Tuesday, August 15

Semper Fi

Today I would have wanted nothing more than to just stay at home as the rain drizzled on outside. But go to work I had to, so I trudged out to the MRT to make my 10AM meeting. Unfortunately, as has happened at least once before, the Katipunan MRT branch was closed for some reason, most probably due to the rain. The security guard suggested that I head to the Anonas station, which was operational. This was pretty ridiculous given the thick traffic headed for Cubao, so I decided to just try and get a cab somehow.
It didn't look good- rain reduced my chances of getting a cabbie willing to go all the way to Makati to a very small percentage. Plus, some woman was also hailing cabs in front of me. It didn't look good.

However, things seemed to go my way. The woman eventually went off, giving up on getting a cab in the area (perhaps she also sensed my malevolent glare). Anyway, a few minutes later, a cab approached and seemed to slow before me. A passenger got off, and I asked the driver if he would take me to Makati. The man nodded in affirmative and I was overjoyed. We were off.

As we were headed into C-5 Highway, the cabbie started a conversation, which I was only glad to respond to... anything to keep the guy's mind off traffic and possibly losing interest in the fare. Eventually though, I warmed to the conversation earnestly given the driver's story. It turns out that my cabbie for the day was a MARINE. An honest-to-goodness, straight-and-narrow, death-before-dishonor marine, tested in battle in Mindanao and stationed everywhere from election guard duty in Cotabato, Presidential Security Details and a tour of duty with the UN in the African state of Liberia.

We talked at length about the recent politicizing of the Philippine military, and how the Marines themselves were in a battle to retain their identity and code of honor and principles even as the rest of the Chain of Command seems bought out by dirty politics and bribes. It tore my heart to hear such things, but at the same time I felt pride in knowing that there are a few soldiers... marines, who can't or won't be bought. I only hope that there were more of these upstanding warriors. In any case, the sad part is that the marines are fighting a losing battle, with their officers being systematically removed and the corps in danger of being abolished. We then continued talking about corruption in government, little stories each of us had heard, and about our frustrations and reasons why we, as a people, are both damned or lucky because of our inherent ease to forgive and forget. It would be easy (but definitely bloody) to remove the government by force, if people really wanted it out, but it seems that the Filipinos aren't THAT hungry yet. Who knows? Maybe it's just not the time. Maybe.

I got to Ayala Avenue, it turns out, pretty much on time. And I felt quite good at meeting a modern-day real soldier. I gave the cabbie his fare and a big extra, and I was on my way. Damn, if only there were more men like the Marine Taxi Driver, this country would go places. Literally and figuratively.

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