Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That Obtuse Oroquieta City Welcome Arc

My first comment as the bus entered Oroquieta City was “ang OA naman”! I said ‘OA’ of course to mean ‘over-acting’ as we commonly use it in this country. And I was referring to the city’s welcome arc. I would have been content with that “Welcome to Oroquieta, City of Good Life”, even if that “good life” is of course very debatable depending on whose point of view – the old resident folks, the resident youth or the young and adult visitors, right? But what made me say ‘OA’ are those writings on top and on both sides of the ‘welcome’ in equally big fonts! Ah just look at the picture and read hehe!

Hello, what do they have for a Mayor? Bro. Mike? Bro. Eddie? The Archbishop? Reading those, I silently laughed and said to myself, “ah yun mayor nila kaka-member lang ng prayer group, kaya fired up pa ang pag-bubunganga tungkol sa salita ng Diyos”… followed by “sa salita lang naman like most politicians” hehe! And pasensya mga taga-Oroquieta that was/is my first impression of your leader/s. Actually, It is not after-all bad to see religious leanings on some public signage. In fact, I like it that the arc says “In the name of Jesus Christ” kesa naman sa Pampanga – their arcs welcome you in the name of… ‘Leon Guerrero’ (yes, yung senador) hahaha! But that would have been enough instead of writing more and vertically on the posts with “Praise The Lord” (to which I say, Hallelujah!) and “To God Be The Glory” (to which I say, kanino pa nga ba, alangan sayo!) hehe! Naging OA tuloy!

Hey, before you label me as anything, I have nothing against religion or Catholics or Born Again Christians. I am a Catholic and confident of my faith and my religious beliefs. But joking aside, if we take that welcome arc as an expression of the mayor or a collective expression of the city residents, my take is, it is not only OA, it is foolish!

This day and age has seen a lot of debates on the separation of the church and the government. You might say that those mere three expressions do not anyway conclude that the Oroquieta government is controlled by the church. Okay fine, eh kaninong church ba ang nagsasalita in those three expressions? So the “leaning” alone is already worth the second thoughts of non-Christians. I don’t have to use analogies, but it is obvious that people who do not share the same religious belief will feel being pronounced as outcast.

In short, and this is my whole point btw, putting those in the welcome arc is divisive. Why if I was Muslim, hindi na ako welcome? And in this day and age of ‘globalization’ and living/working harmoniously 'in diversity’, for a city and provincial capital in a MINDANAO province at that, to use Catholic/Christian expressions in a welcome arc is a very poor act. It is not only divisive, it even connotes exclusiveness. That is why I said OA. A public office should not do any religious pronouncements so that its integrity in terms of fairness and equality won’t be questioned.

Bottomline, that arc should be better with “maayong pag-abot” or a very simple “welcome”. It does not presage anything that may or may not offend people – especially the socially oppressed or ostracized minority.

PS: that same arc is repeated at the city hall and a similar expression on top of their capitol. Maybe the mayor and the governor are after all trying to say something here? But are just coward enough to blurt out what they really mean? Because if they did so, the country's leadership won't like it?! Why not just put it blankly like "Bawal Dito Ang _ _ _ _ _ _"?, whatever that might be? Aminin…!

No wonder… ah eh… di bale na nga!

1 comment :

  1. LOL! There's even another one arch, (making this the 3rd one) which is almost a replica of this one in Brgy. Paypayan, the last barangay you'll pass, when you travel to Dapitan and Calamba areas..