Monday, July 27, 2009

Reflections on Two Women

Cory is fighting for her life. Yellow ribbons are everywhere - even at the UAAP Basketball Tournament last night where coaches and players sported them in tribute to a revered former leader.

Meanwhile, Gloria will give her valedictory later today. People are being called upon to wear black as political rallies and impassioned calls for her to categorically indicate that she is stepping down next year - most likely to face charges of corruption - abound.

Ironically, one could argue that Gloria was the better president - even those most opposed to her must give her credit for improvements in agriculture, education, and yes, even steering the country through a historic economic crisis. To be sure, hunger and poverty still exists - indeed at unacceptable levels - but who, honestly, would have done better?

In contrast, Cory - as president - failed to take advantage of a historical opportunity to address agrarian reform, and presided over the enactment of what - in hindsight - is a terribly flawed Constitution that allowed political dynasties to re-emerge... ultimately leading to the the corruption and inefficiencies that continue to hound us today.

Simply put, the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of both women are overshadowed by, and indeed are being judged in the context of public perceptions of their personal integrity and moral fortitude.

Who knows how history will eventually judge both? For now, the question - taken to the extreme - is this: would you rather have a corrupt president who is nonetheless able to deliver the goods for his/her constituency; or would you rather have an incorruptible president who leads by example, and yet is terribly ineffective with the job?

It would, of course, be ideal if we could have a morally upright president equally skilled to take on the responsibilities of the highest leadership position in the land... but given a choice, it would appear that the collective Filipino answer is not really that difficult.

The fact is that Cory is beloved and Gloria is reviled tells a lot about what is really important for all of us - as a people.

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