The tale of big brother

Published October 30, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Cousin Jim writes for an international wire agency. We usually met  if we were summoned by the resident literary figure F. Sionil-Jose and by his wife  Aunt Tita of that bookshop on the old Padre Faura St. in Malate area to discuss issues and events that could and may affect our daily routine.

This was pre-pandemic.

We exchange notes, observations and assessments, on developing topics either via SMS-Viber or e-conversation. Early this week, we discussed  the similarities or dissimilarities between President Duterte and US President Trump, who is seeking reelection. The US presidential election will be held on Tuesday, November 3.  

Are you red? Or are you blue? For both of us, the color doesn’t count because chroniclers must and should be apolitical. Blue-color represents the Democratic candidate, former vice president Joe Biden of Delaware. Red is the color of the Republican incumbent Mr. Trump.

For policy-makers, diplomats, members of the academe, the outcome  of the coming election is important because  US diplomatic policies toward this part of the globe make a difference.

And for us Filipinos, in general, although the invisible umbilical cord was cut a long time ago, there is still this Big Brother syndrome  that binds us. Jonas Ravelas, BDO chief market analyst, agrees with me on this observation.

“Despite diplomatic upheavals, the verbal exchanges between the US and the Philippines,  we find comfort  in the BB syndrome. The US, I believe, feels the same way  since the Philippines is the key poster boy of democracy here in the Far East.”       

Domestic and international political observers I had e-conversations  with these  past few days tagged President Duterte as “Asia’s Trumph” personified. Coming from the cut-throat election victories, the two leaders are steadfast in their belief there’s no need to disclose their health and tax records, they are populists, they use crass language and are contrarians. And, of course, they have charisma, earning them the #hashtag the ladies’ men.

Who do you think will emerge winner in the coming US election? Based on the latest poll survey, Mr. Biden has the higher potential probability among the electorate. But, then again history may repeat itself.

In the previous election 2016, I was among the privileged few invited by the US embassy here to witness the exercise of democracy. This coming Tuesday, I guess political students  and members of the academe will be satisfied listening to broadcasts on the election developments. It is a respite from the COVID-19 laden-news that has peppered most of our in-boxes and all the social-media platforms.

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Back to banking reality. Heard from the community that a top financial institution said,  to be the oldest lender in the country as well as in Southeast Asia is  considering closing a chunk of its brick and mortar. It’s the first lender in the country that established its own interbank network.

The operative word the bank management is using to justify the closure of some of its branches is “digitalization.” The management is still re-evaluating branches to be closed and the partial list will be announced next month, November.

With  work from home and the increasing number of online services open to the general banking public maybe it’s more cost-effective to close some branches and channel the funding to further improve its digital services. An impeccable source within the bank said around 70 branches will be closed.

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