To sexagenarians upward, the tale of the emperor’s new clothes by Hans Christian Andersen – titled just that, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – had been part of their early schooling. To latter generation, however, classic literature in many cases must step aside to give way to the advent of modern themes. Particularly among the current youth, it’s doubtful if 2 or perhaps even 1 of 10 is familiar with the fascinating Andersen story.
It tells of an emperor whose vanity with clothes made two smooth operators think of a swindle. They make it known to the emperor that they are capable of weaving a cloth so fine it makes you feel you are wearing nothing. One truly wondrous quality of the textile is that it is capable of being invisible to one who is either stupid or unfit for his office – or both for that matter.
So word is passed around to all the people, officials of government and lay citizens alike, about the wonderful textile. The emperor decides such is the cloth he needs. All it takes for him to know who among his officials are unfit for office is for them not to see it on him though he wears it, supposedly, that is; in reality he wears none. By simply pretending – going through the intricate motions of weaving the cloth on a loom and then sewing the imaginary textile into a garment– the swindlers fashion the new clothes which the emperor has his top officials check first. For fear of being discovered unfit for office or, worse, stupid, the officials confirm to the emperor the popularized illusion that the new clothes the swindlers had fashioned were incomparably beautiful.
Thus it came to pass that when the king went through a procession in a traditional celebration of the kingdom astride a horse, garbed in the new regal habiliments fashioned by the swindlers, the entire citizenry must likewise believe as the government officials did of the emperor’s new clothes lest they be labeled unfit for office or stupid.
But one among the people jubilating on the emperor’s new clothes was a boy, who scratched his head in bewilderment, saying, “But the emperor has got nothing on.”
The great Philippine electoral swindle
Today the nation is being treated to a grand extravaganza in which swindlers in the country’s electoral processes appear to have succeeded in advancing for real the illusory images of pretenders to the presidency.
For one, there’s Senator Grace Llamanzares, who has been passed on for a Poe, which she is not. That she must take on that monicker as a vehicle for riding on the filmic, hence false, heroism of adopted father Fernando Poe, Jr. in her drive for the Philippine presidency smacks of the amazing fakery in the Hans Christian Andersen tale. She is every inch unreal, untrue. Nobody knows where she came from – or that’s excepting Susan Roces. Her natural-born status is ersatz. And above all, her character is quite suspect. She renounced her Filipino citizenship to embrace American citizenship, but abandoned that US brand in order to fit into the office of Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) when Aquino appointed her to the post. Her catch call for her drive for President is the continuation of the good deeds of her father, referring to FPJ of course. But what social good has FPJ done to the country for her to continue doing?
Bullying lowly movie crew or beating up small guys like the late colleague Franklin
Cabaluna. The diminutive but hard-hitting movie journalist had written something unsavory to the movie legend. In retaliation, FPJ slammed Franklin with a punch to his mouth, causing his teeth to turn into dentures. Chanda Romero, she of the famous sex kitten allure of the 70s, can attest to this incident. It was she who stood up to FPJ with the reprimand: “Find your own size.”
Shades of the Davao City butcher called DU30 whose machismo springs from picking on kids for foes in the guise of fighting crime.
Still on the continuance of FPJ’s “good deeds” prattled about by Grace, I recall one afternoon visit I paid the guy back in the 80s. He was in his stable in the San Lazaro race track and I came for a discussion on a movie project; he had a penchant for brainstorming with people with ideas. I can’t recall how many titles I discussed with him on that occasion which ultimately found ways into his movie credits. “Batas .45”? “Lulusot Ka Sa Butas ng Karayom”? But I’m pretty sure “Isang Bala Ka Lang,” the title of one of his most successful films, was a brainchild of the late movie reporter Efren Esteban.
In between our discussion were pauses for viewing the race. At one pause, he sidled up to me at the window where I was viewing the parade of horses, one of which was FPJ’s – the outstanding favorite in the race.
“Tabi ka sandali, Mao. Ako ang sesenyas (Step aside, Mao. I’ll do the sign),” FPJ softly said. I did, and FPJ made the sign, whatever that was. As expected, FPJ’s horse took up the running, pulling away from the pack, but into the homestretch it began to fade out, and at the finish came in third.
Quite intriguingly, FPJ was visibly jubilant. Among race aficionados are talks of FPJ’s horse losing but FPJ winning. Figure that out. In fact, FPJ held the record of having won singly in a race – that is, as a legend goes.
When FPJ ran for President in 2004, I did not vote for him, though he was my friend. When you drop your horse which the masses bet on so you be the single winner in a race, what awesome people’s welfare will you all the more drop in order to make a single sweep of the spoils of government?
Now we have the adopted daughter aspiring for the post FPJ failed to win. Despite having been disqualified not once nor twice but thrice by the Comelec, she has prevailed in the race, even topping pre-poll surveys. In the final stretch of the procession toward the presidency, she rides her father’s stallion garbed in the emperor’s new clothes. Swindlers in the electoral process like bright media hyphers (funded by Washington) or that brand new Philippine tyrant called Supreme Court had spun the yarn that effectively reversed the Comelec ruling.
Are we to hail her as indeed possessed of the virtues and qualifications woven for her by her propagandists? Or are we to be like the boy who saw the truth in the emperor’s new clothes?
In the end everybody listened to the boy and realized that the emperor really had nothing on. Grace’s procession to the presidency is headed for a similar finale.
In the sixties, the world-acclaimed Filipino poet Jose Garcia Villa shocked the literary circles with a poem that had only a title and nothing else; the whole poem is an empty space. The title of the poem, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
With all due respect to Villa, I reiterate these Grace’s qualification for the presidency, including her zero performance in the Senate: