Between the Devil and the deep “Red” sea
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
THE Philippines could be the frog holding on to the gaping mouth of a crocodile in a photo titled “Frog and Crocodile, South Africa”, shot by Jonathan Blair of National Geographic. Whether the frog holds on to the sharp fangs of the crocodile or decides to jetski to a shoal in the West Philippine Sea, death threatens, with very little chance of escape. So many events in our history depict the fear, a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation, an uncomfortable position “between the Devil and the deep blue sea”.
The “Devil” refers, in nautical terms, to “the seam which margins the waterways on a ship’s hull”, as defined in Sailor’s Word-Book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms (1867), by Admiral Henry Smyth. The seam “needs to be watertight” and refilled from time to time and requires a sailor to be “suspended over the side, or at least to stand at the very edge of the deck”, which poses as much danger as falling to the deep blue sea.
Under situations presenting equally perilous alternatives, and where the chance of survival is very slim, Gloria Itchon offers an advice, “Concentrate on your smallness. A particle of dust can harm a big crocodile’s eyes”.
True, we can count on our inherent attributes and qualities. In addition, we can count on climate change and catastrophic movements of our surroundings to provide a countervailing atmosphere. A frog in danger, with a bit of luck, can call on the elements (wind, earth, water and fire), or ask God’s intervention. A word I learned today at the book launch of “To Be in History: Dark Days of Authoritarianism” is imprecatory prayer, a solemn petition for God to give judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s adversaries or those perceived as God’s enemies. The “Devil” in this context, is no longer “the seam which margins the waterways on a ship’s hull” but Satan, the chief evil spirit, who is slowly eating up the frog’s fragile body. Some have resorted to this invocation out of the perceived desperation and lopsidedness of the Philippine-China diplomatic and economic relations.
By not instantly devouring him, the crocodile gives the frog a false sense of security, thereby attracting other frogs to come closer to taste croco-capitalism, a Chinese recipe of wellbeing that has already been served to other frogs in Africa, whose legs had already been amputated and mixed in the broth.
Come to me in a jetski, my love
offer me your pearls
do not throw them to white pigs
as you have done for years.
Take my hand and dive with me
to explore the deepest core,
to seed the bed with radars
and harvest clams some more.
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