Of pride and protocol, prejudice and prudence-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, August 11, 2012
IT HAS been quite a colorful and disturbing past weeks.
Watching the entrance of lady guests during the State of the Nation Address (Sona), I wondered why it is such a red carpet affair where women come in their fineries and pose for photo ops while a list of the best-dressed come days if not hours after. Why is this so?
The Sona delivered by the President is a yearly tradition wherein the chief executive reports on the status of the country, unveils the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures.
The Sona is a constitutional obligation, as written in Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution: “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.” Moreover, Article VI, Section 15 prescribes that Congress “shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session.”
As per tradition and procedure, the President of the Philippines appears before Congress upon its invitation, for which purpose a joint session is held in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives. Congress issues tickets, and all preparations are undertaken with Congress as the official host.
There must be a lot of pride and excitement to be counted in and receiving an invite for the big occasion. As protocol demands, everyone comes in their excellent best to honor the hosts and the honoree.
Style is a matter of personal taste so whether you look elegantly recycled or donning a new customized but hideous gown is really up to the wearer and the beholder.
There were many who looked quite grand; a few quite garish. Some knew exactly how to dress for the occasion while some looked rather lost.
Does the Sona have an intermission number? One lady looked like she was ready to perform her cariñosa on stage. There were beautiful Muslim gowns exhibiting pride and perfection in their heritage.
The Sona is the opportunity for the President to report on the gains of his administration and his plans. It is his shining moment and everyone sat, listened, cheered and applauded him countless times.
I do not study statistics on the economy’s leap neither do I peruse the numbers on big time investments pouring into the country. While I do take pride and love my country and embrace the people who are voted into office, I know that I am angry for the students who die from hazing; for OFWs who are maltreated, raped and incarcerated and yet contribute so much to the country’s economy.
I am indignant of the abuse and exploitation of children and I wonder why Anna Balcells, who has founded Kalipay, a foundation to rescue and help these children, had to make a trip to Barcelona, Spain, then Canada and recently Singapore to beg for help for these poor victims since there is no assistance from government.
Also, the three homes supported by her foundation are pioneered mostly by foreigners. Why is this so?
Calvary Homes has survived over the years because of foreign aid and now with help from Kalipay. Monetary assistance from two senators got stranded in DSWD because of paperwork. One was released five months after and the other is still hanging, according to Anna.
I share the distress of the unemployed and wonder why English is not used as the medium of instruction, since the most available jobs are for call center agents and they have to have good command of the English language.
Can something be done with residential neighborhood areas with karaoke bars with deafening decibels? While there is a noise pollution directive, how come we have to suffer concerts of metallic if not satanic (quoting Millie Kilayko) music until dawn? After all, we are not paying customers of their event.
A few days after the Sona, the President was in the limelight again. He was the guest speaker of the silver celebration of TV Patrol and minced no words in front of the big guns of ABS-CBN, employees and guests, as he criticized Noli de Castro, one of the anchors of the newscast since its creation in 1987.
He reiterated his call for media to be balanced in reporting and stop “daily negativism”, since media plays a major role in presenting an image of the Philippines to foreigners and Filipino overseas.
He ended his speech asking for pardon for being too frank and greeting TV Patrol a happy 25th anniversary.
This was a celebration and not a gripe session. There are many who support the President’s sour note but there are negative reactions as well as to being a party pooper.
My two cents worth to this episode is a review on the virtue of prudence.
There are simple house rules in protocol and lessons in prudence we have learned from childhood until adulthood from our parents, grandparents, teachers, employers, our church and from experience.
Since the call of the President is to give good news and not to make it appear like a horror film series, I found humor in the hint of sarcasm on the snide remark of an ANC anchor the day after the TV Patrol incident when he said that the President will approve of this good news: “the Diosdado Macapagal or Clark International Airport is ranked as the 3rd best airport freezone in the world by FDi Magazine published by the Financial Times Business Group of London”.
Then came the most disturbing news. The devastation wrought by the floods which transformed NCR all the way to the Cordillera region into a Waterworld. Indeed it was a horror teleserye aired live and we watched with terror and grave concern.
While the President did convene his cabinet for solutions, what was most evident and noteworthy in the more than 24 hour coverage was the reaching out of equally distressed neighbor to neighbor. Makeshift provisions for rescue were impromptu inventions which helped save lives. Trust the Filipino to be innovative.
I admire the newscasters who braved the relentless rain and rising waters not only to inform the public of the gravity of the situation but also to assist rescuers and assure affected residents that help is on the way.
I am proud of the swift response of the major broadcasting networks who appealed for support and distributed much needed potable water and ready-to-eat meals.
Honor and praise go to the valiant and relentless rescuers of varied government agencies and volunteers who compromised life and limb to save another life without thoughts of compensation.
The local LGU executives should be commended for performing in the best capacity they could at their level. The Red Cross was ubiquitous. Movie actors and actresses should be applauded for taking time away from the glitz to prepare, hand out food and supplies, interact with the victims and show their caring.
I salute the nameless, countless, tireless heroes who displayed love for brother and made us proud that the bayanihan spirit is not dead and a forgotten folklore.
Their dedication is the good news in the midst of the catastrophe.
Another disturbing sight was the motorcade of the President in an Army truck with political activist Rissa Hontiveros right beside him. Naïve as I am, I wondered what she was doing there because she looked quite uncomfortable in between her smiles.
It was only in the evening news I gathered from all the networks that the President brought along his “manoks” for senators for the coming elections.
OH MY!!! This is a disaster but it looks like the campaign period has started. That answered my question, likewise, why I saw a television ad of Rissa Hontiveros that better times are coming.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the great flood came immediately after?
Our thoughts are guided by the events we see and the words we hear. These past weeks, so many lessons in pride and protocol, prejudice and prudence have been unfolded and taught to us!!! May we be wiser as we learn from them.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 11, 2012.