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What did Madame Liberty say?

Twinkling with Ninfa R. Leonardia

Your DAILY STAR had a most gratifying headline yesterday. Remember? It said “COVID IN BACOLOD STABLE: EOC”, or Emergency Operation Center, set up by the city government and headed by Dr. Cris Sorongon, its deputy. Statistics cited as of yesterday’s issue showed that recovery rate in the city was at 94.24, then. That is a signal for all of us, not only in Bacolod, but everywhere else that this issue will reach, to keep on observing all the “protocols” and the advices  from our Health officials, if we wish to see a continued improvement in those statistics.

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Funny, but the United States that we, and almost all other countries considered as “advanced” as far as medical facilities and medicines are concerned, is still having problems with some states whose leaders have their own ideas of how to confront this pandemic. Reports continue to come out about some counties, especially in Florida, where people seem to be indisposed towards the wearing of masks. Now they even have problems about whether or not to require students, from the lowest grads up, to wear masks when going to school.

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I guess that creates quite a problem, because not only school officials, but most especially, parents, are fearful of sending their children to schools where mask-wearing is just optional, and one can come to classes with or without them. Of course those whose parents are more concerned, do wear the protective device, but what about when they come to class where others have uncovered faces? They may even be the objects of redicule! We know how mischief can also be a form of cruelty in cases like this.

***

As if the COVID Pandemic were not enough to scare humanity these days, we also worry about what is happening in other countries like, for instance, Afghanistan, where people are desperately trying to flee their own country that has now been taken over by the neighboring Taliban that has a mode of government and attitude towards womenfolk, so different from those of other civilized countries. It is really depressing to see Afghans crowding at their  airport, scrambling to get into the airplanes sent by the United States to rescue those who want to get away.

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Reports have also indicated that not all the Afghans who were lucky enough  to be taken out of their country, now ravished by the conquering Taliban, have landed in what many of them consider the Land of Promise, a.k.a. the United States. Some were taken to  areas in the UAR, or United Arab Emirates, and I must confess, I do not know if they can get along, especially with regards to religious beliefs and practices. This past week, TV kept showing scenes at Afghanistan airports with planes, sent to take out those who want to flee their own country, by the United States, and, who knows, maybe other sympathetic ones?

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Maybe this is not a time for joking, but sometime I get the silly idea that, perhaps some Pinoys would like to in a situation like Afghanistan, so the American government will send planes to rescue them and bring them to the U.S. Will they then be granted instant citizenship, or just even permanent residence? Maybe that is what those  who are planning to go there,  even on the so-called “TNT” status are thinking about. And for those who may not yet be aware of what TNT means, this time it does not refer to an explosive device.

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Filipino ingenuity has coined it for those who have gone to the U.S. on one pretext or another, mostly, as tourists, but with the intention of permanently  staying there, and finding well-paying jobs, too. And for those still unfamiliar with the lingo, “TNT” translates to “Tago nang Tago” or, literally, “Hide and hide”, because their stay may be illegal, most coming in as tourists, or students, and then refusing to return to their native country later. Trust  it to the ingenuous Pinoy, then to coin such a double-meaning term as “TNT”!

***

As I watched the coverage of the hordes of Afghans being rescued by American planes, I wondered how they will be received by the citizens there. Will they experience discrimination? I would therefore like to remind them of the famous words of poet Emma Lazarus  etched under the Statue of Liberty that goes “Give me your poor, your huddled refuse longing to be free…” Now it is time to refer them to Madame Liberty’s reminder again. This time they may not be poor, but they are certainly “longing to be free”.*

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