Saturday, June 14, 2003

No jueteng in Camiguin

Each day before Kali, I go across the street from the plaza to the Mayor's office to pick up the bag of rattan sticks. From the blazing 2p sun, I step into the air conditioned office. The mayor usually isn't there, but today he is. I will meet him after class. No matter what you do or where you go in the Philippines, you eventually meet up with politicians. Unlike in the U.S., where it's rare for anyone to meet even their city council member.

The Mayor has two air conditioners blasting, the curtains are closed to repell the tropical sun from cancelling out their cool breezes. He smokes a cigarette. I sit in a chair angled in front of his desk. I'm not sure what to talk about. So I just sit and let him do all the talking.

He used to be Philippine National Police. He was elected a couple of years ago and hopes to get re-elected next election. There is no jueteng in Camiguin. Jueteng is a form of gambling that was all the talk during the Erap administration in terms of the kinds of payouts and money movement. But here in Camiguin, the only gambling vice are the pair of sabong/cockfight pits. It is truly amazing that there is not jueteng here. He tells me about how he has brought order to the town by creating and enforcing helmet and speed laws for the motorbikes, how the government built homes for some of the survivors of the mudslide and flooding. He believes that people need discipline and that many are lazy. There is a program to provide some funds to farmers to plant, but no pesticides.

He ends the conversation to move to other business. I leave the office and hit the heavy humid sun. A car passes by with a speaker on the roof. Someone is saying something, possibly campaign or announcements. I ask one of my students standing outside, what the guy is saying. He says he doesn't know, it's too mumbled and staticky to tell.

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