Looking back to the events that transpired in the course of Chief Justice Renato Coronaâ€™s impeachment trial, it could be said that major highlights concerned envelopes. First, we had witnessed the amusing incident involving a certain â€œsmall ladyâ€ who, according to prosecutor Reynaldo Umaliâ€™s story, gave him an envelope which contained Coronaâ€™s bank records, and are allegedly incriminating. Many were then convinced that this was it for Corona. And then the records were falsified.
Now, we have another envelope which can allegedly incriminate the respondent, for this envelope supposedly verifies the claim that Corona has dubious wealth hidden somewhere that amounts to $10-M. The object of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Moralesâ€™s searching eyes, the thing that made Harvey Keh the talk of the town; all eyes are now focused on this envelope that might catalyze the ending of this legal saga. Again, many people are convinced that this is the final nail in Coronaâ€™s coffin. Meanwhile, suspicions are rising as to the credibility of this evidence.
Obviously, this is yet another dirty play by the yellows â€” to make the Chief Justice look guilty and get the senators to convict him. Why else provide the Senate President a bogus document? He, Walden Bello and Riza Hontiveros now claim that they have no personal knowlege of the dollar deposits of the Corona. Hello. Why file complaints then?
Similarly, Noynoyâ€™s Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, while claiming she will testify and tell all, now also admits that her order for the Chief Justice to explain his alleged foreign currency deposits amounting to $10 million was based on media report.
Magical envelopes are not restricted to Coronaâ€™s case. In fact, the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada became controversial because of an envelope, the contents of which could have incriminated Estrada for good. However, the jury decided not to open it, leading to the walkout of the prosecution and sheer outrage from the masses. But then as it turned out, the said envelope contained nothing incriminating.
It seems our national politics has an envelope-y nature. We Filipinos sure love envelopes, no? Not really, but we do love overrated plot devices.
Deus ex machina, a Latin phrase which roughly translates to â€œgod out of the machine,â€ is:
â€œa person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficultyâ€
Basically, a deus ex machina is a person or a thing that appears out of nowhere and solves the problem in an instant (letâ€™s, for a moment, drop the fiction/drama part). And, observing todayâ€™s society, our culture is rich with things that are perceived as such.
In my previous article, I have explained PNoyâ€™s distinct image as a hero to the Filipino masses; a hero who, just in the nick of timeâ€¦ just when all hope seemed lost, jumped into the political fray to shed hope to the Filipino people. This is a perfect illustration of a deus ex machina. We are fond of seeing personalities who will, quite suddenly, appear before our midst and lead us to a land of milk and honey.
The envelopes were dei ex machina in our little political drama. Just when the prosecution seemed defeated, just when all hope seemed lost and the villain Corona is about to get acquitted, suddenly, a bunch of envelopes appear, quite literally, out of nowhere to save the day. There is hope once again; people are once again fired up to persecute the respondent, confident that heâ€™ll finally get the guilty verdict he deserves.
It seems that subconsciously, the concept of a miraculous person or objectâ€”a deus ex machinaâ€”as the solution to a problem has been ingrained in the Filipino mindset that it manifests itself from time to time.
Perhaps it stemmed from the iconic revolutions in our history. Perhaps it stemmed from the religion-centric culture the Spanish era has given us. In the end, a lingering longing for a single-package solution in our problems constitute the Filipino psyche.
Why do many Filipinos go to church, praying for Godâ€™s guidance, and then go bet on the lotto or at the nearest sweepstakes office? Why is there a prevailing â€œgameshow cultureâ€ in the Philippines, where countless Filipinos flock in the studios in hopes of getting their hands on the prizes these shows can offer? Why are many Filipinos more dependent on the government than on themselves? Why do we buy into the politiciansâ€™ simplistic campaign commercials?
All of these things share a common trait; they all offer an easy way out. They offer you the best of things for minimal effort, and many Filipinos fall for that. Many Filipinos fall for the worldâ€™s dei ex machina.
But reality will slap us back to her one way or another. Just like how deus ex machina is viewed as a mediocre plot device in literature, we Filipinos will realize that reality just isnâ€™t compatible with single-package solutions. Just like how most lotto winners end up bankrupt in just a few years, just like how Filipinos waste their time watching game-shows for a slim chance of winning the jackpot, just like how the government cannot solve all of your problems, and just like how most campaign commercials mean jack squat, we should know that real success do not come in envelopes and similar stuff. We Filipinos should realize that we have to work hard to earn real success, because we learn through the process. A deus ex machina canâ€™t teach you anything; experience does, and it will give you the knowledge to keep your hard-earned wealth.
We Filipinos should also realize that we have to practice critical thinking to arrive at the truth. We should weigh the facts and obtain rational conclusions, rather than just go with the flow and anchor our hopes to envelopes and small ladies who find their way to court. When we open our livesâ€™ envelopes that contain success or truth, we donâ€™t find this:
Instead, we find this:
Weâ€™ll find blueprints; blueprints of every permutation, detailing the things that need to be done to bring us closer and closer to our goals. Nothing in experience tells us that a single person or object is the key to our success; heck, it turns out that experience itself is the key to our success, coupled of course with rational thinking.
Just like how stories become colorful and interesting with functional characters, our lives become more and more productive as we tackle our problems not with blind faith in dei ex machina, but with our personal abilities. We truly succeed because we work hard, and we arrive at the truth because we think, not because of some iconic president-hero or an omniscient envelope or a lotto win.
Itâ€™s high time that we look into ourselves and start abandoning our miracle-based culture; a deus ex machina-based culture, so that we may transcend our simplistic mindset. This, to me, is a crucial step to turn our story from a clichÃ©d, badly written gibberish into a bestseller novel.