By Jullie Y. Daza
So the headline-attracting Mocha Uson, assistant secretary to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, has succumbed to public opinion (of how many?) and returned the award given her by the UST Alumni Association. By the way, the thought of rescinding the award (for government service) never crossed the board members’ minds.
I hate to say it, but how does this make the three other returners of the award feel now? Having returned their certificates and medals with the noblest of intentions and having these placed now in the same hot space as Mocha’s in the USTAA storage room would be just as bad as being bodily, personally present in the same pantheon of achievers, would it not? With four awards returned – likely a first in the history of awards-giving bodies – will the tempest in a teapot settle down so we can move on to newer, newsier, juicier scandals?
There’s another wrinkle that the alumni association has to smooth out, though one that isn’t nearly as provocative or earth-shaking. Henry Tenedero, USTAA president who was thrust into the foray to defend Mocha and the awards, has offered to resign. The board has yet to meet and act on his request.
Henry is the old man – “matanda” – referred to by Mocha – fake news, Mocha, he’s not that old, ouch, older than you but not that old – that she wants to save from further bashing by haters and dislikers. By giving back an award that she did not ask for, she said she hoped to pacify the outraged Thomasians and to spare her mother from more pain. In Filipino, she messaged Henry: “There’s work waiting to be done for our country.”
“Matanda” Henry checked the time the message was sent: 3:17 in the morning of Tuesday the 23rd.
Mocha wasn’t about to fade into the night without fighting back. On TV that evening, she reminded the senator who wouldn’t have accepted his award had he known she was among the awardees, that unlike him she didn’t have a graft case pending before the Ombudsman. To the protesting UST students, she asked, “And what kind of Thomasian core values have you shown?”
Henry’s parting shot: Let’s remember the story of Mary Magdalene, the prodigal daughter. “We all need forgiveness,” he said, sounding oldish and wise.