NewsStand by John Nery
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 18, 2009
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escuder enjoys a reputation for political eloquence, and as I have written before on other occasions, his mellifluous monotone” can prove highly effective. But as his answers at the recent ABS-CBN-sponsored “leadership forum” at the Ateneo de Manila showed, he also uses it in Orwelllian fashion. That is to say, he sometimes uses his gift of gab to conceal thought, not to reveal it.
One example: To the question about personal heroes (Which historical person living or dead do you most admire?), Escudero said, None. His answer (in mellifluously monotonous Filipino, and readily available on his website) started in this wise: “Ilang ulit nang tinanong sa akin yan, “matagal ko nang pinag-isipan ngunit wala akong maisip ni-isa.” My translation: “I’ve been asked that many times and have thought about it a long tiem, but I can’t think of anyone.” He went on to say: “Dahil para sa akin walang iisang kumakatawan at nagtataglay nang lahat ng katangiang kapupuri-puri. [Because for me, there is no one who embodies and symbolizes all that is worthy of praise.]”
This is passing strange. The question was not Who is perfect? but Who do you look up to?
Escudero proceeded to state that perhaps what we ought to do is to choose what is admirable in our historical figures (“mga magagandang ginawa ng mga personalidad sa kasaysayan”) and avoid mistakes. But that was the point of the question, wasn’t it? Give the Filipino people an idea of who you consider admirable. Escudero then wrapped up his two-minute answer with an appeal to imagination: Imagine a person with all these qualities, he said. “Iyon siguro, hindi man totoong tao, ang dapat natin tingalain. [Maybe that is the one, though not a real person, we should look up to.]”
Pure drivel. I think in avoiding the true question, Escudero is betraying the anxiety of influence. As I’ve written before (the first time, I think was in 2005), Escudero strikes me as the acceptable face of the Marcos restoration. Here’s a thought in search of a consensus. Perhaps Escudero declined answer the real question because the people may not be ready to hear him profess any admiration for the late dictator.