Malilong: Envy, not pity

Frank Malilong

WHY should it be considered unpatriotic for anyone to comment on the embarrassing start to our hosting of the Southeast Asian Games? Reports about athletes not picked up at the airport on time or being made to wait to be accommodated in their designated hotels occupied prominent spaces in the sports, even front, pages of several newspapers in Southeast Asia so there is no point in ignoring our failures or pretending that they did not happen or worse, sweeping them under the rug.

The organizing committee apologized and President Duterte has promised an investigation, indicating at the very least that something unpleasant did happen and that people, not machines, were responsible for the same. And we can’t call out these people because it will embarrass our country?

Come on, guys. Our success or failure as hosts does not depend on how many asked you to do better but on how you respond to these calls. We left you alone and something unwanted happened and yet you still want us to continue to leave you alone?

Get off your high horses and stop pretending that you know everything and need no reminders. When we criticize, it is not because we want you to fail, not even to put you in a bad light. We want to keep you on your toes, stay more focused and not leave anything to chance. That’s all there is to it.

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I walk at least four kilometers a day, six days a week, at the Cebu City Sports Center but I wasn’t prepared for the steep descent to and the climb back from the community’s common bath area somewhere in the boundary between the cities of Cebu and Talisay up in the mountain Friday morning.

It all started when we joined the launch of the rehabilitation of the Bulacao River, a joint project of Mayors Edgar Labella and Samsam Gullas. It was a sight to behold the two working together and speaking highly of each other, given the history between their respective predecessors.

I thought we were done with the launching after they pulled the first two bags of garbage from the Bulacao river, but Edgar said he wanted to see his volunteers in the mountain and asked if I wanted to join him.

And so it was that I went through the indignity of having to hold on to former Lahug Barangay Captain Dodong Taborada during our descent through a narrow and slippery pathway and, more undignifiedly, having had to be assisted by a lady (in my embarrassment, I forgot to thank her) who held my left hand, and a City Hall volunteer who must have been half my weight, who held the other, to prevent me from slipping on our way up. Just for the record, I did not slip.

And how did the Cebu City mayor, who is a year older, fare during the trek? You’d have to ask him, but happily for both us, no photos were taken during those moments of vulnerability.

Postscript: I woke up the following morning still feeling numb from my lower back down. But I do not pity those who had to walk the same path every day to fetch water and take a bath in the same stream. I envy them.