Yesterday, I happened to be at the DENR and the full force of the Philippine Left --the rejectionists and the reaffirmists-- was there pouring invectives on Secretary Defensor, who, by the way, never showed up. The crowds I saw were pretty big, needing extra policemen to direct the traffic. As with any fairly large crowd united for a common political purpose, there was this palpable energy in the air, the seeming possibilty --almost always unfounded-- that any moment, through the camaraderie of men, the world could be changed and justice would reign.
The concerns of the crowd were various: the logging in Quezon, the impact of mining to indigenous peoples, the incinerator in Cavite. What greatly affected me though was a speech by a man named Father Ed. He was lamenting the fact that before the Philippine republic was instituted, indigenous peoples were living in idyllic conditions in harmony with nature; the DENR, according to Father Ed, did nothing but to accelerate the degradation of the environment by its careless issuance of permits to destroy. The institution of political society saw the degradation of the environment; the present government is doing nothing but preside the destruction of the earth.
I cannot do justice to Father Ed's hortatory piece, but what deeply affected me was not so much his eloquence (albeit he was eloquent) but the flash of recognition that struck me while pondering his lament. His speech was Jean Jacques Rousseau in the flesh, straight from the pages of The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality ! And in front of Father Ed, hearing his laments on progress, were young people in loincloths holding political banners. I felt it was Jean Jacques Rousseau himself, risen from the dead, to haunt the sophistication of our society. My hands were clasped as if in prayer. It was all I could do, short of appearing deranged, to express my reverence upon meeting a great philosopher.