Monday, October 19, 2015

Shiva for Dick, the chemist Nobel laureate 'left to die because he had no money' in Manila

When I was still in Manila, busy with my blogs, my paintings, my jobs, I did my best to get in touch with the nearest Nobel laureate I could find. Why? I wanted to meet a Nobel laureate. I was dying to meet one, even just to gawk at a Nobel laureate. I imagined it as an experience similar to that of a devotee visiting shrines of saints or places where miracles have happened. But aren't celebrities saints nowadays? At least that was what Nietzsche thought. We venerate them, we follow in their footsteps, we ask for their guidance, we emulate them, or is it just me? 

The Philippines hasn't produced a single Nobel laureate, the last person that was considered for one, for the Peace Prize, the former president and mother of the current president, Corazon Aquino, didn't get it because she wasn't so peaceful after all, thanks to her human rights record. But maybe I'm setting the bar to high here, after all, Henry Kissinger, and Barack Obama, won the Peace Prize. Napalm and drones, fascism and deportations, merit Nobel prizes, apparently. But to be fair to the Nobel committee, how could they have known? Tradition begets convenience.

So, there I was, at that moment of time, doing things to find a way to interview interesting people for this blog. When I discovered that within my habitat, in the bantustan-y, segregated, post-colonial, chaotic, gated-community-ridden, class-conscious, inconvenient Blackhole of Manila, a Nobel laureate, by the name of Richard Heck, who relocated to Manila with his wife, the surely amazing, Soccoro Nardo (what a beautiful name, but their marriage was prettier), as soon as possible I looked for a way to get in touch with them. For a meet and greet, for a chat, for an interview, for a friendship (LOL) for an autograph/selfie, for an ego-boost to my investigative powers. 

After people from newspapers ignored my request, (if I could obtain the contact information of Mr. Heck, whom they interviewed from that moment in time when they simultaneously found out that a Nobel-laureate have chosen the Philippines, a backward Third World country, to be his retirement home, it was national news as it begged the question, what have we done to deserve him? Symptomatic of a low-self esteem and propaganda from the neo-colonial elite, to seek his validation for the Filipino people's identity, to make sure he loved the country, to perpetuate national myths, to put words in his mouth). I scoured the Yellow Pages, all I got out of it was a mild irritation on my some of my fingers from the dust of the ignored and unused books, some hang-ups, and "wrong number." I though my next step was to write to some of the journalists, and if necessary to their editors, or perhaps, to the Bureau of Immigration to find something out which was highly plausible since certain subclasses of visas required publication of the applicant's information, in theory, in case a local objected, obviously absurd.

And then, after many weeks passed, weeks of happenings, of cinemas, of books, of gossiping, of volunteering, working, eating out, traffic, pollution, mild attention deficit, procrastinating, laziness, lethargy, I shelved the idea of interviewing him, I relented, I told myself, soon, soon, I know I will, well duh, I must, no doubt, I will, shall, and it will and shall happen. But then things unfolded in my life, the hyperactivity of the death threats, the demands of my bookshelves (yelling stop this devastating Tsundoku), the demands of my work, personal, and social, life, overrode my desire to meet him as soon as possible. All of a sudden everything was different. All of a sudden, I had to flee, my priorities had to change quickly, so needless to painfully point out, it didn't happen. And it would have been dormant in my memory if not for this horrific news, that a Nobel-laureate, who not so long ago, was hagiographically propagandized to satisfy elite-masses tensions, died in a private hospital in Manila, for a reason not so unfamiliar to the masses in the Philippines, for not having money. The implications are there, think abut it. Funny enough, the New York Times didn't mention this critical piece of fact. Why? 

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