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Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Thick Must a Philippine President’s Skin Be?

To go about her duties as the highest leader of the Republic of the Philippines, it is essential for the President of the Philippines to have layers of security personnel around her to shield her from physical attacks. A threat to her life is a subsequent breach of security to the Philippines. Such a position earned her a large group of political allies, but at the same time a number of foes whose self-restraint may not be adequate to stop them from translating their grievances against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into physical aggression.
But what if the attacks are non- physical?

With the successive blows by media against PGMA’s controversial Le Cirque dinner, an army fought a relatively long verbal battle in the frontier. In my previous blog I call them Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Damage Control Team, in the persons of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, legal adviser Atty. Romy Macalintal,Presidential Spokesperson Lorelie Fajardo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita ...., to name a few I have identified. The weapon they used that struck my funny bone most was Atty. Makalintal’s “tu quo que”.

Despite this “populated” defense team, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was vulnerable to the attacks and media this time commented on her being onion-skinned despite being in the public office for several years already. Media people reasoned that taking a seat in public office, the highest seat at that (not necessarily because she is short and needs a high chair) she must be accountable to the people she sits in front of. And true enough, the verbal bullet landed on target. Arroyo’s camp promised that there will be no more Le Cirque dinners and a smaller contingent will be joining her when she goes back to New York in September. The outer crust must have crumbled.

Or perhaps she must have heeded the suggestion of Ralph Pena, artistic director, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York, to moisturize. When asked to define or explain delicadeza by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug. 23, 2009), he said, “Delicadeza is about moisturizing daily. When you moisturize daily, you lessen the chances of developing thick, calloused skin. This can have several benefits: a) Pick qualified National Artists, b) Say “no” to Bacchanalian excesses abroad, since most of the people you are supposed to lead are living below the poverty line, c) Excuse yourself from being considered for awards when there is clear conflict of interest, d) Make you think twice, thrice, and even four times before taking credit for illustrations you did not do. That is why moisturizing daily can help instill more delicadeza.”

But the silkiness of the Philippine President’s skin had been gauged many times already, not just recently. And many times we had seen it to be thick, hard, and scaly. Probably, it has been her best defense against all the non-physical attacks, or perhaps just second to her complex networks of political allies.
So, to those who want to be President, this advice plus one more:
1) If you want something done, do it hard, do it well.
2) Don’t pussyfoot. Just do it.
3) Don’t say bad words in public.
4) Moisturize. (NEW)
5) Otherwise, develop a crocodile skin. (OLD, TRIED AND TESTED)

The most “superior” specie of the land, she being the highest leader of the Philippines, is a tiny curiosity recently under relentless microscopic scrutiny with media as the microscope by her critics, the opposition, the militant groups and the general public which includes you and me. Media may be following and magnifying her actions because that is what sells. But what if media just let her be? How will the public learn how such intriguing organism function and affect our lives? We look into the microscope not just because we are curious, but also because her actions affect us and the entire nation. So to the President of the Philippines today and in 2010, do not be surprised or feign onion-skinned if media and the public get under your skin.

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