• Aquino: the hoity-toity president


    To readers, colleagues and citizens who are still searching for a single epithet to describe Benigno Aquino 3rd’s presidency (in both its excesses and shortcomings), I offer today the highly descriptive English word “hoity-toity.”

    I’m qualified to dispense a prescription because I have a degree in English and literature (from the Ateneo incidentally), in addition to nearly three decades of journalism work and policy studies.

    In a discussion with friends, wherein each of us tried to come up with a single word to describe the president, I suddenly stumbled on the word, like it was a brain wave. Among the words placed on the table were: arrogant, lawless, incompetent, hollow (ampaw), demented, surreal, righteous, ladida, and so on.

    But just when it seemed as though PNoy would get away, suddenly, from out of the blue, came “hoity-toity”, like it was heaven-sent. The word is a perfect combination of sound and sense, funny-sounding and right on target. It’s not a new coinage or colloquialism; it dates back at least several centuries in the English lexicon.

    One friend said he liked “hoity-toity” as the epithet for Aquino, because it will remind everyone that his presidency is a product of “hocus-pcos.” Only trickery made him the 15th president of our republic.

    Another said he preferred “arrogant,” because the connotation of brazenness and self-regard fits the subject like a glove.

    But most liked “hoity-toity” because it connotes in one package, pretentiousness, haughtiness, and humbug.

    When we parted, I told my friends that I would do research on ‘hoity-toity”. This column is one result of my research.

    What the dictionaries say
    A quick survey of reputable dictionaries and the Internet sites yielded the following definitions of hoity-toity:

    1.“Behaving as if you are better or more important than other people” (Cambridge International Dictionary of English)

    2. “Pretentiously self-important; pompous” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of English)

    3. “Arrogant or haughty” (Collins English Dictionary)

    4. “Assuming airs, haughty” (Random Huse Dctionary of English)

    5. The Oxford dictionary simply defines the word as an adjective meaning “haughty.”

    On another track, I found the following revealing definitions of “arrogance” from dictionary.com:

    1. Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

    2. Having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one’s own importance, merit, ability, etc; conceited . . .

    Why hoity-toity is a perfect fit
    At this point, readers may be nodding their heads in agreement that “hoity-toity” looks like a good fit for President Aquino’s demeanor and presidential style.

    Still, the proposition needs to be supported by sound argumentation. Here are some exhibits to support my thesis that we have in Malacañang a hoity-toity president.

    Exhibit 1: President Aquino considers his election to the presidency in 2010 as one of the great events in Philippine history.

    Addressing the democracy forum in Bali, Indonesia last week, he declared that his election was a second demonstration of People Power in the Philippines, rivaling the original revolt and mass action in 1986 that thrust his mother Cory Aquino into the presidency.

    What people power?
    The only mention of people power in May 2010 was Aquino’s threat weeks before the voting, that if he did not win the presidential balloting, he would lead a people power revolution against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Exhibit 2: Aquino acts as if only his election as president mattered in the 2010 national election. His attitude seems to be: “I’ve got the power, the rest of government be damned.”

    In fact, that May election brought to office the 15th Congress, and a new set of local government officials throughout the country. As any serious student of our constitutional system knows, the legislative department is listed first in the Constitution, because it is considered the first branch of government, preceding the others.

    The president is only one leg of the trinity of powers in our political system; the other two are the legislature and the judiciary.

    Exhibit 3: When immediately after his inauguration, he embarked on his program to impeach then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, it was an act of hubris and abuse of power that nearly rivaled President Marcos’s proclamation of martial law. In this one project, Aquino disrespected the Supreme Court; he turned the House of Representatives into a band of mercenaries; he reduced the Senate to a joke; and he turned our constitutional system upside down.

    When he subsequently invented the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to raise funds for the bribery of congressmen and senators to secure Corona’s conviction, he violated the budget process and cast aside safeguards of the national treasury.

    Exhibit 4: When at the height of the post-Yolanda crisis, he gruffly dismissed a Tacloban businessman complaining about the looting and peace and order situation, with the words, “Buhay ka pa naman, di ba?”, Aquino showed a total lack of empathy with typhoon victims and the stricken communities.

    To this day, barely a month before the first anniversary of the disaster, Aquino has not approved the rehabilitation plan for East Visayas.

    The man simply does not care.

    Exhibit 5: After the Supreme Court handed down its decision declaring the DAP illegal and unconstitutional, Aquino contested the verdict, and threatened the High Court with the curtailment of its power of judicial review. In this, he crossed the line and imperiled the rule of law in our country.

    Exhibit 6: When aquino refuses to dismiss from their jobs government officials who have failed to perform, there is a frightening breakdown of government’s capacity to provide vital public services.

    Exhibit 7: When President Aquino repeatedly blames President Arroyo for the many failures and shortcomings of his administration, it grates on our ears.

    But when he at the same time steals the credit for GMA’s legitimate achievements, it is ignoble and base.

    The list will go on and on if we list down all the policy failures, corruption and abominations under the Aquino administration.

    The suspicion grows that this president simply does not care about solving the problems of the nation. He does not grasp the fundamental truth that public policy and governance is about solving the nation’s problems.

    The word “hoity-toity” is fitting for a presidency that spectacularly combines indifference, ineffectiveness and incompetence in one term.

    Te list of exhibits here is an indictment of a president who sold himself as the savior and father of the nation, but who in fact has only fathered more problems for our people to solve.



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    1. Like many, I am also disappointed by President Pnoy’s performance, as your column dutifully outlined. Please also spare some effort to urge VP Binay to shed more light and confront the serious accusations of his corruption. Its one thing disposing of Pnoy for his failed tenure but it will be another plague to the country if he is replaced by someone who may be even more evil and corrupt.

    2. Your “hoity-toity presidency” description of PNoy looks highfalutin for simple folks like us. Mr. Greg, we better remember his epitaph as ” the come from behind, last 2 minutes president” As what DOJ Sec. and Sen. Guingona have applauded in chorus, the best 3 point shot so far, indeed.

    3. The only way or hope for PNOY to ever erase the “Philippines Worst President Ever Title” would be if Binay somehow found the unmarked grave where Hitler’s corpse is buried…dug it up…somehow passed the remains off as a living person…somehow gets a passport for this corpse…completes the paperwork for application for Filipino citizenship…enters it as a candidate in 2016 to run in his stead…bribes everyone to vote for it and while he with his fingers crossed hopes to keep the VP position in order to stick his hands up said corpse’s ass and manipulate it like a puppet. Binay with his hand up a puppet corpse president’s ass would be the new reigning “Philippines Worst President Ever.”

    4. Tita Boluso-Rimando on

      as for me, his buhay-ka-pa-naman-di-ba? line has etched him in history as the decrepit one; cold, heartless, unfeeling. amen to the hoity-toity and all other descriptions mentioned in the replies above.

    5. Thank you, Mr. Macabenta for your wonderful column. Yet I feel the word you suggested to describe Abnoy barely scratches the surface. “Abominable” is the word; Abnoy for short. Everything about him is just so abominable, even the little things like his filthy habits (smoking), his penchant for firearms (his gun shopping spree in the U.S. is just as disgusting as Imelda’s shopping sprees), his tendency to blame others for his shortcomings and his profound hatred for the Arroyos. I’d say he’s as bad a president as Erap was. Yet at least Erap is a gentleman which Abnoy isn’t.


    6. I like your choice of word Yen.But I say it is still milder compared to real character attitude of this callous president.

    7. Roldan Guerrero on

      I still consider WORST is the right word because he is the most unfit president I have ever known. In all legally elected Philippine Presidents, although unprecedented proofs are coming out of the rigging they did for his win, he is the least performer, who always talk of accomplishments he did not do. His abuse of the DAP is one of the heinous crimes he did and this makes him most as the worst.

    8. I do not think he does not care His mental disabilty made him not understand the gravity of any situation. His is HOITY-TOITY mentally sick

    9. Words…..words….words…….words……words are useless under the dire situation of
      this country and it’s people. It is time to simply take out this demagogue.

    10. Vicente Penetrante on

      As you said, “Hoity-toity is a perfect fit.”
      In his speech in Bali, Indonesia, PNoy again blamed the past administration for “many years of neglect and misgovernance.” He said he was catapulted to power by another People Power who believed in “where there is noe corruption, there is no poverty.” He said we have a “resurgent economy.”
      Where are we now in the famous quotation from Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”

    11. I agree. Not to mention his penchant to rival Imeldific, like a 20 motor cop escort among others in San Francisco which is not seen from greater heads of state. His trip to Bali with a 45 man escort fitted with a chartered flght for an overnight stay and a budget of P7million is also one for the books. Hoity Toity is the word. Suplado, mayabang, akala mo kung sinong marunong, pilosopho. walang plano sa buhay, pa sarap lang tulad ng isang haciendero.

    12. So what if you were an Ateneo graduate, what is the big deal ? You and the other columnist of this circulation continue to bash this administration, not sure what your motives are but I think it is purely hatred and envy on your part. Aquino had his shortcomings, he may not be a good leader and not as effective as we had hoped for but he is honest and certainly not corrupt unlike his predecessors. Besides he has done a lot for this country, if only you open your mind and your eyes, you realized the changes he has done for his country, the image from abroad. You guys should be thankful that Aquino was around otherwise you probably had Erap as your President.

      • What change? You must tell Pnoy, because even he, does not know what you are talking about. This is purely cosmetics, the media, S & P rating, and window dressed economic reports.

        Do we see changes in new economic policies, governance, tax reform, social welfare….because all I can see now is DAP spending to the max.

        Corruptions, rising-criminality, budget deficit of almost 40 B a month, traffic, floods, and a lot more seem the only changes evident under Pnoy and Hyatt 10 or 9.

        Do you know what are Pnoy plans in the next to years? Buy the 2016 election, with a 500 B fund and PCOS election rigging as last resort.

      • You say, he has done a lot for this country? Can you mention one complete with facts? I had been with the government for so long, six presidents and n number of secretaries – from the lowest technical entry position up to the third highest position in the career ececutive service. Can you articulate one accomplishment that advances the ptimacy of public interest and general welfare?

      • My earlier comment is a reply to Mr. Tom Singay’s claim that Mr. Aquino has done a lot for this coumtry. And I challenged him to inform what that acvomplishment is that puts premium to the Quality of Life Mandate of the Constitution. Aber, sige nga.

    13. jose hernani m. parco on

      “Ding Dong”

      Term first used by François Rabelais as the character name of a silly, arrogant, seafaring sheepherder.

    14. Leodegardo Pruna on

      I second the motion. HOITY-TOITY definitely fits the nature of the president and his colleagues in the cabinet and the KKK. What else to expect? God bless the Philippines.

    15. Hoity-Toity, what a fitting word to describe this incompetent and vindictive machine made president.

    16. You end with “The list of exhibits here is an indictment of a president who sold himself as the savior and father of the nation, but who in fact has only fathered more problems for our people to solve.”
      I add: And who has allowed his real Boss, the goons of the Liberal Party, to make ours a banana republic, a tyranny of LIES and CORRUPTION.
      We MUST fight this tyranny if we want to save our democracy and our Philippine Republic.

    17. Bravo, bravo tambien.

      It is a good definition, I also like it. But your column is a brilliant one.

      May God give you courage and strength to continue what ever you do.

    18. To be sure, I’m not a big fan of Noynoy Aquino. I thought him slow to act in the first few months of his presidency. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t baptize him with a gimmicky, condescending, disrespectful name like the one you prescribe. I would rather say the truth – that he is the best the country ever had since Marcos.

      All the insults you put forward to Noynoy applies to GMA, ERAP, even Fidel and, of course, the Apo himself, Marcos. And what adjectives more appropriate applies, if Jejomar gets away with the allegations of plunder and graft against him and becomes president.

    19. I’m neither a Psychologist nor a Psychiatrist but if you read the description of a person who has a narcissism disorder, Pres. Aquino just fits it exactly.

    20. Aprub!! Itong si noynoy kahit wala kang sakit! Kapag narinig mo ang pangalan, maha_-high blood ka at makakagat mo ang ngipin mo!! At isama mo pa ang pangalan delima w, coa-tan, moral-less panghihinaan ka at mawawala ang dugo mo!!ha!ha!ha! Tawa lang ang gamot sa mga epidemiya na ito!

    21. P. Akialamiro@yahoo.com on

      Wow, what a very apprppriate word with all the justifications, “meaningwise”, “action or inactionwise” and, “otherwise”. Agree!

      I wish readers, can see the justifications objectively. All the claims of “tuwid na daan”, “walang mahirap kung walang kurap” and “kayo ang boss ko” do not hold water, considering all those stated in this article. These catch phrases may sound pleasing to everyone’s ‘hearing’ ear, but “irritating” to anyone’s ‘listening’ ear.They are all B.S:Aquino’s meaningless ‘battlecries’, but haven’t been supported by credible positive results. .

      To complete this word, we can come up with “hoity-toity, Noypi”!?