We are now in the second day of October. What do most Bacoleños think about when October comes along? For the past 40 years, this month brought anticipations of our now world-famous Masskara Festival that had become a come-on, not only for People from Bacolod and Negros Occidental who are now based abroad, it also brings foreign visitors who are drawn to the festivities and the spirit of hospitality and fun our people are known for. I remember how, once during a trip to the U.S. , I was very happy to learn that many people from our city and province had been making plans to time their vacation leaves for the Masskara days!
Now, alas, Mr. COVID has thrown a damper on their plans, as well as ours, because how can we hold a fiesta with social distancing, and fear of infection topmost in our minds? Oh yes, we would be wearing masks, not only the dancers and performers, but this time, not for the fun of it, but for necessity. This would have been the 41st time that the festival had been celebrated, but how can crowds gather, and performans dance in the streets while their minds and hearts are throbbing in fear that the dancer on their side or the person watching by the roadsides, is not a carrier of this deadly virus that has confounded the most brilliant minds in science and medicine so far?
Compound that with the report that COVID cases have breached the 4,000 mark in our city alone. Negros Occidental, too, has more than half of that. Still, we do not know if an effective vaccine or cure has been approved for international use, but there seem to be signs of what the medics call a “curve” in the number of new cases. A year ago, or in September 2019, whoever imagined that we would be confronted with such a disease that quickly became classified as a “pandemic” because it had distributed its virus worldwide so quickly? So far, I have not yet heard of any country that is completely free of this disease.
I am almost sorry for China for the way so many are cursing it for supposedly being the source of this disease that swiftly expanded to pandemic proportions in a very short period. The puzzle is why, with so many countries announcing their cases and fatalities, we hardly hear such from China itself. Which is probably why some people are inventing stories about how this virus found its way around so quickly. The people who are most worried at this point are those in the countries that will soon experience winter, because the cold night worsen the spread of the virus.
In the meantime however, it seems politics is still on top of the minds of our lawmakers especially our congressman who are now in the midst of a problem of leadership. As we all know, the present speaker of the House is Alan Peter Cayetano, but it seems he and Congressman Lord Velasco had gone into a term-sharing arrangement that means, both will head the House for half a term supposedly starting October 14. Trying to keep to his side of the bargain, Cayetano has gallantly offered to give way to Velasco. But the idea does not appeal to the other members of Congress.
October 14 is supposed to be the day Cayetano steps down, but apparently their fellow members of the House are not in favor of the idea of an agreement between only two persons in an agency whose members are elected by the general public and whose leader chosen by the membership, and although Cayetano wants to honor his word, the other members of the House are not agreeable to it. Someone called for a vote, and 184 wanted Cayetano to remain, only one did not, nine members abstained. When the House members could not settle it among themselves, they decided to bring the problem to the President, who, prudently said he was keeping his hands off the case.
It was, indeed, a Solomonic decision, and the President knew he should not intervene. Remember the Biblical story of King Solomon who was asked to judge who was the owner of the baby two women were claiming to be theirs? As the women quarreled in front of him, each declaring she was the real mother, King Solomon’s decision was to cut the baby in half and give them to the two women. One woman agreed to the decision, but the other cried out that she would rather give up the baby than see him cut up. King Solomon declared that she should have the baby, because it meant that she was the true mother.
Until now, I am not sure yet who will be the House Speaker. Will the members and the president agree to the arrangement personally made by the two congressmen? Will Velasco not curse Cayetano for not honoring his word, in case the latter stays on? Oh, and by the way, is there anything in our laws, even in our Constitution that would allow arrangement like that among elected officials? What for are elections anyway, if those elected can make their own rules afterwards?*