Why ‘sincerity and competence’ is an either-or proposition to Filipinos

“Sincerity trumps competence.”

This is an argument I was hoping not to hear anymore after the last presidential election in 2010, which Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino III won with 40% of the vote. Unfortunately, Senator Grace Poe – who is as yet rather coy about saying outright that she is running for the presidency in the 2016 presidential elections – resurrected it. If you haven’t noticed, she is referring to herself as the “sincerity”, whereas she is referring to Vice-president Jejomar Binay as the “competence”.


Sincerity? I don’t think so. Competence? Definitely not.

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If you’re smart enough, then it should be obvious to you that sincerity and competence are not mutually exclusive, which means that they can occur at the same time. Why can’t we have BOTH sincerity and competence at the same time in our government officials? Something as obvious as that simply flies over the Filipinos’ heads.

The problem is that Filipinos are, for lack of a better word, collectively stupid and simplistic. Their line of thinking (if you can even call it that) always winds up reducing complex issues to false dichotomies.

Night and day.
Darkness and light.
Good and evil.

There always has to be a villain, and there always has to be an “underdog” whom the masses can relate to. And this underdog usually winds up overcoming his/her struggles and wins. This is a device that TV shows and telenovelas in the Philippines have exploited, recycled, and bled dry. Yet it continues to work effectively on the simpleton populace, and it was used to great effect by the Aquino supporters to propel him into the highest government post in the land.

Why does it persist?

We are a culture that glorifies dumb and puts it on a pedestal, and we elect it to government posts too!

Competence, intelligence, skills, and smarts are words that have always had a dirty connotation to common Filipinos. No surprise there, because Filipinos are anti-intellectual. To them, anyone who has any of those will use his skills to take advantage of others. If there’s something that Filipinos will never allow, it’s others they deem as inferiors or equals to have an advantage over them. This obviously shows an utter lack of imagination, and a stunted ability to think that is both lazy and blinded.

“No one must stick out.”
Dapat pantay-pantay tayo lahat (We must all be equal, even if it means we are all equally ignorant or stupid.

Filipinos will cite examples – no thanks to media who reinforce the word association – such as Marcos, Arroyo, and now Binay, to make their case of competence being evil. However, what Filipinos will never admit that if these guys put one over them, it is because they allowed them to. And now they cry foul and victim for overlooking their own naivety and stupidity.

I must point out that it is ironic that Filipinos see competence as something to be feared, or hated, yet they are absolute suckers for credentials. It is also ironic that Filipinos don’t like being taken advantage of yet are very submissive and deferential to their government officials.

Let’s now talk about “sincerity”.

Quite simply, it can be “faked”. Smile your biggest one, or dance your ass off on the stage, and the people will get giddy and kilig. Pretend to listen to the public’s grievances, and they’ll appreciate it. Take the daily commute with them once, so that they feel that you commiserate with their hardships, and you’ve got them talking about you. Make promises you don’t plan to keep, and watch them go “ooh” and “ahh”. Give them freebies, such as rosaries or sacks of rice, and be surprised how people’s “loyalty” can be bought. Pander to the nebulous notion called “the people’s will”, and you’ve got it made. Keep on churning out the motherhood statements and the public’s attention is on you. Present yourself as “the least evil” of the lot, and you’re most likely going to be the most popular.

And that, in the eyes of the Filipino, is sincerity.

Sincerity is very subjective. Competence can be backed up with numbers, track records and the like. You know, evidence, which Filipinos abuse when it supports the conclusion they want, and utterly reject when it refutes or disagrees with their claim.

Can competence be faked? To a certain extent, yes, and only if people allow it. Unless Filipinos ask the hard, intelligent questions, and demand actual platforms, visions, strategies, and roadmaps for their future, then for sure they will get hoodwinked most of the time.

Buy emotionally. That’s it; there’s no second part to that sentence for Filipinos. There hasn’t been any room so far for evidence-based and logic-based evaluation in the political “debate” that has been ensuing. Looks like there won’t be, for the longest time, all because it’s much, much easier to focus the debate on personalities and events, rather than on principles and ideas.

Rather than step up to the challenge of matching and meeting their politicians’ perceived “competent corruption” head on, they would rather retreat to the comforting notion that competence, skills, and intelligence are bad. They would rather cry foul, play the victim card, and go for a perceived “sincere” politician who will take advantage of their naivety just the same. All because they allowed such.

What’s the common denominator? The Filipinos’ inability to think critically and to question their authority figures intelligently.

I dare say that whoever wins in 2016, the Philippines will surely lose again, all because of a false dichotomy, an either-or proposition that they didn’t have to live with.

10 Replies to “Why ‘sincerity and competence’ is an either-or proposition to Filipinos”

  1. There’s only one problem:
    Sincerity + competence = DEATH.

    Because Jesse Robredo had them both, and look what happened to him.

  2. If Poe runs for presidency she is stupid. She is capitalizing with honesty and sincerity because she knows she is not competent enough to run a country, yes, that made her stupid. Sorry, all I can see is her stupidity and that’s all I can say, too, because that is all she’s presenting to the nation. She should start associating PRESIDENT to the whole country THE PHILIPPINES and 100 MILLION FILIPINOS para kabahan naman siya.

  3. Now if in the event she is running for presidency to prevent Binay from becoming President because of the fact that Binay is corrupt and has to answer to the law, and for that reason she is telling the whole nation she is sincere and honest, that can only serve as initial promotion. However, like what Ilda said, if she’s really sincere, she will use her Llamanzares surname so it won’t be because of name-recall that people start trusting her or talking about her. She should state her purpose for wanting to become a President then prove she’s capable by showing the whole nation her plans and visions better than that of other candidates, better than what was said or done before. Can we quantify her accomplishments? Yes, she rode the MRT unfortunately that’s just it. She experienced what it’s like and even told the media what it’s like as if the majority of Filipinos don’t already know, yet she did not bring proposals that will change the situation. She headed the probe on Mamasapano incident yet again she wasn’t able to make the guilty party hold accountability to the crime so justice is not served. It’ll be great to burst her bubble so she can start accepting reality and start focusing on what will make her a worthy leader or if she’s really cut for the job or not.

  4. By sheer mass appeal Poe is the sure winner. If she goofs up and makes bad decisions by her lack of experience, people will sympathize and understand it’s just an HONEST mistake. people will at least rest assured that they are not being robbed behind their back by cunning waiz maabilidad Binay.

    Still the holy grail of Philippine politics is finding the elusive Zaxxun-class candidate who embodies BOTH integrity and competence. the closest we ever had was Fidel Ramos. A men of vision too – recall the hype and anticipation of the goal to NIC-hood called Philippines2000?

    In the meantime, as PH politics is a continually evolving exercise or experiment (hey let’s try Stupid and corrupt for a change – ahh no good; then let’s try honest and incompetent next – ahh no good again) we are just resigned to whoever the naive masses select coz we the intellectual voting class will always be outnumbered by the multiplying rabbits.

    Well the only advise I have for Poe is that when she finally sits on the throne, she better find some VERY GOOD ADVISERS. And I know a good place with the highest concentration of PHD’s – U.P. Campuses.

  5. ‘that they do not have to live with.’ Oh you got that right. BUT THEY DO, and apparently do not dislike it either.
    Personally I’d rather jump of a 100 story building than get sentenced to a life trying to eek out an exostence in the “Republic of the Philippines”. Most would be better off.and that is a sincere statement.

  6. I think Grace is screwed if she runs this time.
    Yellow party would devote their resources at this rate in destroying Grace. She’d most likely got Penoy’s irk since it’s obvious she doesn’t want his endorsement.

    Binay has a party, plus his massive hardcore followers and Roxas has the cheating machine to back his ass up, but what does Grace have?

    Remember it’s still long way to election day, FPJ got destroyed. Villar got destroyed. Both were frontrunners until election time happened. Plus disqualification case for Grace will appear left and right. The voters are a fickle bunch. A little nudge with media fueling them will change the tide.

  7. Competence can hardly be faked. Sincerity can be easily faked, especially, if the candidate is a show biz person.

    Grace Poe has no plans and no vision to offer to our country. There are many problems awaiting to be solved. Yet, no Presidential hopeful is talking about these problems.

    All they do is: “pa charming”; give freebees;
    tell people how rotten the other candidate; etc…

    Grace Poe cannot tackle the job of a President. She does not have any managerial experience. She does not have any foreign affairs experience. No good track record to present. I even question her academic credential…
    She will be like Aquino, or even worse than Aquino.

    It is time for “Political Zarzuela” again…

  8. Having good intentions isn’t enough when actions fail; you also need some bad intentions so that you look competent.

    If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man/woman in a kingdom of the blind.

  9. Competence competence competence!!! How can anyone expect competence if the qualifications for the job for the highest post in the land is lower than the minimum needed for a janitor (high school graduate)? Can’t we add “at least Ph.D” to the list below:

    Under Article 7, Section 2 of the Constitution of the Philippines, in order to serve as President, one must be:

    at least 40 years old and above;
    a registered voter, single or married;
    able to read and write;
    a male or female Filipino citizen by birth; and
    a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding election.[6]
    Taken from Wiki

    1. And who wrote this list anyway? I understand explicitly specifying male or female (To rule out gays), but why do you have to specify single or married?

      Btw, footnote on the phd qualification. “The Ph.D requirement can be waived if the person can recite the Zaxxun Creed in 30 seconds BLINDFOLDED.”

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