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January 22, 1998
home Three Weeks Into the Year
Martin Bishop
It is always hard to look at things in retrospect. Visits from regret or hope often frequent our not too distant past. Every 365 days, it seems, waxes of the same nostalgia. Of death, life, and the latest freak of nature. 1997 was not spared this curse.

Two of the biggest events of the past year, despite our Eastern heritage, are the deaths of the Princess of Wales, and Mother Teresa. Perhaps, to us, the former symbolized our ideals of a fairytale. Her marriage was something we could never attain for ourselves, and maybe television gave us a glimpse into the world of the high and mighty. And thanks to the ever persistent click and clang of the showbiz world, her life became our soap opera. It had everything, sexual escapades, marital conflict, and a bit of danger. Towards her last days, people began to laud Diana for her humanitarian efforts, which is all well and good I suppose. Sadly though, most people remember her as that young British lass who committed herself to a man, and a monarchy. And we may never really know who she was. It may have been fitting that she passed away so suddenly, as if to jolt us out of our chaperoned voyeurism.

The latter however, took a different route -- with its own set of similarities of course.

Mother Teresa embodied the paragon of virtue. She was the standard by which moral excellence was measured, in much the same way that Diana stood for the heights of opulence and wealth. The living saint reminded us of our humanity, and what we can do with it when we don't whine about our existence. And again, like Diana, we never really knew the person behind the veil of our labels and expectations.Unlike her royal counterpart, Mother Teresa left us quietly, without the trappings of a constroversy.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the West isn't the only side of the world. For 1997, we Filipinos learned to dance, tinkered with our oil, and lost a hell of a lot of money. Just to name a few things.

The year of the pig saw just that. Schemes from the pork lined halls of Malacaņang unleashed an attempt at the extension of a certain man's term. Citizens need not be reminded of endless talk about Martial Law and the horrific images ascribed to it. A relatively peaceful prayer ralley marked the end of that issue. The usual apologetics and pleasantries were summarily exchanged. And of course, there are the problems that are passed on to the next year.

With the economy in shambles and the entire Asian region in turmoil, predictions for a bad 1998 are logical fears, not necessarily conclusions. Each year brings it's own demons. The tiger carries with it its load of pain, sorrow, joy, and abject stupidity. The last item on that list may prove to be an interetsing one. And, as always, we will look through the eyes of retrospect.We will hope and regret once again.

Hope and regret, life and death. These things may not be mere accidents of time -- or how we measure it. They are the hands of life itself, the very fiber of our human condition.

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