Gloria – FAMAS awardee?
September 7, 2009
There’s The Rub
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A couple or so weeks ago, I got an absolutely hilarious e-mail from abroad. It was two pictures put side by side. One was the picture of a dog—a beagle, I think, the kind with flaps for ears—eyes closed tightly, paws pressed together and perched on the side of a bed, looking upward and wearing an expression of intense devotion. The other was the picture of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—a president she thinks, in nearly the exact same pose—kneeling on a pew, eyes closed, hands pressed tightly together, looking heavenward with an expression of intense piety. The pictures carried the caption, “Sino ang mas sincere?”
That was the first thing I thought of when I read Palace mouthpiece Anthony Golez’s comments on Noynoy Aquino’s decision to go on retreat. Well, maybe not the first, just the second. The first thing I thought of was, boy, they must be rattled by Noynoy’s unexpected, gift-of-grace, hulog-ng-langit, entry into the fray. I fervently hoped they would continue to bash him, and more and more stridently. Noynoy can’t do better than to have Malacañang harp on his being “walang alam” or variations thereof. All the early—and costly—campaigning by the other “presidentiables” won’t come close to being an effective endorsement. And this one’s free.
Specifically, Golez said (I’ll leave his phrasing as is): “We respect whatever gimmickry, whatever ways on how he [Noynoy] can arrive at his decision. If that is part of his spiritual strategy, then I call it a strategy. Our leaders will always have forward planning … It’s how they plan.”
Which brings me back to why I thought of the pictures above. Because no one has made it more a point to have a photographer around when she gathers herself into a prayerful pose than Golez’s boss. That was the pose Arroyo struck with Corazon Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin when the other two were fighting Erap, kneeling on a pew between them, looking upward in supplication. That was the pose she struck after Ignacio Bunye sprung the “Hello Garci” tape on the public. And that was the pose she struck after Romulo Neri insisted that she had executive privilege not to divulge being the mastermind of NBN.
At least in Cory’s and Sin’s case, you know their faces were tilted in the right direction. Hell, at least in a beagle’s case, you know it is talking dog-talk with the Great Master in the Sky.
You get used to people using prayer as a gimmick, you’ll think everyone does it.
Noynoy and his family do not really need anybody to defend them from barks or yelps of this sort. The conduct of their lives is their own best defense. Cory herself was nuts about prayer, to a point that she became pilloried, or even caricatured, for it during her time and afterward. Was she vindicated in her belief in its power? The religious would probably say the proof is right there in her death, which gave life to the dead, or dying. The more secular would say the fundamental decency which underlay her spiritual outlook, which expressed itself in prayer, was the real power, which in the end shattered the walls of apathy like Joshua’s trumpets. Whatever the case, she did pray constantly, ardently, genuinely.
As does her family. The notion that one of them would use prayer as gimmick—well, I can only encourage Arroyo and the people who truly speak for her to rile the public even more with suggestions like this.
The reluctance of Noynoy to run is real. As is her family’s. I’ve caught a glimpse of it up close and personal. Noynoy’s sisters have remonstrated with him about it, pointing to the enormous sacrifices their family has already made; must they go through the wringer again? Surely they’ve already done enough, surely they too deserve some peace?
It’s the one thing that convinces me more than ever I have not made a mistake of reposing my hope for this country coming into its own on Noynoy. Think about it: Do you know any other family whose first instincts, whose natural reflexes, about one of their own running for president are not enthusiasm and expectation but fear and trepidation? And fear and trepidation not because they have a weak candidate who is likely to lose but because they have a strong one who is likely to win?
In other families, the preoccupation even now would be the division of spoils. “If you win, akin ang BIR ha.” Or a poor second and third, “Akin ang Customs/Immigration ha.” And those are for candidates whose chances of winning are about as strong as the chances of Hayden Kho finding true love. Though that is outside looking in; inside looking out, the candidates, or their partners, spouses or not, true love or not, always imagine they are virtual shoo-ins. This country is full of delusional people, or, what has become famous by now, the atat-na-atat to run.
Where else would you find a family whose natural reflexes are to see public office as a burden, as a responsibility, as a duty to serve the people that exacts a great toll upon those who are summoned to it? Where would you find a family whose first instincts are to treat the presidency with respect and circumspection, something to accept with humility and surrender, and not something to steal with InGlorious basterdness?
You get used to power being an invitation to abuse, you’ll think of regarding it as an awesome duty a gimmick.
I’m not a prayerful man myself, but I concede to its power. The kind at least where you talk to heaven with your heart and not with your gall. You can gauge the difference by its effects. You talk to heaven with your heart, you retreat only to advance. You talk to heaven with your gall, you advance only to retreat.
Whom the Gods wish to glorify, they first make suffer. Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.
Or atat-na-atat to run.