POSTSCRIPT / January 1, 2004 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noli is both asset and liability to GMA

FRESH START: Time as reflected in the calendar goes around in a circle — each day, each week and each month repeating themselves in an inexorable loop.

You can wake up any morning and greet yourself and your pillow “Happy New Year!” To start fresh, you need not wait for January 1, which convention dictates to be the start of a new year.

Each day should be welcomed and lived as the start of a new year, the beginning of a new and better life, the reaffirmation of a resolve to do better.

To all our friends and readers go our wishes for a happier and more fulfilling new year — each day, everyday.

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STATISTICAL NOTE: They won’t say so, but the two women in the presidential race must be deathly worried by statistical probability.

The idolatrous masa may just come out again in droves on May 10, cross party lines and deliver a mixed winning ticket: Fernando Poe Jr. as president and Noli de Castro as vice president.

Both Poe and De Castro are consistent topnotchers in the surveys (if you believe in table surveys) and might just be carried by the self-fulfilling bandwagon effect of such statistics.

In terms of qualifications and preparation for the job, Arroyo and Legarda are way ahead of their respective rivals Poe and De Castro.

But if the spell of Poe and De Castro on the masa is not broken, the country could be stuck with them for six years, or more, for better or for worse.

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MIXED PAIRING: Recent past elections have seen similar mixed winning tandems.

In the last election in 1998, Arroyo ran for vice president with Speaker Jose de Venecia as standard bearer. She won, but De Venecia lost to Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who had Edgardo Angara as vice presidential mate.

In the immediately preceding election in 1992, another mixed pair won: Erap Estrada won as vice president when his presidential partner Eduardo Cojuangco lost to Fidel V. Ramos.

Vice presidential candidates must be examined as if they were themselves running for president.

On the bumpy road of Philippine politics, the “spare tire” often had ended up as president either by the death or removal of the president or by the sheer momentum of being that close to the seat of power.

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PLUS & MINUS: President Arroyo’s getting De Castro to run with her is a double scoop, but it also brings negative issues into their campaign.

Although there is no certainty that the conceded popularity of De Castro would rub off on the President, it must be presumed that a certain number of his voters would go for her if Election Day finds them still undecided on their presidential choice.

There are also many voters who frown on mixed pairings, mainly on the belief that forcing two non-allied top executives to sit together would be counter-productive. This type votes for a pair buy one-take one fashion, if he does not have any serious objection to the partner of his favorite.

On the other hand, carrying De Castro will burden the President with issues relating to high electricity costs and other complaints against De Castro’s bosses in the Lopez business group. Political shrapnel from upcoming personal tirades against De Castro may also hit her.

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FIELD NARROWS: But the biggest plus point for the President in harnessing De Castro is in her having eliminated the popular newsreader of ABS-CBN as a potential rival for the presidency.

With Fernando Poe Jr. already running, the coming in of De Castro as another presidential candidate would have pushed President Arroyo farther down in the rankings.

Now the main problem has been narrowed down to Poe. The Arroyo camp can concentrate on defeating the box office king.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson and former Sen. Raul Roco are still in contention, but they are small problems compared to Poe. Evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva, who cannot even put together a credible lineup, can also be dismissed as a serious contender.

Everything considered, if elections were held tomorrow, we think President Arroyo would be the most likely winner, with Poe close behind.

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LEADERSHIP: A timely reading material is “How Rich Is My Journey,” a biography of Jeremias U. Montemayor, founder of the peasant organization Federation of Free Farmers. Excerpts from the book:

“The colonial master came with the honest conviction that he was superior to the natives and that he would enlighten and civilize them. They should, therefore, submit to his power and obey his commands in order that the nation can advance.

“So today, the typical Filipino leader tells his people, ‘I am the best. I am the wisest. Just listen to me. Do what I say, and everything will be all right. Ako ang bahala sa inyo. (I will take care of you.)’

“As I looked at the situation and problems of the peasants and as I started to help them in the early 1950s, I gradually learned from them the kind of leadership that they needed. My background in philosophy and theology in the seminary and in the Ateneo de Manila enabled me to undergo this learning process systematically and clearly. My fellow workers in the FFF also helped me a lot.

“Eventually, we were able to distinguish leadership from related concepts with which it is often confused, and to define its true nature. Among these concepts, which must be clearly distinguished from that of leadership, are those of ‘genius,’ ‘benefactor,’ and ‘hero.’

“A man analyzes the people’s problems, and by the sheer brilliance of his mind discovers the solutions to them. He is a genius. But while brilliance of mind can help a leader, the genius is not necessarily a leader.

“For a true leader desires not so much to understand the people’s problems and to discover solutions to these problems as to help the people understand their own problems and discover the solutions themselves.

“A man may be very capable, rich and generous. He sees the problems of the people and with his own resources solves the problems of the people for the people. He is a benefactor or a savior. But he is not necessarily a leader, because the specific task of the leader is not so much to solve the people’s problems as to inspire the people to solve their own problems.

“Even Christ, who is truly our Savior, will not save us unless we do our part to save ourselves. He therefore combines so admirably the role of a savior and that of a leader.

“A man may be skilled and extraordinarily courageous. He performs wonderful feats or undergoes great dangers for his people. He is a hero. But while a leader must have great courage and ability, the hero is not necessarily a leader. For the true leader does not want so much to save the people as to see the people save their own selves. He wants the people not to be impressed by him but by their own selves.

“What then is the specific function of the leader? The specific function of the leader is to absorb the image of his people, purify that image, throw it back, and inspire the people with their own image.

“How can a leader absorb the image of the people? By living with them, appreciating their virtues, knowing their weaknesses, sympathizing with their aspirations, respecting their wisdom, recognizing their errors, and learning from them. In absorbing the people’s image, the leader actually follows his people.

“‘There go my people,’ said Mahatma Gandhi, ‘I must follow them. For I am their leader.’ On another occasion the Indian people were reported to have told Gandhi, ‘We do not want you here. Go back to the Himalayas.’ But Gandhi was said to have answered, ‘No, I will not go to the Himalayas. But if you should go there, I would follow you.’

“There is a school of fish. For awhile each fish moves around slowly in various directions. But one of them is trying to sense the impulse of the others. Having finally sensed it, it shoots forward, and the others follow. He is a leader. But he first follows or senses the desire or impulse of his fellows, and then surges on to lead. Thus, the leader leads by following, and follows by leading.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 1, 2004)

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