Respected news magazine TIME recently featured a profile of Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino and there was really nothing much in the article that could convince anyone to vote for him. First, they noticed the frail figure of Noynoy and how unimpressive he is in person:
[…] Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III slouches in his chair, a glass of Coke in one hand and a cigarette in another. He’s tired and bleary-eyed and wracked by a cold.
[…] Yet when 50-year-old Noynoy emerged, hunched and bespectacled, amid blaring music and streams of confetti, he cut an awkward figure. Shirt loose, pants baggy and hair thinning, he looked more an abashed computer nerd […]
It’s not that there is anything wrong with looking like a computer nerd, but it would have been better if he were a real nerd. We’ve all noticed it before, how Noynoy does not have the same charisma as his father; how, when he is in rallies and doing the standard meet and greet, it’s as if he is too frail to be doing it. No wonder he needs the help of his sister Kris, a popular showbiz personality, to keep the crowd entertained.
The TIME article was trying to be balanced and it probably looks so to the average Filipino. But to the discerning reader, the message is inescapable — the subtle reference to the fact that Aquino is part of the status quo that he is promising to overhaul jumps out. Consider this excerpt:
Frozen in time yet, for all the zeal he inspires, Aquino himself is also a product of the status quo. Both his parents, Ninoy and Cory, came from pedigreed stock — landed aristocratic families that have long been part of the ruling establishment. Similarly, Aquino’s vice-presidential running mate, Mar Roxas, is the grandson of Manuel Roxas, the country’s first President. Arroyo, their erstwhile foe, is the daughter of Diosdado Macapagal, another President from the early days of the republic. And though they eventually faced each other as enemies, Ninoy and Marcos were members of the same fraternity at an elite Philippine university. Like a pantomime of ancient Rome, Manila’s political landscape has been shaped for generations by the intimacies and vendettas of an entrenched rank of patricians.
It is crystal clear that a Noynoy win does not guarantee a complete change unless he completely cuts off ties with his family just to implement the necessary changes in the system. We all know this is not going to happen. We all know that out of respect for his late mother and their family’s allies, the policies that were implemented by members of the inner circle, will remain untouched. It is going to be business as usual for the landowners in Hacienda Luisita and the rest of the oligarchies (and their personal empires — e.g. PLDT, Globe Telecom, ABS-CBN).
The irony of what Noynoy promises — to change the problem that he is part of — escapes him and his followers. From the same article, I quote Greg Rushford, a Washington-based expert on trade who has monitored the Philippines for over 30 years, “The basics for success are here, at least in terms of human capital. But there is a lack of seriousness in the political leadership — institutions are dominated by an uncaring wealthy class.” To which I add: Isn’t Noynoy Aquino part of that wealthy class? He might care but we have to ask, was he actually actively participating in advocating real change before he was asked to run for the presidency? I don’t think so. Why are we only hearing him now and how come he hasn’t been vocal about it before? Could it be because he remained in the shadow of his late mother until she passed away? Forced to come out now, I wonder how Noynoy is going to address this problem:
“There are ties of clan, family and region that are stronger than the nation,” says Ramon Casiple, a leading political commentator in Manila. “To this day, it’s all about patronage.”
It is becoming more and more obvious that any aspiring candidate who is not part of the club or doesn’t have any patronage coming from the members of the oligarchy will be labelled “too ambitious” to be good for the country. It’s hard for a self-made man to enter into politics for it has become exclusive only to club members of the old elite. This is what Filipinos should rise up against. Sadly, Filipinos are still beholden to the members of the oligarchy that Noynoy is a part of.
Unfortunately, TIME must have spoken to a lot people who gave biased information about Noynoy’s backers. The article is claiming that according to Noynoy’s party, their campaign is operating on a shoestring budget. Never mind that they have the biggest media network behind them, the biggest celebrity endorser for a sister and the entire Conjuangco clan who have more money than Manny Villar. Indeed, so far, the Liberal Party hasn’t been so transparent about who funds Noynoy’s campaign. Case in point, and not surprisingly, the Inquirer.net quickly jumped at the chance to splash the “good news” of Noynoy’s feature on the 26th April edition of TIME Magazine on its front pages. With friends like these, who needs big campaign budgets?
The rest of the article was devoted to how the Filipino mob who greets Noynoy and his party at his rally reminisce the first people power revolution’s euphoric atmosphere. There were more references about Cory and her administration than Noynoy’s accomplishments as a public servant. Obviously, the crowd is romanticizing the election. Noynoy’s lack of accomplishments was, in fact, noted on the article. If it weren’t for the ample amount of material that could be used to reminisce about Cory’s ascent to power, the author would not have had much to work with.
According to Noynoy “The campaign, is quickening something ‘dormant’ in the Filipino people.” Hang on a minute, was Noynoy himself “dormant” all this time? It’s not like he was in exile and it’s not like he wasn’t free to wake the people from their apathy all these years even while his mother was still alive. From where I’m sitting, Noynoy could have done more as a senator to remove the people from their “dormant” state.
People of the Philippines, please open your eyes and see the irony in Noynoys campaign. You, the Filipino people he is talking about had to force Noynoy to come out of his shell, his “dormant” state just so that you, the Filipino people he is talking about can come out of your “dormant” state”. Why did Noynoy and the Filipino people fall dormant in the first place? It’s because the average Filipino who is busy with his day to day life is not fully aware of the fact that the oligarchs themselves are controlling the way people live through the goods and services they sell. The question is, is Noynoy really aware of the enormity of the task he is faced with? I don’t think so. He is also beholden to the oligarch’s world himself. Why do you think ABS-CBN is running shows about the Edsa revolutions and the life of Cory during the campaign period? It’s to keep the so called Aquino legacy alive.
It seems to be that the euphoric atmosphere is being created by the party to which Noynoy belongs to and Noynoy, whether or not he is aware of it, is too intoxicated by all the attention to notice that he is just being used to advance the party’s own agendas. There’s just too much talk of yellow ribbons and of how it was during the Edsa revolution. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the days of Cory and People Power” says Romy Mercado, a friend of Aquino’s since high school and a close aide.
C’mon people, Elvis is dead and so are Marcos, Cory and Ninoy. As far as I know, they haven’t perfected the science of cloning yet and Noynoy is just a pale shadow of his father. As Winnie Monsod said so herself ” Aquino doesn’t have his father’s charisma, but he has his mother’s sincerity. Whether that’s enough, I don’t know.” Well, it wasn’t enough for Cory and it won’t be enough for Noynoy to save the Philippines.
And just as Noynoy is not Ninoy so too is Gloria Arroyo so not Marcos the dictator. We don’t need an Edsa revolution and we don’t need to organize a people power rally. There is an election on the 10th of May and Noynoy Aquino should not even be part of it. “By his own admission, Aquino would not be running at all had it not been for the massive outpouring of public grief and affection that followed his mother’s death from cancer last August.” Let us vote for someone else, someone who’s name is not Aquino because it is the year 2010 — not 1986.