Timely words

Published December 28, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

Word of the year 2021, according to Oxford Dictionary, was “vax” – not “vaccine,” just vax. Vaccine is an old word whereas vax is a pandemic-2020 invention, shorter to pronounce and spell, especially for headline writers.

Word of the month of December 2021 based on media reports: “dagsa,” translated as a mob or massive crowds who turn a street or space into a congested breeding ground for the coronavirus to infect, spread, and multiply. Examples of the “dagsa” phenomenon: Luneta, Quezon Memorial Circle, malls, airport terminals, bus terminals, Divisoria, motorcades of candidates for election, expressway toll booths, certain vax sites on certain days, lechon stalls, stores selling Christmas ham, water and fuel queues in Odette-ravaged areas, evacuation centers in the Visayas. A year ago, the word was “ayuda,” cash aid distributed to the jobless and poorest of the poor by their local government.

The sight of so many children – too many — among typhoon Odette’s victims prompted PRRD to urge the women to limit the family size to two or three. Sympathizing with the mothers and their desire to bring up healthy, well-fed kids on little money, he joked with them about having their husbands castrated as the ultimate solution. The women giggled.

(When I met Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian last week, I asked him how China’s one-child policy that lasted 27 years affected society in general. The ambassador said the “social consequences” were enormous.)

While our images of a “dagsa” society during the holiday season of 2021 are telling us to seriously imagine the future, some compassionate political candidates express determination to bring hope to the poor. “The poor”: word of the campaign season. Candidates lose no time reminding us how poor we are, hopeful that the poor from north to south will give them victory on a plate. Slogan of a presidential wannabe: “The poor will win.”

Maybe they will, but not soon enough. As noted by an ex-politician who became vice governor of Bulacan when he was 23 years old, “Presidents, politicians, they come and go, one generation after another promising to help the poor overcome poverty. They keep using the poverty card because no one has ever succeeded.”

It took the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping decades to uproot extreme poverty.