The lowness of the standards we apply to ourselves never ceases to amaze me. Even while we aspire to world-class achievement, we measure ourselves using scales that make our uniquely-Filipino flavor of mediocrity look golden.
So too in what we consider to be the “achievement” of this year’s presidential elections. As if one did not already get an attack of the cringes whenever we remember how we presume to award ourselves the honour of having “invented” “people power” back in 1986, another columnist from the Inquirer.net steps to the plate to add another item to the museum of imagined Filipino achievement. Artemio Panganiban, in a recent column on the Inquirer.net described Noynoy Aquino‘s win in the hands of the vacuous Filipino electorate, thus:
Our people handed Noynoy Aquino the most overwhelming mandate since our present Constitution took effect in 1987. They opted for a peaceful transition of power, no longer by staging mammoth street rallies, but by rolling a tsunami of votes that could not be stopped by cheating, computer glitches, human errors, carelessness and logistical lapses.
Ermmm, last I heard, undertaking peaceful transitions of power and not staging mammoth street rallies were things the rest of the world did on a routine basis when changing their leaders. Turning what should be a routine exercise into a showcase of Pinoy “achievement” is the result of the kind of thinking we’ve long come to expect of the sort of people who claim “overwhelming mandates” after mustering a 40% vote. That’s just the old renowned pwede-na-yan tradition rearing its head from the dark shadows of the underbelly of the Filipino psyche.
But Panganiban quite wisely does not count on the stunted faculties of the Inquirer readership to interpret subtleties. He goes on to make his message quite crystalline in its clarity:
“[Filipinos] invented a new form of People Power to reshape the Philippine landscape.”
Wow. A new form of “People Power”. Just what we need.
I wonder what the rest of the 60 percent who did not vote for Noynoy Aquino are thinking now that they have been summarily excluded from this neo-“People Power” that Panganiban pitches? It begs the question of what defines the words “our people” that Panganiban uses to open his article. Never mind too that there is still some question around the soundness of how the election was conducted as far as the other offices that need to be filled.
That kinda puts a damper on the “conclusion” Panganiban makes after the rather unsound premises he starts with:
I think it was destiny and legacy, not dynasty, that propelled Noynoy to the top and kindled his passion to liberate his people from corruption and poverty.
Hmmmm, destiny and legacy and “not dynasty”? That remains to be seen, specially in light of the shadow now being cast upon the landscape of Philippine business by the circling vultures comprising Kamaganak Inc. Then again one can argue that Noynoy Aquino does indeed represent the destiny of the Filipino. It is a destiny of furthering the renowned mediocrity that the rest of the world has come to associate the concept of “Filipino” with.
Panganiban thinks otherwise (my boldface added):
This thunderous triumph of People Power so impressed the international community that many ambassadors, led by those of the United States (Harry K. Thomas Jr.), China (Liu Jianchao), Japan (Makoto Katsura) and the European Union (Alistair MacDonald), laid aside legalities and diplomatese to congratulate our new leader even before the formal process of ballot canvassing had begun.
Again, Mr Panganiban, it depends on your standards of what it means to be impressed. For if the heads of these societies were truly impressed with Filipinos, they’d scramble to address the truly revealing way that Philippine passport holders are routinely regarded at their borders and ports of entry.