In the last Philippine presidential elections 6 years ago, Filipinos had a chance to select the best from among the candidates available. They could have compared accomplishments, scrutinized platforms, and asked the candidates what their visions are for the Philippines in the future. The candidates could have sold themselves based on why they are the best of the bunch. The candidates could have discussed issues and the concrete and detailed plans on how to go about solving problems currently facing the country.
Instead, the candidates resorted to mudslinging and passing themselves off as the “least evil”. Instead, the voters cast their ballots on their feet, focused on personalities, and basically demonstrated that they do not wield wisely the privileges and responsibilities afforded by the democratic vote.
The man who would go on to win the presidency then, was Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino, arguably the least qualified among the crop. And he won primarily because of the sympathy vote for his dead mother who passed almost a year before. People believed that he would carry on his dead parents’ legacy.
Depending on one’s perspective, he did, if one thinks that he was an awful president as his mother, or just as much a traitor as some think his father is perceived to be. Or maybe one can say that he didn’t, because as a president, BS Aquino was an utter letdown.
BS Aquino’s administration, most of it over, can generally be described with one word: limp-dick.
Not responding immediately to or hiding in times of crises? Yup.
Perpetually blaming the predecessor and other people for things that should have been under his control? Definitely.
Unable to take criticism? Absolutely!
More concerned with covering his balls (or ass) than he is with solving problems or taking responsibility or taking action? No doubt about that!
One can only expend so much patience with a limp dick. No matter how much you try to make it stand firm, assert itself, and it just doesn’t – pinipitik na nga at lahat – out of frustration you’ll just quit and look for another one that does.
Enter Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Now here’s a guy who is no-nonsense. He oversaw discipline in his own backyard and is a big part of the reason why it is considered a safe city by the locals. He takes care of criminals – and he’s not shy about using deadly force to make it absolutely clear that they are not welcome in his jurisdiction. He is not hesitant in using the dirty finger and filling his sound bites with expletives. He has openly admitted that he has relationships with more than one woman at a time. He has taken unequivocal stances on issues and expresses openly and unabashedly his frustration with the slow pace of justice and the pervading corruption in Filipino society.
To Filipinos fed up with corruption and a government that does not take action, Duterte is a welcome relief. Aside from appearing to them as a guy who has the potential and wherewithal to solve those problems, he also appears to them a “man’s man”, the macho guy whom they can count on to save the day.
Whereas BS Aquino has shown that he consistently responds to adversity by being a limp dick, Duterte, on the other hand, continues to make provocative statements, penetrates into the voter base, and expresses himself like a “titing galit” that gets his supporters excited and aroused.
What we have here is a swing from one end of the “manhood” spectrum to the other. Filipinos chose before the non-threatening, non-achieving, diffident and unassertive (according to then US Ambassador Kenney), and “not corrupt daw” Aquino, got frustrated that he wasn’t any different from those before him, and now look at the expletive-throwing, in-your-face, unrestrained Duterte as if he were an oasis in a desert.
In Chinese philosophy, the opposing forces of yin and yang are a central concept. Yin represents the dark, feminine, negative energy, while yang represents the bright, masculine, and positive. I guess you can figure out for yourselves who represents what between Aquino and Duterte. Do remember a point I’ve been trying to make: that they both represent opposing extremes of the typical Filipino male.
What is more interesting about Aquino and Duterte, however, isn’t the fact that they represent opposing extremes, but what makes their supporters similar.
Saw their respective candidates as someone who can bring about “change”? Yes.
Were very insistent in making them run when they were reluctant to do so? Check.
See their chosen one as above criticism and reproach? Absolutely!
Latch themselves on to another “potential” hero who will supposedly do everything for them so that they don’t have to? Hell yeah!
Propagate false dichotomies? (“You are an Arroyo supporter!”, or “You side with the criminals instead of the victims!”) Can’t deny this.
Fawn over someone who thinks himself above the law? Duh, obvious!
Underneath the ever-changing preferences of the Filipinos for the extremes of “manhood”, it seems that the imperviousness, the incorrigibility, and the utter stupidity of the voting public – they’ve all stayed the same. Not to mention that Filipinos keep missing the point that change that is more effective and permanent starts from the ground up – not forced upon them from the top down. It starts with Filipinos themselves.
That spells doom for the future of the Philippines – no matter how tough or “manly” the president is.
- Things of the past - November 30, 2018
- The difference between Duterte’s words and the Opposition’s - October 31, 2018
- Why are Filipinos reluctant to call wrongdoing out? - September 30, 2018
- Going around in circles - August 31, 2018
- Resurgence, relevance, and regard for the future, all in the SONA - July 31, 2018