THE character Josh Lyman, a White House operative in the TV hit political thriller “The West Wing”, describes with a bit of resignation the independent power of congress. But at the end of his musing, he consoles himself, and not without a smirk, and says, “Well, we have the convoy.”

He meant, of course, the presidential limo and its army of wang-wangs cutting through American traffic. In the end, he implies, the president is still the most powerful.

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The siren sets the rule of the moment. You are supposed to move aside because power is on its way to affairs of utmost importance, say, a ribbon-cutting rite for a beauty salon.

Okay, the opening of a Ro-ro port or an airport. The wang-wang, they say, is necessary—for security and the President, having an entire nation to worry about, must cover enough grounds in the quickest way possible.

Sirens, in Greek mythology, are sea-nymphs, half-woman-half-birds who sing flirtatiously to lure sailors to their doom. That is getting an illustration of the seductiveness of power, man’s concupiscence and the arch that leads to his annihilation.

Modern order, as with the official convoy, assigns the siren as a symbol of power. It is not too difficult to understand if PNoy banners the wang-wang symbolism in his first official narrative as a president because power it was that left the ex-president staggeringly inebriated. A few minutes before the speech, we were all prepared for that symbolism when the convoy from Times St. stopped for a red light on the way to Malacañang Palace.

I could not help but applaud PNoy’s speech. Many were impressed by the matter-of-fact way he sent the message. But I was taken by something else. In the end, when you sift the sound bites, it was the wang-wang symbolism that stood out.

The speech may not have the full chromatics of rhetoric, but it did have the fiercest attack on the symbolism of power.

That was the most perfect response for the time’s most common sentiment, the zeitgeist that drove millions of Filipinos snubbing anyone at the polls whose face resembles Arroyo.

It is one speech that understands and wields the profound power of symbolism. You can parody the wang-wang all you want, but you saw, at the end of the day, how the symbol drove home the message. The “recall” is unquestionable.

It was like Fidel V. Ramos’s Mang Pandoy, Erap’s “walang kaibigan,” and Arroyo’s “bangkang papel,” only that here is one president that embodies his message like fish takes to water.

In the end, the symbolism performed its function of defining an ideology. Its impact escapes measurement for now, but time has proven symbolism’s function in culture. Surely, we’re not short of explanations about why some cringe in sudden supplication at the sight of Christ on the cross.

So why in the world would PNoy use smoking as his prime symbol?

The Philippine problem is not a broken bronchus. You don’t need an ideology for that. All you need is a failing lung to shut the daylights out of your oblivious ways. The Philippine problem is about public officials behaving like power-drunk bosses. I wish to see the day when some ordinary Juan will barge into some government office and give some lackluster bureaucracy a good deal of scolding.

I don’t know how you strike a balance in arguing between security risks and sending out a symbolic gesture. But I do know about risking one’s life and its exponential ways in driving home a loftier message for the rest of humanity.

Most of which I learned from your President’s parents.

Now that we all get the drift of this new administration’s ideology, we await the nitty-gritty of how it’ll carry the country back to its “matuwid na daan.” We have all the right to help the President straighten things up. After all, we are, excuse us, the boss.