Respect is one of life’s greatest treasures. I mean, what does it all add up to if you don’t have that?
— Hollywood’s ‘Blonde Bombshell’ Marilyn Monroe
IN this column last Thursday (December 16), we discussed about living in an imperfect world that is encouraged by a dysfunctional setting that prompt many of our fellow countrymen to show preferences for candidates who are more deficient than others when measured against the yardstick of ideal leadership—and this has been blamed on the low level of literacy.
But what does literacy have to do with elections and our right to suffrage?
As a word, Alberta Education defines literacy as the ability, confidence, and willingness to engage with language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living. Language, meanwhile, is explained as a socially and culturally constructed system of communication.
Actually, literacy has traditionally been thought of as simply reading and writing. However, although these are essential components of literacy, today our understanding of literacy encompasses much more than these and we realize that literacy is critical in helping us make sense of our world—because, from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we are constantly making meaning of the world around us.
And literacy plays a significant and active role in the election and in the exercise of suffrage when people choose the leaders they will elect into seats of power that carry with it the mandate of serving while ruling the country. But this is not what is happening right now in our beloved Philippines.
To make it clear, people are now supporting dysfunctional leaders as a result of the upper class enjoying high literacy and the lower class plagued with low literacy.
We recall how our grandparents elected highly competent and upright leaders even if they had lesser education and on top of this, our ancestors had limited access to information compared to the vast ocean of information at our generation’s fingertips which we call the internet and social media.
Yet more than literacy, the main culprit for our deteriorated concept of ideal leadership could be traced to our tainted and weakened concept of what is right and wrong. Our people’s sense of right and wrong has become diluted and polluted with so many toxic societal issues that give rise to many variants of right and wrong—so much like Covid-19 that has now mutated into so many strains that are all deadly and highly contagious.
This is the reason why we see a former mayor’s love for blurting out vindictiveness and badmouthing his critics as a sign of machismo and reformative leadership that is hoped to bring our country out of corruption and violence.
Then we see an upstart from Manila, who started in the shadows, now gunning for our country’s highest post and believing that he could easily clean our society like what he did in Divisoria where he cleared its streets from obstructions and illegal vendors. He has left his allegedly ‘beloved city’ of Manila in the hands of a doctor, whom I am sad to say has not impressed me nor earned my respect.
A few months back, a barangay official, who worked as a liaison officer and messenger, stole money and a parcel from my son-in-law’s company. I told vice mayor Honey Lacuna about the incident and how the culprit’s boss, his barangay chairwoman, insulted my daughter when they reported the kagawad’s infraction. And do you know what the good vice mayor did? Nothing!
And now much more are we shocked to see our countrymen hooting for a presidential candidate, whose roots come from a dictator and an Iron Lady who ruled our country like they were the King and Queen of England and the citizenry were mere lackeys and peasants whom they could abuse at every turn.
Facing the macho politician and the outgoing president is a hero in every sense of the word. He has battled almost a legion of foes to win honor for the Filipino people. The only thing is that he is ‘rough around the edges as some may say—an uncut diamond—but still with a great value despite being unpolished and should we say uncouth.