WHEN he was going from coffin to coffin at the necrological services on the Day of Mourning for our valiant 44 PNP-SAF Heroes last Friday, President BS Aquino made the Sign of the Cross improperly many– maybe 44–times.
The correct way is to touch one’s forehead, the breast and the left and right shoulders, to make the form a cross, while praying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Review the video and you will see him not touching his forehead, or his shoulders, or his left and right shoulders–therefore not forming the Sign of the Cross. He often crossed his stomach instead.
Making the Sign of the Cross is body language that a serious Christian who believes in the Trinity does with fervor because it is the most simple profession of faith. Not doing it properly–as naughty kids and people mocking this prayer do–is a clear sign language of disrespect for the Christian faith.
Communicating without speaking
What President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd will not express in words about his feelings or psychological state, he conveys to us through his body language.
Technically known as kinesics, body language is a significant aspect of human communications. We can communicate without speaking through the powerful messages behind our body gestures.
Experts say that body language represents a very significant proportion of meaning that is conveyed and interpreted between people. They generally agree that 50 to 80 percent of all human communications are non-verbal.
The dictionary defines body language as “bodily mannerisms, postures, and facial expressions that can be interpreted as unconsciously communicating somebody’s feelings or psychological state.” In other words, these unconscious postures communicate a person’s feelings and attitudes–even intent.
Among our non-verbal messages, facial expressions are quite reliable indicators of mood and feeling. There are six universal facial expressions recognized around the world. These are: Happiness, fear, disgust, surprise, anger, and sadness.
At the necrological services for the 44 PNP-SAF Heroes, the cruel medium of television magnified raw emotions from the body language of those in attendance. In the case of President Aquino, however, TV likewise magnified an opaque absence of emotion.
This was most evident when the collective cries of bereaved family members soared, melting the hearts of those who heard them. Even those watching the event on TV became teary-eyed. How sad to see that a pair of presidential eyes was arguably bereft of empathy when the battle-tested commandos and their officers had teary eyes.
Many body language signals indicate negative feelings such as boredom and disinterest (hands in pocket), tension or stress (biting lip), embarrassment or stopping speech for reasons of shock (hand clamped over mouth), defensiveness or reluctance (crossed arms), etc.
President Aquino, who could not make it on time to the fallen heroes’ necrological rites, showed his feelings through his body language captured by The Manila Times lens for posterity. His folded arms conveyed reluctance (he snubbed the arrival honors for the slain SAF commandos, remember?) if not defensiveness.
Maybe the commander-in-chief’s reluctance to be there stemmed from his knowledge that he could have prevented the untimely death of the brave SAF men. Maybe the defensiveness is rooted on the fact that deep inside he knew that he had prioritized his personal wish for glory from the PNP-SAF men’s success in killing the terrorist Marwan. Then with the MILF slaughter of the 44, he probably felt some discomfort that in his heart and mind he was more concerned about the bad effect of the debacle on the passage of his Bangsamoro Basic Law than on the deaths of the Fallen 44 and the pain and loss being suffered by their widows and orphans. He must also have been feeling defensive about his failure to do anything to save the lives of the 44 SAF heroes.
Experts say some people can artificially control their outward body language to give the impression they seek to create at a specific time. But their consensus is that nobody can control all of his body language all the time.
The sight of BS Aquino 3rd with folded arms in front of the coffins of our dead heroes speaks volumes. But then again, Aquino defenders may argue that the President might have crossed his arms to keep warm. This may well be true because he should feel the eerie coldness of the death he had a hand in leading the Valiant 44 to.