THE BRITISH folk hero Allan Quatermain, breathing through the mouth of Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman¸ reminded the Shane-West portrayed Tom Sawyer – upon helping the fabled American kid-vagabond duck a falling edifice caused by the roof-top wafting of a visibly alarmed Dr. Jekyll (who was obviously in Hyde mode) – to always “keep your eyes open boy” because “(I) can’t protect you all the time.”

Perhaps it was the movie’s innocuous way of unraveling the fatherly side of the man whom “Africa would not allow to die” that it (wittingly or unwittingly) ripped through the fictional limits of cinematic, nay comic narration just to add a little mush to what could have been another exhausting gory-to-glory by-product of the ever revolving Hollywood action mill.

Or it could just be heroic concern, which its screen writer James Dale Robinson found useful enough to give Quatermain a fresher image i.e. a more humanly responsive demeanor to match his adventuresque swagger as a Victorian-age come-what-may bounty hunter who would gamely comb the African wild, its dangers notwithstanding in exercise of his legendary marksmanship.

Misgivings and amazement aside, the Connery starer is a vineyard of lessons worth pondering especially when one takes a quick blush at its storyline: a seven-man army of sorts out to stop a megalomaniac Phantom from vending wholesale their “superhuman” abilities to the great nations of Europe (which he almost successfully goaded to war against each other) in the guise of robo-soldiers hosting their powers and other combat effects.

Segues discharged, exploitation, and the prevailing aversions toward it, are the cardinal themes governing this film which this writer dare say mirrors, in one way or another, the multi-level voracity of those who dine at the cupboard of power – social, political, economic, among others.

Divine fellowship of voices

For nobody wants to be loosely charged nor short-changed in his/her own enduring world, man is naturally tagged in realist parlance as a self-interest maximizer. Pretty true if related experience is to be the gauge.

It was not some light-years ago when I heard the grumblings of a working scholar who has been spun overnight by his ever demanding office handler/s into a rib-tough student lackey negotiating the hallways of a five-story building eight hours a day in performance of various errands and unofficial favors – from distributing tons of memorandum and resolutions to prima dona professors (not to mention checking their daily attendance) to buying snacks for their rumbunctious children, whose parents would often “request” the befuddled workhorse to do his/her lazy son’s or daughter’s Physics assignment or Literature term paper, all in the name of cultivating their goodwill (read: pakikisama) which, as if poked by a shotgun, he would “gladly” accede to, all in the name of cultivating their goodwill (nee: pakikisama) despite an already limited study time.

Patiently listening to his ordeal during a chance encounter, I then asked: ba’t ‘di ka magreklamo? Carrying a smirk loaded with sarcasm he shrewdly responded, “walong oras ko lang naman silang pagtitiyagaan mula Lunes hanggang Biyernes. May 16 na oras ako araw-araw pati na Sabado at Linggo para kalimutan ang pag nagreklamo ba naman ako, sino’ng tutugon? Si Batman?

Such textbook cynicism bordering on masochist passivity yet reminded me of another hardworking buddy who, for his part however, chose to responded to the “exigencies” of his time the other way around.

Instead of bearing the autocratic chaffing of the powers-that-be in his office, he then – perhaps already fed up being always loosely charged and short-changed at work (read: injustice) – lashed at his supposed bosses’ Gucci Gang-inspired callousness with the scathing remark: “bat’t ba hinahayaan ng langit magkasik ng lagim ang mga kagaya n’yo dito sa mundo? Mga wala kayong konsensya!,” to which he was heavily chastised and ordered to chew his words.

Tomasinong rebelde ng panulaang Filipino

In the spirit of fairness, this writer hastened to backchannel the facts from one of his office-mates (not that close to him) regarding his alleged misconduct. According to this office-mate, the guy was a perennial victim of some narcissistic superiors’ rapacity for recognition and self-flattery that oftentimes his supposed ideas and creations as a diligent yeoman are nonchalantly sequestered, if not wantonly passed as their own by his hawkish bosses. Their defense: you cannot do anything without our approval. We are your superiors.

Yeah right. Talk about a horde of credit-snatching god-posers or better yet career vampires, who feast on the benign haplessness of their subordinates, sucking dry the blood of enthusiasm from their “lowly” preys’ work veins all for the sake of corporate survival. Mind you, the poor, hardworking guy, hostaged by necessity was subsequently compelled to “humble himself” for his uncalled behavior, something which in the first place was not his own doing nor intention. The gut, valuing his job so much showed remorse and, oh, apologized to those he offended – an act reeking of the classic pre-figuration of the native paradox “nangutang na nga, naghingi pa ng sukli.”

This, for all intents and purposes, is just a chapter, perhaps a page of a heftier tome of work-related cases of exploitation since time immemorial which consequently led a certain Karl Marx to entice the world-wide proletarian community to “unite” and “lose nothing but your chains.”

In hindsight, if not for these corporate brats’ unfettered braggadocio, seldom, if not, shall this planet’s gut-willed toilers invade the streets and mass into a fearsome lynch mob for Marie Antoinette’s minions to dread and evade no end. Neither would revolutions morph into a boulevard vice, which I think it has already became one at this point. The cliché of causation, after all, begs: no smoke, no fire.

Limelight - Vol. LXXIX, No. 8

The “revolution doctor” Hannah Arendt, as I would like to call her, deems such mass upheavals as a “freedom by God’s blessing restored,” that is a “revolving back to some pre-established point and, by implication, of swinging back into a pre-ordained order,” like British thinker Thomas Paine’s “early period” thesis “when people had been in the possession of the rights and liberties of which tyranny and conquest had dispossessed them.”

And what was this supposed “early period” order among God’ men?

Practicing the tenents of equity, which this writer would like to think, transcends hierarchies inasmuch as it promotes more than it retards the growth and welfare of the less privileged, whose ranks sulk from participatory anemia nowadays.

In the offing, let a master be a master for as long as he observes what we call in the vernacular as “kapwa tao.” Others may howl at this writer’s partiality toward the serf and gesticulate: what if the worker abuses his master? How do we safeguard the master from such baleful act? A sense of shame would tell the scheming serf not to bite a finger lest he loses a helping hand. Treachery has always been a one-way street to Gomorrah.

Betraying, destabilizing, and nixing evil – the mother of all injustices – is a revolutionary good. Think about it fellas.


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