Noy-Bi

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

I have always written about the destined presidency of Noynoy Aquino. Because emotions were running high then, I also kept quiet about an equally destined vice-presidency. To many, in fact, the victory of Jojo Binay was nothing short of a miracle. He knows it because he was maybe one of a very few, or the only one, who believed he would win.

Because he has been president for almost two years, and since we have this tendency to forget quickly, P-Noy is already a “normal” president. When we forget, P-Noy will shock us when he pronounces, “No wang-wang,” when he openly criticizes the Supreme Court Justice to his face in a public event. P-Noy, as a destined president within the context of a Ninoy and a Cory, must be capable of jolting Filipinos and the political environment. That is part of his destiny.

When he forgets, P-Noy will become traditional. By doing so, he will be a monumental let-down. He will be the ultimate disappointment of a people who rallied against the odds to install him as president when his political party was an insignificant force. Noynoy’s popularity, unusually high for someone who did not seek, nor prepare, for an expensive presidential campaign, was the adrenalin that resuscitated the Liberal Party. That popularity meant volunteers, and volunteers were the adrenalin of Noynoy himself.

But that was more than two years ago, that was August of 2009. Today, we think of runaway oil prices, of a less-than-rational North Korea, of a China that in its bullying of the Philippines is revealing it has serious problems about fueling its future, of a Middle East that cannot seem to rise above historical conflict despite the great wealth it has been blessed with. Destiny can seem like a fairy tale at this point.

Except with Binay, the other spectacular part of the Noy-Bi leadership of the Philippines. Destiny can be pretty exciting for a vice-president who was not supposed to win. There is so much talk about a 2016 presidential run by a clear front-runner who is today’s most popular and trusted public official.

Binay himself would do well to remember the context of his own destined vice-presidency. It is a destiny that is interrelated to P-Noy’s destiny. They ran in the same elections, they serve in the same government, and they share the same history of martial law, of militant resistance to the dictator, of being propelled to action by an assassination, and brought to governance by the heroine ofdemocracy. Their relationship is not just personal, it is destined.

To a small extent, the Liberal Party is destined as well. It is destined, though, by appointment of a destined one, not directly by destiny itself. That is the same appointed destiny of Marcos’s KBL, of FVR’s Lakas, of Erap’s PMP, of Gloria’s Lakas-Kampi. They all faded when their patron left Malacanang. There is no strong reason why the Liberal Party will be exempted from the pattern of history when it does much to reinforce that pattern.

To a much larger extent, though, the volunteers who broke the back of money politics in the 2010 elections are the more important destined force if we are to think of the 2016 presidential race. The volunteerism that emerged in the 2010 elections has not faded away. In fact, it is finding expression in different ways. If many do not notice, it is because the volunteers have not consolidated into a national coalition. But they should not be underestimated because they have coalesced into a national dream. Noynoy became a personality of that dream. Binay, too, is deeply affected by that dream.

It was August 2009 when Cory Aquino passed away. By that time, Manny Villar was the clear front-runner for the presidency as Noli de Castro showed no signs of making an effort to be president and Mar Roxas struggled just to be number three or four. Villar had the money and the majority of politicians were gravitating to him – up to just nine months before the May 2010 elections. But a terminally sick Cory who had millions of Filipinos praying for her died, and the Filipino dream anointed her son, Noynoy. In an instant, Villar went from leader to a far second placer. That is all it needs – an instant – when the dream finds its anointed one.

What, then, is the dream? What is it that P-Noy feels in his gut as the dream of his people? Is the legacy an Aquino legacy or is the Ninoy-Cory-Noynoy succession the beginning of that collective dream?

That P-Noy is able to retain his approval and trust rating despite the fact that he carries the whole load of expectation from the majority and the attacks from a minority tells a story about the Filipino dream and his continuing central role in it. Binay cannot be the most popular public official if he is not an important player in that same dream.  The victorious Noy-Bi combination was not maneuvered by political operators, not even by Noynoy and Binay. Their being president and vice-president had never been planned like others have tried to all their lives, that a few now are trying to this early in their lives. The people’s dream intervened and took the form of destiny. It will not stop, it will just grow stronger.

Noy-Bi have a long way to go. Many will try to separate them, and they might for all we know. I hope not, though, not until the dream comes true.


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

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