I must begin this article with a quotation from the essay above “Weak-man rule in our premature democracy” by J. T. Gatbonton:
“So what are we to do?
“For East Asia, the key attraction of authoritarian rule has been its ability to impose political stability, carry out long-term reforms and focus government, business and civil society on national goals.
“This is why an increasing number of Filipinos—including those who should really know better—hanker for strongman rule in some degree.
“But, unfortunately, strong men tend to select themselves. So how are we to find—and install—this benevolent authoritarian who would kick-start our country toward social justice and prosperity?
“In my view, we have no alternative to trying to make our premature democracy work.”
I totally agree with J. T. Gatbonton that we Filipinos “have no alternative to trying to make our ‘premature democracy’ work.” (He rightly attributes this phrase to the “Makati guru Washington Sycip.”).
To do that, we still need a strong-willed leader, one whose “political will” comes not from his or her own ego but from a deeply rooted faith in God, who commands him to do what is right for his people without committing any transgression in the course of rigorously making the rule of law reign. He will, with the zeal and commitment of Christ Himself, reform our government and society so that our people can enjoy social justice and prosperity.
I have advocated this idea in bits and pieces in at least a hundred columns, newspaper editorials and talks.
But the most crystal-clear presentation of this advocacy—as a solution to our problem of bad governance, pandemic corruption, social injustice, massive poverty and general disregard of the common good—was published in the Sunday Inquirer “Gut Feel” column of the advertising wizard Minyong Ordonez.
A week ago, on August 17, Minyong’s column had the title “Sa 2016 ipagdasal mo, pangulong santo [In 2016, Pray for the holy president].” That column is an amplification of an earlier one that came out on July 6, “Sinner or saint?” Just Google these titles and you will find both columns.
With Minyong’s permission, and I hope the Inquirer doesn’t sue me, I will quote some paragraphs from these columns.
“My column last July 6 entitle ‘Sinner or saint’ was controversial because of its gutsy idea.
“The main point of my column is a quixotic dream: to elect a transformational leader who will transform our political culture from bad to lawful. Consequently, it should also transform our constituency from mediocre to knowledgeable.
“We suggested that the concept to be communicated to the public was an unexpected one: ‘Sa 2016 ipagdasal mo, pangulong santo.’ “
Minyong’s July 6 Inquirer column “Sinner or saint” presents a dialogue between him and a friend (whom I also happen know) about the Philippine situation and how our country must have a truly transformational leader.
Suddenly Mark (not the real name of our mutual friend) blurted out “How about electing a saint for president in 2016?”
Minyong was stunned. “Whaaat?!” And our mutual friend replies, “You heard me! A saint! Santo!”
Mark explains: “Nakabaon sa tae ng kalabaw ang ating bansa kasi our leaders are pagans. [Our country is buried in carabao dung because our leaders are pagans.] They cheat, they lie, they philander, and they plunder like pagans do.”
Mark adds: “The 10 commandments of God should be the platform of the new president in 2016!” And “It’s the only platform that can eliminate pagan politicians.”
Minyong manages to protests: “Theocracy yan. [That’s theocracy].”
Mark replies: “Nope! We are a Christian country. Our leader should be a saint! Dapat santo siya! Tulad ni Gandhi, yung transformational leader sa India. Holy man siya.”
Minyong objects that “there seem to be no saint-politicians in the Philippines, but we do have devils aplenty.” Mark replies “We do have saints, but they avoid having a high profile. They’re quiet…humble. They don’t send out press releases.”
“You know any of these saints?” Minyong asks Mark.
“Yep. Jess Estanislao…Bernie Villegas.”
“Opus Dei guys! Foes who don’t like Opus Dei will swarm us. They will shout accusations of “Damaso! Medieval! Bigots! Hypocrites! Dogmatists! Irrelevant!”
But Mark replies, “So what?” Which leads Minyong to think about the statistical reality.
Of the 100 million Filipinos, say 70 million are Catholics. Take away the 20 million Catholics “who don’t go to church, [are]adulterers who favor abortion law, palikeros [womanizers]who make women use the pill, rightists who want same-sex marriage to be permitted, agnostics na galit sa mga pari at Obispo [agnostics who despise priests and bishops], at mga cafeteria Catholics [and ‘cafeteria’ Cathollics who chose to obey Church rules and doctrines they like].”
That leaves some 50 million Catholics who sincerely “fear the Lord.” (To fear the Lord is not to be intimidated by Him but to be concerned about offending Him by lack of love and by sinfulness.)
Counting out children and the politically apathetic Catholics, there will be some 30 million who will vote on election day 2016.
Minyong and Mack agree that if 16 million vote for the Godly Catholic candidate, he or she will win.
The advertising professional advices that the “campaign for the saint candidate must be fresh, sharp and not be made up of worn-out slogans that nobody believes — like anti-poverty and anti-corruption. These are slimy rotten promises that the people no longer want to hear.
The campaign must be off-tangent, meditative. It must have a spiritual feel. Profound! Such as, “Pangulong Santo, ipagdasal mo! [Pray for a holy president!”] Would people pray for someone and not vote for him?
Minyong and Mack then consider the “extensive and permeating social base of the Catholic Church. The organizational power base if activated is fantastic! Tens of thousands of priests and bishops, parish organizations like The Legion of Mary, Couples for Christ, Catholic Women’s League, Holy Rosary Crusaders, devotees of the Virgen of Antipolo, of Peñafrancia, Manaoag, Santisimo Rosario, the Mother of Perpetual Help and many more. And the “macho” devotees of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo and the people of the Catholic charitable institutions, Catholic colleges and universities throughout the Philippines–grabe!
Then the Church will be playing politics?
This is a battle between Christianity and Paganism.