It is said that even God leaves His throne to go meet and bless a chosen leader being proclaimed on earth. Welcome to the club! This makes sense because who else understands a leader than another leader? I guess it’s why inaugurations for national leaders take place in a church as with Queen Elizabeth II or at least within a religious rite of some sort. So if only that leader takes advantage of that blessing, he or she can be assured of a long and meaningful leadership.
But apart from that wonderful Tunay na Pagbabago (real change) rendition by the singer Freddie Aguilar, what struck me most with today’s inauguration rites for President and Vice President is the breaking away from traditionally-held norms.
Our concept of qualities in a leader. In our minds, he or she epitomizes superhumanness if not perfection in every way. In marriage life. Social life. Economic standing. But, President Duterte and VP Robredo taking their oaths on stage are pictures of imperfection which sends out to the nation a strong message and emotionally-laden symbolism of, as what VP Leni Robredo promised in her speech, “making the impossible possible”.
VP Leni Robredo, is by way of widowhood, a relatively young single mother to three teenaged children and she went on stage as this. President Duterte is known to have gone against the grain in almost every way. As was with VP Robredo, he stepped onto the stage with his children. Both are almost everything that former heads of this country were not. Yet they command respect. And today they’re both raised up by the people as the most important individuals in the land. This fact will no less go down in Philippine history.
Filipinos abroad bemoan the discrimination they are subjected to now and then but are we also aware that in our own country we too are a discriminatory lot? Even in remote places that NSO enlists as poor and where I didn’t expect it, I’ve come across tight distinctions between haves and have-nots (yes even among the poor), deeply-entrenched example of ne’er the twain shall meet. In mainstream society this mindset is there but takes on subtler and more sophisticated forms. That has not been the way of the Filipino native. These things have been learned and passed on to present generations.
But in this elections, especially at the President and Vice President levels, Filipinos have shown that they have started or will start to break from rules that discriminate and clearly haven’t worked, discern what is essential from superficial, separate wheat from chaff.
As for former President Noynoy, kudos to him too. He has maintained grace under pressure. No leader ever has got it all together. It is wishful thinking for people to expect that in any leader. What a leader can and will do is to give his best. He may have, if given his way, force the nation by it’s ears to walk paths that he thought were best but on one hand an effective leader is not a dictator. His “failure” to connect with the poor is understandable. Obviously it wasn’t to be his role. Sometimes because of the deep divide between classes the poor themselves question the elite’s motive for wanting to connect with them. What does this guy really want from us? What’s his game? Probably he’s out to squeeze us but not before we squeeze him dry first. Basically, shit people throw at each other. This mindset puts up invisible walls preventing one from forming meaningful relationship with the other. And, he may have faltered in many of his actions and decisions but those were his to make based on the information and context he was faced with at the time. In the end without condoning mediocrity and criminality,
To be imperfect is honorable.*
Cheers to Filipinos for sustaining a peaceful and more vibrant election period! Indeed, the Filipino can!
*quote by the actress, director, and entrepreneur Lake Bell in her interview on More magazine, September 2015.