First Words: An Insight on the President’s Inaugural Address

My personal insight about the President’s inaugural speech centers on two things: the lack of substantial inclusiveness and his seeming oscillation about his acceptance of the duties and roles of President.

Allow me to first draw on what i perceive is his hesitation towards the role as evidenced in the following statements:

Hindi ko inakala na darating tayo sa puntong ito, na ako’y manunumpa sa harap ninyo bilang inyong Pangulo. Hindi ko pinangarap maging tagapagtaguyod ng pag-asa at tagapagmana ng mga suliranin ng ating bayan. (I never expected that I will be here taking my oath of office before you, as your president. I never imagined that I would be tasked with continuing the mission of my parents. I never entertained the ambition to be the symbol of hope, and to inherit the problems of our nation.)

At first i was wondering, does he not feel ready yet? Some of us might think that this is self-deprecating for a President and may even be a show of humility. However, with a country hungry for progress and action, we look to the highest person in the land to be decisive or having the ability and power to determine the outcome of his endeavours. When he filed his candidacy, did he not have the courage to win? His last statement there felt like the nation was an unwelcome burden.

What comes next in the speech seems to characterize his priorities in life:

Ang layunin ko sa buhay ay simple lang: maging tapat sa aking mga magulang at sa bayan bilang isang marangal na anak, mabait na kuya, at mabuting mamamayan. (My goals in life are simple: to be true to my parents and to my country as an honorable son, a loving brother and a good citizen.)

The sequence of his priorities primarily rests on family first, with country a mere second. It speaks to the tendency to promote nepotism and political dynasties. I had hoped that he would’ve placed the country first in his speech more than his allegiance to his parents. I wonder why the President’s speechwriters did not find it important to prioritize love of country nor did they find odd that his speech might be perceived as a statement towards continuing a kind of modern feudalistic fealty.

It begs the question whether he possesses the needed burning fervor towards nationalism. Not a lot of people might see the following statement from Noynoy selfish, but in my opinion it was not in any way selfless either:

Sa iilang sandali na sarili ko lang ang aking inaalala, pati ako ay napag-isip din – talaga bang hindi na mababago ang pamamahala natin dito? Hindi kaya nasa ibang bansa ang katahimikang hinahanap ko? (In moments when I thought of only my own welfare, I also wondered—is it possible that I can find the peace and quiet that I crave in another country?)

He goes on to even display what seems a lack of courageous and upfront leadership by pointing out his suffering of bearing the cross to displacing his load on the people. To the average listener, it may at first look like he is carrying it with us, but i had personally perceived this as non-ownership of the massive duties of the presidency:

Hindi si Noynoy ang gumawa ng paraan, kayo ang dahilan kung bakit ngayon, magtatapos na ang pagtitiis ng sambayanan. Ito naman po ang umpisa ng kalbaryo ko, ngunit kung marami tayong magpapasan ng krus ay kakayanin natin ito, gaano man kabigat. (It is not Noynoy who found a way. You are the reason why the silent suffering of the nation is about to end. This is the beginning of my burden, but if many of us will bear the cross we will lift it, no matter how heavy it is.)

The lack of substantial inclusiveness in his speech comes evident. He talks about the need of the students by filling gaps in classroom facilities. But he forgets to mention the need for and of teachers who are the backbone of our educational system. He talks about infrastructure (like roads, bridges, tourism, trade, transportation) but does not mention technology. He mentions farming irrigation but fails to mention land reform. He mentions Bangsamoro as a people when it is actually a territory of our Muslim countrymen. It shows a lack of understanding of sensitive but fundamental nuances of how the nation should be defining Mindanao.

I understand that you cannot have everything included in an inaugural speech. However, the outline of his agenda to the nation is devoid of substantial focus. And even though the speech need not be thorough, it still requires substantive cogency (having a firm basis in reality such that it is important and delivered in persuasive relevance).

Given the length of his speech of 1,998 words and 50 paragraphs (excluding salutations), he devotes to speak about program-specific platforms only in the following instances:
1. Reviving Emergency Employment Program of President Cory Aquino
2. Improvement of PhilHealth services in three years
3. Setting up of Trade Centers for Farmers via cutting the middleman
4. The Davide Truth Commission

Everything else is composed of banal proclamations. Noteworthy though is that there are 5 paragraphs with direct linkages to his parents and family.

Some of you might say: Teki, the speech is not important (or any derivative of the statement for that matter). But like in other countries, the inaugural speech is not just an expression of words by presidents but a statement and empathic affirmation of the outlook of the presidency, the roadmap of his administration. It cannot be just so-so. It cannot be simplistic but it needs to be sound and monitored for execution. It must be a speech that caters towards national unity, devoid of divisiveness, but contained with a level of respect and a whole lot of actionable initiatives.

We should expect more and more from our leaders and more so from the highest position of the land. The first step and the first words of this President to me were weak. I do hope however that there is light somewhere in the next 100 days, if not tomorrow. Because we need it soon and fast.

Now people will also perhaps say:  “Why do you hate Noynoy so much?”

Truly, hate is a strong word. It is laden with emotion when one uses it and when one calls others by it. However, in my opinion, this is not even exercising misanthropy (because it would connote an all-encompassing and general distrust of mankind).

Being critical of the government through pointed discourse is not tantamount to hate. I love the Philippines and will continue to be critical of people and institutions that continue to propagate cultural ignorance by pandering and abusing the mind of the Filipino. 

It challenges us to think and not to be driven my mindless emotion. What some people read as negativity is an emotional response (which people are entitled to opine). However, if people who read fail to catch that AP’s style is more of an impassioned fervor exercised through ardent intelligent discourse, then they do not have the stomach for truthful confrontation such that they will cower in emotional responses: “you haters!”

A lot of pro-Noynoy advocates need get away from the cult-of-personality syndrome. They need to understand that the President is the utmost representation for us,Filipinos. I am saddened when i hear my countrymen say: “But please give Noynoy a chance first.” The running of this country is not framed on giving the President a chance. But to expect more and more and ever more from him as he carries who we are and what we can become as a nation. Telling people to give Noynoy a chance is a plea equal to saying that you are expecting less and less of the Philippines. He is the President and should act and epitomize all the traits that we need to keep starting the very second he casted his candidacy. It’s time we become real and demand more of our leaders. There is no giving chances to elected leaders (such that there is no more room for failure and waiting.)

The inauguration was not able to represent the best of what this nation can be. It promotes a culture of “showbiz” without real and specific focus. (Production numbers that did not bring forward a more cultural focus.  The use of the predominant yellow thereby alienating other political parties in the democratic participation of the government.  The Constitution actually stated that the oath should be done by 12 noon.  However, because of an early start as evidenced by the lack of protocol knowledge of the organizers of the inauguration, a slew of production numbers – some unscheduled to even appear like that of Christian Bautista, Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez and Noel Cabangon were inserted.  It  only made the inauguration look like an ABS-CBN noontime show.  In my opinion, the singing of the National Anthem,  a Filipino poem by a National Artist should be enough.)

If Noynoy had wanted to veer away from the excesses of GMA’s administration, the inauguration should have been the first example by being more succinct and centered on specific national initiatives.

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