What must a person possess to qualify for the highest post in the land? A pedigree? An excellent educational background? A heroic streak? A principled mind? A radical advocacy perhaps? A successful business career? Or enough money and resources?
Anything goes as a matter of fact. Before, a government post was a career that has a period of gestation. It is not just a matter of luck, of being at the right time and right place, nor is it something hereditary or something to be won by chance as in gambling. There is a foundation, a learning immersion in the art of politics; on the finer art of negotiation, transactions and public relations. It is a knack for projecting the correct posture. It is giving breath to integrity, honesty and commitment. It is like giving life to a principle. Well, an evolution however happened along some historical paths.
There were mutations. There were marked changes, some transformations, alterations although there were traces of back tracking along monarchical lines.
The reality has grown apart from what is ideal. One who wanted to engage his fate by running for the highest post in the land must have a war chest almost equivalent to a lifetime of savings ready to be splurged and invested in the course of electoral campaign. One must be prepared to be pauper. One invites penury if he has limited resources. And the humiliation that goes with losing. The cost is not only terrible but appalling to say the least.
And after all these computations on potential expenditures, threats to life and overcoming strains of sacrifices, what does one gets in the process? A dreaded post? A reserve seat in the pantheon of history? A legacy perhaps?
National leadership is a calling. It requires a mental faculty made of steel. It demands full time. It is a profession that requires a highly organized mind. The role would not fit that of a sissy or a bum although they share a similar stripe. It is only perfected for those who have achieved a fully developed and matured world view.
And where are we going to rank our present leadership and perhaps assess those who came before him in this scale? Before we speculate, let us see the present socio political condition of our country first. Is government responsive to the needs, demands and desires for good governance? Are we better off if not at par with other neighbouring countries in Asia? Can we safely say that the State is fulfilling what is prayed for in the Preamble of our Constitution?
Now let us analyse.
The poverty line in the country remains the same. We are still a far cry from New Zealand. In NZ no one is situated below this line. As a matter of fact, there is no sector considered poor in that country. But let us not fret about it. There are still other economies we can still compete. Although to a certain extent, a war ravaged country in the 70s, Vietnam has begun to climb higher than what appears to be our record development profile already. Malaysia and Singapore, China and India, Thailand and HongKong are players we could no longer overtake. They have resources like oil which they can tap to jumpstart a progressive economy. We are left to fend our resolve, this time, in relation only to Cambodia and some islands in Micronesia. While the country’s resources are depleting, the flight of workers in other foreign lands would shore up the economy and keep it buoyant for some time. But that has nothing to do with stately affairs and good government.
At least for the moment, our economy is seen as consistently above average despite the influx of disasters and controversies. A temporary relief and wish fulfilment.
On the local front however, national leadership is confronted with monstrous challenges coming from the ranks of government officialdom. Corruption has taken a new tact, attacking from inside. A picture perfect scenario on what can be referred to as “inside job.” Government service if left on its own without the progressive leadership would eventually implode.
Several presidents since the country has declared nationhood underwent a series of transformed political postures as soon as they get the real picture of where the country is going. There were pressures from international agencies, from partisan peers, from personal connections. For those at the top, every minute is like crossing the river using the thread. There are several occasions when one must issue a resolve on borderline problems where one receives a tap and expression “damn if you do, damn if you don’t.”
There is a measure of goodness in what national leadership should exude. For the doubting others, everything seem based on evil. Finally, the team comprising national leadership would have nothing to express except that they were there as necessary evil.
The present leadership exemplified by Aquino is a struggle of men of principles belonging to different sectors. The bad news is that there is confusion in the ranks of stakeholders in government. But there is a silver lining, a streak of good news. Corruption is addressed head on. If only because there is honesty displayed at the top, the rudder of administration is firmly handled.
It is still a far cry for people to accept their role, to realize that political power grows out from their growls. A few more summers may be devoted to learning such realization. It began in 1986 People Power and it is still a dormant authority ready to explode. Filipinos by nature are never given to rage except when personally challenged. They smile even in adversity. A number of them even sell their votes to the highest bidder.
On the whole however there is need for a visionary whether they like it or not. Fate would decree that there should be one leading the people to their deserved destination.
Whether we like it or not, we are a matriarchal society. We are like Lebanon. Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the birthplace of warriors, Vikings, reckon their women as their leaders too. The woman under a matriarchal system is not only holding the purse, she is also the gatekeeper, watcher, supervisor, administrator of her family. In other words, she is In-charge. The discipline of running a family is akin to running a business establishment, overseeing a neighborhood or even managing government. She maintains everything.
Sometime past, Filipinos had deep social link with Muslim culture. As a matter of fact, their forefathers were high on Islamic belief. Even the concept of neighborhood dynamics such as barangay, is patriarchal through and through like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. But somewhere along the line, in between reckoning invading cultures, the country slowly veered away from the highly patriarchal influence into the matriarchal approach. In the Philippines, the woman is the most revered symbol of social salvation. This change is partly, if not largely, a consequence of its Christian orientation. At best, the Marian spiritual component grabbed much of Filipino faith. Hence, their predisposition for women leadership.
The Filipino’s love affair with his woman transcends earthly politics. They venerate the wife of their leader—the First Lady. She is reckoned more than her partner. Respect for her presence is enduring more than the authority of her husband. Her intuition guides her spouse’s vision. Disregarding her counsel at times would prove fatal. In the Philippine setting therefore, a woman leader is more preferred in practice.
Cory Aquino, a reluctant leader, when she was shoved into national consciousness and became President, became not only an icon of hope but also a symbol of democratic governance. She restored a fledging country on the brink of collapse into a model from whence all countries besieged with autocratic mismanagement followed their deliverance. The Philippines was no longer the same after her ascension. Then came another woman leader, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She had flaws as a consequence of her controversial husband but she steered successfully the country to accomplish certain economic merits.
The leadership, accidental as it were, of President Noynoy Aquino could have been made possible because of the untimely death of his iconic mother, the almost saintly Cory. He won because of the collective respect for his mother. Forward looking, the country would be in a bind if there is no woman leader or woman inspired leader would be in sight. Such confusion can already be felt in the forthcoming 2016 election when once again, the people will have to choose who their next leader would be. It is either VP Binay or DOTC Secretary Roxas, assuming that the political configuration will not change. This early however, such arrangement would change. The election of Grace Poe as she ascends the top post would have a chilling effect on the known protagonists. And knowing how Filipinos choose their leader, it is almost a fait accompli.
Her Excellency, Grace Poe. Hmmmm. Sounds good.