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A prayer and a song

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IT’S A good thing that President Duterte has vetoed, at least for the moment, the recommendation by his economic advisers, public and private, to put the whole country under the modified general  community quarantine.

It’s probably one of his best. Even a dead clock, as they say, is right at least twice a day.

This time, his nod on a rule is both backed up by science and common sense. Most health experts, who earlier nixed the idea, applauded the President for his decision.  Not that the MGCQ nationwide proposal didn’t have science in it. There are military scientists as well as economic minds in his team.  The former deals with violence management as I remember retired air force Gen. Romy David enlightened me once. The other works in the field of the dismal: economics.

Apparently, the health argument held sway over the economic one. The country is in deep recession. Simply put, there’s lack of demand while supply is sitting, if not rotting, somewhere. The solution is obvious: free the consumers by doing way with movement restriction. People can dance with the virus, anyway, or have learned to, after nearly one year of dodging the bullet.

But, that’s falling into the trap of the virus.  The invisible  bug can spread faster if people dance with others.  It’s the shortest distance to another, possible worse, transmission and a spike in COVID cases.People could get sick while seeking survival. Why not wait until the vaccine is here?

This time, Duterte not only heard but listened to the health experts, whom he had brushed aside a number of times in the past and had tagged them as if they were the enemies of the people, not to mention of the government.

He said it,  that should settle it. Except for one thing: the vaccine is still absent.

Comes now, presidentiable Manila Mayor IskoMoreno with a theological solution, instead of a teleological one: PRAY.  The former actor and now politician has broached recently the ultimate remedy to the collective angst and anger over the uncertainty as tothe what and when of the vaccines.   Let us pray to God, he said, with a straight face while at looking atthe camera – for effect, I guess — and trust the system.   It sounded like  he was being sarcastic and sincere at the same time. Well, he was and  still is an actor.  In this day and age, acting and politics make perfectcombination.

He cautioned the people, particularly his constituents in Manila, against fixing the blame about the delayed vaccines on anyone. The next day, a survey showed he was among the top choices for president and vice president in next year’s election. I told you a paragraph earlier.

Don’t blame the survey or the respondents on the result.  As Shakespeare wrote in Taming of the Shrew, there’s a small choice when you don’t have the best apples.

Moreno’s cool attitude about the repeated delay in the supply of vaccines is like that of two protagonists, Vladimir and Estragon, in Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’.

Asked when Godot would be coming, Vladimir replied ‘he didn’t say for sure he’ll come’. The implacable Estragon insists’ and if he doesn’t come? Well, they can come back tomorrow, Vladimir answered.  Estragon, unsatisfied, pushed harder, and then he doesn’t come after tomorrow?  Vladimir made it clear it was possible.

Moreno might as well be channeling Vladimir: Yes, in this immense confusion, one thing is clear. We are waiting for Godot (vaccine) to come. We are not saints but we have kept our appointment.

Truth to tell, at least the Metro Manila mayors have more than kept theirs.  They have made their advance payments. They have conducted dry runs. They have bought logistical requirements such as coolers to keep vaccines in good condition. Some, if not most, of them have said they were willing to be shot — that is, vaccinated — publicly and be the first in line.

Still, the vaccines availability and brand to be injected on people are very much a guessing game.

Moreno’s political theatrics would have been complete had he also sang (like he was in a Tito Germs’ show) a ditty popularized by Shirley Bassey a long time ago, not in his time, perhaps.  The lyrics of the song captures perfectly  people’s  disappointments and impatience with the government’s imperfect vaccination plan and on other issues of day.

If there’s wrong way to do it, a wrong way to play it, a right way to screw it up, there’s nothing like it is today.  If there’s a big mouth talking too much and go for tact and manners, why today is really something for the record.

Moreno is an exemplar in more than the existential story by Beckett.  At the end of the play, Vladmir and Estragon decided to leave the place where Godot was to appear.  But they didn’t move a muscle as curtain fell.

Moreno thinks Heaven will make a difference and wants everyone to look vertically instead of horizontally while waiting for the curtain to fall on the issue of vaccine delay.

Caution: This is not a political endorsement.

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