Saturday, March 03, 2007

Runners and not

TO STAND out in this season of runners is easy: don't run.

Sun.Star Cebu's Feb. 23, 2007 banner story was memorable for this reason. Its headline was: “Dodong: 'I won't run'.”

Written by Rene H. Martel, Linette C. Ramos and Jujemay G. Awit, the page 1 story reported that Jose R. Gullas announced during a presscon that he had decided not to run for mayor of Cebu City.

“History is full of what-might-have-beens. If I would run, would I make it or not?” The former congressman raised and then immediately squashed speculations--his own, as well as others--when he announced his decision not to run in the next breath.

Gullas' question stayed with me as I commuted to work very early on Saturday morning.

Unlike the harried weekday crowd, Saturday morning commuters remind me of shrink-wrapped books and corpses. A preternatural stillness envelops each person, shaken to motion only at trip's end or the next transfer.

Even the gossip of two nurses meeting by chance in the V-hire and the tinny harangue emanating from the V-hire radio seem muffled, as if absorbed and diminished by layers and walls of private thoughts.

There is only one child during the entire trip. She is more heard than seen, her voice piping songs non-stop from Opon to Cebu City.

Unlike the man who would be mayor, my companions seem not to be bothered by any uncertainty over their arrival. If the jeepney in front of us would suddenly flip back, crash into us before crushing us, and scatter our bodies or whatever discernible pieces left across the road and put a sudden, sticky halt to this drugged and peaceful Saturday pace, I'm thinking we might be convinced to ponder That Question--but then, only if.

Although anything with feet runs, it's only the human activity that seems complicated and ungainly, paling beside the grace and power shown by the beasts.

Homo politicus, for one, needs a reason to run. Better yet, a cause.

The rationale is supplied by family, creed, affiliation, or at least a million strangers signing a manifesto. It can also be the plain old self speaking through these intermediaries.

Political infrastructure and grassroots machinery must be in place before the politically inclined will flex a tendon.

And then there's winnability. This concept, unknown in the animal kingdom, stands on its head the question posed by the man who would not run. It is the Statesman's Rule: I run because I can.

Viewed against such intricacy, the decision not to run for office seems to be more in favor of, rather than countering, humanity. Gullas said he deferred to his family's wish that he continues to serve as the president of The University of the Visayas.

The Feb. 23 Sun.Star article also mentioned former Cebu City mayor Florentino Solon as another one disinterested to run again for public office.

Solon, an “internationally awarded nutritionist,” now heads the local counterpart of a developmental federation. The Nutrition Center of the Philippines director said he can “serve the people more as a private citizen.”

When my jeepney took an unexpected detour, I decided to walk, not run, the remaining kilometers to the office. Running is unkind to my 41-year-old joints.

Besides, walking is the best way to trawl a city just awakening to the weekend. I walk past a man curled with his cat on top of a food cart, an old lady reading a novena, her head, back and hands tilted up to the morning light.

Beside rancid, crooked tables, a sidewalk plant droops long red cat tails. It's a plant I last saw as a child, prone to singing on Saturdays, the start of the weekend break.

Some persons run, or not, for their lives. Others walk or ride. But I'd like to think all of us, by nature, incline towards the light. 0917322-6131

* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Feb. 25, 2007 issue

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