Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Pre-occupations

Just sitting on the veranda reading and alternately playing with Rowena, as has become my habit of late, enjoying my extended holiday. Last Sunday I went to the big city – Kalibo. I managed to find a few things that are quite unavailable in Ibajay, namely a national newspaper and access to the internet. I downloaded a number of eBooks from Project Gutenberg and am pleasantly occupied with reading the likes of Alice in Wonderland, The War of the Worlds, The King James version of the Old Testament and re-reading stories that I had to leave behind in Korea like Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Poe’s The Raven.

I’m extremely happy about the presence of all these wonderful stories, many of them illustrated, on the net as I have little desire to spend my meagre savings on expensive overseas shipping for books that I may not read again for many years – or perhaps never. And where to ship them anyhow?

Other than the above two occupations I haven’t been doing very much save most nights we tend to watch pirated movies on VCD. I say pirated unqualified in the previous sentence because it is quite natural here. In fact, I’ve only seen the original disc for 2 movies amongst the dozens I’ve come across thus far. Hollywood mustn’t concentrate much of its anti-pirating efforts in countries like the Philippines mostly because there isn’t a lot of money that can be wrung from the poor economy here.

Or perhaps Hollywood finds the Filipino government difficult to deal with because of its corruption and disorganized blundering. The only benefit I’ve gained from the local papers is a better knowledge of the corruption of this country’s government and its people’s widespread discontent. Each and everyday there are numerous articles attempting to expose president Gloria Arroyo and her government’s corruption as well as ubiquitous calls for her to resign her position. In fact, it’s difficult to find an article in any of the national newspapers that doesn’t mention corruption and misgovernance of some sort.

I was very surprised to find that the Catholic Church has a strong presence in politics here. An organization called the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is quoted many times by the national papers and has been known to make statements of a very political nature against many levels of government and many a government policy. Because of their discordance, they appear to figure prominently in the plans of the opposition governments to take control of the country. They apparently continue to involve themselves in politics despite Papal disapproval.

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