Friday, August 23, 2019

Wenceslao: The Quisumbings

Candid Thoughts

I WAS introduced early to politics because of my late father Tiyong, whose political awareness was rather high. He listened to radio commentaries and brought home newspapers daily. Meaning that we children were exposed to what our father was interested in, and that rubbed off on me the most.

In the most trying times of the country, or during the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos, my father naturally aligned himself with the political opposition. He didn’t participate in rallies and wasn’t active in elections but we children knew where his sentiments lay. I could sense the sadness when he heard on radio the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983.

When I eventually became active in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, my father never put me on a leash. It was apparently because my political sympathies aligned with his. It was only when my participation became more radical that he began admonishing me, not for my political sympathies but because he worried for my safety.

I wonder now if he would have acted the same way had he been sympathetic to the Marcos dictatorship. Would he have put his foot down, harshly opposed my political activities and reined me in? Would he--and I--have sacrificed family for politics?

I ask that because of the report that businessman Norberto Quisumbing Jr., founder of Norkis Trading and Norkis Group of Companies and patriarch of the Quisumbing clan in Mandaue City, has declared his support for the mayoral bid of Jonas Cortes against Mayor Luigi Quisumbing--his grandson--in the May polls.

We don’t know the dynamics in the Quisumbing family, although reports say Norberto frowned on Luigi’s order to shut down an establishment owned by his daughter (the mayor’s aunt) and grandson (the mayor’s cousin). In this case, it wasn’t politics that caused the rift but Luigi’s decision to sacrifice family interest for what could be said as the public good.

Filipinos are proud of the values they hold, notably strong family ties. But there are many things that test family ties in the country, most notably politics and governance. We have seen clans riven by opposing alignments during elections, even at the barangay level. Those families may either have been splintered already or the family ties are too weak to withstand the test.

The older Quisumbing aligned himself with the opposition to Marcos’s rule and was with the Cory Aquino administration that replaced the dictatorship after the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising. If the Quisumbings were already politically splintered at that time, we didn’t see any inkling of it. Thus, this high-profile split is surprising.

If Luigi’s order to close the establishment owned by his aunt and his cousin sparked a rift within the Quisumbing clan, Norberto’s decision to support Cortes instead of Luigi widened that rift. That would make a Luigi loss especially painful. It may not be that painful, though, if he wins despite the lack of support from his grandfather.

Even then, the wound inflicted by it on the clan would be difficult to heal.


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