04152015Breaking News:

Syntax bill

By Netnet Camomot

IT’S called the digital perm. At the beauty salon, there’s this machine that looks like an alien. You sit there as the queen of the jungle, your hair rolled in curlers that are attached to the machine’s tentacles. It looks scary.

I haven’t had a perm since… hmmm… the late ’80s? And I used to wear blue eyeshadow then. Hahaha! My high school berks the Voltes V had our photo taken in the late ’80s and my long curly hair, bangs, and blue eyeshadow looked like they were all trying to escape from the photo ops.

My hairstyle may tend to change as often as my temper—really short with ears peeking out a la Dumbo’s, Tarzan-length, with bangs, without bangs, ad nauseam. A friend, who’s now in her early fifties, hasn’t changed her hairstyle since high school. Nope, she’s not emulating Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor-in-chief whose hairstyle must be patented for it has become her trademark—you won’t recognize her without that hair. At a high school reunion, my friend’s former classmates told her, “You haven’t changed a bit! You still look the same!” Ah, hello—same hair. Hehe. If she’s reading this, peace, pren.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “The only constant is change.” But change, just like the digital perm machine, can be scary. There are times when my favorite brand of potato chips is out of stock and the househelp decides to buy prawn crackers without asking if that’s fine with me. So, there I am, munching on this smelly crunchy junk food at 12 midnight while morphing into my conyo twin: “Yaya, di ba I made klaro to you to buy potato chips? Why naman prawn crackers?!”

When Heraclitus uttered his famous quote (or any of its variations), that was about 2,500 years ago. Who knew then that it would survive up to 2012? It’s already the 21st century, yet people are still quoting him: “The only constant is change.” But there are people who don’t want that echoing in their heads. And perhaps Sen. Ralph Recto is one of them. He’s now called Ralph Morris for allegedly giving in to the tobacco industry’s pleas against the sin tax bill. You know, as in Philip Morris which has a manufacturing plant in Batangas where his wife the Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos reigns as governor.

In his sponsorship speech for what others now call a “watered down” version of the sin tax bill, Recto said, “contrary to the myth, the higher tax we are mulling will not be levied on a couple of taipans, or a foreign tobacco colossus, or a beer giant. The ones who will ultimately bear the additional tax burden are ordinary folks, like the worker who likes to cap his day with a cocktail of rum and coke or the call center employee who grabs a bottle of ice cold beer before he hits the road. In short, we are not taxing companies here but people. In the end, it is not big tobacco or the giant brewery who will pay, but small people. For this bill, in essence, is class taxation for sinners, the 17 million who smoke and the many more who drink.”

I wonder if he has ever heard of lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. He may make smokers and drinkers happy with lesser tax rates but these people will end up spending much more once the dire consequences of their “vices” begin to set in: hole in the throat for the smoker; rubbery dark skin and bleeding for the drinker. Well, I gotta feeling higher taxes won’t banish smoking and drinking to Siberia. Just look at gambling—putting up a casino inspires rallies from the Church and the citizenry but illegal gambling flourishes like weeds. And when I say weed, I don’t mean the illegal weed. Shabu is another illegal thing but that hasn’t stopped drug addicts and the curious from indulging in it.

There was that time when I asked a psychiatrist why alcoholism is harder to treat than drug addiction. He said, “Alcohol is available everywhere. It could be bought from the neighborhood’s sari-sari store. Once the recovering alcoholic is out of rehab and he goes back to his old friends, the temptation to drink is there again. Drugs, on the other hand, are illegal.” And since illegal, they play hard-to-get? Hmmm.

It used to be the sari-sari store. Now, it’s the convenience store and there are two in our neighborhood. That’s where I usually get my stash… of midnight snacks. And that’s where smokers and drinkers waste the night away. Their favorite rest room? Our driveway. I’m thinking of installing gadgets there: once they start peeing or throwing up, the alarms go off, with spotlights zooming in on their, uh, thingies, as Recto’s voice bursts their eardrums with, “The ones who will ultimately bear the additional tax burden are ordinary folks… In the end, it is not big tobacco or the giant brewery who will pay, but small people…”

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