Does Noynoy Have What It Takes?

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

Friends of mine, Billy Esposo of STAR and Conrad de Quiros of INQUIRER have both opened a broadside to the public, and to Noynoy, that the Ninoy and Cory magic have anointed their one and only son to carry the flame of change and democracy. I have monitored closely the public responses of Noynoy, and one from his sister, Kris. Of course, Noynoy was caught flatfooted. He admitted, as all those close to him know, that he never imagined ever running for president in the May 2010. He feels unprepared. He knows he has no money. But worse of all, he does not believe that the situation is forcing him to run as there are other alternatives. Kris, of course, does not agree with the idea as well.

I would join the chorus if I have not been so consistently advocating a parallel movement to the political maneuverings of the moment and good governance advocacy of countless civil society groups. Ever since I can remember, campaign activities in the past five decades have opposition politicians use the good governance lines to claim bad governance on the sitting officials or parties. Beginning from Ramon Magsaysay in the early 50’s when I heard my parents talk of him and his campaign to defeat then President Quirino, the cause of good governance has always been used. Well, just to show how weak that strategy is, good governance is still the loudest cry of the moment.

Noynoy cannot solve our problems; only we can do it. Of course, Noynoy can try to inspire us towards doing our individual share for the common good, a less for myself and more for others attitude needed for nation building. The importance of Noynoy running is not the winning, not yet anyway, but the stirring of hope and passion in the hearts of Filipinos who have grown depressed with the thought of one status quo after another, different dogs with the same collar. The illness, death, wake and burial of Cory Aquino gathered deep-seated sentiments among a discontented people and brought them to the surface. They manifested themselves as grief and gratitude to Cory, but much more remains waiting to burst into the scene. They seek only a trigger, and Esposo and de Quiros believe that Noynoy can be that trigger,

Those who know Noynoy intimately can attest that Noynoy is not ambitious. If he is politically inclined, it is more the environment of Ninoy and Cory, of EDSA and People Power, rather a personal ambition that has driven Noynoy to be a public servant. Noynoy saw fit to support and continue the advocacy of his mother, then his province, Tarlac, and so he ran. True, his being congressman and senator has taught Noynoy to rise above a natural shyness and develop confidence in facing media and the camera. Yet, it is not ambition that oozes out of Noynoy but a reluctance of power, an almost instinctive stepping back from the limelight. That is the Cory in him.

Esposo and de Quiros hint at destiny, but Noynoy steps back and says it does not seem so. I wonder what Cory said when the idea was first brought to her attention, even as just a wild idea.  Noynoy was there, so he should know. One story I heard from a close relative of Cory, though, indicated that Cory was piqued when veteran politicians immediately dismissed the idea of her as an option, as though they did not see her with capability. From that moment on, she took definite steps towards her confronting Marcos as a candidate in the snap elections.

Noynoy may be thinking he has no money. He may not remember that Cory ran against Marcos who had the resources of the whole country at his disposal. Running because one has the money is the lowest of reasons to run. How about running to carry the hopes of people that young and fresh leadership can break the dictatorship of trapo politics? How about symbolizing freshness and nobility in leadership? How about just exciting the people with a dream? Money follows excitement when it cannot create it anymore.

Who am I to say that destiny beckons Noynoy? And what kind of destiny? Many are used by life to begin things, like Ninoy. He wanted to be president and was well on his way. But it was his death that would trigger a howl in Philippine society, his death that would finally break the chain of fear that kept people subservient to martial law. What is Noynoy’s destiny? Would he be a Ninoy, or would he be a Cory? Would he have the courage to be either?

It was not Noynoy’s choice to be the son of Ninoy and Cory. Now, life is holding his hand so he can make a choice without Ninoy and Cory. Kris said in her final farewell to her mother last August 5 in the Manila Cathedral that she and Noynoy would continue what their mother fought for. Did she speak too soon? Is Noynoy’s moment now? A moment not his choice, not yet, but by destiny?

Destiny allows freedom of one’s will. Destiny can clear the way for any of its anointed, but destiny cannot force anyone to say yes to a great invitation. Noynoy is not sure that destiny invites him in a very special way in a very special moment. If Noynoy is truly invited, he can say no. That can change his life forever. Noynoy can turn his back on destiny and risk that destiny will never invite him again. He will not be the first to do so, nor will he be the last.

What is not debatable is that Filipinos have long been invited to make their own sacrifices beyond self interest, beyond family interest, and develop a love of nation where the common good becomes paramount.  If Noynoy can inspire Filipinos to accept their responsibility and accountability for nation, then surely he is the man of destiny.

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

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