Saturday, November 8, 2008


Nakakahiya" was how then Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Ferdinand Edralin Marcos described the presidency of the re-electionist President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal. Then candidate Marcos would segue into the sins of commission or omission that would defend his charge that the administration he fought was an embarrassment to the nation.

I was a high school student at the time, and most of the action was in Plaza Miranda, where both proclamation rally and the traditional "miting de avance" were traditionally held. These were then broadcast and seen on black-and-white TV.

But if Macapagal the father was adjudged an embarrassment by his political nemesis, something that history would eventually find dubious in comparison to Marcos himself, 80 percent of today’s population would probably agree with the indictment insofar as Macapagal’s daughter is concerned. And more than half would go further, and call her shameless. In Tagalog, "nakakahiya" is appropriately translated into the English "embarrassing," but shameless is well…"walang hiya".

Two incidents, of most recent vintage, reinforce this verdict of shamelessness.

First, the two attempts to call Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States, and the attendant publicity given to the acts.

Recall that Malacañang officially announced that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not only issued the usual congratulatory message, but called Obama by telephone, only to be told that he was not available for her.

Then, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney called on her at about 2 p.m., Manila time, on the 5th of November, which was 1 a.m., Chicago time to officially inform her about the results of their elections. By then, McCain had conceded ever so graciously, and Obama was addressing a Grant Park throng estimated by CNN at 200,000. (By the way, if you saw that crowd on television, you could compare how faithfully Americans estimate crowd numbers. In our benighted land, when you pack Luneta, they call it a million. All you have to do is multiply the size of the Luneta Green fronting the Quirino Grandstand, which is officially 34,000 square meters, by four, and learn that filling it up is just about 136,000 people. Add those who find shade in the trees on its periphery, plus the street fronting the grandstand, plus the contents of the grandstand itself, and you would total 200,000 people. But media keeps writing it as a "million." Poor arithmetic.)

Kenney told her that Obama was not likely to meet any foreign delegation during the 77-day transition between his election and his oath-taking. This was expected, not only because of a hectic transition schedule owing to the enormity of America’s crisis, but because protocol so dictates. The guy won’t be president of the United States until January 20, 2009. Then Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could fall in line, but not before then.

With full knowledge therefore, what in heavens was Eduardo Ermita, her executive secretary, blabbering about hours after, that she would be in the United States from November 13 to 15, for some useless conference in New York, a "global leaders summit" on interfaith dialogues, kuno, and that "high on her agenda" was a conversation with America’s president-elect.


The Fil-Am community in British Columbia, led by Mike Moreno, wrote us thus: "

"Gloria Arroyo will make a quick trip to the United States in a few days time for the Global Leaders Summit in the United Nations headquartered in New York and two more foreign trips are scheduled for her before the year ends. She is the most travelled president we have ever had, with nearly nothing to show in terms of achievements… She doesn’t really care anymore about spending millions of taxpayers money going to waste knowing pretty well that the poor and hungry Filipinos are growing and growing… Some of my friends who are Americans, Canadians, British, Latinos and Russians are saying that Filipinos are so unfortunate to have a President like Gloria Arroyo who is by far considered as one of the most corrupt leader(s) in Asia…and it embarrasses us too much…"

But Gloria Macapagal Arroyo thinks nothing of your sentiments, you Fil-Ams. All she wants is a photo opportunity with Barack Obama, and send the same back home, para kunwari, malakas siya. Shameless.

Then, after all that, GMA’s spokesperson, the almost always clueless polyanna from some Nueva Ecija riceland, who on November 5 stated ""We wish to express our profound congratulations to Obama for his historical and stellar win as the 44th president of the United States," (where in Zimbabwe does she get such adjectives as "stellar"?), adds to the by now monumental embarrassment by telling media that the following day, a second phone call was made to Obama, and they just wanted it to be recorded by the State Department. (Hindi ba kayo nakakahalata?)

Of course, that same day, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza gave the lie to Ermita’s earlier pronouncements about the Obama "audience" and curtly said "there was no such plan in the first place". Matapos mapahiya, sila pa ang naggagalit-galitan!

Truly shameless.

Yet the week before, Malacañang, through its Budget Secretary, Nonoy Andaya, tried to spin a meeting they sought with CBCP president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, upon their president’s instruction, he claimed, into a triumphant "partnership for governance."

Earlier, we were all stunned at the severity of the indictment (not that any of it was untrue) made by five respected bishops led by Lagdameo, on the "most corrupt" government of Mrs. Arroyo, and the call they made for change…"now".

Andaya offered to involve the bishops in the procurement process for government projects, as if he was talking to some "pañero" congressmen eager to get their "tongpats" from pork barrel.

Wow! Palibhasa mukhang pera ang gobyernong ito, Andaya had the effrontery, along with PAGC chair Constancia de Guzman and religious affairs assistant Nena Valdes, to try to bribe Lagdameo with"juicy" propositions. Hindi lang nakakahiya, kawalanghiyaan talaga!

Of course Lagdameo rejected Andaya’s shameless offer, but the latter still had Malacañang’s hacks spin it otherwise. In fact, Lagdameo forthrightly told off the trio from the stinking palace that "never, never" would they alter what they had already pronounced.

But shamelessness has its just desserts. When? Lagdameo, Cruz, Sorra, Villegas and Baylon, later echoed by Medroso of Samar, exhorts us all that the time is now.

Ferdinand Marcos in his time would punctuate every charge against Diosdado Macapagal in his campaign speeches with a ringing "Nakakahiya!".

And then he would end his litany of charges by saying, "Alis Diyan!"

When will the Filipino nation collectively say, "Alis Diyan!" to the shameless daughter of an otherwise honest past president?