Whom Do You Trust

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

If it were not the reputable Readers Digest, I would have said that the survey on the most, and the least, trusted among very well known personalities in the Philippines was very naughty. The timing isperfect, not just that the presidential race is heating up in all directions, but just after the Villar camp comes up with surveyresults claiming that he has a trust rating higher than Noynoy Aquino.

Well, lo and behold, find out who Filipinos trust in the first everAsian Reader’s Digest Trust Poll. Using 80 influential Filipino personalities as their subjects, the survey rated which persons and professions enjoyed the people’s trust, or earned their distrust. From high scores of “Trust completely” to low ratings of “Don’t trust atall,” the survey affirms what most of us already know. And a few surprises to boot.

It made a lot of sense that Rosal Rosal topped the survey, having had a good base of admirers as an actress and then moving on with dedication and consistency on a life-long humanitarian mission. The people’s trust on number two most trusted, Lea Salonga, surprised but totally pleased me. I do not know the superstar personally but had been a long-time admirer. As those who survey said, Lea embodies to them both the beauty and strength of the Filipino.

Jessica Soho of GMA 7 took third spot, another pleasant development for me. Because my wife and I have been in and around political dynamics and personalities off and on in the last thirty years, Jessica and her courage and integrity are quite known to us. I congratulate her, but congratulate more the respondents who appreciate quality reporting when they see one. The common comment about Jessica, “She is impartial whenever she tackles news.”

And now, to the most important to me and to many who have been inspired by him towards service to the poor, towards sacrifice and heroism as sought-after virtues, is the most popular Filipino male today – Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga. Tony leads thousands of volunteers like me to refocus on our priorities and to take second and third looks at the poor – and then embrace them, their pain, and their hopes. And it is not just Filipinos in the Philippines but many others in America, Europe and Asia who are inspired by Tony and driven to work for a future full of hope. Survey respondents say that “Tony Meloto puts in tireless efforts to uplift the lives of less fortunate citizens.”

It seems that when blessings come, they can be as abundant as rain. Thrilled by the appreciation of Filipinos on both a work and the man who began Gawad Kalinga, I am given a double dose of happiness and inspiration when Noynoy Aquino is judged by the respondents of the Reader’s Digest Trust Poll as the second most trusted Filipino despite his being in a profession that is one of the most distrusted. Having stated again and again that the central issue of politics in the Philippines today is corruption, and that all other issues are deliberate attempts to sidestep a frontal focus on society’s most deadly cancer, I am happy to note that the people’s choice of Noynoy as the most trusted of politicians affirms the same thing.

Just having read the day before as the headlines of one major daily that Villar was the more trusted than Noynoy Aquino, an allegation that I know is backed up by statistics from Pulse Asia, it was like a breath of fresh air to know about the Reader’s Digest Trust Poll and the results showing Noynoy as the second most trusted Filipino male today, next to Tony Meloto. The numbers showing Villar is more trusted than Noynoy Aquino is particularly strange. I wonder what the context of that was, what particular questions were asked and answers given to have justified a statement that Villar beats Aquino in trust ratings.

In the Reader’s Digest Trust Poll where Villar is in 60th place in a field of 80 known personalities, it shows that the respondents view Villar with more distrust than trust. Then, for the claim that Pulse Asia had placed Villar as more trusted than Noynoy who placed 5th overall and number two most trusted Filipino male in the Reader’s Digest survey, I can only come up with the conclusion that 1) the more trusted rating of Villar over Noynoy had a context that was not properly explained, or 2) the poor who know Villar mostly through his TV commercials have a very different, or fickle, view of political personalities. After all, they had preferred Noynoy over Villar from September until his lead was cut to two percentage points by
end-January 2010.

The poll to measure trust by Reader’s Digest was not limited to the Philippines but included Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore. Of course, since the survey results favored Noynoy, I expected the usual snide remarks of supporters of other presidential candidates – and they accommodated my expectations. After all, it is in the nature of the partisan to do so. Worse, it is the obligation of the guns-for-hire to play down or discredit Reader’s Digest. However, they think too highly of themselves when they pit their own credibility, which is close to nil, versus the well-earned respect for
Reader’s Digest.

What can be particularly galling for the anti-Noynoy partisans is that the least trusted profession produced one of the most trusted person in Noynoy Aquino, and that Noynoy is the only politician in the top five of the most trusted in all the Asian countries who were part of the survey.  Imagine, the only politician who made it to the top five
among the most trusted! And to make matters worse for Noynoy and Cory bashers, Filipinos picked Noynoy among their most trusted because they believed that he would follow in his mother’s footsteps. Legacy is very important to Filipinos, except to those who have no reason to be proud of their parents.

The story of the most trusted is also the story of the most distrusted. But I can reserve that for another day.***

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

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