It was absolutely hilarious when Teddy Casiño greeted Twitter-verse with: “Good morning citizens of Ampaw Republic!” over the weekend.
Of course absolutely horrid was how everything was thrown at him for having even made that joke, kidding about ampaw nation, where his being activist and his having lost in the 2010 elections were invoked. Not that the latter two are disconnected from Casiño’s every articulation, but certainly those two things do not keep him from having a sense of humor.
Who started a joke?
The thing is, I thought the ampaw republic priceless because it was throwing back at the President his brilliant answer to the question: what kind of leader should we have next? And he went to town with an explanation about the ampaw, speaking to students of Hope Christian High School.
“. . . ‘Yung competence has to be demonstrated. ‘Yun bang, alam niyo ba kung ano ‘yung ampaw na pagkain? . . . So ‘diba ‘yung ampaw malasa pero sa loob hangin. Baka, ‘di ba, ‘yung . . . paano ko ba ide-describe na hindi nakakainsulto?” [Editor’s translation: That thing competence has to be demonstrated. That thing, d’you know what that food ampaw? So, isn’t that ampaw thing tasty but all it has inside is air. Maybe, isn’t it so, that thing . . . how can I describe it without being insulting?]
“Pag napapakinggan mo, may punto ba ‘yung sinasabi niya? Mukha bang totoo ‘yung lumalabas sa kanyang bibig or maganda lang pakinggan? ‘Pag ‘yung nanood ka ng talumpati nito o ng isang kampanya niya, meron ba siyang pinag-usapan na may saysay? … ‘Yung sa sinasabi ba niya at saka mga nagawa na niya tugma?” [Editor’s translation: When you hear it, does what he say have a point? Does the stuff coming out of his mouth seem true or just nice to hear? When, that thing, you’re watching him giving a speech, is he speaking about something that’s worth anything? . . . What he says and what he has done, do these match?]
“Tapos ‘yung third value, talagang ito bang taong ito na-demonstrate ‘yung pagiging para sa iba as opposed to para sa sarili? Klaro ba na ‘yung gawain niya tungo sa kapakanan ng iba o kapakanan ng sarili?” [Editor’s translation: Then that thing the third value, has this person truly demonstrated his that thing of being for others as opposed to being for himself? Is it clear that what he does is for the benefit of others as opposed to being for himself?] (transcript off http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/ 03/13/14/pnoys-advice-beware-ampaw-candidates)
It was absurd that the President could go on and on about the ampaw metaphor, as if he himself could not have been measured against it during the campaign. In fact this monologue was a reminder of how he had become President on nothing but a platform filled with the words we (thought we) wanted to hear.
Ampaw by any other name
The President said: “‘Yung sa sinasabi ba niya at saka mga nagawa na niya tugma?” But what about him, who filed no bill that was enacted into law in his nine years in the House of Representatives? The same might be said about his three years as senator.
So no, this President wouldn’t have won if we were actually anti-ampaw and looking at what he had done in the past. He had yet to “demonstrate competence” when he was campaigning for the highest post in the land.
And that bit about choosing someone who has proven that he is not for self, but is for others? One does wonder what the President means by that, when it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “others”—at least for him—does not necessarily mean the majority of impoverished Filipinos. At the Ateneo Professional Schools, he was asked about the biggest challenge he had faced so far as President. Instead of saying Yolanda, or the China crisis, or rising unemployment, or poverty, he talked about “others” who are working on this matuwid-na-daan with him.
“Siguro pinakamahirap more than anything is really the emotional cost on everybody else that is helping me in this route,” he said. He went on to speak of how those close to him were counting down the days to the end of his term; speaking of his sisters, nephews and nieces, the President said: “Parang the end of my term marks the beginning of normalcy in their lives.”
“The question in my mind, baka puwede pa ‘kong go another 20 rounds of everything that has to do with this job, pero I don’t think I’m prepared to sacrifice everybody else’s lives. If there’s a severe challenge, it’s that eh, papaano I’m achieving something, I think we’re achieving a lot of things, but there is tremendous emotional toil on those who really mean the best for you. Ewan ko, baka ‘yon ang vulnerability ko.” (transcribed off http://youtu.be/hq_nHmMfJ84)
So really, the “others” need not be the rest of us struggling citizens. It could also simply be those who are doing this work with and for you, imagining them to be sacrificing their lives because you are President. It’s like the nation owes it to these people in government, and to the President’s family, that they have to put in the hours of work.
Sorry naman, Ser, tumakbo ka at nanalo.
Ampaw is as ampaw does
The ones who criticized Casiño for having greeted the citizens of Ampaw Republic ended by saying that this was about Pinoy pride. We are not an ampaw republic because we are not an ampaw people. Our leaders are a different matter altogether.
But that misses the point entirely. It was the President who decided that it was appropriate to use the ampaw as a metaphor for leadership skills and credible politics. That was his vocabulary, his language. This was the ideology he was handing down to the next generation of voters. Certainly he was taking a jab at those who are running against his own Liberal Party candidate (whoever that is); why he was using this language, and speaking in this manner, is beyond me.
He is the President, who had the opportunity to speak to the youth about electing our next leaders. He is the President, and all the students got from him was a how-to-identify which candidate is all air. The President has the power to define nation for us, and speak about its complexities. Instead all we got was superficial and simplistic, even sophomoric, talk.
That’s about as ampaw as this republic can be, don’t you think?