(UPDATED) I am beginning to like Toby. And I suspect, so does Grace.
Toby Tiangco, interim president of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA, the cornered and embattled Binay’s political machinery), in a fit of tomfoolery, not only questioned the residency qualification of a potentially strong undeclared presidential contender, Senator Grace Poe, but tangentially, albeit maliciously, placed her character and integrity at issue.
For Toby, UNA and Binay, the malevolence ricocheted and returned a blasted boomerang! For Grace, the unexpected gift of a fateful twist in her political fortunes. A destiny’s foreboding, perhaps.Priceless!
The Melodrama in the Filipino Heart
What followed was an unplanned platform that yielded a bountiful bonanza of multi-media exposures by which Senator Grace Poe has been enabled to put forward a serialized poignant fairy-tale-like story, at the same instance squelching rumors of the unlamented dictator Marcos being her supposed secret biological father. And what media organization would not have taken this human interest manna to their political junkie mass markets? All were, and are still, in continuing participation. A public affairs/communications genius could not have spun a more credibly effective web. Incredible publicity generating attention, interest and more pathos for Grace.
The UNA hatchet job turned into a heatwarming ‘cause celebre,’ nay, a heat-seeking political missile aimed at the sentimental Filipino heart That which throbs with melodrama, full of kundiman plasma running by the gallons in every Filipino vein.
And so, Grace even thanked Toby publicly. Expressing her gratitude, she said, “thanks for bringing out this issue. It’s important for our countrymen to understand what this issue is all about.” I am convinced of the sincerity of her gratitude, although there might have been a chuckle of contentment behind her smile. It is almost like “turning the other cheek.”
That is not political naivete. It is a clever and mature reaction, normally unexpected of neophytes. Please note how deftly, how suavely and politely, yes, how gracefully Grace was able to segue a political hatchet job of a personal issue against her into a ‘pro patria’ concern. “For our countrymen to understand,” she speaks. Her telegenic mien with which she is responding to ambush interviews exude credible self-confidence.
Buffoonery has Unintended Consequences
The posture exhibited by Toby (assisted by his bumbling co-conspirator, J.V. Bautista), on the other hand, is one that exposes UNA’s panic mode, now in full display and may well be at the onset of a free fall beyond rescue. Having realized the suicidal folly he has committed, Toby apologized but a public “thank you" from Grace has already been spoken. And why not? It is not at all incredible for a conspiracy theorist to suspect that Toby’s misguided exuberance was really “part of the script.” As well it could have been.
But of course, to so conclude would not be fair to Senator Grace Poe. Besides Toby and J.V. are not known to be bright enough concoct such a scenario.
Methinks that there have been quaint lessons learned from this current political zarzuela ‘du jour.’ For kibitzers and political junkies like you and me, as we now have learned, bufoonery has unintended consequences. In this specific case, an intended victim becomes a grateful beneficiary.
Grace-ful Responses Exhibit Grit and Good Judgment
Grace’s statements and reactions, occasioned by this sudden surge of attention and interest, reveal a young and recently new public persona that is sensitive and sober as well as sensible, composed and confident. Television projects Grace Poe as stable and intelligent. And full of grit. Grit as a personal attribute which spells a genuine concern not only for the now but more for the longer haul, a consciousness of many factors that make up and lead to a more desirable future goal. The “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” This is Grace.
Please take notice of the interplay of her words. While she states, warningly, with an element of irritation that “…attacks are pushing her towards chances that she would run for the Presidency in 2016…,” she also follows it up with “I am not salivating over the Presidency.” “A decision is not to be rushed,”……“it requires long term thinking.” For now, she is simply reacting to and defending herself from attacks of the Binay camp against her person and her qualifications, unrelated to political ambition. She has said that there are a lot of factors and more importantly, there are family considerations, most especially her youngest child being only 10 years old and her continuing role as a mother. And with both feet on the ground, on the eve of another meeting with PNoy, Grace accepts the reality that she is, in fact, shy of the requisite campaign funds as well as not having an organized political party machinery. All these have profound meaning for her.
In other words, unswept by the apparent heady build-up of presumed electoral winnability by this harvest of adulation, there is still the element of sobriety that can rule a deeply considered postponement of her appointment with destiny. More than anybody else, she knows her limitations but she is also aware that time is on her side. All these mean that Grace possesses Grit.
Reality and the Dream Scenario
When any penny-ante analyst says that ultimately, it is character that determines the quality of national leadership, there is always the unspoken supposition that all those vying for the Presidency are of equal mettle in terms of experience and managerial capabilities. Then, all things being equal, the candidate possessing a superior character and unblemished integrity ought to be voted in as national leader. Ideally. But as we all know, experiences are never equal. Managerial capabilities are never equal. And character alone is never enough!
While “from a foundling by the baptismal font in Jaro, Iloilo to the Presidential heights of Malacanang” might be a storyline full of emotional pull that tugs at the very heartstrings of the nation, moral character alone is never a guaranty for effective and beneficial governance. Much less is fairy tale! Nor the adulation of the undiscerning masses!
Insofar as Grace Poe is concerned, there is no doubt that she possesses a tremendous amount of promise based on the general public acceptance and appeal she has garnered. Her relatively short stint as a public servant present an untested presumption of her possessing favorable capabilities. Likewise, there is also that essential available time, ample enough to shape up for a better prepared Presidency. Either that opportunity of time is wisely utilized or unduly hastened and thus wasted. Therefore, in my wishful musings, Grace’s true grit ought to also embrace the reality that she can indeed be President. However, depending upon when this chapter in her life and that of the nation eventuates will be the litmus measure of the amount of managerial experience she can bring to the Office of the President and such experience’s concomitant potential for success. Very obviously, the more experience the better. But the more experience also requires honing time, extended exposure and patient learning.
Senator Grace Poe possesses a tremendous amount of good promise and much more propitious time to prepare for an inevitable Presidency by 2022, when she will only be 54 and her youngest child already 16, should she opt out of a Presidential run in 2016. That would indeed be good judgment. But certainly not if she willy-nilly risks an independent run for the Presidency with Chiz Escudero as her VP. That would be foolhardy and airheaded!
My dream scenario then calls for President Aquino and Mar Roxas successfully enrapturing Grace Poe to accept the mantra of continuity and thus become the anointed personification of long-term continuing reform, acknowledging her well-earned popularity but convincing her of the rewards of selflessness while acquiring more actual time-tested effective experience. PNoy and Mar, accepting Filipino political realities, must appeal to her true grit, her passion for the long haul and the irreplaceable value of first sharpening her apparently innate talents for national leadership and convince her of the virtue in first running as Vice President, even admitting without embarrassment that to do so is to shore up and strengthen Mar Roxas’s Presidential candidacy. There is no doubt in my mind that she will indeed bring mighty political heft campaigning for Mar Roxas as her Presidential candidate.
As a reward for embracing the mantra of continuity and acceding to run as Roxas’ Vice President, Grace Poe ought to be accorded with every form of unequivocal party support and public recognition. For added glamor cum experience and exposure earned while on the hustings, Grace Poe ought to be rewarded with a challenging special task: That of also being the personal campaign manager of Mar Roxas’ candidacy! This sends a clear message acknowledging her practical indispensability to the pursuit of the Liberal Party’s goals for the country. This is an unprecedented accolade which she richly deserves. By unerringly adhering to a “playbook” anchored upon the continuity of reforms, her Vice Presidential candidacy (undoubtedly, a sure shot!) and campaign managership will avowedly and overtly catapult Grace to be the truly inevitable, good and ready, unquestionably unbeatable Presidential candidate by 2022.
As the Aquino-initiated reforms continue to gain more widespread beneficence and acceptance, the conceptual three Presidential terms required for a more effective and lasting fruition of such reforms cannot find a better champion. Grace Poe for 2022 supporting Roxas for 2016!
As earlier prefaced, it is my "dream scenario." Politics can be full of surprises, you know.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.