Benhur the brave and Baligod the bold

Salamat, Benhur! Salamat, attorney Baligod! Salamat! Salamat mula sa sambayanang Pilipino na tumatanaw ng malaking utang na loob sa inyo. Nakakabilib!
Benhur, you held us spellbound on TV, with the cool attorney Baligod by your side. The scene was powerful, a scene with the scary tension that preludes the exorcism of a demon-possessed bureaucracy, a demon that we Filipinos, with our loquacious lawyering and patronage filibustering, could not slay in a hundred years.
This is the wily and elusive demon, a systemic and collusive corruption in the government that ruins our lives.
Colossal
Benhur, your iconic signal is awesome, a Beelzebub killer in the making. In an epic in the Hollywood sense, the name Benhur is colossal.
Nakatitindig-balahibo rin ang dating mo. Hawig mo si Lapu-Lapu—kayumanggi, pangahan at mahaba ang buhok tulad ng mandirigma mula sa Mactan, kagila-gilalas na mandirigma na pumapaslang sa manlulupig.
Kasama mo kaming lahat, Benhur at pinagpipitaganang attorney Baligod. With over 70 million TV screens, tens of millions more texters, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram users, we have become the computer-connected masses, the new kapit-bisig constituency of the digital age.
Huwag kang matakot, Benhur. We, the Filipino people, are with you in flesh and blood. Kasama mo kami sa pagpuksa ng karumaldumal na kawatan. Kaming lahat na nagmamahal sa inang bayan—malalaki at maliliit na businessmen na nagpapagulong ng ekonomiya, mga middle class na bumubuhay sa ating mayabong na consumer sector, mga immigrants at OFW sa buong mundo ng nagtitiis ng pangungulila at pagod upang buhayin ang pamilya sa Pilipinas, mga wage earner na naglilingkod sa publiko, kahit kulang ang sweldo, mga paring nagmimisa at mga madreng nag-vivigil—lahat tayong nagbabayad ng buwis.
Akay-akay natin ang milyon-milyong dukha at naaaping Pilipino; mga tambay na walang trabaho; mga iskwater na masahol pa sa daga ang tirahan, marumi, mabaho at walang hangin; mga palaboy sa kalye na ang kinakain ay mga tira-tira sa basurahan ng fast-food stores at ang tulugan ay kariton; mga sex worker at bugaw sa Ermita na naghahasik ng HIV; mga batang hubo sa riles ng tren na puro bulate ang tiyan; mga magsasaka sa bukid na walang puhunan at teknolohiya; mga mangingisdang walang huli at mga tribo sa bulubundukin na namamatay ng walang gamot at walang duktor.
Pati na rin ang mga rebelde sa bundok na nangarap itumba ang walang hustisyang pamahalaan; mga bilanggong parang nagsisiksikang sardinas na natutulog sa semento; pati na rin ang mga sinto-sinto sa psychopathic na nagdurusa sa kawalan ng budget.
We are a million voices, a million eyes and ears that can put an end to predator and bully politics. May panlaban na tayo—communication power, computerized and digital. It can assemble citizens by the millions, with a single act of patriotism, to take umbrage against specific corruption, injustices, and ineptitude in government.
Enlightened citizens
Our education as more enlightened and extra vigilant citizens began as soon as Benhur sat down in front of the microphone in the Senate hall. Benhur ritualized his honesty by making the sign of the cross.
With homespun confidence and clarity, he told the story of Janet Napoles’ plot and subplot to rob in broad daylight the government’s coffers. It’s a collusion of senators and congressmen, their chief of staff or representatives, heads of agencies, Napoles NGOs, implementing agency officials and employees, and other public officials.
Now, all participants have been charged at the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged plunder, graft, bribery and malversation of public funds.
In Benhur’s narrative, a web of deceit and corruption unfolded like a gripping telenovela, clear and understandable to ordinary Jose and Juana. The greed, thievery, deceit, absurdities and lawlessness came out loud and clear, horrifying and terrifying all of us. News of the dastardly deed reached millions of migrants and OFWs in the US, Europe, Asia and the Arabian states.
“Don’t steal our money! Abolish the pork barrel!” became a worldwide Filipino battle cry.
Dahil sa inyong kabayanihan, Benhur and attorney Baligod and all the heroic Luys (spouses Francisco and Gertrudes Luy, Arthur and Annebelle Luy, the parents and siblings, respectively, of Benhur and Merlina Suñas), we may finally be at the cusp of a transformative catharsis.

Golden chance
We’ve had many catharsis in the past, but they failed to make the change for us to be a great nation. The Philippine revolution failed because our freedom was hijacked by the Americans. The freedom we got after World War II failed to rebuild our country from the ashes of war into an industrialized country. The second democratic republic we gained after we threw out the martial law dictatorship also failed to give us the economic reforms and political will for us to succeed in creating a tiger economy.
The abolition of the pork barrel is our golden chance to get rid of larcenous politics, dynastic politicians and idolatrous voters. If we put an end to the pork barrel, we the people can slay the Faustian demon that brings our community to the gates of hell.
To sustain the impact of the people’s outrage on the pork barrel heist, media and the Luneta streetocracy (similar to Egypt’s) and netizens cannot let their guards down. Any hint of corruption must be made viral on social media, pronto!
Television’s telenovelas should dramatize the hypocritical lives of thieving politicians and phony NGOs, and how the poor are victimized by their capers.
This is the best role that television can play in uplifting the judgmental capability of our masang Pilipino. So how about it, ABS-CBN and GMA?
This is not a request for a thankless PR project. With television’s vaunted savvy in making money out of people’s tears, laughter and songs, there’s a lot of revenue for the sales department.
Huwag natin sayangin ang kabayanihan nina Benhur. Hindi pwedeng maging ningas-kugon lang ang abolish the pork barrel outrage. Pag tayo’y bumitaw, wala tayong kinabukasan.

E-mail the author at hgordonez@gmail.com

* This article was written by PPGFI’s good friend, Minyong Ordonez. This article was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on September 22, 2013: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/126831/benhur-the-brave-and-baligod-the-bold

** The image on this article was taken from rappler.com