POSTSCRIPT / May 7 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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‘Ako Mismo’ -- Taking personal responsibility

COMMITMENT: People are asking where they can get that “Ako Mismo” (I Myself) pendant/dog tag featured in the Smart Foundation ad splashed on TV screens after Manny Pacquiao beat the daylight out of Ricky Hatton last Sunday. They want to wear it, too.

The slick “Ako Mismo” ad features some of the country’s younger icons delivering the message that a Filipino must take responsibility for what befalls the country. Their “Ako Mismo” pendants stood out in color in the stark black and white format.

Many viewers saw the pendant as a proud statement of a Filipino’s commitment to excellence and love of country. The message has found convergence with Pacquiao’s carrying the flag in his ring battles that have clinched him six world boxing titles.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, Smart chairman, has explained that the “Ako Mismo” movement seeks “to awaken and spread the Filipinos’ sense of responsibility as an individual.”

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ACCOUNTABILITY: Pangilinan said: “Our legacy is reliance on community, government and family… this opportunity must be balanced by strong personal accountability. It is a principle I happen to believe in, as must millions of OFWs who left home and fended for themselves.”

There was no shadow of Pangilinan in the “Mismo Ako” ad. Precisely, he kept out of it to prevent any extraneous color from staining the pure principle of personal accountability.

In contrast, in the TV ads of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, the cheering had barely died down when he popped on the tube in the guise of congratulating Pacquiao. He has been asked to explain if government money was spent for that instant insertion.

Readers have also been reacting negatively to the political ads of other administration officials, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Pagcor Chairman Efraim Genuino among them.

Genuino, for one, still has to explain the millions (Pagcor money or his?) he threw away in the failed bid of his two children running to sit as congressman and councilor of Makati.

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SOLON OR GOV?: Still on Pacquiao, the GenSan boy might want to rethink his reported plan to run for congressman of nearby Sarangani province.

This is not because he is still a legal resident of General Santos City and not of Sarangani, but because his talents may be more suited for something less exacting than legislation, or the precise and demanding science of making laws.

With due respect, Pacquiao is kind, well-meaning and physically fit, but that does not necessarily cut him out for legislation.

If his burning desire is just to continue directly helping people improve their lot and their community, the more suitable workplace might be the executive, not legislative, branch. He would fit better as a mayor or governor. Maybe, later, even as president.

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LAWMAKING: Somebody should explain to the pugilist that the task of a congressman is to write, refine, explain and defend proposed laws — not, as he sees it being done, to feast on pork and go around distributing goodies.

The problem is that he may think being a provincial governor is not as exciting. Because they spend more time in Manila, congressmen seem to have national, not parochial, projection.

Besides, running for governor of Sarangani might put Pacquiao on collision course with incumbent Gov. Miguel Dominguez who is qualified for a third term.

Challenging the governor may be more bruising than a ring scuffle, considering that local politics usually breeds neighborhood animosities. It will be a breeze running for the House seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Erwin L. Chiongbian.

(Erratum: Last Tuesday, I reported that Chiongbian, 65, can run for another term. Actually he is now on his third and last term. Unless he has a family member set to inherit his post, he may be easier to persuade to make way for Pacquiao.)

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SEARCH FOR HEROES: Yes, I said that Pacquiao might even run, later, for president.

That does not mean I want him to become president. I was just talking of the possibility that the political bug having bit him in the kamao (forearm), the infection might spread to his head.

We Filipinos have been in search of true heroes, of authentic leaders, of people we can believe in. Although it is dark outside, the search continues.

We have experimented with actors, comedians, thugs and such characters — and still have not found the man (or woman). Are we ready to try a boxer? Mukha namang mabait, di ba?

When that happens, it is time we educated not only the candidates but also the voters. It is time the message of “Ako Mismo” was drilled into our heads.

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RIZAL PLAY: Find time tomorrow to watch the play “Rizal is My President” to be presented by the OCCI-Fullness of Life Foundation at 7 p.m. at the Irwin Theater at the Ateneo-Loyola campus.

The play is based on the book “Rizal is My President, 40 Leadership Tips from Jose Rizal” by Napoleon Almonte. He wrote it in frustration at what is happening to the country and the lack of leaders with integrity and who are moved by love of country.

Helping put together the one-act play are PETA Director Raffy Tejada and scriptwriter and Palanca awardee Joshua So. There are four original songs by composer Noel Cabangon. The cast is composed of students from De la Salle University.

After its Irwin Theater first run, the play will move to St. Scholastica’s College on May 29-31, and on to other schools in June. Get more details from Cynthia Sico, celfon #0917-8533078.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 7, 2009)

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