Searchlights for Lalang

You are not a Filipino if the name ‘Lolong’ does not ring a bell.

Either that or a crocodile the length of 21 feet which is speculated as the largest in the world today hasn’t caught your attention for even a second. The eyes of the Philippines were sultry on the discovery of the 100-year-old creature about several weeks ago that there was a paradigm flashing continually that I dare say we fail to notice.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had interesting perfervid reactions. The townies had an equally severe sentiment. Onlookers had the biggest sparkle of interest. Crocodile dundees were all set on finding Lolong’s supposed companion, whom they theorized as even bigger. I often wonder how these people hadn’t found Lalang yet when I’m just a high school student in Bataan (about many, many miles away from Agusan) and I know exactly where it is, what it’s doing, who it’s terrorizing. There are others like me, of course, and I hope you are.

Some crocodile swamps are muddied with ceaseless numbers and crumpled receipts, ‘unlisted’ thousand peso bills and more utter filth. They’re brought to their wooded hideouts by red plates and into the wildlife of where the ‘wastage’ goes. Oh, I bet you’ve already seen such signs but overlooked them.

Hard skin. A large mouth. Claws never seen until in front of you. We know this much from Lalang.

From second grade we learned that these reptiles are carnivores. They feed on the flesh of those who work hard and strive on their own, for their own humanity. Predators of the most fearsome kind in the nation - because what beasts live with their conscience, really? Sources of theirs include those local highways and city establishments (they built, perhaps?) that it’s such a paradoxical fascination to me why some people aren’t scared of being eaten alive.

Then, there are the lizards. They will grow to be larger reptilian monsters sooner or later, but for now I suppose they’re satisfied with clawing at and swallowing whole the food from “under the table” and little amounts worth of their diet from the streets when someone walks a wrong way or is blinded from a red light. They take what leftovers they can but they’re still spawns and allies of the bigger ones.

It’s cruel to wish for the extinction of anything at all but some liken these creatures to the oldest cancer of society, preying on our richest resources without anyone ever wanting them to steer clear simply because they’re very powerful.

100 people were needed to pull Lolong from the swamp in Agusan. It is a certainty that that great strength and a greater risk for the people who bore the responsibility and braved the muddy waters. To find and encage 'Lalang', it would be an even huger risk. There’s no going back. We don’t need flashlights. We don’t need safety suits. We don’t need thick metal chains or thicker ropes. We don’t even need hooks.

Because where is 'Lalang', really?

She isn’t the one we’ve been trying so very hard to hunt. She is just between our line of vision. For several decades in the Philippines, or even centuries, she’s been preying on us without causing the townspeople to act upon it. Because the crocodile bigger than the biggest is not in the swamp. She is seated in the most influential thrones of our country. 'Lalang' is the very embodiment of corruption.

Studies have shown that the Philippines indeed is one of the nations in Asia at the top of a corruption case. If Lolong needed a whole 100 people to pull him away, what will Lalang require?

"He is the star in our park." Elorde, supervising the wildlife conservation center in Agusan, pertained to Lolong. "This is in hopes of turning the threat into an asset."

And most of us are proud. The male crocodile is presumed to be an imminent submission to the Guinness Book of World Records. I wish it can be as easily laughed upon if we entered the more dominant crocodile in our country, at least then we’re taking a step, all ridicule aside. Even our own president, Mr. Noynoy Aquino, has promised to be a captor of this reptile. We hope to hold him true to his words…

…Unless we aspire to have a worse entry in the Guinness for today and the impending tomorrow of our nation. You are not a Filipino if the name 'Lolong' does not ring a bell but you are even less so if you haven’t yet seen the implication of this.