Destiny and Ambition

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

When the chips are down, the character of a person is sorely tested. At the worst of moments, a person’s weaknesses are seriously provoked to manifest. Dr. Jekyl the scientist can become Mr. Hyde the monster. Philippine elections are like pressure cookers. Because of a past history of violence, many candidates are encouraged by their peers in civil society to enter in pacts of peace. The more adventurous enter into agreements where they promise to keep their campaigns on a high note.  A few do manage to keep their word, but most simply do not. If they themselves do not utter dirty language, their subalterns do, or their paid black propagandists.

The recent presidential elections are a classic example of how much black propaganda has now become a standard campaign tool. But I guess it had to nowhere to go but that direction anyway as open campaign pitches have turned quite deceptive if not downright dishonest.  The Internet has created a parallel communications dimension, a super active, 24/7 field that produced the best and the worst as well. Politics in the Philippines will never be the same again.

The cry of the people was change, the color of the people was yellow, and the choice of the people was Noynoy. Many accepted the fact that Cory’s dramatic passing away catapulted Noynoy into national consciousness and demand. Yet, many forgot along the way, from August 2009 to May 2010, that the foundation of the campaign was Cory as much as Noynoy. It was love, respect or admiration for Cory that kept the candidacy of Noynoy solid at 37% when his enemies had thrown every dirty trick his direction.

When in August of last year I started to write my views about Noynoy and a possible destiny, my conviction simply grew thereafter. From an assumption of that destiny, I viewed the political dynamics of the campaign and saw more clearly by the day that destiny was the propellant, that its color was yellow, its cry was change, and its protector was Cory. I knew, too, that a few others thought the same way, planned their work and efforts with that in mind, and hit the jackpot because of it.

When I summarized the whole campaign, I understood it first as a historical replay. I wrote my thoughts in my last two articles, but I skirted from publicly sharing a key feature of what I saw. Historical replays alert us to strategic factors of the past and the present, factors that guide our views and operations. There have been equivalents, like a despised Marcos finding a present counterpart in Gloria Arroyo, like martial law then and translated to corruption today, and a restive military force that believed it would not follow illegal orders if their superiors would give them.

One key element, though, was the political compromise that Cory and Doy Laurel entered into. It was a partnership of destiny and ambition, the uneasy relationship of oil and water. Marcos said that Cory knew nothing, and guess what Noynoy’s enemies said. Cory wrested what Marcos tried to steal, the will of the people, and governed as written in the stars.

Cory took Doy with her then. When Marcos fled, his vice-president tried a pathetic and failed people power rerun at the Manila Hotel.  Cory stayed president despite radical and determined attempts to remove her by force. In some of those attempts, there were serious doubts about the loyalty of her vice-president, whether he was cheering for her or for her enemies. A historical replay of this scenario would be hell on earth for Noynoy, and it appears that fate is intervening.

If there is such a historical replay, who would have been the equivalent of Doy Laurel? If there is indeed a Cory in the heavens being allowed to orchestrate the ascendancy of her son, would she intervene with the vice-presidency, too?

Jojo Binay is the new vice-president if it is a matter of just counting the election returns being sent to Comelec and PPCRV. Unless massive fraud can be proved against an opposition candidate whom Gloria tried so hard to eliminate as the mayor of a city which always gave rally permits for opposition forces, Binay will win.  Is Binay, then, Cory’s choice as well?

As someone who experienced the traumatic period of coup de etats and knew a small, dark Cory loyalist who earned the nickname “Rambo-tito” with his UZI-toting ways, I never doubted that the same loyalty will be given to Cory’s son. After all, he never withdrew that loyalty to Cory all those years and to her family as well. At one point in time, when I was about to make a very important decision regarding my path for the campaign, I simply asked myself two very simple questions.

The first was, “Which Vice-Presidential candidate would take a bullet for Noynoy?”

The second question was, “Which Vice-Presidential candidate would take a bullet for Noynoy even if it meant giving up the chance to succeed him?”

Among the choices available for vice-president for a Noynoy presidency that seemed inevitable to me from August 2009, I could only come up with one name to the two questions – Jojo Binay.  I did not have to think long and hard, I only had to surrender to an answer that came very quickly from the gut and from the heart. Jojo Binay was not Noynoy’s choice for the vice-presidency, but Noynoy himself never thought of himself as the next president of the republic.

The lesson for me is as simple as the light of day. The presidency is about destiny more than ambition. It does not mean that ambition does not play a role, but destiny is the primary force. And those who have the ambition to be president of the Philippines, it would be wise to read the writings on the wall, especially the one that says, “Never confuse destiny and ambition. They can be partners, but one is more equal than the other.”  ***


“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.”
Albert Camus

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