When the ghosts “come marchin’ in”, to parody an old favorite, you wouldn’t want to be “in that number.”  Else, you get spooked.

Spooked is what happened to DoJ’s Leila de Lima, on her birthday at that.  She was born August 27, so many moons ago, and a party was laid out for her at the DoJ office in Padre Faura.  The day before, she appeared on a television talk show, where she said she was going to announce her political plans “tomorrow,” which coincides with her umpteenth birthday.

The birthday girl was so happy, ecstatic even, that she sang a duet with her fellow Bicolana, singer Imelda Papin.  Madam Leila belted out the words:  “Kung liligaya ka, sa piling ng iba…”  Oh my God!

Outside the happy moments inside the DoJ, a thousand or so members of the Iglesia ni Cristo massed up, shouting for her head, decrying supposedly biased attention by the DoJ secretary on what the “kapatiran” called meddling in their internal religious affairs.

They did not only spoil her celebratory mood.  They spooked the would-be senator, blocking her “tuwid na daan”, from “Point J (that’s for Justice department) to Point S (that’s for the Senate), as she proudly beamed in her speech before her subalterns, spiced up by a “Macarena” performance on stage.

Hindi po ninyo kayang mag-Twerk?  Or Nae-nae?

* * *

Spooked likewise was Senadora Grace, who traveled to her adopted father’s home province, Pangasinan last week.  Reacting to “this” Rizalito David, who went to the Senate Electoral Tribunal to question her citizenship and residency in this land of the benighted, she drew a parallelism to a case filed against the late Jesse Robredo, the DILG Secretary who was “beatified” by the Liberal Party after his plane crashed into the Masbate sea in 2012.

The suspected minions of Louie Villafuerte, then the political kingpin of Camarines Sur, once challenged the good Jesse’s citizenship, on account of his having a supposedly alien father, and his sisters having alien certificates of registration. 

Senadora Grace’s parallelism drew a rather terse statement from widow, Rep. Leni Robredo: “there should be no comparison between Jesse’s case and hers”, and added, “My husband never renounced his Filipino citizenship to embrace another country’s”.

* * *

Meanwhile, the ghosts moved in to the Bureau of Customs.  Whatever got into Bert Lina, that he had to announce that his agents would henceforth open and inspect the contents of balikbayan boxes?  They can do random checking anyway, why the need to announce it like it was a “new, improved” program to raise revenues?

That caused a howl of protest from Kazakhstan to Saudi to almost every family in the land.  And Bert’s televised reaction?  “Aba, eh yan ang batas!”

As if that were not enough, Bert’s agents taxed a championship belt won by a Filipina boxer in Macau.  Diyos ko po naman!  May nag-iisip pa ba sa BoC?  And again, when asked for his reaction, Bert, hands akimbo, face as smug as ever, intones:  “Aba, eh yan ang batas”,  Then added that the woman boxing champion can always go to Cesar Purisima’s Department of Finance and get a certified exemption.

What ghosts came marching into their being?

* * *

And then comes another.  My friend Francis Tolentino, heckled by one and all for the impossible traffic, and heckled even further by broadcast journalist Ted Failon for traipsing all over the benighted land in search of support for his senatorial dream (and survey numbers), does a traffic-aide stunt, complete with towed-in media.

And gets heckled even more for such a publicity stunt.  No, not just heckled, but truly booed by irate citizens of the gridlocked metropolis.  Spooked indeed.

* * *

The Chinese are told to be “uber” careful during the seventh month of the lunar year.  This year, the ghost month started on the 14th of August, and ends on the 13th of September.  The worst days of the ghost month, feng shui experts say, are those closest to the 28th of August, the middle, also the peak presence of restless souls they call ghosts.

Look at all those events spooking highly visible personalities, impacting thereby on the chances of the candidacy of the “anointed”.  And to think the public pollsters, Pulse and SWS, are now likewise roaming the streets of the randomly selected barangays to get a snapshot of people’s voting preferences.

Que horror, as the yellow donas would exclaim!

* * *

Everybody but a few expected Rodrigo Duterte to come up with a declaration last August 28, when a volunteer caravan of supporters converged in Davao’s Rizal Park to egg the feisty mayor to run for president.

But Duterte sidestepped the issue, without offending his legion of supporters.  “Give me time to talk to my family, who are against my running for president”, he said.  Leaving his supporters hopeful but giving no categorical statement.  The ghosts of the lunar seventh must have whispered into his ears, “Dili pa karon” (Not yet).

* * *

My usually unerring sources tell me that Senadora Grace y su Queso will make an important announcement on September 16, at high noon kuno, in the historic Club Filipino, a stone’s throw away from Presidente-Alcalde Erap’s casa grande.  That’s after the ghost month.  Para nga naman hindi na “spooked”.

But as I write this, word came to us that the Iglesia ni Cristo leaders, in the Sunday “samba,” directed every single one of their brethren to mass up towards Edsa, and stay there, perhaps until kingdom come?

My, are we all truly spooked.



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