Thursday, September 3, 2009

The morning after

What is this?

The morning after Mar Roxas’ beau geste, in simple eloquence delivered at a Club Filipino press conference, traditional politicians hoping to sit beside their new driver Noynoy in his jeep to Malacanang start falling all over, acting like they were the progenitors of the sacrifice, offering their own picayune and irrelevant ambitions as me-too willingness to abstain, and forthwith surrounding the “man of the hour” as if they were bodyguards on his Senate payroll.

Which naturally riled the sensibilities of Mar’s friends, including his fiancĂ©e Korina Sanchez, who could not control her angst against some people, journalists as well as trapos, who pushed Noynoy at the expense of Mar.

Another friend of Mar who happens to be my friend likewise told me that Noy confessed to Mar that he could no longer say no to the draft (which overwhelmed Mar as a political tsunami). Mar just took Noynoy’s word; Cory’s son wanted it, and he gave in. Thus did this common friend of ours explain away what I wrote about yesterday as “too soon the retreat”.

There were no hidden strategies, no one step backward, two steps forward cunning, just noblesse oblige, not a surrender, not cutting investment losses, but pure sacrifice. Well, as a friend I would give Mar the benefit of the doubt.

Just as Ping Lacson said in an ambush interview also the day after, where after stating that “internal yan sa partido nila (the Liberal Party), their fellow senator lauded both Mar and Noynoy, as men who “at least sigurado tayo hindi mangungurakot” (they are not thieves). On whether Mar decided all too soon, while Noynoy could not decide with finality as yet, Lacson again said “that’s internal within their party and between them”, while wondering aloud if this was “part of a strategic plan because after it happened, magaganda ang reviews na nakuha ni Mar…’di natin alam…abangan ang kahihinatnan.”

It is the same comment I heard from other politicians and political tacticians, even from the provinces. They probably could not accept Mar’s beau geste as less than pre-meditated, and view Noynoy’s coyness as political theatre. Indeed, by prolonging the suspense, Noynoy is able to buy time to test the waters (he is in Davao today to “feel the pulse”, hosted by long-time Cory supporter, businessman Chito Ayala) and see if those who profess faith in his genes could put their money where their mouth is. For truly, an enterprise as grand as the quest for the presidency cannot be won by mere yellow shirts and Laban hand signs. Noynoy and the family would be foolhardy to invest Ninoy and Cory’s legacy to the perilous shoals of political combat without at least assurance of a good fight.

Politics after all, is war. And war is not won by saliva or printer’s ink, or mere beau geste’s; it is won by bullets and petrol and other war materiel. And the right strategic directions.

Which brings me now to Mar’s eloquent heart-tug last Tuesday, the first of September, in the “ghost month” of the lunar calendar of the present year. “Noy has made it clear to me that he wants to carry the torch of leadership. The parting of our beloved President Cory has reawakened a passion among us”, Roxas said. And then he adds, as in a call to arms, “I see this as fuel to bring us to the realization of our dreams: Good will win over evil”.

Noynoy is fuel, as in the flame of a torch? Who shall bear the torch then? The Liberal Party, it would seem, because both he and Noy are Liberals.

And when he says Good versus Evil, pray tell us, who are good and who are evil? Is Villar “evil”? I agree, decidedly so, what after the full details of C-5 at Taga, the Bangko Sentral-Norzagaray heists, and other skeletons are viewed in all its naked gore. Are Noli or Gibo, or whoever shall bear the standards of Dona Gloria, to be categorized as “evil”? Is Erap “evil” too? Are Chiz and Jojo and Loren and BF, even Grace Padaca, all “evil”? Specify, Mar. Only the Liberal Party is pure and immaculate? Breathtaking!

I was reminded of “values” versus “desires” when in a research briefing, my advocacies against graft and corruption were rudely dashed by the survey findings that the electorate out there no longer view corruption as a major issue (only 7% listed it as number one in their issue priority scale) while the overwhelming majority consider high prices and joblessness, “la political del estomago” as THE issue. The even sadder reality, based on FGD’s I have seen all over the land, for candidates local as well as national, is that the voter market seems to have succumbed with utter resignation to the gut question of “what’s in it for me?” as in never mind if these are crumbs from graft, provided “naaambunan ako”. What a country! But then again, that is the market reality. No wonder the Eraps and the Villars and the Nolis find resonance more than the decent guys like Mar and Noy and Ping and Chiz. But of course, these are early days.

Noynoy, wisely, will not be rushed. Whether this is scripted theatre or reality check, or both, he bides his time before categorical declaration is made. Like his mother Cory, he will seek the counsel of prayer. Yes, he feels, but wait…this is not just a matter of feelings.

What I do find queer is how otherwise highly educated and intelligent people rush with their hearts and throw their minds to the wind, even as the fate of the nation hangs in the balance. And what I find unable to accept is that in this day and age, in what is supposed to be an era of democratic ideals and beliefs, we find many and their mothers beguiled by the crap that genes ought to be the basis of choice. As in the resurrection of the foolish “divine right of kings”.

I am reminded of a running television ad that says, “kapag maganda ang puno, maganda ang bunga”. It’s been on the airwaves for a month or more, and the frequency is second only to Manny Villar’s cono-cono and trapo-tropa tomfoolery, and the net result is a rating improvement to one solid percentage point. At least that’s better than 0.2%, which is what the vice-presidential candidate’s presidential partner got. But hey, naniniwala pa ba tayo sa mga pamana , and do we still acknowledge bloodline as determinant of character?

This is of course not to question Noynoy’s character, as it is decidedly better than most of us, but the fate of a nation cannot be a matter of genes, as well Noynoy and Mar ought to know themselves.

As a respected pollster intimated to me last Wednesday, “will it sustain”? The same question probably bugs Noynoy, except that Mar saw it as political tsunami, his heart over his mind. And Mar is perceived by the “masa” out there as all mind and little heart, padyak and palengke ads notwithstanding. Even as they are fooled by the “maawain” and “matulungin” perceptions that currently favour the Erap’s and Villar’s of this benighted country.

I have received a deluge of reactions to Mar’s sacrifice, and it’s really not tsunami force, not even a gale force as yet. Here is one: “I think prodding Noynoy to run on the hopes of recapturing the "yellow magic" sparked since his mother's death smacks of the very kind of political bane we all would want to change in this country.” The reader twits me thus, “I think you are under-estimating Mar and over-estimating Noynoy too much” (not me, maybe Conrad de Q, Korina’s object of angst)…”Mar has a lot better record as a legislator than Noynoy” (I don’t want to get into that debate yet). Another wrote: “Noynoy doesn’t even seem to get his political footing right. No disrespect, but we are way past religious and spiritual discernment. With the gargantuan and seemingly insurmountable problems the country face…vacillation would be a luxury we cannot afford”.

Even Erap, the man who cannot seem to find any vindication except if he gets back the presidency he foolishly lost, says other presidentiables should follow Mar’s nobility, and follow suit, for the rather ignoble end of perhaps getting him back into Malacanang. He wants others to withdraw, and then he will follow suit. And he wants to be a “leader”…and he wants to be the “unifying” leader. Oh well, as I have kept repeating in this space, all that is crap. Erap will run, and he wants everyone to give way to him. That is his concept of “uniting” the opposition. That is, if the Supreme Court, which is not opposition, will allow him to.

My friend Tony Abaya wrote that in a recent Strictly Politics talk show where he failed to attend, he would have asked Noynoy to “list down his legislative accomplishments” for the nine years that he was in the lower House and the two years he has been senator. And then Tony asks, “Why are some people stumbling over each other in pushing him to run for president?”

A bit irreverently by the lights of the “yellow guards”, Abaya asks, “Are we back to the Dark Ages in medieval Europe when ignorant peasants were dazzled by Magick and were stampeded to Trust in Unseen Forces by equally ignorant monks as the Masters of our Fate and the Shapers of our Destiny?”

For this writer, what I cannot countenance is that 23 years and four presidents since Marcos flew to Hawaii, it seems many still want to paint this benighted land by the distinct colours of yellow versus red, white and blue.

As 60’s music icon Joan Baez lamented in a song, “When will we ever learn? When will we e---e---ever learn?”