The 2010 elections certainly looks like the dirtiest ever in the history of Philippine polls. And no, it’s not so much because there’s most likely to be cheating despite (some would cynically say because of) automation, but because the candidates carry buckets and buckets of mud and they’re flinging it at each other and in the process, the muck makes everyone else feeling disgusted and nauseated.
It cannot be denied that Noynoy Aquino and the Liberal Party were the ones to first throw mud, and directed it against Manny Villar and the Nacionalista Party. First attack: they questioned Villar’s class origins and the said that the man lied when he said thath his younger brother died as a result of poverty. LP even came out with a supposed authentic copy of the death certificate and they went through it with a fine-toothed comb. According to LP stalwarts including columnist and Noynoy Aquino fan Conrado de Quiros and Winnie Monsod, Villar lied about being poor, lied about his brother, and hence he cannot be trusted to be the nation’s president.
My first reaction? I was disgusted. Imagine dragging out the death certificate of a young boy and using it against his brother! Imagine trying to poison the public’s perception of a rival candidate by saying that the man was not really poor, only middle class. How low can you get? And it’s reverse elitism: to have been really poor is now the best thing for a candidate to be because it resonates with the masses. There’s something twisted about it all.
The Liberal Party and Noynoy have completely failed to address the issue of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and how Aquino was flatly contradicted by an uncle’s statement when the latter said that there was no way that the Cojuangco’s were going to give up the hacienda. Being unable to dance, sing or sneak away from the issue, they have chosen instead to ridicule it, and to dismiss the victims of the massacre as rabble rousers who had no business participating in the strike. Aquino himself sneered as he charged Rep. Satur Ocampo of being a ‘ringleader’ of the strike and behind the chaos the ensued.
On November 16, 2004, combined forces of the police and military attacked the strikers with teargas and then bullets: 72 were badly injured, 27 sustained gun shot wounds, and 110 were arrested by the police. By early evening, it was also discovered that seven were killed: Jhaivie Basilio, 20 years old; Juancho Sanchez, 20; Jessie Valdez, 30; Jaime Fastidio, 46; Jesus Laza, 34; June David, 28; and Adriano Caballero Jr., 23. Aquino sneered and dismissed their deaths as mere propaganda and the massacre itself as nothing but a disturbance. His sisters, in the meantime, called the workers ‘spoiled.’
It was nothing but amazing to me how long it took for the Nacionalista Party and its leaders to retaliate. I was expecting fire and brimstone, but Sen. Villar, in all his tv interviews and comments aired over public radio was calm. Upset, surely, but not incensed. He merely shrugged and said that he’s willing to give Aquino a tour of the old Villar house (a wooden affair that just barely escaped being a shanty in Tondo) if Aquino would accompany him to Hacienda Luisita.
The NP then came out with with exposes on how Noynoy aquino’s relatives are working with the Macapagal-Arroyo administration: these relatives include his aunts, former Senator Teresita Aquino Oreta, who is head of the Early Childhood Care and Development Council under the Office of the President; former Tarlac Gov. Margarita Cojuangco who is president of the Philippine Public Safety College under the Department of Interior and Local Government; and Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, Arroyo’s image consultant.
Aquino’s uncle, Paul Aquino, is the president and chief executive officer of the Energy Development Corp. under the state-owned Philippine National Oil Company. Newly-designated environment and natural secretary, Eleazar Quinto, is married to Kashiwahara’s daughter.
What was the NP’s point? That Aquino lied when he said that he will have no problems with relatives meddling in the presidency should he win because they were not power hungry or at the least, unconcerned with the political goings-on.
As for Aquino’s declaration that the LP as he led it was the genuine opposition, the NP retorted: why the hell then did Aquino vote against playing the infamous ‘Hello, Garci?’ recordings during the congressional investigations on the same?
When the NP standard bearer expressed delight over Baby James Yap’s sudden and accidental ‘endorsement’ of Villar during an LP sortie in Bacolod (the look of Kris Aquino’s face was indescribable), the LP standard bearer and Baby James’ uncle fired off that Villar was clearly desperate because he, Villar, had been happy over a tot’s ‘endorsement.’
And on and on. The two camps blasted away at each other and it was quite noticeable that in the midst of the mudslinging, the issues — the real issues were not being discussed. Oil prices increased yet again, electricity rates spiked, and the Morong 43 continued to be denied their freedom. The perpetrators of the Maguindanao Massacre were one by one being released or the charges against them dismissed. The economy continues to sink, privatization of health services and exorbitant costs of medicine causing many to die of curable diseases. And on and on.
Now, finally (I ramble when I blog, sorry), we come to the issue of ‘Noynoy Abnoy’ and the brouhaha over candidates needing to be psychologically tested. The amount of mud in this issue weighs a ton.
Two weeks ago, ABS-CBN came out with a report saying that the psychological report on Noynoy Aquino which was circulating on the wen and elsewhere was bogus. ABS-CBN clearly intended to kill the issue by coming out with it and, of course, what happened was the exact opposite.
In the supposed report that was at least a decade old, it was said that the patient, “Is a 36-year old single male with a history of profuse salivation and labile moods since his childhood. He was observed to be sleeping excessively, disoriented and confusing family and household member’s name. When interviewed at the time of psychiatric assessment, the patient said he had difficulty in speech, poor concentration, impaired thinking and melancholia brought about by the stresses of his work and the break-up with his flight attendant girlfriend. He also claimed he felt clumsy and uncoordinated. He also describes what appeared to be a deep sense of foreboding and feeling that the “world was coming to an end.” He appeared disoriented. There was some difficulty in communicating due to his deep depression and melancholia. On mental state examination, he was a lanky man of medium height who was mildly psychomotor retarded with a latency of verbal replies, and a slowness of movement. He was preoccupied with his inner thoughts, brooded and felt melancholy. He appeared quite elevated and irritable when he spoke of the loss he was feeling when he recounted his relationship with his girlfriend. He expressed a poorly-formed grandiose delusion that the world was ending and described feelings of foreboding but no disturbance in any other sensory modality. The patient was oriented in person and place, with only very mild impairment of time. Attention and concentration deficits were evident, though much in the slightest and confirmed on formal testing that he had minor difficulty in counting down by seven from 100 and could not readily spell some words backwards…”
And on and on. The diagnosis? Major depressive disorder.
If the psychological report is true, then Sen. Aquino deserves nothing but sympathy and wishes for his full recovery. And my initial thought: Whoever released the report was contemptible. It was by all reckoning below the belt. And I correct myself: the issue can’t be called ‘mud’, it’s a giant wad of gooey, green-yellow phlegm.
But then again, what if Noynoy Aquino really is a depressive, what are the chances that if he does win as president, he won’t, well, lose control and plunge into deeper depression and this will influence all decision-making? Already there are clear signs that he has a streak of meanness, and he lacks patience when it comes to criticism and critics. What then?
What if the lackluster record as a congressman and senator was directly a result of his psychological state? Even his employment history was boring: he was a retail sales supervisor for Nike shoes; as assistant for promotions and advertising in Mondragon (a company owned by Mrs. Aquino’s friends); a vice president for a security agency; and a fields supervisor for Hacienda Luisita. This is hardly the employment history of an achiever — any headhunter worth his salary can see that.
I guess it’s not easy being the only son of Ninoy and Cory and the pressure to be exceptional must have been great when he was growing up, and imagine how low his self-esteem must’ve been whenever he heard insensitive people make comments that he was nowhere near being like his father or his mother? And imagine how it is to be an older brother to someone like Kris Aquino (the exact opposite of a manic depressive) who took easily to the limelight and hogged it whenever she could.
I officially feel sorry for Noynoy Aquino, but I’m still not voting for him. If anything, I have another reason why I’m not supporting him: I would much rather he left the race, went to Hawaii and planted pineapples, surfed, and learned to be bartender at one of the better hotels. The man needs to be happy. The people who goaded him into running (the likes of Franklin Drilon, Florencio Abad) and his columnist friends/fans (like Conrado de Quiros, Manuel Buencamino) don’t really care for him — a person, an individual –they only see what he supposedly symbolizes (but in reality cannot actualize). Can Noynoy deliver all that he is promising (the lines his propagandists are feeding him and making him memorize for his ads, for instance)? Or will he have a nervous breakdown when the going gets really tough?
I’m not being sarcastic here, but jeez, if he does have a conscience after all, imagine how he feels knowing that there’s blood on his family’s doorstep because of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre? That would throw anyone into depression and it would take at least a decade’s worth of therapy and medication to find a cure.
I am now seeing all the mudslinging from a different standpoint: whoever released the report was doing Noynoy Aquino a favor. Aquino has been for the most part a washout of a politician, and not all the hype can change that. What has changed in my perception of him (pre-pyscho report I just saw him a hypocrite who had nothing useful prior to his being LP’s presidential nominee) is this: there’s a serious psychological reason why he has been a washout, and this (among other reasons which include his empty platform, his lack of political experience, his compromised political allegiances and his obvious inability and refusal to right the wrongs of Hacienda Luisita) makes him unfit to be president.
We were classmates at the Ateneo and I have no doubt that you would remember me even if we were not close. Hint: I was one of those who ribbed you about the low grade that Father Kreutz gave you in math because you could never seem to get your fractions right. Remember going ballistic over that ribbing? [Reverend Wiliam “Bill” Kreutz, SJ, is a long-time Ateneo teacher from New York who founded the Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines—JR. All subsequent bracketed phrases are mine.]
Anyway, reading the psychological report that was posted on the Internet a few days ago certainly made me remember you. I heard you say on the news that the report was fake but you did admit that there were some things in it that were true. “Part truths” I think were your exact words. It fascinated me enough to want to read the report carefully to check out which were those things that were true.
Obvious things first, those facts that any of our classmates can confirm if asked. One of these is, as the report says, you have a labile disorder. This is whole truth. Even Father Gorospe would be distracted by your drooling during our oral exams. [The late Reverend Vitaliano Gorospe, SJ, was connected for a long time with the Ateneo Theology Department.] Father Ferriols, who made a point of showing he didn’t like you, would make side comments about it that led your classmates to give you the nickname “Cooper,” a reference to Cupertino school where we would teach Catechism to retarded children. I, however, never called you Cooper. [Reverend Roque Ferriols, SJ, taught Filipino Philosophy at Ateneo.]
The report says that you have a “major depressive disorder.” Well, I honestly don’t know if that is true. What I do know is that in school you were very temperamental and had sudden mood swings. Isang minuto, nakikikain ka kay Brudda Francis, maya’t maya nagagalit ka na. Many of our classmates can attest to witnessing scenes like this.
The report said that you used to go with your mom to see Dr. Manuel Escudero. That is a whole truth. I remember seeing you at Tito Maning’s high-rise apartment on Roxas Boulevard when we were still kids. Tito Maning was a consultant with the WHO here in Manila but he was also a psychiatrist who treated only the high society people in Manila. Even Imelda Marcos was his patient. Unfortunately, so was my mom who suffered from insecurities due to my dad’s numerous infidelities.
Tito Maning’s wife, Tita Jo, was a very good artist who had a couple of exhibits of her work before they left Manila for good a few years after martial law was declared. They lived in Topeka, Kansas. After they left, I kept a correspondence for a while with their very cute daughter Nina who I am sure you remember. I had such a crush on her. Maybe you did too. She used to talk to us “little folk” in the sala of their apartment while the “big folk” would lock themselves in the room and discuss “big folk” matters. She wanted to go to ballet school or some dance school which she did, I think, and I eventually lost track of her.
About your smoking marijuana, I also can’t say if that is wholly true. What I do know is that you would try to tag along with a group of students that would hang out with Ma’am Gloria Arroyo. [Yes, President Arroyo herself.] Mga students niya sa Economics. She was always surrounded by bright and handsome students kaya hindi ka pinapansin. Pati si Ma’am Placer, she never gave you the time of day kasi people said you were “medyo weird” and your grades were mababa per her standards.
Pero, you still tried to hang out with those guys. Trying hard to belong ba. I know those guys would drink na kasama pa si Miss Rosales na pag lasing na, kumakanta ng Spanish songs in Spanish. They would drink dozens of bottles of beer at Shakey’s Katipunan because Mrs. Ramos (our Spanish teacher in case you don’t remember) owned the restaurant. This group was also known to also smoke joints in the college auditorium, up in the closed space where the spotlights were. So, if you were hanging out with them then, you were probably also smoking marijuana too.
The report said you had a flight attendant girlfriend. This is another whole truth. I will not mention her name here to protect her but she was a PAL stewardess. I found out about this because I was on a flight with Father Samson [probably Ateneo de Davao president Reverend Antonio S. Samson] once and she was the one who seated us. When she found out we were from Ateneo, she introduced herself and said she was the girl friend of an Atenean and mentioned your name. Father Samson then asked jokingly if you were a good boyfriend to her. She shrugged and said you were “okay” but she was bothered because you were “too conservative.” You didn’t even like to kiss her daw because you were saving her for the wedding night. And you insisted that she dress very conservatively. Jealous boyfriend ka daw. No wonder that relationship ended. Maybe that’s why you got so depressed over it.
About the report. I know that [Ateneo-based Jesuit psychologist Reverend] Tito Caluag is one of your best friends. His group of “friends” are some of the richest and most influential people in the country today. I know that you used to frequently visit his home. He hosts get-togethers where things that are too esoteric for me are the subjects of discussion. At one time, this group of yours even discussed the ousting of [Ateneo president] Father [Bienvenido] Nebres because Tito Caluag had his own ideas on how Ateneo should be run. Maybe your closeness to him is why he was the one you went to when you were depressed and why he was the one who handled your case and signed your psychological report. To keep things quiet.
But I confess I actually don’t know. I do know that Tito Caluag was at one time your sister Kris’ father confessor. He may not be a very trustworthy father confessor, though, because many have heard him say aloud that “walang ginawa si Kris Aquino dito sa Ateneo kundi habulin si Alvin Patrimonio at mag-emote sa quadrangle”.
Anyway, yun muna. Good luck on your presidential run. If you become president of the Philippines, that would be really something, huh? From “Cooper” to “Mr. President” when brighter and more scheming Ateneans like Mar Roxas and Dick Gordon have not been able to make it is an achievement that Ripley should feature.
Your old friend,