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Noynoy’s proclamation: a brief observation

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Senator Benigno Simeón “Noynoy” II Aquino y Cojuangco was proclaimed as the 15th president of the Philippines yesterday at the Batasang Pambansâ. In the same historic event, former Macati City Mayor Jejomar Binay was declared as Noynoy’s Vice President. Earlier during that day, Joseph “Erap” Estrada finally conceded (through the lips of his son Jinggoy who was reelected into the Philippine Senate).

But wait… I thought I saw Charo Santos de Concio in the crowd! She was seated with the Aquino sisters (accompanied by Boy Abunda) who were all dressed in black. That “special appearance” finally puts to rest the allegations that ABS-CBN was favoring a presidential candidate during the recently concluded 2010 Philippine National Elections.


The crowd was in a frenzy. Some were still holding the “Laban” hand sign. There were cheers of “Noynoy! Noynoy!” and “Cory! Cory!” Some even cheered “Noy-Bi! Noy-Bi!”


It took some time before Noynoy was escorted into the podium. Media reporters dashed onto him in a mad scramble. In a mad and futile scramble as always.


Juan Ponce Enrile was in a pensive mood all the time. But when Jejomar went up the podium, his face beamed with delight! Meanwhile, his congressional counterpart, Próspero Nograles, was furiously banging the gavel whenever he had the chance.


After the proclamation was the press conference. Vice President Binay didn’t join Noynoy in that event. Not a surprise. But what was surprising was the way Noynoy handled the interview. He always had a quick and ready answer to all the questions the media threw at him. He was, however, a bit irked with a reporter from Radio Veritas. That reporter questioned Noynoy’s stand against the controversial RH Bill to which Noynoy had a quick retort: that he had already explained his stand on the issue numerous times during his campaign sorties. But he still patiently enumerated his plans about the reproductive health issue.


With regards to the status of the nation’s coffers, Noynoy said that he will be very transparent about it. As much as possible, he said that he will update the nation of our true economic state no matter what. It appears that he will not “paint a rosy picture of our economy”.

Shades of Erap.


He was asked many times about what his plans are during his first 100 days. Even the last reporter who asked him –a Japanese lady from the NHK media network– threw in the same question. A visibly irked Noynoy, who was still all smiles, finally refused to answer it and said that he will just have one of his staff give the Japanese reporter an English translation of what he said just a few minutes back. The Japanese reporter didn’t give up. So Noynoy cleverly told her that he’s not a jukebox that can be made to repeat itself by someone ¡Ang taray!.

Shades of Tita Glo.

The torch was passed to clamorous cheers in a blaze of yellow as Congress Wednesday proclaimed Sen. Benigno Aquino III the country’s next president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay vice president.

It brought a festive end to eight days of contentious canvassing following the country’s first nationwide automated elections.

Wild applause and loud cheering filled the session hall of the Batasang Pambansâ in Quezon City as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Próspero Nograles raised the hands of the country’s next leaders.

Aquino was declared winner at exactly 4 p.m., paving the way for a peaceful transition of power as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to step down on June 30 after nine years in office. Binay was proclaimed at 3:56 p.m.

The winners’ families joined them at the podium, but Aquino’s girlfriend Shalani Soledad remained seated in the VIP gallery.

Ex-President Joseph Estrada, ousted in a popular uprising in 2001 and later convicted and imprisoned in 2007 on plunder charges only to be pardoned weeks later, accepted his political defeat.

“I join our people in extending unqualified support to the new President with both hope and prayers he will serve our country faithfully and will perform his duties honorably without fear or favor,” Estrada said in a statement read by his son Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada.

No objections were heard at the joint session as the floor leaders moved for the proclamation, and the affirmative rulings sent the Aquino and Binay supporters into a frenzy of chanting.

Binay’s supporters were more vocal, loudly chanting “Binay, Binay” at every chance they got.

The side of the gallery filled with Aquino’s supporters, who formed a sea of bright yellow, also chanted “Noynoy” and “Aquino” at various intervals, but their shouts were sometimes drowned out by the Binay supporters.

At one point, the Binay side of the gallery chanted “Noy-Bi,” but the Aquino side did not join it. Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, was not present at the proclamation.

The cheering got so loud that Enrile had to remind the gallery to maintain order and to sit down.

Aside from their supporters in the gallery, Aquino and Binay did not lack for backers on the floor. Lawmakers from various political parties lined up on the aisle where they would walk, waiting to offer their congratulations.


Skeptical Response to the SONA’s Promises: The Widespread Perception of the Disgruntled Hoi Polloi

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Since the nation (or those who are concerned, whoever they may be) is still reeling from last month’s spite-filled SONA by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I thought it best to publish another scathing essay which I wrote in response to one of her earlier SONAs, her second to be exact (2002).

Actually, the following essay was originally written to be delivered in an oratorical contest by Adamson University’s English Department (now the Foreign Languages Department). I just don’t remember the details of the contest anymore (who the orator was, which particular contest it was entered, etc.).

After reading this essay again, I’m so surprised that –seven years after the 2002 State of the Nation Address– we still haven’t progressed under the Arroyo Administration. Then as now, she consistently boasted of the country’s economic growth in all of her SONAs, but a seemingly undying poverty and discontent are as consistent as they’ve ever been as well. This is not to say that we worsened under her questionable presidency. Pero ang masasabi co lang, hindí pa rin natin naáabot ang La Gloria na ating ináasam…

The mugshot everybody wants to see.

The mugshot everybody wants to see.

José Mario S. Alas

More than anything else, this nation, like all of the other impoverished Third World countries, is a hoping nation. Insofar as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s second State of the Nation Address, or SONA, is concerned, it is safe to surmise that the masses, however, have all the more reason to become more hopeless upon hearing the annual state briefing. And “why?” is a stupid question to that assumption; just like in last year’s SONA, this year’s version which was broadcast this past July at the Batasang Pambansâ was pelted with an avalanche of protests and cries of disillusionment, despair, and distrust. The president, despite displaying a braggadocio posture while claiming of a “strong republic” topped with numerous economic achievements, no longer have in her manacles the full support, not to mention the trust, of many Filipinos, rich and poor alike. Besides, she took over the reins of our country via a well-organized power grab.

President Arroyo’s unusual rise to power could perhaps give light on why the Filipino hoi polloi cannot fully give their whole confidence to her authority. Whether we admit it or not, she never had the charisma, not to mention the movie star allure of her beleaguered predecessor. Likewise, her elitist-friendly stance and socio-politically harmful foreign policies that are in relation to the national economy further dragged her name down from popularity surveys. The toiling masses’ eyes are keen and open. Their senses are made sharp to social observation because of the hunger pangs that are spurring them to stay alive in this hunger-filled world. It has been like that for several decades, and their condition only gets worse each day. Thus, their bitter existence can never complement the sugar-coated promises and feats of the Arroyo administration. Moreover, I am certain that many will never forget President Arroyo as one of the senators who pushed for the ratification of the notorious General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade back in the mid-90’s.

Let us now, therefore, analyze the public’s response to the president’s SONA. It is de rigueur that a SONA must be addressed to Filipinos regardless of social classes in order to draw out a favorable response. It has achieved, in its final written form, the way to unify each and every sector of a liberal democratic economy, which includes the working class. By emphasizing that a strong republic is independent from sectoral and class interests, which would stand for the benefit of all, and not just for the privileged minority, President Arroyo was successful in evoking a unified response from her national audience. Or so she thought.

The 50 or so ovations that her SONA had elicited during its delivery were dwarfed by a multitude of disgruntled militants who knows better what the real state of the nation is. And those protesters who were at the Batasan gates were seconded indirectly by millions of sullen and vexed Filipinos who were encountering the SONA through multi-media. Still, many of them did not even care to give a small piece of hell on the issue at all. We could already imagine them scoffing and yawning throughout the delivery of that national speech.

Such apathy towards national concerns may be attributed to rhetorical politics that has reached ad nauseam. Certainly, too much politics results into adverse complications. Either it results into social apathy or it could lead to Leftist or opportunistic Rightist continuity. For how could progressive-minded individuals allow such an almost inoperable social cancer to spread throughout their beloved country in wild abandon? All of a sudden, in sheer panic, somebody might think of instigating another EDSA.

Yes, the masses have had enough of politics. The non-productive bickering in Congress which seem to be ad infinitum, the self-interest-motivated sashaying of political fidelities, the existence of an alien éminence grise in our government, and the gaping chasm which further widens the gap between rich and poor is all but enough for the hoi polloi to shout “¡pátria o muerte!” Give me liberty, or give me politics.

So nowadays, who cares to listen to a dubious SONA? Well, last year’s SONA was filled with boldfaced promises to combat poverty. This year, the president said that she had “detailed a long list of measurable targets that would show a government on the move, marking progress by swift sure steps, despite the turbulent state of domestic and global affairs.” She also declared “tangible results in the delivery of government services,” and went on to flaunt the immediate crises that have been resolved.

Surprisingly, though, she did not disclose the fact that more than 5 million Filipinos today have no jobs. Just this April, unemployment rates peaked at 13.9%, a high percentage within the last two years. She also did not acknowledge a Population Commission data stating that 40%, or roughly 32 million people from a population of almost 80 million crises-hardened Filipinos, are subsisting in a shocking P38 daily budget! And a few days ago, the children of a prominent solon were kidnapped!

These, my friends, are just but some of the innumerable manifestations of today’s real state of the nation. This kind of degenerating situation is what President Arroyo blatantly omits during public fora and briefings. But the masses, even though majority of them are unschooled, cannot be fooled. They know the truth, because they are experiencing it. They feel it. The putrefaction, the stink, the lies within this obvious distortion of reality is only made manifest in the grumbling, hungry stomachs and unreachable dreams of the disgruntled masses! I am sure that when the honorable president of this debt-ridden republic was delivering her rhetorical hilarity, the masses were laughing, if not mocking, at her. To paraphrase a line from a popular Freddie Aguilar song way back in the 80’s, “tawanan na lang natin ang ating mga problema.”

Let’s just, instead, laugh at our troubles. After all, laughter is a temporary respite from all this highfalutin fabrications of society.

One Angry SONA

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Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (in a fuschia-colored terno designed by Inno Sotto) delivering a rancorous SONA.

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (in a fuschia-colored terno designed by Inno Sotto) delivering a rancorous SONA.

“The state of our nation is a strong economy. Good news for our people, bad news for our critics.”

Arguably that was the strongest line from yesterday’s hour-long State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was delivered by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

As a trained economist, Arroyo has always strived to be known as an economic workhorse. And so she peppered her 9th (and supposedly last) SONA with fabulous figures of economic growth that, many will say, are too good to be true. Therefore, the SONA was applauded 124 times this year (as against last year’s 104 and 2007’s 103 — in itself a feat!).

Her SONA, however, wasn’t all talk about development and a “strong economy.” Since it comes but once a year, she made it an opportunity to fireback at her political foes and critics.

While a strong downpour outside the Batasang Pambansâ disappointed thousands of anti-Arroyo protesters, she made sour slights and indirect hints against those who have been heavily criticizing her presidency. But the unfortunate unnamed receivers of Arroyo’s rancorous remarks were pretty obvious.

In one instance, Arroyo declared:

Our efforts prodded the pharmaceutical companies to come up with low-cost generics and brands like RiteMed. I supported the tough version of the House of the Cheaper Medicine law over the weak version of my critics. The result: the drug companies volunteered to bring down drug prices, slashing by half the prices of 16 drugs. Thank you, Congressmen Cúa, Álvarez, Birón and Locsín.

Pursuant to law, we are placing other drugs under a maximum retail price. To those who want to be President, this advice: If you really want something done, just do it. Do it hard, do it well. Don’t pussyfoot. Don’t pander. And don’t say bad words in public.

It is widely known that Arroyo has been at odds against Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas over the issue of cheaper medicines. Whatever their disagreement over the said issue, they certainly didn’t jive because last December, an angry Mar Roxas unleashed perhaps the most unparliamentary remark –a foul language at that– ever heard in the history of the Philippine Senate as a negative reaction towards Arroyo’s stance on cheaper medicines. And so on her SONA, Arroyo retaliated quite hilariously with a funny-sounding Brit verb that is rarely used nowadays: pussyfoot

What in the world does pussyfoot mean? The following definition is from

puss-y-foot [poo s-ee-foot] verb, noun, plural -foots.
–verb (used without object)

1. to go or move in a stealthy or cautious manner.
2. to act cautiously or timidly, as if afraid to commit oneself on a point at issue

Arroyo even thanked Congressmen Junie Cúa, Antonio Álvarez, Ferjenel Birón and Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsín, Jr., without acknowledging Roxas who was, in the first place the staunchest advocate of passing a cheaper medicines law.

The next victim of Arroyo’s seething anger was friend-turned-nemesis, former House Speaker José de Venecia, Jr.:

The noisiest critics of constitutional reform tirelessly and shamelessly attempted Cha-Cha when they thought they could take advantage of a shift in the form of government. Now that they feel they cannot benefit from it, they oppose it.

It’s interesting to note that in previous SONAs, Joe de V have had his palms all red due to numerous applauses he gave to his ex-friend.

Finally, Arroyo left no kind words unannounced for her bitter rival, President Joseph “Erap” Estrada:

I am falsely accused, without proof, of using my position for personal profit. Many who accuse me have lifestyles and spending habits that make them walking proofs of that crime.

We can read their frustrations. They had the chance to serve this good country and they blew it by serving themselves.

Those who live in glass houses should cast no stones. Those who should be in jail should not threaten it, especially if they have been there.

Arroyo was all smiles all throughout the controversial SONA. And those smiles weren’t just because she was declaring good news to her constituents, but because finally she was able to garner some payback time against those who have been attacking her left and right these previous months.

Yesterday’s weather and Arroyo. Both were on the same mood.

Regrettably, this angry SONA of hers began with a solemn prayer (for former President Corazón Aquino who is currently battling colon cancer). It’s quite ironic to begin an event with a prayer and then follow it up with a barrage of attacks against critics and rivals, not to mention questionable claims of economic progress.

Questionable. Because, you see — have all these proud declarations of development trickled down to a massive hungry populace?

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