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Silence

Republika

FAIR COMMENT | Alito Malinao

Many years back when we first moved to Queens Row Subdivision in Bacoor City and when my legs were still strong, I used to walk long distances on weekends usually to nearby areas just to explore new and interesting places.


One of my favorite destinations is a secluded spot in Barangay Molino, about five kilometers from our house. The place is one of the remaining enclaves of lush greenery with centuries-old trees and clinging vines that you cannot find in any other place in a Manila suburb except perhaps at La Mesa Dam.


Part of this scenery is a reservoir built by the National Irrigation Administration long time ago to capture the waters from the surrounding creeks and the drainage system of the different subdivisions that have sprouted in the area. A dam that was built to prevent flooding of the downstream towns has a spillway. During this time of the year, the water of the dam overflows and you can hear the sweet symphony of the water that cascades down the spillway to the ravine and watershed below.


Not many people in the area had discovered this place which I called my “little paradise.” Almost always, I just sat alone at the elevated embankment as I listened to the sound of the cascading water and savored the hauntingly beautiful surrounding. But the most exhilarating feeling that I had every time I was in the area was complete peace and serenity brought about by the silence that was almost palpable.


And I thought that perhaps what we need in our country today is silence, and a lot of it.


Paul Kennedy, then director of the International Security Studies at Yale University, in his article “Why don’t all politicians shut up” published in the International Herald Tribune, tells us of how verbal skirmishes, both oral and written, have contributed to the world’s troubles. He cited examples of U.S. politicians who were in the limelight then such as Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton. Still to appear in the political scene was Donald Trump, the most loquacious of American politicians to date.


Kennedy’s prognosis, while it was made in early 2000, is still true in the Philippines and it is probably because of the noise coming from our politicians that we are left behind by our neighbors in economic development. We cannot start a project or a new policy without being pilloried by politicians, especially from the opposition or some do-gooders who pretend to have the monopoly of wisdom and honesty.


The Senate is the biggest source of verbal rubbish aired and printed without letup in our media. A couple of senators, a gentleman and a lady, have mastered the art of saying something without saying anything. The lady is a protégé of former President Noynoy Aquino while the gentleman has the uncanny obsession of getting rid of Health Secretary Francisco Duque. You open your radio and you hear them; you watch television and their faces are also there. The two have always something to say on any issue.


Abraham Lincoln once said that “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubts.”


Since our grade school, we have been taught that “silence is golden.” How sad that our politicians have forgotten this.


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