Wednesday ∗ 14 Sep 2011

careless banter: PNoy’s speech problem

the more i listen to PNoy, the more i realize that his communications team, all three heads of it, seems to be just clueless about how to handle his public speaking, how to strike a balance between being (pa-)cool and young, and creating an image of credibility and respect. case in point: at the investiture of Fr. Jett Villarin into the Ateneo Presidency, the premise of PNoy’s speech was his being Atenista, his personal relationship with Fr. Jett its context. this apparently meant going back to the time when they were members of/working with the Sanggunian ng Mag-aaral (the Sanggu) of Ateneo during Martial Law.

Hindi man po masyadong halata, talagang mas ahead po talaga si Father Jett sa akin nang nag-aaral pa kami (ganoon ho talaga ‘pag kayo ang may tangan ng mike, puwede kayong mag-author’s license), at ilang beses ko din siyang nakasabay tuwing may mga aktibidad ang atin pong sanggunian ng mga mag-aaral. Naalala ko nga po nang may nag-imbita sa amin na maging—at ito nga ho, lumalabas ang edad namin—maging founding member ng League of Filipino Students. Batch po namin sa sanggunian iyan.

Noong kami po ay nagtatalo kung sasama o hindi dito, ang aming faculty adviser, si Ginang Tina Montiel, lahat ho kami, may agam-agam. Tama ba na papasailalim tayo sa kanilang tinatawag na Executive Committee kung saan, may diktadura na nga sa labas ng ating pamantasan, sasama pa kami sa isang organisasyon na didiktahan rin kami? Naalala ko pa ang aming pangulo noon, si Budge Orara, na kung saan natapos ang botohan ay biglang humalakhak, pagkatapos ng pagkaseryo-seryosong boto—dahil unanimous po ang aming desisyon na hindi tama sumama sa League of Filipino Students noong mga panahong iyon.

Hindi namin ganoong kakilala ang isa’t isa pero talaga naman pong hinubog kami ng Ateneo na talagang, kung tutuusin, iisa ang pananaw at talagang tama ang depinisyon at nagkakasundo sa kung paano ipapaliwanag kung ano ang mabuti, ano ang tama para sa ating mga kapwa mag-aaral.

these statements, while couched in banter and familiarity, is replete with layers of carelessness, almost as if it’s a private exchange among friends and not a public statement being made by the president of this country. so on the one hand, he was paying tribute to his alma mater in this speech; yet in the process of doing this as casually as possible, he creates the impression that Ateneo molds <students> who have the same views about the world, hold the correct definitions, are one in explaining what is right and what is just. fine, he was talking about his time in the Sanggu, but really? he just put into question Ateneo’s credibility as a liberal university, as an academic institution that holds critical thinking and discourse in high regard. i’d like to think — in fact i know — that PNoy’s statement is a disservice to all those Ateneo teachers who engage students in the task of asking the right questions, instead of creating a generation who don’t know to be critical.

that PNoy was talking about the Sanggu of his time’s unanimous decision not to join the committee that would form the League of Filipino Students (LFS) during Martial Law was this speech’s bigger more glaring mistake. again, in a tone that might be used for a dinner with friends, PNoy ended up not just putting into question LFS as an organization, but in fact, Ateneo itself and its refusal to get involved in nation at a time when this was what was required of the youth. and they refused because they had apparently been molded into thinking that to be part of LFS would be to fall into the hands of another kind dictatorship which, in the context of the Marcos dictatorship, was apparently unacceptable.

the parallelism of course is downright offensive: to have made such a sweeping statement about LFS and made it seem like it was equal to the Marcos regime it fought against, proves not just PNoy’s lack of a sense of history, but really his (and his people’s) carelessness, where this President falsely accused an organization that continues to exist of being a dictatorship. and then to add insult to injury, or just add to the carelessness, Edwin Lacierda says about the demand for an apology:

“No, the President will not issue an apology over a factual matter and for an organization that criticizes this administration incessantly, it should shed its onion-skin features,” Lacierda said in a text message to Sun.Star. “If it can dish out criticisms, [there is] no reason why it should not be able to take criticisms.”

no, Mr. Lacierda, you are wrong. what PNoy said about LFS was farthest from being factual, in fact it was an opinion, turned false accusation, couched as it was in an unjust parallelism. and when you carelessly articulate that LFS just has “onion-skinned features” <sic> and should be able to take criticism since they dish it, you also inadvertently point out how this was PNoy — this was the president of this nation — power tripping and taking a jab at an activist student organization that’s critical of him.

so anyone who criticizes the government is now fair game in PNoy speeches? how is that just, or fair? how is that respectable or responsible? or is it that what matters to this government is for PNoy to comfortably deliver speeches, never mind that there’s a tendency for him to seem like a loose cannon making careless insinuations and tactless assertions?

how very Kris Aquino of him.

Posted in: akademya, aktibismo, edukasyon, gobyerno, komentaryo

Tagged: , , , ,

16 Comments/Pingbacks

    • GabbyD
      September 14, 2011 at 6:17 am

      also, where did pnoy equate it to the marcos dictatorship? he just used the word “dictatorship”. do all uses of the word imply an association with marcos (or any political dictator)?

      • Sebath
        September 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

        The LFS started during Martial Law so saying “may diktadura na nga sa labas ng ating pamantasan” can only refer to one thing. If you were at that point in time and you hear someone say this, automatically the Marcos government will come to mind.

        • GabbyD
          September 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm

          sebath, no doubt, it refered to the marcos dictatorship.

          but i wrote: “equate” as ina herself wrote: ” made it seem like it was equal to the Marcos regime it fought against,”

          equal? as in equivalent? where did that come from? not from pinoy.

          pnoy said that they both shared a (read: one only!) feature — that of telling people what they can do without recourse. this is a loose meaning of the filipinized “dicta”. ex: dinidictahan ako ng asawa ko.

          another example. in seinfeld, there is a character called “soup nazi”.
          this DOES NOT MEAN the character is a nazi.

          • ina
            September 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

            gabby d: PNoy said “diktadura na nga sa labas ng pamantasan, sasama pa kami sa isang organisasyon na didiktahan rin kami?”

            if you don’t see that as a parallelism and you’d rather go into the semantics of it, then that’s you being complicit in this discourse of careless banter.

          • GabbyD
            September 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

            semantics of it? i am not the one who says that, with this statement, pnoy is saying that

            1) LFS is as bad as marcos
            2) they didnt fight the marcos dictatorship,


            Bottomline: i dont think he said that at all.

            we use the word “diktahan” all the time. “hwag mo akong diktahan” does NOT mean — “dont do the crimes that marcos did”.

            di ba? this isnt semantics. this isnt a manipulation of meaning of words. this is what we know and understand what the word “diktahan” means.

            what did he say?

  1. Vincent
    September 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I dont understand why we need to focus much on the syntacs and semantics or what-have-yous in the use of language and diction as he defends PNoy. I think PNoy’s speech was not a simple bragging a personal experience with the atenistas at their time. PNoy’s speech–wittingly or unwittingly–is very political in downgrading LFS as an organization. If i am on his shoes, i can share the same experience without naming names, just to be careful about the words i will have or may use. Especially when i suppose to tell–directly or indirectly–words that pertain to an activist organization that used to be critical on my administration. This is a rule of thumb i think.

    • ina
      September 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      @vincent: exactly. he needs more tact, better writing, and just the ability to stand by what he says or else apologize for it, instead of having one of his PR people spin it like it’s all factual, and not a mistake, or an unfounded opinion.

    • GabbyD
      September 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      why do you have to hide your personal experience? why hide names?

  2. ina
    September 15, 2011 at 1:03 am

    @gabby d: “you said: we use the word “diktahan” all the time. “hwag mo akong diktahan” does NOT mean — “dont do the crimes that marcos did”. di ba? this isnt semantics. this isnt a manipulation of meaning of words. this is what we know and understand what the word “diktahan” means.”

    that you are taking these statements out of context is your problem. that you are taking these statements out of context is the role you play in keeping PNoy’s careless banter and unjust articulations valid.

    • GabbyD
      September 15, 2011 at 1:47 am

      ok. whats the context?

      let me guess what your answer is: he is the president. he is not allowed to mention his political enemies, regardless of whether what he said is true.

      (also, you said his statement is false. so its not true that the LFS can do that? order member govts to do something?)

      is this the context u speak of?

  3. Tinio Rocks
    September 20, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    You are an idiot, GabbyD.

  4. GabbyD
    September 21, 2011 at 3:19 am

    yes i am an idiot! but that doesnt explain ina’s problem with what pnoy said.

    the issue is simply this:

    1) we KNOW what he meant. there is no ambiguity.
    2) from 1), we know what he didnt mean.
    3) so when we interpret his words to mean what they DID NOT, the question is: why do that?

    when we talk with people we dont like, especially when its people we dont like, we owe it to our conversation partners to honestly understand what they meant. right? is this an alien concept?

    now, what i am NOT hearing from LFS or from ina is whether he lied. IF he lied, then thats something to be steamed about.

    did he lie?

  5. glenn
    September 24, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Good lord, GabbyD, why are you being deliberately obtuse?

    “Tama ba na papasailalim tayo sa kanilang tinatawag na Executive Committee kung saan, may diktadura na nga sa labas ng ating pamantasan, sasama pa kami sa isang organisasyon na didiktahan rin kami?”

    What is so hard to undestand from this statement? It is clearly a direct comparison between the “diktadurang” Marcos and the purported “diktadura” within LFS? There are Wittgenstein-variety convolutions here, of contexts at the least. He used “rin” within a compound sentence. To argue that they both merely “share a feature” is not only PR doublespeak, it is a distinction that your president’s mediocre thinking skills are incapable of making, much less using for his own twisted logic.

    This administration’s communications group is doing such a horrible job. Telling its critics to sod off is nothing short of bullying, given the power relations and the fact that it’s taxpayers’ money that fund your operations.

    • GabbyD
      September 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      whoa glenn! do you believe that by saying this, a direct comparison, as you say, pnoy meant:

      1) LFS also killed its political enemies?
      2) installed martial law
      3) fill in whatever else Marcos did..

      is this what you are saying? seriously? if NOT, then what are you saying?

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