The President could use a new set of speechwriters.
The current ones are either out of touch, out of mind or simply out of it.
In the President’s June 12 Independence Day address, a major one, his people managed not only to recycle clichés and worn platitudes but also to offend the sensibilities of Filipinos. One year into his administration, they still have their man in campaign mode.
The speech was tired, a suit long past its fashion and its sheen.
“The time to be ashamed as Filipinos is behind us,” Aquino incanted from the balcony of Emilio Aguinaldo’s home. “With our heads held high we can say we are Filipinos, capable of being helped by our Government, capable of helping our country and the rest of the world”.
As examples of the latter, the President cited Brunei’s request for Philippine assistance on branding products and Cambodia’s for Filipinos to set up businesses there.
I did not appreciate how little it takes to save the world.
But that revelation was not what struck me.
What I did not realize, until reminded by the Presidential speechwriters, was that all along we have been a nation ashamed of ourselves.
Wonder what the speechwriters were smoking when thinking this one up.
The President’s writers may have issues with their self-worth but, to my knowledge, the rest of us don’t: We are not and have never been embarrassed by our identity or circumstance, however low.
To insinuate we have ever been ashamed of who we are is an affront to our honor. If those ensconced in Malacanang have such personal insecurities, they should speak for themselves. We do not need- are even insulted by- their condescension and their empathy.
And for this Government to claim credit for lifting us out of this non-existent state of being adds insult to injury.
Rather than speak their minds, the President’s writers should think their minds. That is what the mind is there for.
If there is anything Filipinos may be ashamed of is their leadership (and their speechwriters). The current Administration is a big improvement on the past but not if it keeps talking the way it is.
The rest of the speech, unfortunately, did not fare much better.
The President promised “ a new chapter in Philippine history where justice, quality and dignity would reign together with freedom from hunger, ignorance, poverty and lack of jobs.” As evidence he mentioned approval of the Government Owned and Controlled Corporations Act, the synchronization of the ARMM elections and the “pocket open skies policy”.
If this is what we have to show for a year’s work, then we are possibly in trouble.
With more Filipinos hungry today than a year ago, I am not certain Juan de la Cruz understands how GOCCs, ARMM and open skies brings food to his table. The country hopes the President fulfills his promise of deliverance.
The President asked for personal consideration: “If others think it’s a mortal sin to court ladies though I’m a bachelor, buy a second-hand car with my own money and sing out of tune, that’s not a problem with me”. Fair enough but next time, sir, buy a Prius not a Porsche, that may go down better.
In fact, with all the problems of the country, I am not certain why he even brings his personal issues to the table.
The President likened the Filipino to the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat “in not liking the situation they are in”. The NBA Finals and our national identity, who would have thought to make the link?
The audience, reportedly, did not quite get that either. The speechwriters must be desperate.
Great oratory requires passion, honesty and personal conviction, what the Greeks call ethos.
In the President’s speeches one does not sense this integrity, the belief and commitment to the lines: Words are uttered for words’ sake. There is an attempt to connect with the sound-bite but without success. The last one of its kind was the banning of ‘wang-wangs’ which worked at a certain level but has since exhausted itself.
The President’s wordsmiths’ are clearly running out of messages that their master can believe in or we can relate to.
His next major speech is the State of the Nation on July 25.
I hope this address will not be a reprise of the one just past. A bad rerun would, on national TV, simply be too painful (and shameful) to bear.