he has New Zealand to escape to. But what about the others?
Hannah, a former student but now a professor in Japan, says she still grieves for her father but now she grieves as well for him.
Another friend, Deo, a great Nora Aunor fan, threatens not to come home. I tell him but you are there already in the place where Mary Magdalene supposedly once lived.
Amidst the depressing notes, someone posted, and I reposted, the results of the voting for Senators in my city, Naga in Bikol. The now legendary Ocho Derecho – the 8 Opposition Senators – were all there. Great writers like Ninotchka Rosca and Sylvia Mayuga took note of it. Sylvia saw poetry in the fact that there was a place where the Opposition mattered. Actually even before the Naga post, I sent to Sylvia already what had happened in Magarao, a small town in Camarines Sur. There, the Eight were all in! Magarao is a town of healers, I said to Sylvia.
While some people are still contemplating about leaving this country, there are some looking at Naga as a place they can move to. “The place is nice and the food is cheap,” one woman comments. Noel, a young filmmaker says: Bicolano, you should be proud. Lightheartedly, I issued a correction: “Noel, Nagueño, you should be proud.
I want to tell them, but we have typhoons. But I stopped. No one apologizes for Nature after all.