The following are the words newly-minted President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III reported to the Media after having received a courtesy telephone call from outgoing President Gloria Arroyo who wished to congratulate him on his appointment to the Presidency:
I have to give her the courtesies. She's the current President. She's older than me. She's a woman. I would be doing injustice to my parents if I did not treat her properly.
The Inquirer.net true to its excellent form reported this statement more with the aim of highlighting the "awkwardness" of how Arroyo's phone call came across to President Aquino. Unfortunately when seen outside of the square that is the tiny mind of the average Inquirer.net reader, it is really that five-sentence snippet quoted above as coming from the mouth of the new leader of the Filipino people that stands out. Indeed, in five sentences, Noynoy reveals more about his character than what the Inquirer.net, in doing its job as the Aquinoists' private publicist, tries to highlight as Arroyo's "awkwardness".
Lack of grace.
Arroyo extended her courtesies to the new occupant of the Office of the President, and Noynoy's response to it (exhibited in the above-quoted underhanded report to the Media) exhibits a lack of an ability to take such courtesies at face value. What was a phone call regarding his ascent to the presidency and the next six years as President, was made by its recipient to be all about the caller (a) being a woman, and (b) being "older" — a kind of an attempt to deconstruct the call to make it digestible by the smaller mind of the cloistered politicians' son. Indeed, consistent with my armchair psychoanalysis, I note how the recipient described the rationale of the nature of such a response as being in deference to the memory of his parents.
But of course. Ultimately it is still all about Noynoy being an Aquino.
Get yourselves a double espresso shot as there are more subtleties in the exploration that follows that can easily fly over the head of the average Pinoy mind…
So what if Arroyo is a woman?
A man who makes a big deal about extending fundamental courtesies to a woman could be revealing a deep-seated overall issue with women in general.
So what if Arroyo is "older"?
Perhaps this rather glib taking up of the matter of Arroyo's age relative to his is an ominous portent of how he will be regarding the views of younger people.
Indeed, his seeming strong inclination to make summary categorisations of people — a penchant for putting people in boxes and/or cutting them down to sizes his stunted mind could deal with — is consistent with the way he treated a Japanese reporter who politely asked him to repeat what he had so far said in his first press conference after his proclamation as President.
During the press conference after his official proclamation as the country's 15th president, for instance, Aquino refused the request of a Japanese journalist to repeat in English his answers about his plans for his first 100 days in office because he had repeatedly answered the question in Filipino.
"I have answered the question several times already. Can I just ask them to provide you with the translation in English? I am sorry I am not a jukebox that has to repeat his statements already. I hope you understand," Aquino said during the live broadcast press conference.
Indeed. It is ironic that those who have always been at the wrong end of the sort of talking down at that Noynoy has so far consistently exhibited — the Filipino masa who walk behind the haciendero's son carrying his school bag — failed to spot this character flaw even as it stared them at their faces. You'd think that they'd be quite familiar with being routinely subjected to that kind of condescending regard by now. Then again, it is quite possible that Pinoys have simply become quite comfily desensitised by such treatment to the extent of getting a perverse sort of warm fuzzy feeling in seeing a character that fits the profile like a glove take his seat in Malacanang this week. It reminds me of an email I received way back that many here would be familiar with by now from which this gem of an excerpt remains relevant, specially now under the Second Haciendero Administration:
when I was a kid (am now 40 [years old]) our elders never give us straight answer. one day while playing to my female friend, we were both taking a bath (nude and I was 5 [years old]) I shout "ay pepe" [and] my aunt scolded me for saying bad words.
another was, when I ask my aunt again how did I come out in this world. and without hesitation she said "galing ka sa puwet".
To be fair to Noynoy, he simply acts the way he was raised. And in fairness to Da Pinoy, they simply vote the way they've been educated.
Look who's laughing
all the way to the bank…
[Image courtesy: KansasCity.com]