Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Realist static in a Romantic moment

“Morning thought,” critic-columnist Sylvia Mayuga wrote today on her Facebook Wall. “Why can’t we grow a President in Noynoy Aquino as a nation? He’s about as old as Obama. He’s got good genes. He was very thoughtful in Congress and the Senate, though not as talky as his peers. He was serious about straightening out the national budget and social justice. What he lacks in experience could well be made up for with new ways of directly consulting our people, a la Nehru. That would be historic.”
     To which I commented, “My neighbor says Noynoy is not yet ready. I said, well, Cory Aquino was not ready. The readiest, who planned a really long time to become president, were Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Which ready candidate now would you want to be president?”
     “Were our babies ready to become the center of our world when they were born?” Sylvia wrote back. “Basta they came. That’s the hand of God. What I’m doing is discerning that hand for His/Her beloved people.”
     “It’s not really a candidate you vote for when you vote for him,” I wrote then, not sure whether this would sound pro-Noynoy but I wanted to comment on candidates in general, “it’s the people around him. And that includes the economic advisers with bags of theories and/or interests who whisper in his ear, the general that tags along every time, the balimbings (carambola, a many-sided fruit) that have been chastised, and so on. Voting for a candidate is not voting for a captain of a ship, it’s voting for a whole ship. Joseph Estrada when he was surrounded by University of the Philippines professors early in his national career was a different Joseph Estrada from the later one surrounded by gambling operators. Cory Aquino’s anti-Freedom from Debt Coalition stance was not Cory Aquino’s stance, it was the Asian Development Bank’s Joker Arroyo’s stance.”
     Sylvia wrote back, “Thank you, historian de Veyra. You give a good summary with God-given insight.”
     Which made me blush and spill my coffee.
     Sylvia, the journalist, then tweeted all on Facebook, “Lupang Hinirang at Club Filipino as we speak. . . .”
     Peter Casimiro, a market analyst on Wall Street, joined in the fun. “Great post, Sylvia!” he wrote, almost in live stream, “luv the use of ‘grow’. You’re spot on with this call. Kulang na lang yata is a sense of whether he has the fortitude to carry his parents’ brand of justice and equity with the same intensity his father had! Until a few weeks ago he did not believe this was his calling or mandate . . . still no fire in his belly for the role . . . is he still just a willing passenger in this journey or is he going to drive the darn bus? . . . So, to your point, a call for Pinoys to help him grow into the role and to build that fire in his belly is exactly the recipe! Anway, a true democracy does not happen in the vacuum of politicos, it’s inherently participatory and pervasive. Bangon! Makibaka! Makibagay!
     I was munching too fast on my doughnut now, careful not to smudge the keyboard with doughnut filling and sugar powder.
     “Spot on ka rin, Peter.” This was Sylvia. “All the way from New York. O, mga magulang, ninong at ninang na tayo, ha! Katatanggap lang ni Noy ng tawag ng puso ng Bayan at Mahal na Ina at Ama.
     “Spot on insight too, Jojo!” wrote Peter then. “So, who’s around Noynoy now? I know one and saludo ako since I’ve known him forever, but you said it right. Who’s around him? . . . To my point earlier, if Noynoy gains cajones and begins to ‘own’ his role he will have the same ammunition to use to shoo off the wannabes and pick the cream of the crop (all hopefully with integrity and talent) for his posse.”
     Sylvia the journalist enters: “O, ayan. Bayan Ko na. Tapos na ang press con, campaign kick-off as I write. Organizing my notes into NOTES for all of you. Sandali lang.
     I remember when I was a kid in the province and I had a shortwave radio that had too much static I couldn’t turn it loud; I always had a high when I got to tell my parents and brothers and sisters what was going on in the present, whether it was of a space shuttle exploding or a people power revolution progressing in Poland or an actor who just died. Years later, of course, I’d have the same elation in front of the cable TV, telling everyone who just came into the room, what just transpired. This is universal, I guess. I’d imagine this is the same high that gets journalists into writing NOTES, only bigger, or higher, though I can’t really say. But I’d imagine it’s a combination of a desire to inform as well as influence with an approach, a drive that makes them risk lives at a warfront, the way skateboarders risk joints to accomplish literally high maneuvers. I can relate to this because I’m a poet, fiction writer, and blogger with a paralleling corporate identity. We risk getting into cramming point just for the high of practicing our art within that long recess we assign ourselves without anybody’s permission.

Visual artist and ad man Alan Rivera entered the page. “Wow,” he wrote, “I can imagine this exchange with audio! Man, that would be real time. By golly, ang gagaling pa nitong mga nag-uusap na ito. Daig ang BBC. Hey, Facebook, do you think you geeks can work out something in the very near future to add sound to comment streams? With your clout, I’m sure you can propose a collab with those geniuses who design computers/laptops/PCs. Wow. Do it already, FB. Sound with comments.

     A few seconds of silence, then a notification alert. Reload and there he was again.
     “@Jojo:”—Alan wrote, the way Facebook users address specific friends or non-friends involved in a commentary thread—“Right. When is a candidate ready? When they’ve worked out the rackets? The numbers? Picked out their spots, etc., atbp.?
     “Perhaps letting the ‘people’, meaning us, ‘grow’ a Pres might be our only hope for this country that had so many ‘ready’ candidates before. And let’s give Noynoy guts. And a lot of PW (Political Will).
     “Catch 22—who among the ‘people’ will help ‘grow’ this Pres? Seems like we’ll have to pass this guy through a sieve. But a sieve could have other designs—some fine, some coarse, some mixed, and so on, and this ‘design’ will determine what passes through it for serving.
     “Problems, problems,” he added.
     “Cool ka lang, Alan,” Sylvia suggested, always the big sister, but then entered into the thread her own elated lines. “Maganda talaga ang balita sa Club Filipino ngayong umaga. Wala na si Gringo Honasan, playing soldier guarding Juan Ponce Enrile, like at Cory’s inaugural. Puro bata, provincial delegates, mga pareng hindi know-it-all na maganda ang dasal, si Ballsy Aquino na napaka-sweet at Ate-like ang sinabi tungkol sa kapatid, at siempre si Noy, si Mar Roxas at media. May problema pa sa transmission ng cable—dalas hindi malinaw sa screen. Kahit na, na-deliver ang magandang balita! PARA SA BAYAN. Di sa isang pamilya o partido. Far out! Editing my NOTE.”
     I remember when I was a kid in the province and I had a shortwave radio that had too much static I couldn’t turn it loud. Things are clearer today, through Facebook Notes and blogged comments and SMS.
     “@Peter:”—I wrote—“We’ll know who’s finally got Noy’s ears when he begins to talk about policies. Too many pa ngayon to tell which ones’ll be his engineers manning the ship when he's sleeping or dining. :)
     “@Alan:”—I went on—“‘Grow’ is the right word, as Peter agrees, and at the moment, we’d have to see who among the competing farmers would finally get Noynoy’s blessing to be his advisers. The people, on the other hand, those in the grassroots level and not the birds chirping on Noynoy’s tree ears, can influence Noynoy in getting rid of this guy and getting that guy in through the usual channels—we’ll send worms to remind the tree. This is Jack and the Beanstalk in the making and our only way for now to get to that giant in the clouds with his/her hoard of gold.
    “Dadalawa ang metaphors dito, a,” I noticed, “ship tsaka tree. Okey, me pan-dagat at me pan-lupa na ang sandatahan! :D”
     “Ehe. I’ll try for the sky,” Sylvia chimed in.

Alan hoped. “Hope the good pipol who will come in won’t be like those good pipol who came in with Cory but dropped out soon after because their guts weren’t ironclad at kinain ng muriatic politics. They have to realize that politics has its own default morality and that’s not the same as the morality of the general population. Ang hirap ng laban, but a war has to be waged and battles will have to be won a hill at a time. Let’s just all pray we win the war in the end.”
     Sylvia prayed. “Hail Mary, full of grace. . . . Our Father, who art in heaven. . . .”
     Peter laughed. “Haha. . . . Luv the angle, Jojo. I agree, grassroots nga. Perhaps something akin to Paul Collier’s bottom billion approach. It’s gotta have mass buy-in (why not use the million signature platform kaya?) . . . that’s the only way it’ll create critical mass ending with Noynoy clinching the elections (i.e., rather than starting from the top, let the people buy into the movement and actually work for it; the trapos [traditional politicians] will get out of the way as the ‘good’ guys bubble up to the surface when the movement gains ground for Noynoy to pick up as he moves along). Perhaps his army might want to dip into this link for some foresight on the planning—for as Collier so eloquently notes at the end, ‘from a politics of plunder . . . to a politics of hope’—click here.
     “Dagdag lang. Notice Collier’s approach is practically a plug-and-play model, can be easily tweaked for ’Pinas; the basic structure and premise is solid.
     “Basta the eyes on the goal lang. It isn’t the politics, politicos, the bits ‘n’ pieces, the disheveled rotten branches of gov’t, not even the electorate that’s important. What’s important is the country!”
     I agreed. “You’re right, Peter, Collier’s thesis can be easily tweaked for the Philippine setup. While mostly in reference perhaps to Iraq/Afghanistan and African nations in conflict, Collier’s idea of fixing the economy first before the politics does remind me of Cory’s mistake in doing it the traditional way. Now, Noynoy can reverse that process. Of course, in the Philippine setup, fixing the economy includes fixing the system monitoring the loans, appropriations and allocations. In short, you can’t fix the economy without fixing the corruption leaks in the supply pipes. Romantic economics, but then all economics are Romantic, they have to be. Realism often just leads us to sulking. :)”
     “Thanks, Jojo. Yup, it was on the heels of African and Eastern bloc war-torn environs that his book came out, so I guess it’s based on the patterns he saw there. Maraming anggulo yan kasi, but I think the supply pipes are key, pare. Lalo na ang microfinancing, too little so far but not really too late. He can beef up the distribution channels and break up the roadblocks (i.e., mga competitors and thugs), secure the repayment channels to build credibility and assurance for investors, then unleash it to all the barrios, get the military involved in a beneficial capacity (swaps, first-refusal deals for family, etc.) and you now have an invested security force to ensure its success and the success of the small private sector groups participating. Then on to the Commission on Audit, justice system, etc.! Hahaha, sorry got carried away there. As for the sulking, I hear you on that! Luv that Romantic economics phrase, haha! Yeah, kasi mostly aloof macro ang hinahabol natin, hindi bagay!
     I remember when I was a kid in the province and I had a shortwave radio that had a lot of static. I couldn’t turn it loud. But sometimes the news got so exciting or worrisome that I’d turn it loud as it could be turned, static and all. Life is Romantic.
     I took a bite on my second doughnut and, while musing, saw the eye-like stare of its yellow filling.

All leaders in history have actually been grown by a people, for the wrong or the right reasons (Hitler was a product of his people), and while it is true that power brokers or power-investors are the elements that nudge personalities or potential celebrities into running after a crown or golden seat of power (as well as withdraw support from those personalities), these power brokers in history bow or adapt to the pulse of the moment: in our time manifest in polls, in media calls, in the clamors in the street. True, power brokers are behind Noynoy Aquino’s having suddenly emerged in the limelight as an unlikely messiah, nay, I believe power brokers are behind all candidates in our democratic cesspool, and thus candidates can be read as power brokers’ cocks in a cockfighting cockpit (Gloria Arroyo as Enrique Razon Jr.’s, Mike Arroyo’s, etc. perhaps?). But an election being a democratic process (unless superbly rigged), wouldn’t the presence of power brokers itself be proof of a people’s hand in those candidacies and choices? A broker is one who sells, and selling presupposes a market. And a seller-market relationship in turn presupposes a mode of measuring what the market wants. In Noynoy’s case, therefore, would we not then allow that Noynoy’s having suddenly emerged was precisely a manifestation of how a people influenced the power brokers, in that the power brokers saw in Noynoy (by the people’s pulse) one who might be a better horse to bet on as against, say, the Mar Roxas-Korina Sanchez magic yet-to-be? And why would the people voice their preference for a “winnable” persona with a yellow mystique over a yet-to-be-a-dark-horse? (I call on mystique as a factor in marketing, just as candidates from all parties call on mystical divinities and churches to bless their respective candidacies—e.g., Gloria Arroyo’s “God put me here”).
     Now, given that power brokers are there to exploit or deceive the Romantic pleas and dreams of a people with promises of salvation (Erap’s ‘Para sa Mahirap’ slogan, for example), isn’t that by itself proof that there is that market to be deceived? And, conversely, that that market can choose not to be deceived. And, therefore, when the market does choose the latter, the power brokers can perhaps only hope for a miracle if they in their turn choose not to adapt themselves to the dynamics of a people’s ignorance transformed into awareness. How do power brokers adapt to a people’s growing awareness? It varies. But this fact always remains: that awareness is a factor in marketing, and products are grown in the market according to the people’s ignorance, gullibility, or fears, as well as to their awareness, anger, and courage. [END]

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