HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes Updated May 17, 2009 12:00 AM
Imagine that you’ve been asleep for 20 years like Rip Van Winkle, and when you wake up, you see a digital calendar and that tells you the year is 2029! You look around and everything has changed. As you gaze out the window, you swear that you just saw a flying car! And the kids outside in their funny-looking clothes seem to be skating six inches above the ground except that they are not wearing skates!
You have awakened to a whole new world. You see a TV set in the room and you are amazed that it turns on by virtue of your simply wishing it to be on. It’s called iTV, “i” standing for “intuitive.”
Everything is wonderfully new and modern. But suddenly, you get the shock of your life! You see a familiar image of a now old but still elfin woman on TV with the famous mole on the cheek. You are shocked to realize that, lo and behold, she is still president of the Philippines!
I wanted to write a futuristic column but it is difficult to counter the inertia that overtakes me when I try to imagine a radically different future for our country. Nevertheless, I will try to do so, but minus the flying cars and the intuitive TV.
In their place, allow me to daydream and toy with some crazy ideas, impossible as they seem. But then, some pundit once said the day the US had a black president was the day pigs would fly! And now, thanks to a Mexican town named La Gloria, we have swine flew — er… I mean flu.
So, here goes:
It is 2021 and the situation is dire. Elections are on the horizon and no one is excited about the candidates who have presented themselves to the public, not even the candidates themselves. They all seem half-hearted about running even under a Comelec that is finally computerized and can deliver credible results in only five days. No candidate is charismatic enough to light up a crowd or dangle new social possibilities that can entice and excite a jaded public.
The Comelec, government and big business are desperate. For the first time, they decide to get together and find a solution. After much deliberation, the businessmen suggest a strategy that has served them through the years — outsourcing!
They suggest that we “outsource” our candidates for president, vice president, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Why not? It has worked for business. And while we’re at it, haven’t we been “outsourcing” our basketball players, athletes and beauty queens all these years? And haven’t they brought in the trophies and titles for the country? It is, after all, a global world we live in.
By this time in the future, Barack Obama of the US and Kevin Rudd of Australia are only in their late 50s but they have served their maximum terms as leaders of their respective countries. They have been highly successful in transforming their societies and are not about to retire. So (this future vision goes) they immediately accept when offered Filipino citizenship under the Dual Citizenship Law and thus become eligible to run for president and VP.
The Obama-Rudd ticket wins by a landslide.
We also pick and choose politicians from the British Parliament, the Knesset, the Duma, and other law-making bodies of successful governments everywhere to fill up our own legislative bodies.
And at last, change comes to the Philippines!
A new deadly epidemic hits the world for the fourth time in two years. Everywhere people are panicking as the flu spreads and its victims multiply exponentially all over the world — except in the Philippines. There is not a single case reported here. The world is baffled. The secret seems to lie in the way the Philippines screens incoming visitors in all its ports of entry.
Even if there are no heat-detecting sensors or any other high-tech devices to sift through the passengers coming off planes and ships, the Philippines seems to be successful in weeding out those who are ill.
In place of all the modern gadgetry, everybody entering the country goes through a screening process as they pass immigration where the officer merely feels the visitor’s forehead with one palm and his own neck with the other, to compare temperatures.
It is cheap, effective, low tech and probably indigenous. The Philippines is praised for its simple but innovative approach and the whole world adopts the procedure.
In the year 2020, the Catholic Church is faced with a dilemma. There are hardly any priests left to care for the spiritual needs of the faithful.
Luckily, for the first time since anyone can remember, the Philippines is blessed with young modern church leaders who decide to be creative in their approach. They know that a lot of the sacraments are harder and harder to deliver since the few priests left are getting old and do not have the stamina to mingle with large crowds, much less administer the sacraments in the traditional way.
They institute the following innovations:
a) Call centers for confessions. This way, the priests and the faithful can experience the sacrament of reconciliation even if not in the same place. It saves time, transport costs and is more accessible to both sinners and priests, not just in the Philippines but all over the world.
The Bishops, however, ban the use of texting to confess one’s sins for now. But they are mulling the idea of something equally novel — “drive-through” confessions.
b) Masses through TV and homilies via YouTube. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could choose which priest and which homilies to watch over and over again?
c) Baptism, extreme unction and other face-to-face functions are now dispensed through Google video chat, YM or Skype. It is safe, personal and, with the right lighting and décor, can be as emotionally touching and effective as the real thing.
The first trials of the prototype technology which makes possible the delivery of dextrose and all types of transfusions via WiFi and Bluetooth are performed successfully by college students at the Ateneo Physics Department. Except for a small glitch where there is a mix-up regarding which patient gets what medicine and dosage, the trials are promising.
The world takes notice of the Philippines as a new center for scientific innovation.
With global warming in full swing and the oceans rising and obliterating thousands of low islands everywhere, new vacation places are springing up like the Antipolo and Tagaytay beach promenades.
Manny Pacquiao, now the biggest boxer of all-time, has allowed himself to be cloned so that the Philippines can keep producing world-class boxers. Scientists are successful in producing Manny Pacquiaos for all weight categories of boxing, making the Philippine dominance in the boxing world complete.
The population of the Philippines has doubled and Metro Manila now has a staggering 50 million people. The MMDA has come up with a radical approach to clear the streets, avenues and sidewalks of traffic and people. The citizens are now color-coded according to their birthdays. If you were born on an odd number day, you can be on the streets on M-W-F. The even-numbered people can go out on T-Th-S. Sundays are free for all, during which you may want to stay home, away from the teeming crowds.
I could go on and on speculating about the future, but I know none of these things will probably materialize — except maybe for that shocking elfin image on my iTV!
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