NECESSARY CONTEXTS

THE CEREMONY of remembering the dead is in full flower even as the living continue to be restricted by the pandemic. On television reportage on the rise and fall of the costs of cut flowers deemed needed for the ceremony bordered on the trite, as did footage of the pedestrian flow — children and elderly invisible — performing the obligatory visit to cemeteries before the gates were closed down. (Life is now bound by don’t-go-there and don’t-do-that, according to the diktat of task forces.)

Still there’s so much to remember in this sad season made bleaker under the aegis of state powers, so many stories to tell and recall of stilled lives: kin killed in the war on drugs or friends felled by the coronavirus, their numbers unprecedented. In these parts the plague is a beast with two heads. Or, actually, three: The vigorous crackdown on activists and other dissenters—marked by nighttime raids, “Bloody Sundays” and such—has orphaned many families, too.

There are abundant occasions for mourning in the streets, in homes, or in medical centers. The violence inflicted on body and mind is breathtaking. Dying has become brisk business and, tragically, the briskness falters and the business stumbles, literally unable to cope with the sheer volume of extinctions. In the early days of the war on drugs, morticians could not collect the corpses fast enough even with quick notice from the police; at points during the pandemic, crematories filled to overflowing sharpened the torment of the newly bereaved. The pandemic has claimed 42,621 lives as of Oct. 29, 2021, in the official, not necessarily accurate, report.

From “Remembering”

Necessary Contexts: Essays for Our Times
by Rosario A. Garcellano

The essays in the following pages—to describe them as columns or op-eds doesn’t quite do them justice—are among the best writing that has ever been done in journalism in English regardless of place of origin.

They were originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and are worthy of publication anywhere. Their being released in book form provides not only a wider audience but also beginning journalists and those who have long been in the profession the opportunity to learn from one of journalism’s most capable practitioners, and to realize in reading them that writing in journalism can be as serious and as meaningful as “the splitting of the atom and the parting of the Red Sea” (Nick Joaquin).

Spanning three decades, the subjects of the latest of these masterpieces range from the extrajudicial murders and harassment of political and social activists and the drug-related killings that more than anything else define the Duterte despotism, to the lies its spokespersons and bureaucrats both in and out of the State media system spin daily, to the assaults on press freedom and on those citizens who have tried through such enterprises as community pantries to assuage the sufferings of their fellow human beings, and those other indicators of how, since 2016, this country has been in the hands of a pathological regime of the privileged few and of unreason and violence. But Rosario Garcellano also subjects to her analytical powers both the follies and sense of such past regimes as that of Benigno Aquino III’s, while correctly noting how, despite his accomplishments, “P-Noy” was nevertheless unable to escape the constraints of his class, and was thus unable to fully realize his promise, implicit in his vow to end poverty by eliminating corruption, to bring this country into the 21st century. (From the Foreword by Luis V. Teodoro)

Cover art by Lyra Garcellano

Publication Year: 2022
Language: English
Format: Print
Pages: 222
Size: 6” x 9”
Selling Price: Php 475. Order from https://shopee.ph/gantala_press.

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