Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gensan in the eyes of Senator Mar Roxas

In 2002, a national magazine called flip was launched. Its second issue featured an article written by Jessica Zafra on Senator (then DTI Secretary) Mar Roxas. The article was entitled Stalking Mar (24 hours on the trail of the politician slash trade secretary slash most eligible bachelor). This was included in the compilation the flip reader, published this year.

Some excerpts:

* Upon learning that I'd never been to Gensan before, Mar delivers a short lecture on the history and topography of the place. The man certainly does his homework -- I get the impression he can rattle off the economic indicators and population figures of the major cities. "The Gensan airport is fantastic," he says. "The roads leading to it are way better than those in Manila." (page 122)

* Mar Roxas is in Gensan airport. He is welcomed by the representatives of the local DTI office and ushered to an SUV that will take him to Koronadal, an hour's drive away. "How's Gensan?" he asks.. "What's the livelihood situation? Any adverse effects from the bombing?" The answers are neatly filed away in his brain, cross-indexed for easy retrieval along with the current retail prices for chicken, pork, fish, and rice. (page 122)

* He gestures at the view. "Look at these roads!" he enthuses. "Excellent roads, wide open spaces. Fruit trees everywhere! The people of Gensan have it good!..." (page 122)

* Mar Roxas is at the large, well-appointed Gensan fishport, examining tuna. It is 7:30 in the blazing sunshine. . . He looks like he knows his way around a fish market: he walks with a sure step while the rest of us worry about slipping on the wet concrete. He talks to stall owners and remarks on the weight and freshness of the fish. (page 125)

* Fish four or five feet long dangle from metal hooks -- they don't look dead, they look like movie props. Mar steps up to the biggest one and poses for photographs. (page 125)

* Small fishing boats disgorge a steady stream of fishermen lugging enormous fish. They jump into the waters; rip off the fins -- oww -- with their bare hands, then drag the fish through the water to the dock. The fishermen are all compact and wiry, and have tans the exact shade of shoe leather. The Trade Secretary's staff has a collective heart attack as Mar steps onto one of the boats and greets the fishermen. "How long have you been at sea?" (pages 125-126)

* "One month," they reply. . . He asks them what they eat when they're out there, what dangers they face, how they survive the boredom. "One month at sea," he says, in a tone of wonder, "What do you do for sex?" (page 126)

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