Malilong: Welcome back to private life

The Other Side
Malilong.SunStar file

The resignation of Undersecretary Elaine Bathan from the Department of Tourism came as a shock. She and Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco are good friends, so it could have only been a very strong reason that persuaded her to give up and leave her friend behind.

Maybe, she has realized that being in government employ is not fun anymore. It is not ever, by the way. As the late Sen. Rene Saguisag famously said after leaving private life to help run the Cory Aquino government and being at the receiving end of severe criticism after only a few days since his assumption, “Welcome to public service.”

Not very long ago, Bathan found herself the target of a vicious personal attack over a Facebook post by her friend, Mandaue City treasurer Regal Oliva who claimed that the Usec left an important meeting that she was presiding to accommodate Oliva’s request for a tutorial on Google Translate.

Netizens went into a rampage and Oliva’s post became viral, accusing Bathan of irresponsibility for favoring a friend’s call over an official function. The attack did not subside even after Oliva took down her post.

The sad thing is that while Oliva did call her, it was before, not during, the meeting and that it was not Bathan but another undersecretary who was designated to call the meeting to order and chair it.

Oliva herself would clarify that Bathan never told her that she left the meeting just to accommodate the city treasurer and that what she posted was the usual exaggeration between friends to drive home the point that they were really close. (They are.)

Unfortunately, the clarification did little to stem the tide of condemnation that soon swamped Bathan. I would not be surprised if office politics had something to do with the unusual virulence of the attacks against her and that having made aware of that, she realized that being undersecretary was no longer worth her while.

Welcome back to the relative quiet of private life, Elaine.

Like Bathan weeks ago, Mayor Michael Rama has been getting flak lately for allegedly choosing flippancy at the expense of public interest. The mayor’s sin? He was caught dancing on video while the city groaned from the heat and the lack of water.

Come on, people. What is wrong about Mayor Rama dancing on video? He was having fun. There are a myriad of reasons to complain against him and we choose his display of his terpsichorean skills to ridicule him? Define nitpicking.

Rama is not the only office-holder who does it, by the way. I saw Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia swaying to the music on TikTok and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan on Facebook and I find nothing wrong with that. We all deserve our lighter moments including, and most especially, those in high public office because of the stress that attends governance.

They are all good dancers, by the way. I wish though that Rama had chosen a more age-appropriate music to dance to. Watching an older man or woman dancing to a beat associated with the younger set is uncomforting, to put it mildly.

Former Immigrations Commission chairman and current Cagayan de Oro Congressman Rufus Rodriguez for example, stuck to an old Beatles song in a video that was uploaded on Facebook. He is not the most graceful dancer I’ve seen but I had fun watching him twist and turn to the voices of McCartney and Lennon.

I would love to see our dancing officials do a Rufus.


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