Is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo running in May against President Noynoy Aquino? In Aquino’s mind, the answer is an unqualified “Yes!”
In an often-breathless, hurriedly-read and sparsely-applauded 30-minute speech introducing the members of his 12-person Senate slate, Aquino once again exhumed the long-dead Arroyo administration to drumbeat his supposed accomplishments and to scare the citizenry into voting for his candidates. Why, nearly halfway into his term, Aquino still feels the need to use Arroyo as a convenient (and now bedraggled) straw man, only he can really say.
The success of his 2010 election, during which he portrayed himself as the anti-Arroyo and his rivals as Arroyo’s surrogates, is apparently still fresh in Aquino’s mind. Aquino cannot seem to understand that the time has long arrived for him to declare what he has done in office, without harking back to the days when he was just engaged in the full-time job of belittling an unpopular administration whose supposed offenses are, one by one, being exposed by the courts as mere creations of an overheating Yellow propaganda machine.
Certainly, Aquino also updated his anti-Arroyo spiel, this time by accusing the rivals of his Team Pinoy slate of being double agents of his predecessor. Near the end of his speech, Aquino even looked ahead to 2016, when he expressed confidence that the people would not allow a return to the old corrupt ways, simply because they have already seen the light.
But Aquino’s Plaza Miranda speech, even if judged by the often abysmal standards of such self-serving perorations in this country, failed to impress precisely because it was so predictably anti-Arroyo. In the future, perhaps Aquino should just record one public address in Malacañang and lip-sync his time on the podium whenever he is forced to say something in public.
If Aquino insists on singing his one-note samba every time he goes up to the microphone, then he will have to bear the unrelenting criticism that he simply cannot point to anything that he has done without feeling the need to simultaneously bash his predecessor while doing so. And it’s not as if he can point to truly spectacular feats when he makes his one-sided comparisons; after all, constructing a single underpass in nearly three years in office isn’t really that much of a presidential accomplishment, no matter what Aquino says.
(At one point in his speech, when the applause that Aquino was expecting didn’t come, he had to urge his audience —obviously made up of bussed-in supporters of his individual candidates —to put their hands together for what he just said. That’s how bad it has gotten.)
“Ang lakas ng loob ninyong magkumpara [You have the gall to compare],” Aquino said—forgetting that he can’t seem to stop himself from putting himself in a favorable light while consigning the previous presidency to the darkness whenever he opens his mouth. And, yes, he is so proud of comparing his underpass (something a mayor can truly be proud of) to whatever else Arroyo did.
Three years from now, I’m almost certain that the speeches Aquino will give won’t be that much different from the one he gave Tuesday night at Plaza Miranda. Yes, right down to that underpass, because he has precious little time to build anything else, so obsessed is he with everything Arroyo.
Aquino, after all, has been giving basically the same speech for more than three years now. It’s time someone saved some taxpayers’ money and patience and convince the President to do a Beyonce.
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Another President’s speech, delivered an ocean away, made Filipinos proud. US President Barack Obama made special mention in his State of the Union Address before the joint session of Congress of Filipina nurse Menchu de Luna Sanchez, who led an effort to save 20 at-risk infants when Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City last year.
“We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans in the same way they look out for one another every single day, usually without fanfare all across the country,” Obama said. “We should follow their example.” “When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring,” the American president continued. “Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.”
Sanchez, whose home was flooded during the disaster, planned and implemented the rescue of the babies from New York University’s Langone Medical Center, which involved sending them to intensive care units all over the city when a power outage hit the hospital. The plan, in true Filipino McGyver fashion, included carefully carrying the babies down eight flights of stairs using the hospital staff’s cellular phones for flashlights.
For her efforts, Sanchez, who was born and educated in the Philippines and who has worked in the US as a nurse for the past 25 years, got a shoutout from the POTUS and a seat between Michelle Obama and Jill Biden during the President’s address to Congress.
Sanchez’ heroics, which are performed on a daily basis by Filipino nurses in American hospitals on a daily basis should make us all proud. Mabuhay ka, Menchu!