Doomsday scenarios of all forms – from the prophetic to the scientifically formulated – have become a favorite topic as 2012 dawns. For most of the Filipinos though, the New Year still means hope rather than the end of the world.
Filipinos’ New Year optimism even reached a record high of 95 percent based on the latest survey by pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS). The result is two points higher than the 93 percent who welcomed 2011 with hope. It should be noted however the the survey was done before tropical storm Sendong wrought devastation in parts of Mindanao and Visayas.
The record-high optimism however does not sit well with the ailing state of the local economy and the continued global economic slump. Serious economic challenges stare us in the face even as we look somewhere else greener. For one, the country’s growth has been on a steady slowdown since the fourth quarter of 2009. Thanks to the Aquino administration’s active tit-for-tat with the judiciary and the Arroyo camp, tell-tale signs of an economy in distress were perfectly drowned in mainstream discussions.
Who would have thought that Communist leader Mao Zedong leaves a rare legacy in the land of K-Pop?
During my visit in Busan, South Korea in late November, I had the chance to eat at this casual dining restaurant which is a few blocks away from our hotel in Haeundae. It was the second day of the Busan Global Civil Society Forum (BCSF), the preparatory meet of CSO representatives for the High-Level aid forum, and some civil society friends thought of eating a hearty dinner somewhere near after a tiring day. They tugged me to this restaurant, interestingly named after Mao.
Entering the cozy resto, one would notice the two Mao portraits (one was of young Mao and the other of adult Mao) adorning the walls. Other paintings depict Chinese culture (unfortunately I cannot read Chinese characters inscribed on and below the paintings).
But the catchiest display of all is the rare ten-feet long panoramic photo of Chairman Mao with dozens of Red fighters taken in 1964. As I gaze over the photo, I felt like I discovered a rare gem in the midst of metropolitan jungle. This is not the kind of material usually displayed in mall museums and art exhibits.
[Trivia: Mao did not set foot on the Korean peninsula]
Close-up: Mao (second from the left, front row) sits beside Zhou Enlai (man in black robe), China's first premiere.
Indeed it was a treat taking shots of the paintings and old photos that I forgot to pay attention to the exquisite taste of the food. In fact, I don’t have photos of the marinated pork slices and soup which we ate.
In any case, the presence of the panoramic photo in Busan still puzzles me. Could it be that the owner of the resto is a believer of the socialist cause? Or did he/she buy it somewhere? I know I should have been extra inquisitive on that night, my regrets.
Happy birthday Mao!