Friday, August 10, 2007

August Days

August 19 and 21 are coming up. Birthday of Quezon and the other, the day Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. I think it’s safe to judge these 2 men by now: vainglorious patriots, heroes. My grandfather, Jose S Bautista worshipped Quezon who appointed him Judge over half of all Mindanao (Davao and Cotabato) during the Commonwealth. Out of respect I never argued with him whenever he’d begin extolling Quezon’s achievements. Until he died at the age of 102, my grandfather regarded Manuel Luis Quezon as the Filipino Prometheus. I was born 18 years after Quezon died and thus I was free to form my own objective judgment on the man. Remember, I am Quezon City-born and I frequently went to the Quezon Memorial Circle when I was a child and I was exposed to all those exhibits about his life and accomplishments. I saw Pope Paul VI at the Quezon Memorial and I can clearly recall the colored fountains that entertained us, the hoi polloi during summer evenings. We always set aside a “Linggo ng Wika” (week of the native language) throughout grade school and high school to learn and appreciate the greatness and patriotic foresight of Quezon. At first I felt MLQ compromised too much and sought political power too fiercely; I thought he was inordinately awed by Douglas MacArthur. It didn’t help that he clearly relished the trappings of pomp. I did get to know him a lot more from his speeches and from the numerous books and essays by historians who were eager to weigh-in with their own opinions about the man. And all in all, considering he came from the rugged remote eastern coast of Luzon facing the Pacific, and taking advantage of whatever education available to the natives at that time Quezon will be remembered well because of his love for the Philippines and for this alone, all his human failings will be forgiven.

Ditto on Aquino. These days all we hear about him are his daring exploits, courageous speeches as well as his unshakeable faith and unwavering bravery. Hagiography, they call it. Not that Ninoy is entitled to every bit of it but a major part of the lesson will be lost if we don’t consider that he had many moments of doubt and fear. That he succumbed to temptation often. Ninoy Aquino should rightfully be venerated because he was able to overcome his core of ambition and ruthlessness and arrogance and pride and sacrifice all that he had for his country.

Our country is on a dangerous drift . We have almost completely rehabilitated the Marcos dictatorship. Many ignorant people even hearken back to those imagined halcyon times. And who is to blame? Many benefited and got away scot-free. There are no lessons to be learned. Nothing personal on Marcos here. He was as human as our heroes and the rest of us and he simply took advantage of his superior political instincts and skills to promote a culture of unsurpassed corruption and rapacious personal aggrandizement. It is that we should not idealize what went on during that period which was the complete opposite of the communitarian patriotism that Quezon and Aquino lived and died for. We need to be ever vigilant not to allow our base nature to take over because just as the crowd chose Barabbas, we will do the same if we are not careful.


Street Kid said...

I remember MLQ as the man who could have made the biggest difference in the lives of the Filipinos. We should have stayed the course and remain a commonwealth and eventually became one of the States or at least have sought a visa/quota free entry of pinoy to the mainland just like the Freely Associated States of Micronesia now. We will be like Hawaii or Puerto Rico or Guam now; no MNLF/MILF/Abu Sayaf/NPA/extreme poverty/obviously corrupt politicians/private armies. But just like HI/GU/PR we will have plenty of welfare kings and Queens, Drug problem, delinquent youth. The Quezon memorial should be turned into a dumpsite for all the garbage that was collected in manila bay after the latest typhoon.

Duke said...

In my opinion the Filipinos as a people were not ready for independence in 1945. I don't think we are even ready today. As a people we are not mature enough to understand the real meaning of democracy, much less live by it.

The politicians and those in power may say otherwise but these are the same people who are exploiting the immaturity of the citizenry. Individually, your average Filipino has a lot to say about how things can be improved here and some of these ideas actually make sense. But as a people, we fall short of the passing mark.

True, millions of people joined People Power in EDSA I and II but everything seemed to end there. It is so easy to blame the present government and point to unchecked graft and corruption. But there are fundamental issues that nobody dares touch. Population is one of them. There is simply too many mouths to feed. But try to address this and one finds himself excommunicated.

Sociologists would tell you that animal experiments on over-crowding breeds all sorts of problems. It is a fact and we can see it in every part of any major city. Try to deal with the squatter problem and you'd be branded anti-poor.

The widening gap between the rich and poor is not because the rich is taking advantage of the poor. It is simply because the poor are literally multiplying much faster than the growth of the economy. We shouldn't blame the government for not being able to deliver the basic services to the people. The demand for basic services is outstripping the available supply. The politicians and government officials know this but what do they do? They tell the people what the people want to hear.

The politicians don't want to go against the Catholic Church so they do a dog and pony show to give the impression that they are doing something for the people. Not wanting to go against the Catholic Church either, the people respond to the shortsightedness of the politicians, fooling themselves into believing that things would get better. Then three years down the road, everybody wonders why things have not changed.

Political will? The politicians only have enough power as given to them by the people. Political will, yes but political will of the people and not of the policticians alone.

Anonymous said...

....street kid said that he remembered MLQ....presuming that he lived at that a young man now I cannot feel as intensely as my grandfather did on concepts like "patriotism " and "nationalism" which could be on the way out in the near future of "globalization" and United Europe....street kid must have belonged to the Moncado or Cabangbang adherents

Raymundo Marquez said...

Some random thoughts after reading this column:

(1) Earlier than Doctor Bautista's high school days, we were also taught about Quezon as having fathered the movement for independence from the U.S., in which he succeeded. He appeared so hectic in his campaign for this that he was quoted, correctly or incorrectly, that he would prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos rather than like heaven by Americans. Well, we got what he wished for, and more.

(2) Concerning Ninoy Aquino, I have never read, or known, of him as constituting the "core" of those nasty things the doctor is talking about. Was this perhaps an unfelicitous way of trying to defrock Ninoy for what he did as a leader and, earlier, as a journalist? He died a martyr, and I see nothing vainglorious about that either. Another poor choice of words, perhaps?

(3) As for Marcos, any of us can file a long list of opprobrious things to say about this man, and nobody would care. He deserves to be pilloried for what he did to our country, from which we are still recovering.

I would not call as "hagiography" the good things Filipinos remember of Quezon and Aquino, both of whom worked hard to make the country better without aspiring to be saints, and doing what they did with no plaudits in mind. We can say that, however, for Felix Manalo, founder of the Iglesia ni Kristo, who is revered by a tiny segment of Filipinos as a saint.

Most of our heroes had their human frailties, but I think it's wrong to call them saints or pompous asses.