A Dog Named "Viaje"
by Dante Ang
I have long promised myself that as long as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is Commander in Chief, I shall not comment on political events as they unfold. The reason is simple. My close personal association with the President makes me feel unsure if I can muster the courage to be critical of her and her policies when the occasion so demands.
I expect the �intrigeros,� the �intrigeras,� the �inggiteros� and the �inggiteras� in and out of the Palace to retail the canard that I have defected to, and am campaigning for, the opposition. I heard this �tsismis� being peddled by a �broadcaster-kuno� some weeks ago. This pretender is known in the industry as an insult to the profession, the best argument, according to the old joke, for birth control.
I�ve been maligned as a result of a series of black propaganda against me, not so much by some members of the opposition as by the very people I thought were my friends. I held my peace, rolled with the punches, and suffered in silence as I watched them sully my reputation. And in the few instances when I had to come out and defend myself in public, I had to weigh my words to prevent the issue from involving the Palace.
I try very hard not to be distracted by the credit-grabbing �crabs� in and out of government. I believe in the adage that �if you stop before every dog that barks, you will never get to your destination.�
But this time I have to make an exemption. There�s this dog �Viaje,� named after �viajeng Hapon� or �lagareng Hapon,� that moved into a sprawling apartment complex when his master, by Divine intervention, was appointed by the owners to manage the company as its president/CEO. Viaje brought along with him some of the dogs from the same kennel where he came from and assigned them to guard the units in the complex.
With his dogs guarding every unit, nothing would happen without Viaje�s knowledge. They reported to him meetings between the tenants and the President. Soon, he put on airs. His bark became louder and more menacing, and his bite deadlier as the days wore on.
Dogs in the neighborhood kowtowed to him. They regularly brought him bones and a piece of their daily rations. But Viaje was insatiable. He settled for nothing less than the whole cow. So he ordered his dogs to harass the tenants until they came across. And woe to those who ignored him; worse to those who refused to cooperate.
His bullying paid off handsomely. Some tenants appeased Viaje and his dogs grudgingly. Cows, by the thousands, were sent to his pasture in Hong Kong and elsewhere outside the country.
Having tasted the delivery of the first cows, he went for the jugular. One tenant, for example, is being milked of US$20 million worth of imported cows; the other, P300 million worth of local cows. There were other equally mind-boggling shakedowns, not to mention his attempt to corner the transportation insurance business and to put the heat on two feuding telecoms firms so they would hire him as their �court general.�
Viaje has obviously become a pain in the ass. He acts like a feudal lord whose word is law to his vassals. What he wants, he gets. He growls at every conceivable sign of disapproval by the tenants. He harasses them until they toe the line and do his bidding. He expects every deal, every business transaction in the complex to pass through him and his kennel or the tenants will forever be harassed.
As a result, the tenants started packing up one by one, leaving the apartment complex almost empty. Still, Viaje would blame the �compadres and comadres� of the President for the decline in the occupancy rate, misleading the President and blaming everybody but himself and his kennel.
On many occasions, he has blamed the President�s husband for the sudden drop in the apartment complex�s occupancy rates. The tenants dislike her husband, so goes Viaje�s argument. The husband must therefore be banished from the complex, the farther, the better. It was a good thing the President listened to her heart.
Meanwhile, conditions at the apartment complex went from bad to worse. Its maintenance was terrible. Conditions were decrepit. Dirty. Disorderly. Tenants were scarce. Business declined.
The President started to worry. She knew that her job was on the line. She must do something fast. She organized a new team of advertising and public relations group to craft a new communications package for the complex. There were no takers. The occupancy rate remained low.
Next, she organized a marketing mission to sell the complex to foreign investors. She sent her finance manager to persuade the Asians to locate to her complex. Still no takers.
Finally, she turned to her Uncle Sam, who is living in the United States, for help. So far, Uncle Sam has sent her nothing but crumbs.
On the other hand, Viaje is laughing all the way to the bank, feeling secure about his future. He has stashed enough cows in foreign pastures to last him 10 lifetimes. He has become so powerful that he is no longer (afraid?) of his master whose contract, he knows, will run out in a few months. Besides, Viaje has hedged his bet. Unknown to the President, he and his dogs are already working for other candidates for President.
What a life. With a dog like Viaje, will the tenants ever get out of the doghouse? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
Friday, June 13, 2008
(Wayback Machine Apr 13 2003)