THERE’S THE RUB. By Conrado de Quiros

(Transcribed from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 14, 2000)

Aliens

TONY Israel is convinced they’re out there.  Israel of course is the by-now famous person who took a video footage of unidentified flying objects hovering in Philippine skies.  The UFOs, Israel says, took the form of lights that came from behind the moon and moved erratically, though they finally conjoined in an “L” formation.  He would learn later from the Internet, says Israel, that that was the normal flying pattern of abnormal flying objects.

If he had not believed completely in extraterrestrial life before, says Israel, he does so now.  His own eyes are proof of it. He describes the flying objects at length: They were spherical, had a circular opening underneath, and rotate on their axis.  They were also ablaze with light, which probably emitted some kind of energy.

Photographic experts have examined Israel’s handiwork and have ruled out the possibility that his moving camera, and not the objects he was filming, was moving.  Israel himself has ruled out the possibility they were of terrestrial origin.

Can he be right? Can the truth, as the “X-Files” famously asks, really be out there?

I don’t know. Maybe Shakespeare is right, maybe there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies – or astronomies.  Israel has a right to his belief the way other people have to theirs. His own at least has the backing of secular photographs, if not holy writ.

I personally wouldn’t put it past aliens to want to take a look at Las Piñas.  More amazing things have happened in this world.  And they are aliens, remember. Though their reasoning can’t be too alien – they were probably amazed to find a place on Earth that was just as alien as the star they came from. Who knows? Maybe they were homesick, being light years away from the old rock, and finding familiar (alien) terrain in Las Piñas decided to take pictures of the place.  Even now they may be examining the picture – or hologram? – of Tony Israel taking pictures of them.

But my apologies to friends who take these things seriously.  Indeed, who believe Mt. Banahaw to have been an ancient airport, built by otherworldly visitors – hence the otherworldly energy the place radiates – and to have been drawing new otherworldly visitors in recent years.  I will not ask if extraterrestrial airlines give free trips to frequent fliers.

Incredibly enough, I first heard about UFOs in Philippine skies from my lung doctor.  This is true.  I am not inventing this.  I wrote about this some (light) years ago.  I had become a suki of this hospital since I quit smoking in the early 1980s – amazing but true, you get worse before you get better after you quit smoking; it took me a year to recover – and as fate would have it, I fell under the wings of this doctor who theories were not limited to the merits of steroidal drugs. While resuscitating my much-ravaged lungs, he tried to resuscitate my spirits by telling that salvation was at hand.  He was a born-again Christian but with a twist.  He believed in a not-so-distant apocalypse where the good would be saved by aliens herding them into a spaceship – a la Noah’s Ark, 2001-style.  My doctor did not look like Frankenstein, he looked like a yuppie.

He put his account in third-person form – “some people think that” – but his fervor betrayed him. It made me wonder anxiously for a while about the efficacy of his Rx’s.  But I did recover from my abject pulmonary state, so there is at least no arguing with history.  Whether this happened from his material ministrations, from my own immune system, or from a psychic energy he radiated, I don’t know.  Who knows? Maybe it was a combination of all three.

I have not bothered to pursue the answers with the tenacity of Mulder and Scully.  It is not for lack of curiosity.  It is for my curiosity being directed to stranger things.  I’ve pretty much reacted the same way to stories about demonstrations of sixth sense and people saying they wished they possessed it.  I don’t know why people want a sixth sense when it’s all they can do to use the five they’ve got.  What new wonders can a sixth sense possibly hold for someone who cannot see the wind, hear the colors of early morning, smell the rain, taste the sea, feel the miracle of creation.

The same principle applies.  I don’t know why we should be so obsessed with discovering extra-terrestrial life when it’s all we can do to discover the completely terrestrial one.  The real aliens aren’t out there, they’re in here.  I don’t just mean the Abu Sayyaf, though a case could clearly be made for them being far out of this world.  Indeed, I don’t just mean the people who currently populate Malacañang, though an even better case can be made for the theory than not all aliens are friendly and that, unbeknownst to us they have already successfully invaded some governments.  One giveaway is the way their leader walks, which gives him the appearance of being drunk when in fact he is simply not used to walking on two legs.

I mean ordinary people, the rest of us, you and I.  There is no more alien specie than homo sapiens and there is no stranger organ than the human heart.  This is something you realize as you grow older. People are strange, as Jim Morrison of the Doors sings, though he was rather a little more strange than most people.  I do not know that we really get to know anyone all that well, or at all – least of all the people closest to us.  We can only try, with the use of all our senses, including the sixth. That is what makes terrestrial life so terrifying.  That is what makes terrestrial life so exciting.

I don’t know that there are aliens out there who are willing to save us as humans and as Filipinos. The second seems altruism of truly alien proportions. But Shakespeare, if I recall right, had something to say about that too.  Something about it not being in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Maybe the truth is out there.  But one thing I know for sure:  The truth is in here.  Who knows?  We just keep looking for the second, maybe we’ll find the first.

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