Wexistential Crises, Wayward Thoughts, Welcome Distractions and Willful Pursuits

On Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino and Gibo Teodoro

with 11 comments

Some thoughts provoked by Winnie Monsod’s Mussings*:

  1. I, too, share the same fears about Manny Villar.
  2. After Cory died, when people first started buzzing about a Noynoy presidency, some government insiders I know rolled their eyes at the idea and dismissed Noynoy as “tamad” and “bobo.” Senate staffers observed that Noynoy is dull, can’t seem to keep up during senate deliberations, and is a notoriously late riser because he’s up all night playing PS3. Some community organizers we work with in Nueva Ecija said that they supported Noynoy up until they actually met him at a sortie, where he did not answer their questions satisfactorily and he was so spaced out that they wondered if he was autistic. A senior government official during Cory’s presidency said that while Cory was a “saint” she did not have the intellectual prowess and technical knowledge to be an effective president. Even people who adored Cory have come to realize that pureness of heart is not enough to run a country.
  3. I understand why people so desperately want to believe in Noynoy. After Erap, followed by nine years of GMA, we just want a president whom we can trust. Even if he is painfully mediocre. Sure, Noynoy’s clean and he won’t steal, but c’mon. He has no outstanding achievements and he wouldn’t have even been considered as a presidential candidate if Cory hadn’t died. It was the outpouring of love for Cory and all that she represents (hope, democracy, goodness) that propelled Noynoy to prominence. Without his Aquino lineage, he is nothing.
  4. Men Sta. Ana defends Noynoy’s lackluster legislative record, saying “The number of laws sponsored by a senator or congressman does not make one a competent legislator.” Okay, sure. Quality over quantity. I get that. But seriously, 9 bills? That’s all? Miriam authored 738 in the same time period. And technically sound as Noynoy’s bills may be, they aren’t exactly exceptional. It’s not like he has gems in there like, say, Mar Roxas’ affordable medicines act or EVAT funds for educational and healthcare law.
  5. During presidential debates it’s all motherhood statements, he throws around terms he clearly does not understand, and when backed into a corner he invokes the memory of his parents as a talisman against difficult questions. During the Face-to-Face forum with LGUs, Noynoy sounded like he was just parroting sound bytes that had been previously fed to him by his handlers and could not expound further. Also during that forum, it became apparent that though Noynoy is chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, he knows nothing about local government issues, particularly devolution. His answer to everything was “Pinag-aaralan ko pa ho.”
  6. While Noynoy’s campaign slogan “Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap” is emotionally compelling, it is also largely untrue. Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand are all notoriously corrupt but they were able to significantly reduce poverty. The solution to the problem of poverty is much more complex than the slogan would have you believe. Corruption is just one of many problems. Eliminate corruption and you’d still have to: (1) stabilize the country’s fiscal position; (2) provide adequate infrastructure; (3) strengthen the investment climate; (4) equitably distribute growth among sectors; (5) address the unequal pattern of development among regions; (6) alleviate demographic pressure; (7) implement genuine agrarian reform; (8) develop human capital, invest in basic services, especially education and health… and that’s just the beginning of a whole laundry list of things the next administration will have to address. An administration that is not corrupt will not necessarily know which strategies to pursue. “I will not steal” is not a substitute for “I am technically competent.” Integrity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for one seeking public office.
  7. As unimpressed as I am with Noynoy, I admit that there are valid reasons to vote for him. It just annoys me that people insist on romanticizing him. Let’s recognize him for what he is: a mediocre candidate, but the only who seems capable of beating Villar in the polls. If it’s down to a choice between Noynoy and Villar, I can understand why you’d choose Noynoy. But please be honest with yourself and cut the crap about his “competence.” He is not our messiah. He has not demonstrated that he has any capacity whatsoever of fulfilling all the hopes and dreams that the nation is so eager to pin on him.
  8. A number of people I respect and admire support Noynoy for pragmatic reasons. Former Finance Secretary Bobby de Ocampo told me that this election isn’t about who’s smarter or more competent, but it’s about making a clean break from the present administration. I don’t necessarily agree but it’s certainly something to think about.
  9. I like many of the people who’ve chosen to rally behind Noynoy, among them Mar Roxas (accomplished in both the private and public sector, impressive legislative and executive track record, my presidential candidate if he hadn’t stepped down to make way for Noynoy), Risa Hontiveros (beauty and brains, Nobel peace prize nominee for her work as chair the Government Panel’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms in the Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front), Neric Acosta (distinguished academician and political scientist, principal author of many environmental laws including groundbreaking Clean Air Act), Jesse Robredo (outstanding multi-awarded Mayor of Naga City, my dream DILG Secretary), Mike Luz (former DepEd Undersecretary, the brains behind the LP platform on education, my dream DepEd Secretary). Noynoy is not lacking in advisers, intelligent people who understand our various problems and have concrete plans on how to solve them (even if Noynoy himself doesn’t). Maybe that’s enough to get him through. Maybe it’s okay that he’s not brilliant for as long as he listens to his betters. But I’m not sure.
  10. I share Ma’am Winnie’s concerns about the Liberal trapos: “My only concern with Noynoy is how deep he might be in the Liberal Party and whether he has accumulate political debts to Liberal trapos. The Liberal Party, like any party, has its own share of crooks (including those bandwagon trapos who jumped off GMA’s boat to ride on Aquino’s popularity).” In that sense, Noynoy is really no different from Gibo, whose only real flaw seems to be membership in Lakas-Kampi-CMD — GMA’s party. If the concern about both candidates is political indebtedness to the trapos in their respective parties, what then makes Noynoy a more desirable candidate than Gibo?
  11. Gibo’s party affiliation does concern me, but the guy is a shrewd politician. He’s managed to distance himself from GMA and the party. It’s a tough balancing act because he needs the political machinery of the party but at the same time he doesn’t agree with their positions on a lot of issues. I’m impressed by the finesse with which he’s handling himself. But I’m still wary of the people around him. And it’s still not clear who will hold important cabinet positions if he does become president. I want to make sure that no one is pulling his strings, that he won’t be so politically indebted to the party that it will compromise the decisions he’ll make in the future. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt though. Thus far he seems to be his own man. I don’t believe that if elected he will merely be the party’s lapdog.
  12. Gibo is a bar topnotcher and a Harvard magna cum laude. He is intelligent. Unlike many of the candidates out there, Gibo doesn’t fumble for answers. He knows what he’s talking about. I’m impressed by the depth of his understanding of issues. (In this interview with National Artist F Sionil Jose, he answered all the questions impressively, and I particularly liked his answers on poverty, population management, and the Philippines’ “damaged culture.” He quoted Mancur Olson and Thomas Friedman in the same breath and is apparently a neo-institutionalist. Be still my heart!) He’s not afraid to take tough stances, he will say things other candidates are afraid to say (e.g. disarm government and non-government groups in ARMM, yes to comprehensive reproductive health program). As far as I’m concerned he’s out-performed all the other candidates in the presidential debates.
  13. Gibo is strong and confident, but I see no traces of ego whatsoever. I like that. He does not see himself as a messiah; he is offering himself up as a humble public servant.
  14. Gibo exudes sincerity. I feel like I can trust him, and his public record suggests he is deserving of that trust. He is untainted by allegations of corruption, and is by all accounts an honest man. Noynoy isn’t the only one with a legacy to protect. Gibo is proud of his name and has carefully guarded his reputation.
  15. Ma’am Winnie’s criticism of Gibo isn’t even really criticism. She’s holding his “galing at talino” against him because GMA supposedly has those qualities but she turned out to be a lousy president. She’s holding his eloquence against him because Marcos was a great public speaker. Should we not elect intelligent presidents just because they’ve screwed us over in the past? We elected a dumb president (i.e. Erap) and that didn’t turn out so well for us either. Intelligence is not enough to ensure a good president. But neither is moral uprightness (e.g. Cory).

* It would seem that someone wants to use Winnie Monsod’s influence to win votes for Noynoy. Ma’am Winnie says she did not write the “Why I Will Vote for Noynoy” statement that has been attributed to her. I’m kind of relieved. I was surprised when I first read it, having previously heard her views on Noynoy. My reactions to the piece are the same regardless of who wrote it though.


11 Responses

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  1. You’re so on the nose about why this guy’s supporters are annoying. The guy is not the brightest bulb in the Christmas tree and they just can’t deal with it. And if a person came up to me and started sorting people into “good” and “evil” categories, I’d ask a psychiatrist to check if s/he had borderline personality disorder.
    And now his supporters have churned out (badly written) opinion pieces they attribute to battle-tested intellectuals. One would think those claiming to be the “good team” would not resort to such shenanigans.


    March 11, 2010 at 1:25 am

    • Thanks. I was really shocked when I first read the piece because (1) I’d heard Ma’am Winnie express her opinions on the presidential candidates before and this was a complete 180; and (2) Ma’am Winnie would have to be heavily medicated or something for her to commit grammatical errors like “taken CARED of.” I was so relieved to find out that she hadn’t written it.


      March 19, 2010 at 12:49 am

  2. Mareng Winnie rocks. Conrado de Quiros sucks.


    March 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    • She does indeed. I’m not a fan of Conrado de Quiros either, although I tolerated him better before he went all lovey-dovey on Noynoy.


      March 19, 2010 at 12:53 am

      • De Quiros has really gone all weird with all the Noynoy love. Maybe the 60s is finally catching up with him. Poor guy. But, geez, so many people are joining the Noynoy bandwagon. Manuel Quezon, in his Inquirer column, gushes about how Aquino is known for being the last man standing at sessions in both houses of legislature. While it’s true that the likes of Lapid and Revilla have not exactly raised the bar on legislative discourse, the likes of Miriam Defensor, Johnny Enrile, Teddy Locsin, and Ronaldo Zamora do keep the standards higher than Aquino can manage. The only way he could’ve been last man standing is if his asinine statements got everyone rolling on the floor laughing.


        March 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm

  3. You have just enlightened someone who’s not updated with Philippine politics. Some light must be shed to the majority of the Filipino people in order for them to see that there are options. Prior to reading this, I have already been rooting for Gibo.


    March 18, 2010 at 12:22 am

    • I just came from Maguindanao and majority of the people I talked to there are supporting Villar. TV/radio ads are most effective with them, and the “dagat ng basaura” really strikes a chord. They don’t care so much about credentials or track record or performance in debates. They think because Villar was (allegedly) poor he understands them and will help them. It’s depressing.


      March 19, 2010 at 1:02 am

  4. […] Why does Noynoy have a monopoly of morality? What good is his so-called morality if he doesn’t have the intelligence to understand the nation’s problems or the will to implement politically difficult solutions? Where does his moral ascendancy come from? From his parents? On one hand, Noynoy supporters say we shouldn’t judge Noynoy on the basis of Kamag-anak, Inc. On the other, they expect us to accept his Moral Leadership on the basis of Ninoy and Cory. Ano ba talaga? Should we judge a person by their blood relations or not? Stripped of the Cory Magic and the Aquino Legacy and the messianic narratives that people have woven around him, what are we left with to judge Noynoy? Let us consider his personal merit, or lack thereof. […]

  5. “he was so spaced out that they wondered if he was autistic”

    so what if he is autistic? do you have something against autistic people? einstein was said to be autistic. he was offered the presidency of israel. bill gates, thomas jefferson (3rd president of the us), andrew jackson (7th president of the us), abraham lincoln (16th president and for many, the greatest president of the us), and thomas edison also are considered/rumored to have autism. so what if they’re autistic? there’s nothing funny and nothing bad about being autistic.


    March 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    • I’m merely retelling what the community organizers in Nueva Ecija said. They said they thought he was autistic. They were describing his behavior, which resembled the behavior of an autistic person. No one said there was anything “funny” or “bad” about autism. Neither they nor I have anything against autistic people.

      Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. [link] There are varying degrees of autism, some autistic people are able to cope with everyday life better than others. If a presidential candidate were autistic, the public should be concerned about whether or not his/her disorder will interfere with his/her duties. It may or it may not, but either way the public has the right to know and the right to question his/her ability to perform his/her mandated functions.


      March 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  6. My dad was able to get to know Mr Teodoro before he ran for president. He told us(me, my mom and sisters) that Gibo is a Good Man, when we asked him about who he’s rooting for. Now that is admirable, because a Good man Does not Label himself as Good. Unlike the other candidates who’re trying desperately to please the public.

    “It’s going to be a grim day when the world is run by a generation that doesn’t know anything but what it’s seen on TV.” – Bill Watterson

    that’s the philippines when noynoy becomes president. It’ll be a very grim day for our country. First, we get overun by jejemons, and then we are governed by Mr Noynoy Aquino and his sister. Hurrah hurrah


    May 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm

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