Then Moses and Aaron went to the king of Egypt and said “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, Let my people go, so that they can hold a festival in the desert to honor Me”.
Naturally, the Pharaoh did not. We all know what happened after that.
Tonight, the nation is in tenterhooks. There is anxiety sweeping these islands tonight. Tonight all mothers have a daughter. Each daughter and son has a sister. Each child has a mother. Each man has a wife or sweetheart. Each one has a friend. She is Mary Jane Veloso. She is now about to face the firing squad on an Indonesian prison island.
I will not dwell on the merits of the case. I do not care is she is innocent or guilty on the charges leveled against her. Many are praying for a miracle, divine or non-divine intervention. I will not cite humanitarian reasons. I can only cite the anguish and agony of her children, sister and mother. I know that anguish, agony, hardships and injustice are a dime a dozen nowadays. What’s one more? Mary Jane Veloso never was a contestant in American Idol or the Voice. She never competed in beauty pageants or even starred in Miss Saigon.
That is why I am also agonizing tonight. I remember Flor Contemplacion. It cast a pall of gloom on the country that day. I remember that nobody in our office really relished working that day. It was just a case of going through the motions and at the end of the working day, my friend and I went out for a drink. The beer tasted so bitter that day.
Why? Because Mary Jane Veloso is one of us. One of the 99,900,000 faceless Filipinos who just try to get along as best as they could. She has her own hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. No different from the rest of us.
Who do we blame? The President? The government? Illegal recruiters? Drug Lords and pushers? Surely they are all guilty. Be it the crime of commission or the crime of omission. But there is a greater crime, a greater sin.
Who bears that sin?
The answer is not who but what?
The President, the government, the illegal recruiters, the drug lords are just part of a greater whole. There are still more that needs to be included in that rogues’ gallery. They are but part of a system, a system that breeds injustice and poverty that is a vicious cycle that leads to more suffering.
It is a system that takes away from the many and rewards those who are few. That resources belong to a miniscule part of the whole population. In turn, the political and economic system are perpetuated by those same resources. That there is no seeming end to what they are doing. That all institutions are corrupted and co-opted to maintain the status quo.
That system is what makes the likes of Mary Jane Veloso gamble on a job overseas. That system made her vulnerable to such a circumstance. That in the greater scheme of things, the 99,900,000 are all slaves building Karnak or Thebes. Mary Jane Veloso got stuck between the large stones before the erecting of the obelisk to honor Pharaoh. But the obelisk must be raised no matter what. Mary Jane Veloso must be crushed to the greater glory of Pharaoh.
We gnash our teeth and our knuckles whiten with rage. For these things will come to pass as the same things came to pass for so many years ago. For every supposed messiah who will lead us to the promised land came only disappointments and further sinking of the people into the morass. There is a malaise in this land. That the Pharaoh is the system that breeds such leaders and conditions a great many to blindly support the system and its personalities in a never ending vicious cycle.
We will know in a few hours if Mary Jane will be saved or not. To come to such a pass as a people is a tragedy. In the great balance of things, the Filipino never harmed the world as a people. We never invaded anybody. We never enslaved anybody. In fact, we are responsible citizens of the world. The 10% of our population contribute to make this world a going concern. We never exported terrorism or crime. We exported our goodwill and services.
But why are we going through this and a lot more tragic things. Our country being dismembered by all those who are interested in exploiting us as a people, as a nation and as a country. They plunder our natural resources and now they are plundering the people themselves. How many pyramids do we as a people have to erect. How many rivers of tears must flow? The Filipino is now considered a cheap form of life, to be extinguished like blowing candles.
All through this, the system, the modern Pharaoh enslaves us. We can only go down on our knees in supplication but eventually our prayers will be heard when we stand up on our own two feet and say enough is enough. There must come a day that all will be held accountable for all the injustices and sufferings.
When that time arrives, the Ten Plagues of Egypt will be like a picnic when we overturn the system. We will not stop at your first born.
To those who are part of the system, “Pharaoh, Let the Filipino People Go!”
Originally written by: Jonathan Edwards J. Olabre