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SONA NI AQUINO BITIN! ANALYSIS BY PROF. WINNIE MONSOD - 'IN TAGALOG'

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Published on Jul 27, 2010

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquirero...

BITIN!!
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:47:00 07/28/2010

Filed Under: State of the Nation Address (SONA), Benigno Aquino III

THE STRENGTHS are patent enough. Noynoy Aquino is an engaging speaker, if not a gifted one. Had Fidel Ramos or Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered that State of the Nation Address last Monday, they would have lost me much earlier. Both also tended to trot out SONAs that were long on facts and short on vision, long on information and short on inspiration. Though the difference between the two is that where Ramos exaggerated, Arroyo lied. Their own difference with P-Noy is that while they have no rapport with their audience, P-Noy does.

You get the impression the two just read from a teleprompter, you get the impression P-Noy speaks from his heart. Even when he started rattling off all those figures during his first 15 minutes to drive home the scale of pillage of the past regime—a disconcerting plunge before one could settle down to savor the exhilarating moment—he sounded deeply sincere. I listened in rapt attention to at least part of his litany of ills.

His SONA had reasonability written all over it. It was all of a piece with his arriving on time without aid of wang-wangs (only with his escorts blazing a path with blinkers), taking to the podium without fanfare, and saying what he had to say without taking an inordinate amount of time to do it. By sheer contrast with his predecessor, his reasonability was not without its epic aspect. When you've just been sprung off from jail, everything about you seems dazzling, even if everybody else takes those things for granted. When you've just clawed out of the pit of madness, the smell of sanity can be a heady brew.

Finally, after all the years when public officials stole routinely, we can have public officials who will not, or who we can reasonably expect not to. Finally, after all the years when whistleblowers got fingerprinted and kidnappers got feted, we can see the one hailed and the other jailed, or can reasonably expect it to be so. Finally, after all these years when government did everything wrong, or took the wayward path, the baluktot na landas, government will do everything right, or take the righteous path, the matuwid na landas, or can reasonably be expected to do much of the time.
Finally, after all these years when we did not have a government, we will have one.
P-Noy himself said that after all these years we can dream again. But his speech seemed to offer only that after all these years we can breathe again. Well, maybe coming off from all these years makes it not so easy to distinguish between breathing and dreaming.
The weaknesses are far less patent but they're there. Most people I've talked to liked the speech but had the uneasy feeling it fell short of expectations. I myself would put it this way: The speech was good enough, but P-Noy pitched it at a time when good enough wasn't good enough.
His speech missed out on the awesome historicity of the moment. The country has just been delivered from despotic rule, a rule not unlike the pitiless one Marcos mounted despite its patina of democratic respectability. It wasn't just our bodies that were stolen, it was our souls. For the first time in nine years, we could actually look at a SONA with expectation rather than with dread. A people who have just been liberated do not just need to be sated, they need to be elated. A people who have just tasted freedom do not just need to be assured, they need to be inspired. A people who have just had a past taken away from them do not just need to have a present presented to them, they need to have a future unfolded before them.
Far more than that, P-Noy's speech missed out on the awesome ferocity of his mandate, or the sea change, or paradigm shift, or paradise gained that has happened with his presidency. He didn't do a bad job of apprising his countrymen of what they might expect from his government. From stopping corruption to settling strife, from hounding wrongdoers to protecting whistle-blowers, from uniting administration and opposition to unifying private and public, local and national. What he did a bad job of was apprising his countrymen of what he expected them to do for his government. He didn't do it at all.
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