Saturday, August 18, 2012

A First Class Philippines: President Benigno S. Aquino III

This call is being made at least 10 years before history will reveal its truth. President Noynoy Aquino is a first class President. He is representing the Philippines in ways it has never before been represented, the way it needs to be represented.

Honestly, with power, capability, courage, intelligence and good intent.

Perfectly? Ahahahahahaha.

I didn't say he was Jesus. I said he is first class, doing the job better than your or I or any of the men who ran against him could have done it. Better than most predecessors did it as far as I can tell. Infinitely better than his two immediate predecessors.

When Mr. Aquino was running for office, I saw him as soft and pliable. I anticipated that his staff and handlers and benefactors would run him. He wouldn't run them. I believe "puppet" was the term I used, and I herein retract that foolish utterance and grovel ferociously in the lush red Philippine dirt in abject humiliation.

Well, I don't actually, but I do admit I was wrong.

We all come with a certain chemistry attached, our personality and portfolio of acts and the people in our lives supporting or urging or critiquing us. Some of us walk fairly alone. Others have hundreds of people attached. Or if they are on Facebook, thousands. The limitations of our knowledge, our openness or closure to ideas, our creative moxie or laziness. They are a part of our chemistry. Our ability to feel things, for ourselves or others. The way we talk, shyly or direct. Our need for accomplishment or the peace of a quiet beach. This is the chemistry of us.

President Aquino is blessed with the heart of his mother and the determined courage of his father.

Who among us, raised deeply and richly Catholic, would have the courage to step to the pulpit and say the two words that finally, finally, finally put the well-being of the Philippines ahead of subordinate but powerful religious interests.

"Responsible parenthood."

As his father returned to Manila to a hostility that he knew was dangerous, his son stepped to the podium in his 2012 SONA and said what is best for the Philippines to people who might be inclined to condemn his soul to Hell.  He has followed that up with urgings to the Legislature to vote, not for their personal advantage, but for the well-being of the nation.

Should the good but frustrated Catholic wise men try to consign Mr. Aquino to Hell, the God of my Church, the Church of Man, will welcome him and bless him for eternity and  . . . I'd like to imagine . . . keep a cozy, happy place available for him, well stocked with Porsches, high powered computers with every game in the world on them, including Pac Man, and lots of pretty girls who may or may not be virgins. Some details do not overly concern our God. He respects people's privacy.

The chemistry of President Aquino includes a determination that sometimes gets him into trouble. He interjected himself into the Corona trial inappropriately, politically; he tried to jam Ms. De Lima into the Chief Justice Chair, never minding that she would be tainted for her entire career as "biased", and the courts would somehow be less independent. It is this same determination that keeps him on the backs of his staff to make sure his orders are followed. The 31 DENR officials fired for not enforcing the logging ban felt his determination. Maybe Customs will, too. They are two of the more recalcitrant, corrupt agencies in the Philippines.

His determination is the hard side of his good intentions.

The chemistry of President Aquino includes trust. Trust that his people will work earnestly to fulfill the promises of his mandate for clean government. I expect the Philippines to rocket up in the rankings on the Transparency International survey by the time Mr. Aquino is done with his leadership. I believe in the trickle-down theory of honorable governance, and trust, in an executive setting, is generally rewarded with output.

I do hope he starts hunting down extrajudicial murderers with a passion. It is one more very tangible step to a less corrupt Philippines. It says "we are not a nation of vigilantes; we believe in law, and we believe in order under that law."

Mr. Aquino is not an ego-maniac like his predecessor, finding some kind of kinky satisfaction in seeing his face plastered across the nation on every construction project in the land. He stands WITH people on the podium, not OVER them like so many other stuffed shirt politicians. His chemistry is as normal as normal can be. Is there a worthwhile event to attend? He'll be there to support the people who are supporting him.

His kindness is the soft side of his good intentions.

His feathers get ruffled by the knee-jerk Philippine media, always out looking for dirt. Dirt rather than substance. Perhaps he was a little caddish in ripping ABS-CBN at their birthday party, but his point was important. They are self regulated, and they do a sloppy job of it. His point is that the media need to be more professional, more objective, more knowledgeable, and more responsible. He is right.

Perhaps his handing out relief supplies during a flood disaster was too blatantly political during tragic circumstances. Yet he is not running for any office, and I can believe that he sincerely DOES want to help people.

I've thought about the demands on the President. China in one ear, the Catholic Church in the other, and Gloria screaming in the background. Something like 17 cabinet secretariats, each with a plateful of responsibilities and demands demanding his time, and his direction. But I get the feeling they are pulling together, not against one another. He cuts across the departments with cluster groups aimed at his complex top priorities. Like fighting poverty. He has good men and women in charge, working earnestly. Mar Roxas. Foreign Secretary Del Rosario. Tourism Secretary Jimenez. Even Justice Secretary De Lima, whom I fault for excessive, expressive lip, is unquestioningly dedicated to doing the job she is assigned.

These people are not lollygagging around sucking off the taxpayer, enjoying a leisurely and enriching few years on the throne. They are working for the Philippines. And the conductor, the man with the baton, relates to them as men and women of equal stature. Not underlings to admonish like children. He speaks. He listens. He thinks. He decides. He acts.

This man's chemistry is precious, to the Philippines. Honestly, with power, capability, courage, intelligence and good intent.

I've always thought the Philippines needed an executive president, and Mr. Aquino is of that style. A guy with his eyes on the goals, a guy with the courage to find strong people to run important agencies, a guy willing to listen and speak forthrightly. An honest man, a good man.

Look about. Who would do the job better?

No one that I can see.

You have a complaint? Speak it, forthrightly, without accusation. He'll listen.

You have a commendation? He'd probably like to hear that, too, considering all the complaining he has to hear.

You love the Philippines?

Great. So does Mr. Aquino.

He is his father's son as much as his mother's. That was the surprise for me. His father, we understand now, loved the Philippines enough to risk his life to return home to seek the presidency.

It is somehow intensely rewarding to see the son honoring the father now, not just in thought, but in deed.

32 comments:

  1. Joe,

    I always thought that Mr. Aquino is good for the country and you just confirmed it today. Has excellent quality deserving the Church of man award.

    Its Jack

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    1. Jack's back. Thanks. I think he is exceptional, but gets beat up a lot in the cross fire of people who can't adjust to a Philippines that is moving toward good behavior.

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    2. Good to be back Joe.

      Responsible Parenthood would be Aquino's legacy and as good as JFK's ask not what your country ....

      You are doing a fine job reminding us what is responsible parenthood. Unfortunately, the major TV networks are mute. Why oh Why?

      Its Jack

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  2. Wow. It's always refreshing to read a positive article about the President. I think he deserves it. Good piece, sir.

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    1. Thank you, rona. Good of you to stop by and comment.

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  3. "President Aquino is blessed with the heart of his mother and the determined courage of his father...." I believe he is the President the Philippines have been waiting for, but Pinoys need to help him improve our country. Let's start with DISCIPLINE, HONESTY, & remove CRAB MENTALITY. Bow!

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    1. You know, that is about the most important advice I've seen in a long time. Mr. Aquino is indeed not Atlas, or Superman. He is setting the tone and getting a lot done. But the key is the people, how they act, and who they vote for. Thanks!

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  4. I was deeply moved by your last words:

    "He is his father's son as much as his mother's. That was the surprise for me. His father, we understand now, loved the Philippines enough to risk his life to return home to seek the presidency.

    It is somehow intensely rewarding to see the son honoring the father now, not just in thought, but in deed."

    This article is a great piece. Unbiased.

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    1. I'm passing along what I felt when Mr. Aquino made the "responsible parenthood" statement. It was like a shot of boldness that I did not expect, something I would have expected from his father. I suddenly saw him differently, as his determination to do what is right of the Philippines came front and center.

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  5. What a great read! Thanks for the this. I was just reading such a biased and negative article by Carmen Pedrosa against the President. Disturbing. She was accusing him of denying GMA her rights among other things.

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    1. Michael, I edited from my report a blast at the "anti's" as it detracted from the positive tone I wanted to express. For many "anti's", they have so long been holding onto views they have to defend, not because they are right, but because they have held the views. So they have to justify them. I don't worry about the anti's much anymore, as they are whistling in a cold wind, mostly to themselves.

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  6. From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)

    1. Good comprehensive profile! I will always support
    anyone who endevors to set a good example of leadership,
    citizenship, and produces positive results! Moreover
    a person who demonstrates what it means to be self-
    directed, the responsibilities of citizenship and the
    obligations thereof!

    2. Question Please: Who is in the "wings" that is
    qualified enough to become the next "hero" of the
    islands? Will they be strong enough to carry on the
    needed reforms, help put a first class qualifed group
    of public servants and elected officals into office to
    protect, serve and look after the best interests of
    public safety?

    3. It seems like the past governments have been more
    reactive than proactive: (have ignored doing the right
    thing-recommended by qualified expert studies as trade
    off for quick fixes that fall short of the mark!).
    a. Example number one: The government just discovered
    that we need to build sidewalks for pedestrians (Metro
    Manila has a outdated building code which favored
    stuffing the pockets of fat cat developers)!

    b. Example number two: Metro cities have never required
    that public transportation providers have anykind of
    insurance to operate any PUV (includes bus, jeepney,
    passenger trikes, and taxi-shuttle services)!

    c. The "experts" have now just "discovered" that Manila
    Metro Cities are "sinking" from ground water depletion
    and the pressure/weight of over building, etc..!

    d. The infastructure does not support the population
    needs! Due to bad government management and urban
    renewal planning the public "pressure cooker" is
    blowing off steam due to grid-lock! Now the government
    is blaming the vehicle drivers for having bad manners,
    driver-training, ethics, morals, etc..!
    lack of discipline and control!

    Question: Is it too late to vote (hire) into office a
    qualified set of university educated public administrators,
    business-cpa-management types-to address (provide workable
    solutions) to the chaos, current disasters and future
    crisis which our islands face?

    Chrip!

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    1. Hey-Jim-e, a clink of ice to you this fine Saturday. I don't see Mr. Aquino as a hero, but a good solid president. I'd like to see a surprise presidential candidate for 2016 rather than Binay, Roxas, Gordon and the old crowd. Maybe someone like Tourism Secretary Jimenez, a proven executive, or some other business man. The problem is that the system here is set up to arm-wrestle up to the top those with the most favors to trade. But maybe somebody can get the people to speak again, about a fresh face.

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    2. Nice one, JoeAm. One good thing about Pnoy is the impression he gives that he chooses his battles well. Corona. GMA. Ombudsman Merceditas G. We may not like his stalling on FOI, Human Rights agenda, etc. but we get the sense that he's doing something and we appreciate tangible results. Even RH is not a full-on battle, maybe because of the memory of his mother's religiosity or that of his sisters. But mind you, he's giving me the impression, after that mention of Responsible Parenthood in his SONA, that he's taking the cudgels for women. I remember that I was bit let down when he bought that damn Porsche that he later sold. Well, he's definitely getting his groove...

      DocB

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    3. Thanks, Doc. Yes, I need to pick apart the House to understand it better. It does not really seem to have an interest in building a progressive Philippines, and I'm not sure why. RH, FOI, Divorce . . . these should be pushed to bring the Philippines into the modern world. I think Mr. Aquino is ahead of the curve, but he has to play within a pen of political realities that is not so progressive.

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  7. Careful, Joe. The GRP people will definitely eat you alive for this post of yours.

    Anyway, to protect yourself, keep these classified information in mind:

    benign0 - Mr. Benedict Ignacio
    ilda - Mrs. Imelda Claravall-Ignacio

    These are their real names.

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    1. I'm not sure why they'd be upset. benigno, upon tossing me from GRP, effectively said I was a "nobody". How can they be upset if I speak my mind elsewhere? I thought they were FOR free speech and democratic values.

      Are you suggesting they are hypocrites? And dangerous ones?

      Interesting . . .

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    2. Joe, you know how that couple operates...to say that they are hypocrites (and dangerous ones) are already understatements.

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  8. 1. I want to contribute to the positive tone of this article. But I find I already have made two fine statements in the past about the President. So with my kind permission, I would like to plagiarize myself:

    a. On http://www.rappler.com/nation/7862-pnoy-i-m-the-chief-executive-of-this-country last month

    "PNoy seems to have a vision, a mission, and a vocation. The vision is that government should not be oppressive, that it should serve the interests of the people. The mission is that the he must turn around the country from decades of misrule and make the vision a reality. The vocation is that the cause for which his Dad died for and that his Mom advanced is his obligation to complete. He is devoting his ‘second’ life, sans wife and family, to this unfinished work, this great task.

    "May the sacrifices that he and his parents have made be not in vain."

    b. On Compelling needs 2 weeks ago

    "There is method to PNoy's incivility. He recognizes faults embedded in our national psyche. He started with the identification and analysis of the wang-wang mentality (fault: entitlement). He has gone on to present in-your-face criticisms of Corona (faults: partisanship and corruption) and de Castro (fault: negativism, partisanship, and non-performance). What he is attempting to do is to change reality by changing perceptions. Our mindset is the stumbling block to progress. It is, if you like, the shell of an egg that encompasses our current reality. It must be cracked open for new life to emerge into a greater reality. We should be thankful that PNoy is using a spoon and not a sledgehammer to do the cracking."

    Edit: I have added "partisanship and non-performance" to De Castro's faults.

    2. Re @DocB comments above:

    2.1. I, too, have a sense of a stall on the FOI Bill. Has he backtracked on his promise? Or is it a strategy on his part not to spread himself too thin?

    2.2. On the RH Bill, I have a different view. PNoy just uttered two words, but I tend to believe those two-words were a battle cry for the mother-of-all-battles. The foe is an entrenched institution almost 5 centuries old, with rank officers in the House, the Senate and the media, and an army of believers.

    3. I agree the President is first-class. But a measure of greatness is sometimes the ability to co-opt the enemy. By rights, the next CJ should be Carpio but there are doubts that he will be anointed by the President. We do not know why Carpio is considered a foe. There is nothing in his judicial decisions that do not indicate integrity and independence; and he has begun judiciary reforms. Is it because of something in Carpio's past, his so-called baggage? Or is it because of the political futures of Senator Escudero, the lone JBC member who did not vote for him, and his allies? Whatever it is, harnessing the talents of Carpio might prove to be a losing gamble or a stroke of genius. Only time will tell.

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    1. Well, at least when you steal material, you grab it from a reputable source, not some quack doctor in a foreign country.

      Your assessment of the President is indeed "fine", and I particularly like your "method to the incivility" perspective.

      Not to quibble overly much, but re. 2.2, President Aquino followed up his SONA by asking legislators to vote on the RH Bill for the good of the Philippines, not for self-benefit.

      The Chief Justice selection will be fun to analyze. You do it. I ain't a gonna.

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  9. The President makes a great case for why the quietly confident and competent introverts should now take over the reins from the more socially astute but oftentimes vacuous extroverts that litter the political landscape.

    Like most introverts, the President does not derive his energies from being in a social environment and is therefore not overly concerned with gaining social approval ; he does not need to be the center of attention and is therefore able to step back, listen to other ideas as well as allow his people to make their own contribution; and he is not wont to rushing in and pushing forward on an issue without thinking things through and considering a multitude of options.

    These probably explain the initial holding back that seemed to characterize his first year in office; which a lot of people mistook for inaction, even laziness on his part. He took his time to get a good grasp of the enormous challenge ahead of his administration, weighed his options and decided on his priorities and plan of action.

    And then like most introverts, once he has set his mind on to something, he follows this through with dogged determination and almost stubborn single-mindedness .

    What this President may seem to lack in terms of personality and charisma in a largely extrovert driven world, he more than makes up for in character and principled leadership.

    Supporting him is a whole army of introverts like him; thinkers and tinkerers who have found their voice through social media. They prod him on; they take it upon themselves to dig deeper and expose the fallacies of arguments of those opposing his agenda; they articulate their opinions on social and political issues clearly and intelligently. They, like their President, have become a force to reckon with.

    With quiet strength, they and their Commander-in-Chief are changing this country.




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    1. Wonderfully stated.

      " . . . competent introverts should now take over the reins from the more socially astute but oftentimes vacuous extroverts that litter the political landscape."

      hear hear!!!

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    2. Nice comment, Cha. As a wise person once said, "Empty cans make the loudest noise."

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    3. Cha, wonderful and astute commentary.

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  10. Dear Joe,
    I read your article to the president and the rest of our family after dinner tonight. PNoy was quiet and introspective tonight because of deep worry for Secretary Robredo and his family. I mentioned to him that I was forwarded your blog post and that it was a good read. He asked me to just read it aloud for everybody. Thank you for the encouraging words. My family said to use my connections to find out your identity, but I said the fact that we don't know you personally (at least not that we are aware of) makes your insights unbiased.
    Again, thank you for wanting my brother to succeed. I hope that he will live up and exceed all your positive expectations of him.

    Sincerely,
    Kris Aquino
    (my twitter account is @aquinokristina if you wish to reach me)

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. I hope he enjoyed the bit about the Porsches. Thank you for letting me know he read it. Inspiration is a spiral, I think. Once it gets going, it feeds on itself. I wish President Aquino much inspiration, because he gives a lot to others.

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    3. How interesting Joe, whatever the case maybe, the Presidential security detail might inquire who you are.

      It is really good, your blog was on the Presidential dining table.

      Its Jack

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    4. Interesting, indeed, considering that the article contained both compliments and "suggestions". I'll be inserting an e-mail address at the top of the blog so that the work of said security detail can be made easy and cost efficient.

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  11. Congrats, Joe. You are making an impact, and it's a positive one.

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    1. Yes, the articles seem to hit some chords of pride and patriotism now and then, eh? Well, the Philippines is rich in its own ways, and absolutely loaded with potential. So what's with all the grousing and negativity. Let's suck it up, get responsible, and get to work.

      Rather like you and your commentaries which I seem to find everywhere!

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