POSTSCRIPT / May 23, 2010 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Reminder: The world is not black and white

CLARK FIELD — Pardon my intruding into the excitement of the ongoing transition to a new — and reformist — administration, but I am tempted to repeat some points for the benefit of all concerned:

* The world is not flat. Neither is it black and white. The landscape has an irregular contour, and is suffused in grays and a kaleidoscope of colors.

* The just-concluded election was not a cataclysmic battle between good and evil. It was just a pro-forma process of asking the people to elect their leaders for the next three/six years.

* No one man nor group has a monopoly of vice or virtue.

* In politics, whose core is human relations, it is not wise to speak in absolute terms, to stereotype people, to view actuations as either black or white without conceding anything in-between.

* * *

BALANCING ACT: Incoming president Noynoy Aquino will discover soon enough that although his heart is in the right place, in his crusade against corruption, he will have to make adjustments here and there to get reasonable results.

This reformist president wants to land some big fish in his first 365 days, but lawyers and their game of due process are likely to foul up his cleanup schedule.

In revamping the bureaucracy, he will have his hands full sorting out a dozen applicants for each vacancy, each aspirant backed by a VIP padrino. That could be problematic.

Dividing the spoils of war among his supporters and balancing that with the installing of a reformist team will be a tough test.

* * *

TEST OF VICTORY: We may glean some lessons from the case of Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio of Pampanga who suffered a drubbing in his reelection bid last May 10 in the hands of former provincial board member Lilia Pineda.

Running on a reform agenda in 2007, Among Ed had the world watching in awe when, without money and machinery, he sallied forth and won the governorship with a majority of less than 2,000 votes.

Comedian Dolphy, asked why he was not running for office, once retorted, “Paano kung manalo tayo?” (“But what would I do if I won?”)

With due respect, Among Ed may have failed his cabalen because he lacked the political skills needed to make things work in a milieu that is far from perfect.

 In his return bout with Pineda last May 10, he lost by more than 200,000 votes.

* * *

OVERDOING IT: Aquino may find some lessons in the Panlillo phenomenon. Also carrying the torch of reform, the priest-turned-politician swept into the capitolio with a burning desire to behead the beast of corruption.

Aided by a legalistic no-nonsense lady-administrator, he overdid it by regarding the world around him as black and white. He proceeded to go after what he regarded as the corrupt remnants of past administrations.

In his crusade, Panlillo enjoyed widespread support, even from sectors outside the province.

But looking back, many observers now note that he might have overdone it, pushing too hard on perceived corrupt personnel without giving them a chance to adjust to his and his administrator’s ways.

Even assuming they were indeed corrupt, it was counter-productive to treat them as such without due process.

* * *

BLACK AND WHITE: This attitude that the world is black and white colored the governor’s dealing with the provincial board, which stiffened in its relationship with him.

He also antagonized the mayors of most of the 20 towns of Pampanga, who, after all, enjoyed their own mandates since they were also elected like him.

Running a province is not a one-man job. The governor needs the board and the mayors in carrying out his province-wide programs, but with fellow officials having been antagonized, how can he succeed?

I do not mean to say that the governor should have compromised his crusade. But maybe he could have improved his human relations and refrained from making people feel suspect.

Relating this to incoming president Aquino, the crusading son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino may want to be more flexible and consider possibly adjusting here and there if only to achieve long-range results.

* * *

BORACAY THREAT: San Miguel Corp. has run smack into an ecological hill in Caticlan, gateway to the world-famous Boracay beach, threatening its P2.5-billion investment for a planned international airport there.

Opposition to the building of the Caticlan airport is centered on the proposed leveling of the Caticlan hill, which a government scientist said could lead to the loss of the “unique white sand” for which Boracay is famous.

The threat to Boracay’s pristine asset is premised on the so-called “micro-climate theory” of Mines and Geosciences Bureau scientist Ricarte Javelosa.

He explained that unlike other beaches whose sand is made of silica, Boracay’s powdery sand comes from finely polished crushed coral eroded from the bedrocks of Caticlan and Boracay.

* * *

DAMAGING WIND: His study revealed that the main drivers for replenishing Boracay’s sandy beach are the wind and the waves tempered by the hill at the end of Caticlan airport’s runway.

Javelosa claims that the hill acts as barrier against harsh winds of the habagat and the amihanconverting them into gentle breezes that swirl around the area while carrying light sand particles that replenish the beach of its unique white sand.

Levelling the hill, he said, would unleash the full force of the monsoon winds and wreak havoc on Boracay’s micro-climate.

He pointed out that strong winds will carry heavier topsoil that will discolor the beach, and create bigger waves that will crash on the beach and drag its fine sand back to the sea.

Javelosa, a landform specialist, warned that removing the hill that acts as the climate barrier driving the replenishment cycle of the shore will result in the beach’s eventually disappearing.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 23, 2010)

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