Thursday, January 4, 2007


I NEVER THOUGHT I would be fooled by someone who writes numbers on a piece of paper everyday to anyone who wish to get him or herself a sedula.

Early this day, I tasked myself to get a student permit and restart my archaic driving lessons that my uncle, who was taken back home from the land with milk and honey, had taught me. And so I heard that getting a student driver's permit in Philippine soil necessitates a sedula or community tax certificate issued locally in a barangay hall, or more placidly, in municipal hall where a residing corrupt mayor has a greater probability than being promoted in the next appraisal.

That is why I prepped up myself for a long haul in the streets, aside from being literally ignorant of the location of the LTO branch in Angeles City.

With so much complacency and certainty with acquiring the sedula, I didn't asked my brother who recently got his license the other day after almost a year of waiting, if it really is required in the application. I went straight to the barangay hall of a nearby village-- Lourdes Sur East, just a few steps to where I attended elementary-- and aimed for the personnel in charge in filling up the empty fields of a sedula form. The room wasn't empty, in fact, it was embraced by a couple of old folks trading stories in Kapampangan which I lost interest at the very sight of them. I took ownership of a monobloc and began throwing questions to the lady who was very busy with her ballpen.

Her table was swamped with a vintage typewriter and a plastic red basin full of piece of papers cut to small rectangles. She immediately pointed out to write my full name, and details such as address, height and weight. I quickly complied at the sudden turn of an oscillating wall fan that keeps the room a bit humid. I waited a few more minutes since it appears that the old folks somewhere near me actually had the same reason why I was there. It's fascinating to see that one man took a pile of sedulas and sped off without taking out a single coin in his pocket. Or he may have already paid even before I stepped in.

The lady would soon saved me from an avalanche of boredom, when she asked for my kind of work. This is where the part when my mind suddenly went on vacation.

I felt a sudden rush of blood on my lips as it was supposed to be moving and voicing out words. I responded the one word that describes my day job, engineer po ma'am.

She followed by asking about my pay amount and immediately opened her drawers as if her left hands just clinged onto her pistol and on the verge of shooting me right in between the eyes. But instead of a gun, she let out her calculator and punched away the numeric keypads calculating the amount of corruption money, err, tax I was about to pay.

One hundred eighty five pesos! said the lady.

It was then that my brain was suddenly awakened like a splash of cold water was poured incessantly onto my face waking me up from a deep sleep. If it was on a normal state, I would mention that I was an unemployed bum and is yet to become a useful citizen who pays taxes. The result would entail a 5-peso fee and avoid a whopping 185 pesos or more.

The guy next to me who seemed to be dressed in his usual working clothes like that of my old teacher in economics class way back in high school, with gray polyester-made polo embroidered with a lace rectangular outline design in the middle, black wool straight pants and black shoes, tried to outwit the lady and avoid a possible similar mishap. When asked about the pay, he sounded tacit and expressionless. He managed to described himself as a minimum wage earner with 200 pesos as his daily salary. 75 pesos was his fee.

I let go of the frustration that quickly rose as it was my fault for letting it happen, I wasn't thinking at all. I am already paying so much taxes to this government with almost 20% of my salary going into the state's coffers or more apt, pork barrels and bribes, which is supposed to be funneled into giving school children new books or desks, or help establish a new government sector or department that is so much better in a lot of terms than the Pagasa to prevent typhoons in wreaking havoc to our countrymen as such illustrated by Reming and Milenio. The taxes that we pay is so much that everything you buy or pay for is coated with a 12% value added tax.

Just imagine, if I am receiving a salary of 5000 per payday, 1000 is already cut before I even had the chance to get hold of my pay. With a measly 4000 remaining, I could calculate that the total amount I will really enjoy is only 3571.

It saddens me whenever I imagine that my hard earned money will only be used up in paying for the gasoline of some congressman's vehicle, or it will only be added to pay the bill of their buffet lunch or dinner. It is something that I never want or like to happen and I have no option but obey and sadly, pay.

The thing that ignited the spark into a complete burning fire is when I realize later the day that sedula is not even on the list of the identification documents that may be presented for the application of student driver's permit. You know what I did? I just shrug it off and laugh on my way home.

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