|32 At The ThresholdAt the
threshold of a momentous turn of a century, I still watch the evening news on my 110-volt
Toshiba TV set in spite of the fact that it had been plugged several times into 220-volt
outlets by one child or another as they grew up over the years.
Along the way, the US economy saw a
dramatic turnaround from the depression that felled the Kuwaiti hero, George Bush, and
heralded the intimate-encounter style governance of CNN and Bill Clinton a style
that, while bullish, is somewhat disappointingly Orwellian, with a twist: Big Brother
I am particularly fascinated with William
Jefferson Clinton. Do not get me wrong here. It is not in any way similar to the stalking
fascination of Monica. It is more of an estimation of the eloquence of the man between his
histrionic That woman
speech and his sober, almost solemn, A new
dawn for America
I do not normally write my elder brother
Mehol a letter, but in November 1992, I had the historical (or prophetic, as Franz
Arcellana would say) feeling that Bill was going to be something more than just a comeback
kid, although I was personally rooting for George Bush, the Saudi hero.
I remember vividly that it kept on raining
for almost a week in Jeddah. The skies of Jeddah remained gloomy and most of the streets
If you realize that in Jeddah, there is
hardly any rain throughout the year except for a few drizzles for an hour or two, one day
or two days a year, then you know something profound transpired. Especially, when, on the
first day the sun finally shone through the humongous gray clouds, Bill Clintons
victorious face was littered all over the Jeddah newsstands like the first grass of
spring. Then I knew I had to write my brother Mehol about a new dawn.
At the threshold of a momentous turn of a
century, elsewhere, nothing much has changed: the Bosnia locust swarm now moves into
Kosovo; the Tutsi-Hutu mardi gras transforms into the Ethiopia-Eritrea jambalaya; Hindu
fanatics are now clawing through Christian churches instead of Muslim mosques.
Mindanao is still embroiled in a
secessionist war which evolved from a national liberation front to an Islamic liberation
front, whatever that signifies to the various hues and colors of actors in the
centuries-old drama. And although the sarimanok never quite became the peace bird
that many had hoped for, it is now a welcome emblem of TFC to the hundreds of thousands of
Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.
And yes, we Filipino expatriates are now
being referred to in the media by the softer, gentler, politically corrrect, even
subliminal, nomenclature of OFW, overseas Filipino workers, rather than the milking
cow-ish title of OCW, overseas contract workers, of the earlier decade.