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Aug 27

The Long View: Like Chino, like Doy

The Long View
Like Chino, like Doy
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:18:00 08/27/2009

Back in 2006, Cory Aquino told a few people that someone would have to die, for the country to realize how far it had strayed from its ideals. Cory couldn’t have known then that the death she felt was required would turn out to be her own. Her wake and funeral – a period in which the country remembered what it was like not to be cynical – has taken on the characteristics of a continuing remembrance of things past for our elders and an unfolding discovery of a previously undiscovered country for the young, as young and old first came to terms with Cory’s dedication to duty and then Ninoy’s martyrdom.

This, in turn, has led to the stirrings of a kind of national consecration to a rekindled hope that unity is possible and that sacrifice can be demanded; and it has the professional political class spooked. The politicians are sniffing around to see if this is a rising tide or a mere ripple. Mention Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III nowadays and you will immediately hear the phrase, “game-changer” to describe his potential impact on the political scene.

There is a need for more than a new Cory; there is a need for a Chino, and there is a need for a Doy. Chino Roces took it upon himself to trundle around town with a little cart, gathering real signatures on real paper, calling on Cory to run. And if Cory, in turn answered the people’s summons, it took a Doy Laurel to show the country that it was possible for a leader to sacrifice ambition, with only one condition: that his and his partymates” efforts be recognized by her agreeing to run as the UNIDO candidate.

On Feb. 25, 2003, Laurel delivered a speech at Club Filipino to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution. He observed: “A developing country like the Philippines needs a leader who is more than just a symbol. He must be decisive. He must have a clear-cut vision of the nation’s destiny – or he cannot lead. He must give clear and consistent messages – at all times – or the people will not follow. He must be selfless and sincere – or he will not be believed. He must not tolerate graft and corruption – or he will not be believed.”

Furthermore, Laurel suggested, “He must be in three places at the same time: In front of the people, so he can guide them and lead them onward to a greater destiny. Beside the people, so he can feel what they feel, suffer what they suffer and even laugh and cry with them. And ; behind the people, to make sure that the weak and helpless, even critics and dissenters, are not left behind!”

These, then, are things that Noynoy needs. He must be called to the front: there must be a draft that comes not just from Metro Manila but from the Visayas and Mindanao. The call must come from those prepared to stand beside their candidate, which provides an incentive for other leaders to renounce their own ambition. And leader and followers must stand for something in common, which puts forward the need for a political party.

They are all part of a piece: the signatures, if they come from all parts of the country, makes the call national and irresistible; and if people commit to a Noynoy candidacy then they should be prepared for the long haul, and that includes seriously considering adopting his party affiliation which proposes a blueprint for the governing of the country.

If there’s one thing noticeably absent in our political parties, it’s actual membership. We have the most top-heavy parties in the world, and being top-heavy presents the dangerous possibility the leaders can imprison any potential candidate, unless that candidate can point to a constituency of ordinary people prepared to challenge the party leaders on their candidates’ behalf if need be.

So ask yourself: If your candidate belongs to a party, then that candidate is committed to an existing party platform. People who want to follow a leader need to examine what that party platform is, to decide if they are prepared to be card-carrying members of that party so that they can participate in that party’s deliberations on its standard bearer for 2010.

Politically, this is the first step any presidential candidate has to hurdle. Only after securing a party’s nomination can a candidate present himself to the electorate at large. Unless the public clamor is for the candidate to leave the party, and join a movement – which would still need a concrete platform arrived at, not by decree, but by consultation.

Gary Wills wrote of leadership in his book, “Certain Trumpets: The Call of Leaders” that “the leader is one who mobilizes others toward a goal shared by leader and followers. In that brief definition, all these elements are present, and indispensable; [They] make up the three equally necessary supports for leadership; The goal must be shared, no matter how many other motives are present that are not shared.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s loyalists justify much of her misrule on the basis of her having to “get things done,” by fair means or foul; she has to work with whoever’s left that still wants to work with her, and if it comes at a cost, so be it. Of course, that cost will be high, because the President had no real public support; her support, such as it was, was by proxy – lesser leaders with their own followers (more reliable, at that, than say, civil society which has fatally divided since 2005 and perhaps even as far back as May 2001).

Along the way, the President has resorted to dividing her critics, and it worked until the country became reacquainted with how it feels to be united – at first, in grief, and then, in a renewed appreciation of idealism and ideals.

Nick Joaquin once wrote that August is, historically, a dangerous month. Realizing there is more that unites us than divides us and that there are values Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao hold in common is dangerous indeed.

23 comments

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  1. hector

    who among the presidentiables would make the ultimate sacrifice and be like Doy?

    from among the Liberals, i doubt if Mar (who have already spent millions) would give way.

    or, would he? considering that he is not showing well in the surveys?

  2. siyetehan

    then, again, the key point is still for the opposition to have a common candidate.

    erap can give way (he’ll have difficulty getting a nod to run again from the supreme court, anyway) and endorse noynoy, then persuade a formidable veep.

    when that happens, the only chance for Villar is to transfer to the Admin side.

    magandang laban yon.

  3. pinoygossipboy

    I am more intrigued on who among our businessmen would follow the footsteps of Don Chino Roces.

  4. cocoy

    So ask yourself: If your candidate belongs to a party, then that candidate is committed to an existing party platform. People who want to follow a leader need to examine what that party platform is, to decide if they are prepared to be card-carrying members of that party so that they can participate in that party’s deliberations on its standard bearer for 2010.

    Indeed. IF, Noynoy Aquino does run, and IF he runs under the Liberal Party, I hope that the LP will open its membership door. We can no longer afford Political Parties with membership that circulates only amongst politicians and the political class. If the LP does that, it will be a good step forward, and a first viable step towards political reform.

  5. mlq3

    i think you or anyone can call the lp or np or any of the parties and sign up. lp requires a seminar though, as does pdp-laban, before you become a card carrying member. it’s just signing up to a party doesn’t occur to most people.

  6. SoP

    Mar, Noynoy, Manny-I just laugh at the prospect of them being handed the keys to Malacanang.

    I can see it now…the post elections celebrations, the inauguration, the exclusive interview with ABS-CBN and GMA, followed by the first one hundred day in the office, which will be dissected and analyzed by columnists and pundits to no end.

    And then, and then, something happens…the popularity ratings start to drop. The president wonders why? The newly minted president has the highest rating of any newly elected president since surveys were started. In his term, coming off Gloria’s disastrous administration, people have high hopes. But like flies with no scrap food sustenance, the percentage points start to drop.

    And so the days go and people start clamoring for changes. The honeymoon has certainly ended and the wife, the Philippines, couldn’t be satiated with sweet words.

    And then it hits the president: “My God, I have no idea how to solve this country’s problems”.

    It starts during the elections. In the adrenalin rush of the campaign, the sitting president was forced to promise the country the moon, the stars, and the heaven. His opponents have fired the opening salvo: “I promise to end graft and corruption”, “we will make it a priority to end hunger and poverty”, “my administration will make peace with the communists and Muslims”, “free Philheath cards for all”, “jobs for the millions of newly graduates this year”, and on and on it goes. The public takes it in, and the president, panicked by the fleeting popularity of his enemies, is forced to one-up the opposition. You say 1 million jobs, I say 5 million jobs created by the end of the first half of my term. You say more guns for the AFP in fighting the rebels, I say guns are not enough, but should be supplemented with wage increases and more benefits for the foot soldier. You say accelerate the distribution of CARP Certificates to farmers, I say we should also give them loans for fertilizers and seeds. And on and on the promises go. And the public sucks it in. The elections promises came-a-rolling, and the votes kept-a-coming. Victory is in the air…

  7. The EQualizer

    Message To Noynoy:Be A Good Senator First!

    “But as the Romans understood, there can be Emperors of no consequence — and Senators whose legacies are carved in stone.”

  8. Rosie

    After everything’s said and done, what the country needs is for the faddish pinoy to learn to think and discern in order for us to find a leader for 2010 who can start making things right.

    GMA’s administration is going to leave a badly-managed government riddled with problems, which will take more than a 100 days, or even one presidential term to solve, given that one of the things that need fixing is a people’s psyche.

    think and discern. know the candidates beyond the soundbites, the tv projections, the intrigues and superficial knowledge of them. find their track records or history, know their minds and how they think and decide. look at all the people around them, we will for sure find a mix of people we both like and disapprove of in every camp, but somehow we will know if they are mostly surrounded by the good or the bad. Get to know them deeply but don’t look for perfection unless you want God to come down on earth.

    A call for a leader to do a Doy can also be applied to Sen Noynoy. Through the people’s clamor for him to run for the presidency in 2010, will he deem himself ready in every aspect to be a presidential candidate? or will he giveway and ask the people to support the person he thinks should be the candidate?

  9. Non-malignant

    “And then it hits the president: ‘My God, I have no idea how to solve this country’s problems’.” — SoP

    This might be what the new U.S. president is realizing at this point of his relatively new leadership.

    Every new leader (or set of new leaders) will normally go through such a temporary phase of realization (and they need to undergo it), after all, they are mere mortals. Realizing the enormity of the leadership responsibility, this is the time where leaders personally experience first hand the real utmost need and importance of teamwork.

    Regardless of whoever will the next president be, the reality is that no president (however qualified he/she may be) can solve all of the problems of our country. Nation building is not only the sole responsibility of those who govern. In fact, for a nation to really progress forward, the people must do their part in the whole effort of nation building.

    Unless the next president will strangely govern the nation in the concept of the lone ranger, laughing at the prospect of the next president may be reserved only for those who just fold their arms and open their mouths.

  10. betterphilippines

    sop’s comment highlights a sad fact about filipinos. we’re always waiting for a savior. it also brings to light the reality that no one person (not even a president) can fix everything all at the same time.

    our presidential aspirants should read sop’s observation if only to be acquainted with the popularity life-cycle they are destined to go through. the way i see it the best way for them to avoid disappointing the public is for them to not present themselves as the answer to all our problems. first of all they should do away with all the motherhood statements in favor of clear plans of action focused on only those problems they are sure they can solve.

    as for us ordinary citizens, we should all realize that fixing the philippines will take some time. let’s not put whoever will be our next president in a situation where he/she will be forced to devote more time managing his/her approval ratings.

    of course, everything starts with us voting the right leader. and who may that be? it’s certainly not the politician who bends the rules, inundates the airwaves with “infomercials” ahead of the campaign period, rides on the coattails of inspiring leaders of the past, relies heavily on money to get elected, panders to the masses, etcetera etcetera.

    the ideal presidential candidate has yet to emerge.

  11. Carl

    “the ideal presidential candidate has yet to emerge.”

    **********************

    I say, true that!

    And for those who fantasize about Noynoy as the second coming of the messiah, they probably also dreamt that Cory would usher in the next Camelot.

    As Doy Laurel is quoted as saying, our country doesn’t a leader who is merely a symbol. He must be decisive. He must have a clear-cut vision. He must give clear and consistent messages—at all times. He must be selfless and sincere. And he must not tolerate graft and corruption.

    I will concede sincerity, but Cory failed in all other categories as a leader. Being the fruit from the same tree, Noynoy would fare no better. And he has done nothing so far to convince otherwise. Emotions and sentimentality keep people from thinking clearly.

  12. SoP

    …It is now a little under a hundred days since the president’s inauguration. Settling in to the job was certainly not easy, but he’s getting used to the routine: the 18-hour day itineraries, meeting with the press, the cabinet, foreign dignitaries, special interest groups, lawmakers, and advisers…the days can be taxing.

    “This job will turn me into a haggard and grey-haired old person like Barack”, he thought.

    Thankfully, the presidential staff, headed by the executive secretary, is more than adept at combing through the fine details.

    The hard-working retinue enables the president to focus on the big and important decisions.

    One afternoon, came the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management carrying a leather bound folder.

    “Sir, I have the final report from the Fiscal Planning Bureau.”

    “Good work. Have a seat and fire away…”

    “Well sir,” the secretary still standing, “I have some good news and some bad news…”

    “I’m listening…”

    “Well let me start with the bad news sir…There’s no other way of putting it so I’ll just explain it to you…in the simplest and truthful way I can explain.”

    “I’m all ears Mr. Secretary.”

    “Sir, we don’t have any money. Our government has no money. Well, a lot, lot less than the usual defict anyway.”

    The secretary of the DBM leans forward to the president’s desk and sets the leather bound folder in front of the seated president. He starts flicking through the pages of the report, explaining to the president the fine details as he jumps from page to page, pointing out how the ending balance of the past fiscal year and the past two quarters’ assets and liabilities culminates into a final negative figure near the end of the report.

    The president interrupts the fast-talking secretary.

    “This is all well and good Mr. Secretary. I trust your people did a fine job at preparing this. You were telling me about some good news?”

    “Yes sir. The good news is, and I’ve already been given the green light by the Monetary Board, is that IMF is willing to lend us a tranche of $350 million dollars immediately, to be deposited in five installments over the next three months…subject to your approval of course”.

    A moment of silence befell the Presidential Study. The president shifts his gaze to the Executive Secretary, who’s seated in the corner of the room listening the whole time.

    “We could make this work you know”, says the Executive Secretary. “It’s perfect. If we make the call now the timing will be perfect. Your first one hundred days coming up, and at the same time there’s the Pacquiao-Amir Khan fight. Ther’ll be enough distractions to keep this under the radar. We’ll have a massive parade in honor of the greatest boxer our country has ever produced…the final fight of his career could not have at a better time.”

    “That’s assumming he wins”, grumbles the president. “What I worry about is that a loss will foul the mood of the public. And once the opposition get wind of this it’ll be easy for them to douse some more fuel into my evaporating poll numbers.”

    “He’s gonna win. Trust me he’s gonna win. And so what if he loses? That’ll keep the press busy analyzing and dissecting his legacy. It could even postpone his retirement you know? That’s more pages and chatter to ween it out of this thing we’re about to do”, enthusiastically explains the executive secretary. “We could round him up for a courtesy call, I’ll get one of the speech writers to compare your waning popularity with his defeat. The press secretary could spin it either way.”

    The president bows in contemplative thought for a few seconds before he shifts his gaze to the budget secretary.

    “Mr. Secretary, make the call to IMF. And see if they’re willing to lend $600 million”.

    “And if they don’t sir?”

    “Well we’re just gonna have to settle for $350 million aren’t we?”

    The executive secretary interjects to the budget secretary: “Don’t worry about it, we have a trip to Japan in a few months. I’m sure something could be worked out with the Japanese creditors”.

  13. ramrod

    As Doy Laurel is quoted as saying, our country doesn’t a leader who is merely a symbol. He must be decisive. He must have a clear-cut vision. He must give clear and consistent messages—at all times. He must be selfless and sincere. And he must not tolerate graft and corruption.
    ————————————————————–

    Danny Lim!

  14. betterphilippines

    to ramrod,

    i’d like to hear danny lim’s platform as i’m keeping my mind open as to whom i shall vote.

    there’s an online “vote for my candidate” challenge. you might want to google it.

  15. Jhay

    Signing up to become a member of a party has never been a common idea here in the Philippines.

    One reason is that looking at all the parties’ platforms, you’d see that there are really no differences in terms of ideology and there are no disagreements on great national issues or policies.

    They’re just a different shade of the same color.

  16. mlq3

    “never,” jhay? or you mean since martial law?

  17. ramrod

    betterphilippines’ suggestion re “vote for my candidate” shows the candidates’ platforms for easy comparison and analysis. So far, they seem to be operating on a common template, jhay’s observation is very interesting indeed.

  18. Carl

    While there was basically a two-party system before martial law, the Nacionalista and Liberal parties did seem to operate on a common template. And this was to advance the interests of the elite. When Manglapus and Manahan tried to float their PPP as a third party, it didn’t take off because, despite a more progressive and liberal platform, it was perceived to be even more elitist than the other 2 parties.

    There may be more parties these days, although some would convincingly argue that there actually are no parties, but simply artifices of parties.

  19. SoP

    “Jhay on Fri, 28th Aug 2009 6:56 am
    One reason is that looking at all the parties’ platforms, you’d see that there are really no differences in terms of ideology and there are no disagreements on great national issues or policies.”

    May I present to you, kind sir, the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    Joke.

  20. john jacinto

    it ain’t no joke. the truth is that only the communist party of the philippines offers a viable, pro-people, and anti-imperialist platform which the country needs.

  21. SoP

    The truth is, commies have no sense of humor. I challenge you to debunk this.

  22. SoP

    They also don’t have a sense of fashion. In fact, both are in #67 of Mao’s 1000 Pillars of True Plebeian Living:

    Pillar # 67: A comrade shall wear simple clothes and never smile in the face of clever bourgeois humor.

  23. ramrod

    I don’t like commies…

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