DEAR MR. PRESIDENT

Posted on July 1, 2010

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DEAR MR. PRESIDENT

Conrado De Quiros

Doubtless, you have been deluged by letters of late, some of them not entirely lacking in class, such as the one your Vice President wrote you last week. I hope you don’t mind yet another, from someone who was inspired to see you as the right person to run for president and remains inspired to see you as the right president to run for glory.

I understand that you’ve been hurt by some of my comments these past weeks. What can I say? The truth has been known to make one fret before it makes one free. Truth at least as I see it, which I grant is as imperfect as they come even if my attempts to capture it come straight from the heart. I can only propose that the country’s hurts take precedence over individual hurts, including those of the President. Certainly over those of the candidates who lost; the country cannot be held hostage to their hurts.

I remember how a few months ago, Gloria’s people begged the press to be a little kinder to her as she bid the world farewell. I said then that the only way I could think of to be kind to her was to rid her of her delusions. Truth shall make her whole, even if it shall also make her hang. I figure the only people who have a right to mind being told the truth are the dying—and the more courageous among them always prefer it to being fed false hopes. In any case, the point is not to be kinder to those who are leaving, it is to be kinder to those they are leaving—especially after they have left them utterly devastated.

What applies to an outgoing leader applies to an incoming one. The point is not to be kinder to the new ruler, it is to be kinder to the old ruled.

I know we all need words of encouragement, particularly when we’re about to embark on an epic journey, or when we’re just new to the job. We all have our anxieties, our worries, our insecurities. Be assured that you will not want for them from me. My hopes and best wishes go with you alongside those of the country. But it is one thing to encourage, it is another to fawn. I can only hope that while you draw strength from the affirmations of your circle, you do not repose your future, and that of the nation, on those who have the capacity only to tell you how astounding you are, how unerring you are, how infallible you are. Yes-men can only lead to no good.

As for me, I am not a subaltern, I am a journalist. I am not a team player, believing as I do that the best team players are lemmings who throw themselves over a cliff in unison, chanting “If We Hold On Together.” I remember how in “A Man For All Seasons,” Thomas More told his king, “I am your loyal servant, but God’s first.” I am no saint, but I’d like to paraphrase More and tell my president, “I am your loyal subject, but the Inquirer’s first.”

Doubtless you have been deluged by unsolicited advice of late, not least from people who presume to know how to win the people’s hearts and minds even if they do not know how to win their votes. I hope you don’t mind yet another, from someone who has contributed in his own way to ridding this country of a seemingly unriddable pest and ushering in an eminently usherable pest controller.

That is that in lieu of listening to unsolicited advice, you listen to the voice in your heart, you listen to the voice of Edsa, you listen to the voice of the people. Three ways of saying one and the same thing.

Not least by listening to the voice of the people as they have sounded it in the candidates they’ve voted for. The people are not fools. There is a collective wisdom in them, even if that wisdom manifests itself, like God’s own, in mysterious ways. The voice of the people is the voice of God in more ways than that it is the majority decision; it is so in that it sends a message to those they put in office about their deepest needs and aspirations.

If they voted for Erap once, it is because they saw in him the hope of plucking them out of poverty. If they voted for you now, it is because they see in you the hope of breaking the yoke they have felt around their necks all these years. They may be wrong about the people they assign the task to, but they are right about the task.

If they did not vote for the people they did not vote for, it is because they saw them as hopeless.

I truly hope you become a listening president. While that is advisable for all presidents, it is imperative on your part. It was Edsa that birthed you, it was Edsa that made you win. It is Edsa you owe your power to and not the brilliance everyone craving a position in your government now claims to have shown in the campaign, a claim refuted by the fact that they have to draw a magnifying glass to it for it to be seen.

I can understand the fear and trepidation that high expectations bring. But that is the burden of Edsa as much as its blessing. Today is a joyous day not just because evil is leaving but because good is coming in. If only for that, Easter comes in June. The country has not just stepped out of Bilibid after nine years, it expects to win the lottery, too. The vastness of the sigh is matched only by the vastness of the high. It is daunting, I grant. But you have the people with you, you have the people believing in you, you have the people willing to go to the ends of the earth for you. Trust in them and their power and they will see you through.

Edsa will see you through.

Lastly, you told me once that though you were not as pious as your mother, you shared in her embrace of Christian principles. I hope that as you gaze at the sorry spectacle of people jostling each other to be near you, quite apart from the glorious spectacle of the people turning out like a flood to greet you, you will find it in your heart to say: “The first shall be last, and the last first.”

God go with you. Make the country proud.

Posted in: Politics