Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Lessons from Batman

Posted on October 02, 2010 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated October 03, 2010 12:00

A bustling city teeming with millions of people and cramped into a small space. It is a land of contrasts. Every part is full of life as people go about their business. There are the few rich people who glitter as they cruise luxuriously on the streets with their big cars. One also sees the working class wage earners and the students packed in trains, buses and all manner of transportation on their way to work or school. But one sees more of the plain drab and dirty poor people who loiter around selling stuff, any stuff, begging or doing whatever is possible as they try to eke out a living in any way they can.

There is perennial traffic and it is almost always heavy, tiring one’s patience as it saps a lot of one’s energy while sitting and waiting for the lights to turn green.

These are scenes we see in our cities daily. I’m not talking of Manila per se, mind you. This could be happening in many other cities — Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, New York, New Delhi, Bangkok, etc.

Consider that in the past few weeks, Manila’s residents were shaken by the bus hostage crisis, the rioting that followed the demolition of squatter homes at the North Triangle and southern end of EDSA, the law exams bombing at La Salle on Taft Avene. Last year, there was Ondoy. On a smaller scale, we are unexpectedly harassed by seemingly insignificant events such as sudden flash floods, Baclaran day, “midnight madness” mall sales. etc. that also cause some havoc in our daily living.

When things like this happen, it seems like every Filipino and his mother are jolted out of their comfort zones and are forced to watch or listen to all forms of media — radio, TV and the social networking sites — to adjust their schedules and lives accordingly.

In a way, big cities all over the world have become very much like Gotham City of Batman fame. The run of daily life can and often gets disrupted, altered, shaken, stirred and disturbed in many little ways but sometimes in big shocking ways.

Think of Rolando Mendoza, terrorists or any villain of the moment, and then think of Gotham City’s various nemeses — The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, or any other villain that Batman has to fight, and you will see the striking similarities. Think of Osama Bin Laden bombing the World Trade Center with passenger planes in New York City, or Timothy McVeigh launching his deadly terrorist assault in Oklahoma, or extremists blowing up trains in Madrid and London. Imagine Tokyo paralyzed due to Sarin gas poisoning in its subways perpetrated by some religious cult.

“Holy crap!” one is tempted to exclaim, like Batman’s sidekick Robin would probably do in real… er… reel life.

The sheer size of the city and the number of people one can affect by doing something disruptive like a hostage taking or a bombing is a setting for the perfect storm desired by publicity seekers. As the Joker said in the latest Batman flick, The Dark Knight, “Gotham City always brings a smile to my face.” Why? Because it is a megalopolis sprawled out and set up for the shocking, the jarring and the diabolical intentions and acts of any committed villain!

In this age when the lives of the great masses of people can be severely affected by a few dangerous loonies, like Gotham City residents, people are looking for leaders who can offer quick deliverance when great disruptions happen. These are powerful, skillful operators who are daring enough to take chances to normalize situations. For sure, the SWAT team and the PNP are not the people I am talking about, as of now. Neither are Mayor Lim, USEC Puno and the other incompetent clowns who mishandled the hostage crisis. They will need a lot more training, commitment and a greater sense of personal responsibility to be able to untangle messes such as the Rolando Mendoza caper, with dispatch and accuracy.

For sure, the extreme negative reaction of the public to all that bungling is pointing to a clamor for a new type of governance. And this is where P-Noy and his people should be paying attention.

Everyone knows that our new president is a nice, decent guy, and that is a good start. But what most everyone is expecting is that he should also be able to solve problems immediately and satisfactorily. In other words, not only must P-Noy be of good moral character, of which there is already a consensus, but he must also be decisive, efficient and fearless. Nice is nice, but he should be more.

I notice that for those who rabidly campaigned for P-Noy, it’s a roller coaster ride every few days. When the President does something good, they cheer and praise him with much enthusiasm. But when they feel he has made a wrong decision, or there is perceived inaction or fault on his part, there is much criticism and disappointment. He is, for all intents and purposes, the hope that everyone is looking at right now. Just like Batman in Gotham City, the citizens’ expectations of P-Noy to succeed are very high.

And with practically every aspect of life in the Philippines begging for major reforms, people expect much and are ready to support a leader who will be fearless in doing what needs to be done. The President is getting much support on the issue of family planning by standing up to the age-old opposition of the Church and declaring that it is government’s duty to offer choices to the people. But on the De Lima report, it remains to be seen whether he will show real leadership by ordering heads to roll — including those of his closest friends — as he has promised, or cave in to friendship and be soft and forgiving. His fans await a principled decision with bated breath.

But here’s some advice from the TV Batman as he made his closing statements during the trial of The Joker, which might be good for P-Noy to heed: “In the interests of law, order, justice, good fellowship and the flag, you must convict them to keep our streets safe from evil persons. Thank you.”

Truly, it is hard to run Gotham City and please all of its residents all of the time. But P-Noy has promised a lot and people believe in him. Is he the Batman that will deliver us from the craziness that engulfs our Gotham existence? Let us hope he and more people like him can free us from the dark night. As a citizen of Gotham once said, “Bless you, Batman. Every law-abiding citizen of Gotham City goes with you today in spirit.”

That’s what a lot of our people pray every day.

* * *

I am offering three workshops this October:

1) Jim Paredes 2nd Songwriting.

Workshop on Oct. 9 and 10 from 1 to 6 p.m. Fee is P5,000. Address is 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Visit

2) Basic Photography Workshop on Oct. 16, from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Address is 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Fee is P3,500.

3) Creative For Life: The Two-Day Run on Oct. 23 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Oct. 24 (1:30 to 5 p.m.).Fee is P5,000.

Call 426-5375, 0916-8554303 and ask for Ollie. Write me at emailjimp@gmail.com for questions and reservations.

2 to “Lessons from Batman”

  1. There have been times in the past, and will probably be many times I would guess in the future, when the distress beacon bat signal sent into the night sky to beckon the caped crusaders would be tempting to have someone to come into Gotham and make everything right. I hope that the people who have been installed to lead, are blessed with a sense of responsibility, honour and duty to those over whose future they are charged to guide and protect.

  2. amiel says:

    Robin shouts Holy Cow, Sir Jim. Not Holy Crap. =)

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