Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Chiz

Excerpt of an article by John Nery, published on May 19, 2009:

Kiko, Chiz, Amina, Candy — and ‘consensus’

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero enjoys a reputation for political eloquence, and as I have written before on other occasions, his “mellifluous monotone” can prove highly effective. But as his answers at the recent ABS-CBN-sponsored “leadership forum” at the Ateneo de Manila University showed, he also uses it in Orwellian fashion. That is to say, he sometimes uses his gift of gab to conceal thought, not to reveal it.

One example: To the question about personal heroes (Which historical person living or dead do you most admire?), Escudero said, None. His answer (in mellifluously monotonous Filipino, and readily available on his website) started in this wise: “Ilang ulit nang tinanong sa akin yan, matagal ko nang pinag-isipan ngunit wala akong maisip ni-isa.” My translation: “I’ve been asked that many times and have thought about it a long time, but I can’t think of anyone.” He went on to say: “Dahil para sa akin walang iisang kumakatawan at nagtataglay nang lahat ng katangiang kapupuri-puri [Because for me, there is no one who embodies and symbolizes all that is worthy of praise.]”

This is passing strange. The question was not Who is perfect? but Who do you look up to?

Escudero proceeded to state that perhaps what we ought to do is to choose what is admirable in our historical figures (“mga magagandang ginawa ng mga personalidad sa kasaysayan”) and avoid their mistakes. But that was the point of the question, wasn’t it? Give the Filipino people an idea of who you consider admirable. Escudero then wrapped up his two-minute answer with an appeal to imagination: Imagine a person with all these qualities, he said. “Iyon siguro, hindi man totoong tao, ang dapat natin tingalain [Maybe that is the one, though not a real person, we should all look up to.]

Pure drive. I think in avoiding the true question, Escudero is betraying the anxiety of influence. As I’ve written before (the first time, I think, was in 2005), Escudero strikes me as the acceptable face of the Marcos restoration. Here’s a thought in search of a consensus. Perhaps Escudero declined to answer the real question because the people may not be ready to hear him profess any admiration for the late dictator.

And posted today, by the same writer:

Giving Chiz his due

A recent column deconstructing Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s deliberately vapid answers in last month’s ANC Leadership Forum prompted many questions, and not a few pointed comments. His speaking skills, after all, seem in large part to explain his popularity, especially among the youth.

I would like to expand on the young senator’s gift of gab, by recalling something I had written three and a half years ago.

I had covered the first impeachment vote in 2005 (the longest session Congress ever had to endure in its sometimes rambunctious history), and “reported” the proceedings in 10 parts for my Newsstand blog. On Sept. 10, 2005, I wrote:

On other occasions I have written slightingly of Chiz Escudero’s speaking skills, because he seemed at times to use his eloquence to tell creative untruths, to mask the weakness of his position. The wild goose chase that led him to Los Angeles to speak with former Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy Jr., for example, ended with words that seemed like a promise of victory. Dy will speak at the impeachment trial, Escudero had said. But if you parse that statement, it quickly becomes clear that the House minority leader had actually misled the public into thinking Dy had already chosen one side over another. All Dy must have meant was, if the case reaches the Senate, where the President is almost certain of conviction, then I’m on your side. If it doesn’t, I’m not.

Full column here.

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