Thanks to Senator Lito Lapid, Filipinos can continue wallowing in mediocrity and be proud of it. The Senator was lauded by many for his verdict speech, which a lot of melodramatic Filipinos found “touching”. In that speech he proudly justified his guilty verdict in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona which he claims he issued using his “conscience”. Here is some of the feedback about his speech on Twitter:
Bianca Valerio: “Lito Lapid: In fairness to his disclaimers-not having speech prepared, not speaking good English,etc. Disarming w/ Humor-his tool of choice.”
Miriam Quiambao: “I have new respect for Sen Lito Lapid.”
I find the praises Lapid received so irritating. It’s bad enough that most Filipinos are anti-elite; Lapid has somehow institutionalized the Filipino mindset that it is okay not to aim for excellence. A good proportion of the Philippine population now prefer that our public servants be seen as being one with the common tao rather than be seen as one of the elites.
School children who have a habit of cutting classes or who consider themselves too “cool” for school will now have a valid excuse to stay away from school after Lapid emphasized that he is a simple high-school graduate who found himself judging a Supreme Court Judge. Lapid made it look so easy, indeed. Impressionable kids are probably thinking that they just need to become actors to make it in Congress. But not everyone can be a celebrity. One has to possess the right look or the right connection before one can become a star. So if you are not photogenic or artistic, you actually need to work on your intellect to achieve something in life.
What’s with all the anti-elite sentiment that Filipinos are fond of wallowing in? Filipinos have this misguided notion that being a member of the elite is a bad thing. It is actually this kind of victim mentality that keeps us from moving forward. This is one of the reasons why Corona was so unpopular to the public. And it is why some Filipinos consider Senator Miriam Santiago a lunatic. It is even a miracle that she, a brilliant lawyer, got elected into office since a lot of our elected public servants actually got voted into office by over-using the line that they are “pro-poor”. Let’s not forget to mention Erap Estrada whose slogan “Erap para sa Mahirap” in 1998 so resonated with the masses that he almost won the presidency again in the 2010 election.
Being one of the elite members of society doesn’t necessarily mean membership in one of the wealthiest families in the country. Being a member of the elite means you are from “a select group of people with, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern”.
They say that the personal characteristics of those considered to be a member of the elite include: “rigorous study of, or great accomplishment within a particular field; a long track record of competence in a demanding field; an extensive history of dedication and effort in service to a specific discipline (e.g., medicine or law) or a high degree of accomplishment, training or wisdom within a given field”. Only a small percentage of Filipinos can fit that description and unfortunately, the likes of Lapid are making it even smaller.
In defense of the true elites
I don’t know about you but if I ever have to undergo brain or heart surgery, I want the best surgeons to perform the operation. Who in their right mind would want to see a quack doctor to cure their disease?
If the Taliban or any member of the Al Qaeda ever kidnaps me, I can already picture Navy-Seals-like commandos barging in through the doors of the Taliban hideout where they are keeping me and rescue me safely. Why would I want the Philippine National Police (PNP) undergoing the rescue operation? They will just bungle the operation and I might end up in a bag destined for the morgue.
If I ever have to hire a lawyer to counter a libel case, I want someone who was a bar topnotcher and who wins most of his court cases. And if I ever have to be in front of a judge, I will pray that it be someone who was also a bar top notcher, won most of his cases, and is compassionate. Why would I want to hire a two bit lawyer who was average in the bar exam and who only settled his cased out of court? I would definitely end up losing my case, land in jail and pay a fine.
It should follow that if I ever have to vote for a president of my country…well, I will never vote for someone as mediocre as President Noynoy Aquino. Life is too short to put my trust in people like him who waste people’s time learning on the job while millions go to bed hungry every night.
If someone considered me snobbish and elitist for choosing excellence over mediocrity, I would definitely take it as a compliment because my definition of an elite person is someone who is the best of the best and not someone who is just a member of the privileged group. The two should not be confused as one and the same. The former group is good and beneficial to society while the latter just takes advantage of the underprivileged for their own benefit. They also enjoy a relatively large degree of control over a society’s means of production, and includes those who gain their position via means afforded by their social class and not as a result of personal achievement (read: the Philippine oligarchy).
If I have to choose between talking to someone who knows what he or she is talking about and someone who just pretends to be in the know, I would definitely choose the former. How I wish the country could have more of the former because it is really nice to have a conversation with someone who understands what you are saying and someone you can actually learn from as opposed to having a discussion with people who talk like they actually know what they are talking about when in reality they’d much prefer to just keep the conversation going around in circles.
Being anti-elite is what’s preventing our country from progressing. It’s what gets actors, athletes, singers or anyone from the entertainment industry and anyone with a popular name like Aquino getting voted into public office even if they don’t have any “extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom that render them especially fit to govern.”
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