By ERIK ESPINA
In the earliest years of the nation, willingness and the ability to put one’s life for revolutionary causes was a requirement for leadership. Testament was the many uprisings and internecine battles fought by our brave forefathers against every form of foreign invader from the Spanish crown and cross, the Chinese pirates attempting to seize the capital, to the British stay in Fort Santiago for roughly two years, to the American benevolent occupation, before the Japanese red sun flew over the wide archipelago of the country. “To die is to rest” — so goes Jose Rizal’s “Last Farewell.”
Tribal wars among clans, their creeds, territorial boundaries, properties were the precursor to alien rule achieved via the oldest trickery of colonials, “divide and conquer.” Exploiting domestic dissent, including religion, as a point for conflict, when there was none, made subjugation an easier task. The values learned from wars and sacrifice refined many generations into recognizing the more immutable values of patriotism. Our grandfathers and fathers born into war solicited, the best qualities for national leadership, hardened by the fire of want and forfeiture. In the political formation of our republic, people were galvanized to support particular men who had outstanding mental acuity. They asked: “What did he finish in school?” “How did he fare in his education?” “Who is his family?” The next segment of questions were: “What is his experience in public service?” “At least, does he know how to manage a business?” This was in the absence of a gleaning of brilliance or good education.
From Manuel Quezon to Ferdinand Marcos, the standard was one’s education and background experience. In the February 1986 elections, the value evolved conflicted with the choice of brilliance or “sincerity.” In 2004, the public fervor over a legendary action figure to get the work done, defeated by mental acumen for political maneuvering. In 2010, the value system recalibrated for the promise “never to steal.”
Perhaps fed-up with the great rhetoric and demagoguery of unserved political promises, the raw language and irreverence on “drugs and crime” is the new standard.”