Alas Sais

alas  [uhlas, uhlahs ]interjection  unfortunately

“‘Ang tagay mo, nilumot na,’ a bystander said in a funny mantra as I walked through the street of Zamboanga Farm. The god of rum, perhaps, showered voodoos to sway the bystander into trapping me in the alcohol lair.

I was beaten. I stopped for a while and proceeded to the flipside I was heading to. It was about 6 o’clock in the evening, and the night was crisp. The ambiance jived with my plans.

I was only on that road to top up my phone’s zero prepaid balance from some store. Yet, I was again defeated by my cyclic battle with alcohol. I sent a GM to my boozemates without hesitation. They texted me back in a huff, their messages contained the same texts of still being inside the campus.


They arrived in piecemeal until the wolf pack was complete.

In ten minutes, we were drinking like fishes. We wasted ourselves that night. My quite-expensive cellphone was lost alongside my lone 100 peso bill. My friend punched me in the chest for some indefinite reason.”

—Boyet, AB PolSci, non-verbatim


Beer and cigarette spree among youth is not a startling picture anymore. You’ll see them spewing out smoke on the street instead of having pens between their fingers. It is also customary to see a 3-peat-offender-clad youngster walking in a zigzag.

Youth is said to be the pillar and the future of this civilization. Truth to be told, this aphorism was first said by someone who never really thought he’d grow past 30.

Now, in an effort to give solution to the problem, the Sangguniang Bayan implemented the Municipal Ordinance No. 2002-008 titled “Regulating the Establishment/Operation of Night Spots in Municipality of Virac”, otherwise known as the “Entertainment Establishment Ordinance of 2011”, on May 30, 2012. The M.O. was authored by municipal councilors Germin T. Zafe and Rene Jose A. Abella. It prohibits the operation of beer gardens and videoke bars within school zones and bans consenting minor workers and student habitués in these establishments.

Yet, the anticipated coddling turned out to be just another imaginative ideology.

According to Sec. 4, A of the Ordinance, no bars, beerhouses and the like shall be established within a distance of 50 lineal meters from public offices and public or private schools.

Thus far, the number of establishments which are near offices and schools, like the Catanduanes State University, can be counted in barbecue sticks after a booze binge. Just as well, the “night spots” close to Catanduanes Colleges and Catanduanes National High School are dispersed throughout the streets of Constantino, Virac.

The assertion that students from CSU are the leading frequenters in beer gardens was supported by an interview with a waitress working in a certain videoke bar and bistro near CSU. “Igwa dyan pagakabanggi, gayuluniform pa ngani,” she stated.

College students are self-confessed Bacchanalians and it’s inevitable. Students are being spoon-fed by unbounded options of sites to get wasted in. After a distressing day from school, who will say no to booze and leisure with your block mates in a videoke bar, when just a couple of walks away from school, and voila, you’ll be popping bottles in the ice? Like a blizzard—or tropical storm, just to be appropriate.

Sec. 4, A of the Ordinance is under debate as of now; the municipality is reexamining its implementation because the majority of these enterprises are certainly near the specified prohibited areas. Entertainment establishments are a major source of revenue for the Viracnons. That Virac is not a big town at all and that the consequence of relocating of these drinking hangouts is questionable needs to be put on the table. Once the M.O. is triggered into action, all of these “dens of iniquity” that make up hundreds of Saturday nightlives will be wiped out and blipped somewhere in the gray, thus rendering the Virac hub bleaker than it already is.   

The municipal ordinance is a silhouette. It seems obtainable but not enough to be recognized.

Meanwhile, globally, 320, 000 young people aged 15-29 years old die annually from alcohol-related causes, resulting in 9 percent of all deaths in the age group, according to the World Health Organization.

Scientists from Britain’s Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) recently released an assessment that confirms alcohol to be the most harmful drug, scoring higher than crack, cocaine, and heroin.

There are plenty of reasons the Sin Tax Bill draws dispute and hysteria to the Senate. Not least of these reasons is the fact that the proposed measures only limit accessibility to the “offending” products. These moves could be argued as the government’s clever means of taxing on a choice of lifestyle. On the other hand, despite the protests of users, greater alcohol accessibility is associated with greater number of problems. Numerous cases of suicide, sexual abuse, drug exploitation, and hostility among Filipinos have been known to be catalyzed by habitual drunkenness.

Meanwhile, here in Catanduanes, the DOH Center for Health and Development Regional Office recently reported 10 cases of HIV.

Beyond the complication of the said Municipal Ordinance, the Health and Sanitation Committee checked health permits from establishment workers to ensure their health and also to determine whether they engage into sexual activities which may cause sexually transmitted ailments. They also made sure that the comfort rooms in the concerned buildings were hygienic enough. If any of the comfort rooms were set in a suspicious spot, the committee would notify the management in order to prevent minors from attempting any form of sexual activity in it. Workers were also asked for their Community Tax Certificates to rule out any possibility of being a working minor.      

The focal intention of the local government was the containment of the prevalence of sexually transmitted ailments. It was just fortunate that they were able to find a twist of fate that correlated Municipal Ordinance 2002-008 with the present ordeal. This is just another context of proper development hoisted by our municipality for the welfare of Virac.

Still, the insufficient aid from the municipality, added with the obscurity of Section 4, A of the ordinance, made the Health and Sanitation Committee lose gusto in continuing the spot checking. This implies that our locale is not yet ready for this kind of directive or for this municipal ordinance.

“Nasa nga’ngaan na, sisay pa man ang masayuma?” an IT student remarked in a waylay grilling.

As an institution, Catanduanes State University is not responsible for keeping an eye on every pack of drunkards after classes are due. These students are in college because they have enough body hairs to substantiate their maturity. They are incontestably knowledgeable enough in weighing the pros and cons of their actions. If a student is frail enough in saying no to persuasions, he will definitely fall to the same doom as Boyet.

Jan Keith A. Abundo


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