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Post-SONA hangover 2007 edition
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on July 24, 2007 74 Comments 12 min read
Negotiating the Budget Previous Pork Barrel Republic: SONA coverage Next

Photographs of protesters, including Korean “exposurists,” at My World and Street Documentaries.

Pinoy Ambisyoso gives capsule reviews of some reactions; the PCIJ Blog runs through other reactions, from all sides of the political fence (former president Ramos was, apparently, a bit cranky) but perhaps the most concise description comes from [email protected], who calls it the “Eat My Shorts Speech,” and who provides his own condensed version of the address.

Three bloggers’ entries struck me the most.

First, lawyer Marichu Lambino who zeroed in on the beginning and end of the President’s speech:

Any experienced ghostwriter of formal speeches might tell you that the theme of a formal speech, or the sentiment of the speaker, is found in the beginning and end of the speech — the rest are just bridges, bridge- paragraphs, of the beginning to the end.

In the President’s SONA, those bridge-paragraphs were literally, of bridges — roads, airports, shiplanes, waterways, power plants. A bit of legislative agenda here and there on the political assassinations and a pitch for education here and there.

85% of the body of the SONA — highways, byways, airways, waterways — tell us that the nation has a President who is surely a ways-and-means committee leader (no pun meant); that the country has always had her, a President who, during work-hours, was awake and able to sign infrastructure contracts and disbursement vouchers and priority yellow-tabbed instructions to the budget department for her allies (never mind commissions up and down here and there).

And she concludes with an analysis of what is rapidly becoming the most quotable part of the President’s address:

Her real sentiment is found at the end of her speech, the most applauded, cued or not. For those who did not get why it was the most applauded or why it had been cued for that, here’s why:

She said: “From where I sit, I can tell you: a President can always be as strong as she wants to be.” (strongest applause).

“always” is not the same as “only”; in fact, it has the opposite meaning. “xxx a President can always be as strong as she wants to be” is not the same as “xxx a President can only be as strong as she wants to be”; certain people might have thought they heard the latter and were puzzled, or applauded her; but it was the former that she said. It’s the opposite. The latter (“I can only be as strong as I want to be”) implies that her power is limited by her will to exercise her powers, or that her will will not exceed her limited power. It’s the opposite. She will “always be as strong” as she wants to be. That means her powers are not limited by anything (“as strong as she wants to be”) or that she thinks her powers are not limited by anything. She could have said “as strong as required by the nation’s interest”, or something. But she said “always as strong as she wants to be.” …

…But only to add: “Make no mistake: I will not stand idly if anyone tries to stand in the way of the national interest and tries to block the national vision.”

And that’s where she finished with: she will always be as strong as she wants to be.

She is telling critics, destabilizers, ambitious politicians (and this is where she finished): Don’t dismiss me. You haven’t seen the last of me. I am still President.

And that’s the smallness of this speech.

Another lawyer, Edwin Lacierda (no fan of the President), points out that the gross ignorance of protocol during the SONA indicates a deeper problem:

Symbolically, the disorganized hustle and bustle of the solons before and while the President is entering reflects the lack of formal and substantive order in the business of government. The marketplace ambience symbolically reflects the lack of respect for the President. And no matter how one detests this incumbent president, the solons, whether administration or opposition, must learn to honor the office of the President, never mind the holder. In august halls like the Batasan and in formal gatherings like the SONA, swords are sheathed and left at the door.

The third entry that struck me, actually consists of two entries by the same blogger. In “First World country in 20 years” to be today’s SONA, blogger AKOMISMO, a teacher at the Philippine Science High School, offered up a pre-SONA reflection:

While I can’t comment fully on the speech yet due to obvious reasons, I also wouldn’t want to say how unrealistic her vision is. Everyone deserves the chance to dream. However, I would like to raise an important point made by the Inquirer’s editorial today - that our country needs a leader, not a manager. We don’t need just a checklist of accomplishments and goals; we need a direction, a vision and a dream. PGMA may dream all she will, but to get our people sold on that dream is another matter. Having our people believe in her and work with her on this requires the talents and charisma of a leader that this manager of a President has yet to or may never even become. How she attempts to do this in the SONA will be one thing I’m looking out for.

He then conducted an interesting activity, which he describes in What my students taught me about the SONA: as he and his students watched the speech, they exchanged views on what was going on:

They questioned everything from why people generalize that the Philippines is corrupt, to why there are still poor people despite the economic gains we have had. They weren’t even blinded by the mention of the Philippine Science High School - Why did GMA mention those victories, siya ba yung nanalo?…

…Our discussion after the SONA quickly shifted from an analysis of her key points (if there were any, as one student pointed out) and into who is to blame for our society’s ills. We didn’t dwell long on that however, and moved instead into how to heal. It was then clear to me that a lot of them actually appreciate GMA’s efforts but recognize that it isn’t just the government who runs our country. Our nations rests on the backs of the people too.

It was at that point where I put aside all my knowledge of history and political science and just listened to what thought and felt. They convinced me that federalism could just work - people are selfish anyway, so let’s leave them alone - and that our people should think of each other more. Of course, their arguments are crude but they see things which are too obvious and yet are often missed out by those in the academia…

And what I learned that afternoon is that in our classrooms, ladies and gentlemen, are people who are fiercely in love with their country. They may not show it, they may not even speak it, but deep down they want to do what they can to make it better. I don’t see the youth others describe as lusting after wealth and comfort in foreign shores. Of course, my students see the valid need in working abroad and do not disregard their efforts – a lot have relatives and friends working as OFWs, calling them martyrs - but most would rather have it that they stay.

Here’s what other students had to say: Underside found it “a load of crap”; ar_21684 focused on fashion, to make a political point; quinkoy tawops was very appreciative of the SONA, and deepened his admiration of the President; put these and other student’s comments together, and you will find a picture very similar to what AKOMISMO’s described.

For other reactions, few bloggers were as thorough as Tingog.com, who put forward what he thought were 10 key highlights from the address. Thorough, in another sense, is NURSicism, who provides a blow-by-blow account of his reactions; point-by-point satire, on the other hand, comes courtesy of Professional Heckler:

Reports say President Arroyo’s speech was applauded 103 times, 63 times less than last year’s SONA. Malacañang has berated the sound engineer for not pressing the play button of the “canned applause” more often.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz blogged his reaction: the SONA was a signal the President intends to stay in office, and that taxes will be raised. The Archbishop and Ellen Tordesillas pretty much agree on what, to them, the President’s address truly signified: a warning.

moolah matters points to Money Smarts list of economic promises in the SONA (Reyna Elena, on the other hand, brings up past SONA promises), and reflects on the President’s remark on “social safety nets”, and how families need to create their own safety nets.

An OFW in Hong Kong wants less talk and more action (an impatience with rhetoric is also shown by Giornale di un Signorino‘s choice of a quote from a congressman).

My own take on the SONA?

1. Body language says a lot. The President looked tired and drawn when she arrived at the Batasan; keeping control of things that day obviously wasn’t easy. Compared to last year’s triumphalist, even gleeful, delivery, she seemed to falter and stumble over the words a lot. And despite name-dropping like crazy, she garnered less applause than last year: and it was the loyal NBN people who did the counting, mind you.

2. A speech has three audiences: the faithful, the enemy, and the uncommitted you want to win over to your side, both foreign and domestic. I think there was more of an effort to win over the uncommitted last year, since it was the kickoff for Charter Change and failing that, the 2007 elections. This year, the President knows clearly enough, just how divided (at best) the country remains (see the most recent Pulse Asia survey, as discussed by today’s Inquirer editorial). So she made only a token effort at reconciliation in general. Instead, she concentrated her energy on rewarding friends, and dangling the prospects of gravy for anyone in Congress willing to deal with her.

Obviously, the writing on the wall’s been clear since 2005: LGU and lower house support, plus the military, will trump public opinion and the opposition anytime. Keep the pump well primed, and your gunpowder dry, and it will be the status quo. The President, for example, acknowledged the public relations severity of the political killings issue, but passed the buck to Congress. No direct orders as commander-in-chief, were given, which she could have done, with the top brass in attendance.

3. Still, mind-numbing though it can be, the President’s catalog of infrastructure projects is important. It shows how she herself understands her office; it lists her priorities. You could say the country lost its greatest Secretary of Public Works when Mrs. Arroyo became President of the Philippines. Her encyclopedic grasp of geography and pork barrel projects is breathtaking. Her inability to tie it all together in a meaningful manner, points to one of her severest handicaps as a president. The vision thing is a must, because even her own supporters need that vision thing from time to time. And the vision thing is the surest antidote to opposition.

4. I think its obvious enough the President’s worried about becoming a lame duck, which is why she took pains to remind Congress and the LGUs that the president giveth, and taketh, away. And why she has to remind her critics to behave.

5. But even her laying it on thick in terms of past, present, and future, pork, only underlines that she is inching closer to lame duck status. Unless she can pull a political surprise (which is precisely what her joke about running for office in 2010, even if it was just a joke, accomplishes: keeping everyone guessing; a politician everyone’s guessing about, remains a relevant politician). The speech was successful, though, in reminding everyone, on her side or against, that she intends to keep on fighting and keep herself on center stage.

6. but on the whole, it was a wasted opportunity, to rally the faithful; it certainly has her critics all abuzz, and serves warning that she isn’t about to clip the military: Congress can do that, if it dares. Whether she managed to telegraph to her allies, that they should be willing to continue supporting her, instead of figuring out which horse to bet on in 2010, and whether the public, at least the part of it inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt all the way to 2010, would let her stay on past that date, probably depends on more than the SONA.

7. For now, she avoided many political land mines. If she didn’t say enough about certain things, she also didn’t bring other things up, at all: the EZ deal, Chairman Abalos, etc., etc. A list of pork barrel projects isn’t something anyone can either fault her for, or criticize much: who can object to development being spread out? If it isn’t enough for some critics, it’s plenty for many of her supporters. The lack of a vision thing, well, no vision, less debate. It was a cautious speech, even when it came to the parts that seemed daring. It’s the speech of someone hedging their bets.

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  1. “…must learn to honor the office of the President, never mind the holder.”

    He forgets that the holder must ALSO learn to honor her office. She deserves all the heckling she gets.

  2. At the SONA , she spoke about her unique solution to classroom shortage

    “We have a scarcity of public schools but a surplus of private schools so instead of building more high schools, we give more high school scholarships.”

    It reminded me of her advise to those who were complaining of poverty and hunger : “Spend less on luxuries…”

    And DOT secretary Favila’s reply to those who were complaining about unemployment : “There are plenty of jobs but you are too choosy..”

    And the DND’s solution to a suppliers cartels that employed attractive bill collectors : “We banned pretty girls in mini-skirts from GHQ…”

    The only statement I liked, self-descriptive and, hopefully. self-fullfilling:
    “We must wipe this stain from our democratic record.”

  3. why bemoan her lack of vision when people don’t expect anything good from her anyway? it’s not like anyone’s going to accept it. even if she had a vision – which she does, as a matter of fact: 1st world in 20? – that vision would be criticized and ridiculed to shreds for sure. so why constantly complain that she has set no vision? to remind people how shoddy a president she is?

    as for that whole first world in 20 years, what exactly is wrong with that? a vision need not be obviously achievable. in fact, a vision has to be grand and sweeping. when microsoft came up with “a personal computer in every home” 98% of the world didn’t even know what a computer was. That’s exactly the point of a vision: to provide a goal that everyone can work towards.

    people who don’t like this vision should be willing to propose their own. because if all we do is snipe at it, like this teacher who seems to not mind referring to himself as Sir, then we’re just whining, aren’t we? refusing to take someone’s lead (for whatever reason) but at the same time refusing to take responsibility.

    he says: “PGMA may dream all she will, but to get our people sold on that dream is another matter. Having our people believe in her and work with her on this requires the talents and charisma of a leader that this manager of a President has yet to or may never even become.”

    And I suppose we ordinary people can’t aspire to greatness ourselves? Are we sheep that we cannot dream big unless we have the exact kind of leader we want? I’m not a fan of the president, but neither am i a fan of shucking responsibility and dumping it all on the shoulders of scapegoat like gloria.

    with or without a good government, we each can do our share to work for a better future. Of all the things that a social studies teacher should teach, it should be that. no society is perfect, and to predicate working for the national good on one’s belief in the president is to say that one should not lift a finger to help unless one’s own choice is in power. and that, pardon my french, lao shi, is bullshit.

  4. Re First World country in 20 years” to be today’s SONA,

    Nothing wrong at all with dreaming of becoming First World in when? 20 years?

    Now, if only she could wake up and give herself a kick in the teeth to tell herself to stop dreaming, maybe we just might get there – to First World.

    But hang on, aren’t there almost 11 million Filipinos trying desperately to get to First World? At the rate she’s selling Pinoys as cheap labour to the First World (1 million a year is it?), “First World” Pinas wouldn’t be thanks to her, oh no! Anyway, dream on girl!

  5. allow me to be rego-esque: so what does bencard think about the sona?

  6. Shouldn’t the SONA be about the country’s achievement for the past year and not about plans for the future?

    There’s a lot of “we will” and not much of “we have”.

    So GMA likes to coincide her vision with Malaysia’s 2020. What Malaysia plans to do in 30 years, she’ll do in 13 years. While Malaysia is slowly and surely getting there (petronas, airport, f1 etc). We are not even operating the new airport.

  7. So, Rom, what do you think of this grander and more sweeping vision: First World country by 2010?

  8. My idea of a first-world country is one that can feed itself — not dependent on other countries for food (sorry, Singapore). We could start with that. (Somehow I dont think GMA would agree, though.)

  9. “why bemoan her lack of vision when people don’t expect anything good from her anyway? it’s not like anyone’s going to accept it. even if she had a vision – which she does, as a matter of fact: 1st world in 20? – that vision would be criticized and ridiculed to shreds for sure. so why constantly complain that she has set no vision? to remind people how shoddy a president she is?”
    =========

    Exactly! Kung baga, you can’t win in an argument with morons.

    Politicians who are voted into office by an electorate who base their choices on a candidates ability to do the ocho-ocho, dish-out over-used taglines and slogans, or flash a hound-like look from behind bars aren’t inclined to take the trouble to communicate a vision.

    Who is there to grasp, understand, and deliberate on a vision in the first place? Not a people who’s idea of a good leader is someone who “creates” “jobs” from thin air.

    Not a bunch of legislators who cannot see beyond their personal agendas and are not seen as all-around nice people even by the very people who cast their votes in their favour (another one of those head-scratcher ironies that remains forever lost in an intellectually bankrupt society).

    Wala ka talagang panalo sa Pinas — specially when you got the brains to see the obvious solutions. Maybe that is why Ongpin simply put a bullet through his head.

  10. shamanofmalilipot:as a vision – that is to say, as an aspirational goal – it is no better or worse than gloria’s. it sets a goal beyond what we think or believe we can achieve, that’s what a vision is for. let me put it to you this way: if you gave up aiming for a big 5 room house for your family because you know you can realistically only afford a one room apartment, just how mightily do you think you will strive? what incentive will you have to put money away for a ‘big-house-fund’ when you’ve accepted that you will never reach that dream? people who have resigned themselves to dreaming small bite-sized dreams are doomed to the mediocrity. i don’t think that’s the right attitude for us.

  11. jeg:that’s a great start! food security is where the country used to be a regional leader, right? we can get there again. and who gives a shit about what gloria thinks? if enough people thought the way you did and acted out on their good ideas, we’d get somewhere in spite of the president!

  12. Thanks for the quotation. It’s interesting how being quoted brings so many typographical errors to light. Sigh. *Edits*

    @ Rom: My problem is not so much with the message but with the messenger. I’m just afraid that when those words come out of GMA’s mouth, it would be just lost on so many people. Like you, I would like a sweeping vision everyone can work towards. But is GMA the one to bring it? Perhaps. She has three years to leave behind her legacy, so let us wait and see.

    And while we wait, we do the best we can. I totally agree with you — that we can each do our share for a better future and that we can aspire for ourselves. We should do no less. Yes, that is what I teach my students. As future scientists, they are heavily invested in nation-building. While they themselves aren’t completely sold on GMA, they’re not making that an excuse to aspire less. First world in 2020 is a reality they too, will aspire for themselves.

    Cheers.

  13. i couldn’t agree more with you, rom. she is damned if she does and damned is she doesn’t with these people here. their personal lives are probably so miserable, through no fault of anyone by their’s, and need a “scapegoat” in GMA.

    there’s no avoiding these people. they are like the pollutants in the air we breath, the termites that gnaw at the foundation of our society, until it crumbles. nothing in GMA’s words or deeds will ever gain their approval – they will focus on the imperfection and magnify it to cover the whole. show them something to be happy about in her achievement and the more vicious they get in their attacks.

    sometimes i wonder if it’s all about GMA, or its just in the character of these people. they love to peep in every garbage bin to see if there is something unclean in there and then laugh to themselves for proving they are right for finding dirt.

  14. martin, and who do you think should deliver the “message” other than the sitting president of the republic? would you rather hear from trillianes, manolo quezon, or aquilino pimentel? do you think any person, other than GMA, would generate as much interest with the populace? why isn’t there any counter-SONA from the “opposition” – is it because they have nothing worthwhile to say other than your “anything gloria say is unworthy of belief because of the question of legitimacy”, or that nobody would listen except the rabid anti-GMA cynics. and who are you to speak for the “people”?

  15. Bencard,

    You’re I’m one of those who’s been living in a trash bin all this time. Well, I’m going to turn my life around. I’m going to go wash out all the dirt and then I’m going to rub KY all over my body so I can crawl smoothly up Gloria’s ass and finally meet you in person. Don’t worry, I’ll bring a flashlight.

  16. Bencard,

    You’re right!

    I’m one of those people who’s been living in a trash bin all this time. Well, I’m going to turn my life around. I’m going to go wash out all the dirt and then I’m going to rub KY all over my body so I can crawl smoothly up Gloria’s ass and finally meet you in person. Don’t worry, I’ll bring a flashlight.

  17. buencamino, sorry, but you won’t find me there. the likes of me won’t survive in asses. only shit-eaters do.

  18. thanks, inidoro, for showing some interest in what i have to say about the SONA. i think it won’t surprise you that i think it was GREAT.

  19. hahaha …mb and Bencard, pls have some respect to your lovely host…go on foot, park you motor bikes outside (and please, please, don’t do it during SONA hahaha) and and inidoro – stay away from this competition hahahahaha.

  20. manila bay watch, i concede. buencamino wins the competition hands down. its his territory, gloria’s or not, you know. let’s prepare the medal for him.

  21. While a lot aspire to be like Bill Gates, Andy Grove or Larry Ellison, the vast majority of wannabe visionaries come up short. As a visionary, Gloria Arroyo’s belongs to the dime a dozen category. First World by 2020 is not in the same league as A computer in every home. The former sounds like something someone came up with while reflecting in the toilet. It does not tell us anything about who we are and who we should be not to mention how to get there. The latter, while being a general aspiration also serves to define the nature of the organization that is being led and provides a specific direction to follow. An example of a crisp but robust vision is DJB’s “500 Hawaii’s” dream for the Philippines. (I don’t necessarily agree with it but that’s beside the point.)

  22. cvj:i’ve heard arguments saying we should quit saying ‘first world.’ but seriously, setting the vagaries of the term aside for the moment, isn’t the concept of ‘first world’ already so familiar that when we hear that term, we know exactly what it means? we can nitpick on the details i suppose, but in general, we all want that life here in the philippines be as good as it can be in the states or even singapore. Unless you’re some purist who wants every single Filipino to use and understand the technically accurate word for every single concept, you’ll have to accept that first world really does represent the aspirations of many of us (We don’t want to be americans or canadians, sure, but many of us damned well want the kind of life they live) and constitutes a specific enough direction for us to take, and a definite timetable to add a sense of urgency to the journey.

    and a vision statement isn’t necessarily a road map either. does ‘a computer in every home’ tell you how to do it?

    Gloria’s vision statement may suffer in comparison to Gates’ but it is a vision statement nonetheless, and it’ll do. Unless, someone can come up with better.

  23. When Bill Gates saw that vision, he and his staff was working hard on his windows to make it so cheap and (still make a handsome profit) affordable to the 90% plus of households, while our dearest President it is more of Faith and most often you may need a miracle to achieve that vision, if that thing is applicable in this situation.

    Of course we all want to see the country among the First World nations even sooner than 20 years, but the last time I heard the country has an external debt of $80 billions (it could even be more) and servicing those debts alone would set the vision back a little and it keep increasing. And also to get there, you have to have to increase the GNP to about 20 folds as it is now, but with the uncontrollable increase in Population, the Average Per Capita income, also a determinant for a first world nation status will take forever to achieve. So my say: it will remain a vision for the next President and better luck for whoever he or she will be…

  24. Another GMA ‘hater’?

    “In the absence of a significant improvement in tax collection, it will not be possible for the Philippine government to implement its ambitious and much-needed infrastructure development program,” Fitch said.

    The London-based credit rating agency’s original deficit forecast for 2007 stood at P111 billion. Fitch’s revised deficit forecast of P125 billion, which excludes privatization, is equivalent to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

  25. “I would like a sweeping vision everyone can work towards. But is GMA the one to bring it?” – Martin

    And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is THE question.

    My opinion: To attribute GMA’s political survival to her vision and leadership is a fallacy. GMA did not survive the Garci crisis because people thought she was a terrific leader. The standard refrain was, “Well, who would you replace her with?” (with the usual corollary, “Noli de Castro? or Erap?”)

    And while GMA may be serious about her infrastructure projects, the damage to institutions brought about by her administration’s need for self-preservation is real. For that reason, I doubt we will see any difference in the self-serving practices of those in power for the duration of her term.

  26. Rom, i’m not arguing against aspiring to become first world and i do believe that such a goal is achievable within two generations or less. However, a proper vision statement is not the same as a wish. In the early nineties, i participated in a workshop where the company i worked for articulated the vision of becoming one of the ‘Top 50’ Corporations in the Philippines. Needless to say that did not happen because that impoverished statement did not really say anything beyond wishful thinking. A real vision must contain some sort of insight that harnesses a truth about the situation and about those who express it.

    Becoming first world or breaking into the ‘Top 50’ are mere side effects of what we are and what we do. Microsoft became what they are because they were committed to the vision of personal computing. Intel achieved its success because Andy Grove saw that the IT industry was moving towards horizontal integration.

    I don’t think we have to settle for a trite, second rate vision from a person who lacks both the credibility nor the ability to formulate one. That would reflect lack of vision on our part. GMA’s strongest aspiration is to stay in power which is reason why her “a President can always be as strong as she wants to be ” statement got the strongest applause. It was at that point where she was at her most genuine, which is refreshing coming from someone who is a known fake.

  27. the “wannabe visionaries” that always come up short are mostly in the philippines. with few exceptions, they are only good at wishing to replicate the successes of other societies or individuals. they are mostly envious, jealous and covetous lot who constantly indulge in self-loathing and false pride, but with no capacity to dream on their own and without the backbone to pursue that dream.

    pgma has expressed her visions and is working on them. she has a lot to show for her efforts – not all that she aimed to accomplish but enough to be fairly acknowledged and appreciated.

  28. Ms. Lambino:

    and what is wrong with the president talking about highways, byways, bridges, seaports, airports to and from places that have been heretofore isolated from the centers of commerce? when she talks about vague generalities she is lambasted, and when she specifies concrete accomplishments, she is insulted. she is a working president, not an armchair monarch who expect to get things done by a mere flick of fingers only to find out his/her ideas remain just that – ideas. is anything the matter with that?

    for a leader, strength is a quality that is a product of one’s will, ingenuity, ability, and character. a leader with all that can ALWAYS be strong when she wants to be.
    strength does not mean possession of unlimited power. any one can be strong even without power bestowed by somebody else.

  29. cvj:no one ever said ‘1st world in 20’ was a perfect vision. just off the top of my head, i can think of several vision statements that would be better. statements that speak, perhaps, of a united country or a strong agro-industrial economic model … things like that that would fit your criteria of “insight that harnesses a truth about the situation and about those who express it.”

    but the root of this thread is the bellyaching that no vision was expressed, when in fact, there was a vision, as imperfect as it may be. compare that to the blind revulsion for gloria arroyo, and you have to wonder whether you will take a flawed vision and, within the scope of your own influence, work to make it happen; or simply reject it in favor of blind hatred. i would be much rather myopic than blind.

    you think the vision as expressed is lousy, fair enough. but the challenge for everyone is to better it. articulate a more apt vision, rather than just bewailing how terrible ‘1st world in 20’ is.

  30. Rom, not only is 1st world in 20 an imperfect vision, it is misleading because it miscontrues the meaning of the concept. In any case, with or without GMA’s attempt at a vision, we Filipinos do continue to strive to make our country better. Opposition to Gloria Arroyo is part of that process which is why I find it strange that you characterize the revulsion for her as ‘blind‘. It is precisely because we see the things that she has done that we are disgusted.

  31. To attribute GMA’s political survival to her vision and leadership is a fallacy. GMA did not survive the Garci crisis because people thought she was a terrific leader. The standard refrain was, “Well, who would you replace her with?” (with the usual corollary, “Noli de Castro? or Erap?”)

    And while GMA may be serious about her infrastructure projects, the damage to institutions brought about by her administration’s need for self-preservation is real. For that reason, I doubt we will see any difference in the self-serving practices of those in power for the duration of her term.

    Agree and agree. Also, aside from the “who would you replace her with” factor, GMA managed to survive because of her political wiles and willingness to do anything and everything she can to stay in power, even illegal and destructive ones (CPR, EO 464, Proc 1017, bribing congressmen to kill impeachment bid, “spoiling” the military top-brass and her unwillingness to keep them in check re: political killings, etc.) Dinaan sa brasuhan at sa pakapalan ng mukha, a contest which she won hands-down.

  32. cvj:many who hate her cannot even articulate why, beyond citing the opinions of others. that’s blind hatred, whether you agree or not. and as for the vision being misleading, who’s to say? If you feel galvanized by a technically correct statement, then good for you. but, just like you don’t need a court of law to validate your belief that gloria is a crook, there are those who don’t need cold technical details to feel emboldened by a shared vision of what is possible.

  33. opposition should never be confused with obstruction. opposing for the sake of opposing – out of “blind revulsion”- is a big part of the problem, not the solution. it’s a formula for self-destruction.

  34. and rom, cvj, “doesn’t need a court of law to validate his belief that” GMA is a “fake”. he is a loyal apostle of mlq3, and a firm believer of the likes of cayetano, et al. to these people, proof and evidence (in the legal sense) are not necessary. their own versions of “truth” are enough to feed and nurture their “blind hatred” for PGMA.

  35. sorry, manila bay, that’s the way it is. how could you not have put your money on a shit-lover who is rarin’ to get at the source? maybe inidoro would have given him a good competition. he/she deals with crap too, you know.

  36. “I don’t think we have to settle for a trite, second rate vision from a person who lacks both the credibility nor the ability to formulate one. That would reflect lack of vision on our part. GMA’s strongest aspiration is to stay in power which is reason why her “a President can always be as strong as she wants to be ” statement got the strongest applause. It was at that point where she was at her most genuine, which is refreshing coming from someone who is a known fake.”

    It’s easy to call a vision “trite” and “second rate”. visions are vulnerable to such glib criticism because they are, well, visionary statements; i.e. high-level and fuzzy — which, ironically, is what vision statements are, don’t you think?

    A truly imaginative person can see potential in vision statements — when they are pointed to a beach that needs to be stormed. Morons, on the other hand only see the hard slog and the crashing waves that separate their landing craft from the sand.

    And even if, for the sake of argument, the vision happens to be indeed “trite” and “second-rate”. Well, step back and take stock of our society — the fact is, ours is a society plagued by trite and second-rate problems.

    More importantly, we struggle with even the tritest and most second-rate of aspirations. Some bozos seem to forget that if one is hopeless at the most basic of solutions, how even more hopeless one could be at implementing the un-trite and first-rate of visions.

    In the last 60 years, jeepney lang nga, di pa mapalitan.

  37. Rom, i’m not sure where you get the impression that those who oppose Gloria are inarticulate. In the blogs that i read (including this one), the case against Gloria Arroyo has been clearly stated. And I do not think you can equate citing the opinions of others with ‘blind hatred’. When i cite someone else’s opinion, it usually means that i have evaluated and agree with that person’s opinion (in whole or in part).

  38. Bencard: their personal lives are probably so miserable, through no fault of anyone by their’s, and need a “scapegoat” in GMA.

    I find that you are a better lawyer than you are a psychologist. But I enjoyed your and MB’s ass-barbs immensely. (See, the ass-jokes werent ad hominem. They were genuine comedy. Let’s have some more.)

  39. Sometime during the Ramos administration I was asked with some of my associates to participate in the formation of a communications plan to push for some strategic policies of a key line agency of the government. What impressed me was the thoroughness of the participants and their obvious professionalism. I thought to myself that communications was then becoming not only a policy tool but a potent weapon to win hearts and minds and to define reality. Blogs were non-existent to the extent they exist today.

    It appears that one can discern the talking points of a communication plan being mouthed by some participants in this blog and I am sure other blogs. Attacking messengers is an old tried and worn out tactic. Our old friend Geobbels and Himmler took it to higher levels. We see it in todays killings of activists and journalists. Yes the left did also kill their own in the past purges. Yes innocents have been killed by both sides in the ongoing insurgency.

    But you have to give credit to the masters of spin that of the communications plan for Big Mike and GMA. A country with a per capita GNP of Php 16,000 per anum (1985 base)in real terms reaching first world status in 20 years. U.S. figures in real terms would range between $15K to 20K. How big is the U.S. ‘bayong’ of goods and services compared to the Pinoys bayong of goods and services that can bought by Php 16,000 per year.

    That per capita income today has become strategically dependent on foreign employment income. Before our very eyes they have called black white and white black and people who point out that Big Mike and GMA are butt naked are attacked for their message. Hence you get statements that people are dumb or retarded for not feeling the improvements in the economy.

    We saw the crux of the communication plan which Habito dissected very cleanly in an article he wrote for the Inquirer. The infrastructure plans have been in the conceptualization and planning stages way before she became President. The severe financial constraints the country has found itself in again and again had consistently delayed these plans. Now she wants to stand on these plans as hers. PIATCO, DM highway, Fertilizer scam, IMPSA just to name a few on her watch. Oh we just finished paying for the BNPP.

    Tell them Big Mike and GMA — Show them where the money will come from?????

  40. Rom, let’s put some context into this thing. GMA’s vision of First World status for the country within 12.5 short years, not 20 years, is not a vision, in the real sense of the word, but a goal or objective. In the corporate setting, we all know (or do we?) that a goal, to be worthwhile, must be a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Even as a goal, GMA’s First World status for the Philippines in 12.5 years’ time doesn’t measure up to the SMART criteria. If we are going to be really hard-nosed about it, we know that it is not attainable nor realistic, barring a miracle never before seen in the world’s economic history. Maybe in a hundred years, just maybe. But not in 12.5 years.

    So, what’s wrong with GMA’s goal? It’s something that she is foisting on the people to ram down their collective throat the lie that our economy is on the take-off stage, that the economy is performing superbly under her watch.

    No, Rom, it’s not vision. It’s deception.

  41. One way to achieve first world status in such a short time is to redefine the Philippines to include only Forbes Park, Corinthian Gardens and other high-end gated communities.

  42. hrvds, whether or not you like it, credit goes to the president under whose watch ideas are transformed into reality. the job of finding resources to concretize concepts belongs to the incumbent. every filipino president, from quezon to estrada, had some form of infrastructure planning. remember the old saga about so-called “election roads” that were started during election time, stopped right after the election, and resumed again at the beginning of the new campaign? contrary to your claim, it was not “financial constraints” that delayed completion of those plans but lack of will, insincerity, graft, and plain disinterest in the welfare of constituents.

    has there any iota of true evidence produced on the allegations on piatco, dm highway, fertilizer scam, impsa? if so, how come no prosecution or indictment has been initiated by the vociferous accusers who are mostly hiding behind legislative privilege? and you, you have made your own prejudgment that is of value only to you and your like-minded friends. put up or shut up, for a change!

  43. hrvds, whether or not you like it, credit goes to the president under whose watch ideas are transformed into reality. – Bencard

    It is not enough for Gloria to take credit just because she happened to be there. She is supposed to be the leader of the country, not a rabbit’s foot or some other amulet. Economically, what is traceable to her is the ballooning of the domestic debt, the recurrent fiscal crisis and record hunger.

  44. I’d like to think of central Metro Manila as a pseudo- First-World city state like Singapore surrounded by a Third World hinterland.

    Migrant workers come in every morning to serve the low-end of the service sector then commute back out again in the evening.

    Some even have the equivalent of working visas (big-tim subdivisions have entire bureaucracies to maintain a registry of domestic help employed by residents).

    In a sense, there is merit in the whole idea of keeping the natives in a sort-of delusional level of contentment (by feeding them brain-numbing stuff like Wowowee and the occassional Fiesta Election to occassionally give them the false sense that they are “in-the-loop” in the way the country is run).

    Other than elections and Big Business’s pandering to their OFW-fuelled consumerism, the masses are essentially nothing more than a cash cow and a source of cheap labour that the elites somehow just need to keep from panicking lest they stampede and trample all over our manicured lawns. 😀

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