In contemporary history, the death of an Aquino has always presaged tectonic movements in Philippine politics. 

Cory became President riding on a groundswell of national outrage over the assassination of husband, Ninoy. Her death, in turn, propelled son, Noynoy, to the Presidency on a similar groundswell, but of sympathy, and disgust with corruption.

“Both Cory and Noynoy did not seek the position. They never even dreamed of it.”  

Both Cory and Noynoy did not seek the position. They never even dreamed of it. History was kind to their political ascent, but brutal in its means. Never was a family brought down from the heights of society to the depths of persecution, isolation, exile, and eventually, murder. 

Their lives were not like yours and mine. 

Cory, despite her deep intelligence, suffered with quiet dignity all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, including that of having a husband like Ninoy, but lived as a plain housewife. How she kept body and soul and her family together is legend. 

And Noynoy lived through an adolescence indelibly lashed by the unimaginable experience of having a father locked in solitary confinement in a military stockade with a death sentence by a military court hanging over his head.  

As a young man during her mother’s coup-stricken administration, Noynoy survived injuries sustained in an ambush that killed three of his close-in security escorts. And we expected him to be “normal”? 

No major political family has ever looked as bereft of any future as the Aquinos were, before. 

No would-be Philippine President has ever looked so unpromising. 

As congressman, Noynoy was underperforming, some even say, lazy. No one has ever accused him of being promising. 

As President, he had his highs, and I would like to point out just one – bringing the nation’s sovereign debt rating to investment grade for the first time in history. This has helped open the floodgates of easier credit in the global bond markets, benefiting even the current administrations massive infrastructure drive. As President, he inherited an empty public coffer, but left his successor a full one. 

He was also socially inept, appearing in a car assembly plant opening as the widows of policemen killed in the Mamasapano massacre, and the nation, grieved. 

This is not an attempt to draw his legacy. I’d leave that to others more minded to, and better equipped.  It would necessarily be mixed, like his own lifelong struggle to fix a broken past that he sought vainly to keep private. In the end, this is best left to the judgement of history that, I suspect, would be kind to him. 

No, I don’t think the nation needs another Aquino Presidency, either. Let’s give ourselves a break. The lesser of the same family names in the roster of our leaders, the better for our country. 

“The lesser of the same family names in the roster of our leaders, the better for our country.“

What I would like to do instead is to engage in a little wishful thinking anchored on one of our best traditions as a people – respect for the dead. In this case, a former leader of the land. This is beyond narrow, partisan politics. 

Imagine this: the current President coming to the wake of his predecessor, to extend his personal sympathies and condolences to his bereaved family. No, it will not end our divisions just like that. But nothing could be so emotively powerful. 

Let’s face it. As a nation, we are so fatally polarized. In our public spaces, the domineering “dilawan-versus-DDS” tit-for-tat is not only ridiculous, even downright stupid, but perverse. It is unleashing the worst in us when we should be teasing out the best in us. All of us. No nation has ever moved forward without getting over this kind of hump. 

When the two halves of a nation try to bring each other down in a mindless orgy of self-induced partisan political arousal, not human but animal spirits shall prevail. There will be no survivors.  

I think the death of Noynoy provides us a useful opportunity to pause, to stop at the edge of the precipice, before we take the collective leap to guaranteed perdition.  

I will not frame the issue here. But I suspect the first politician who can correctly frame for our people the opportunity presented by the death of a former leader will reap all the dividends.

“We cannot be forever asking for more deaths from one family each time we need salvation.“ 

This may yet turn out to be the last gift to us of an Aquino death. And, hopefully, it will turn out to be a gift of ourselves that is infinitely greater than the politics that divide us as a people. And we cannot be forever asking for more deaths from one family each time we need salvation. For chrissakes, in the last 2000 years, God himself was willing to give only one! 

Our politics, thus far, is merely people powered. It is like gas to a car, that we pay at the pump. We never really had people power as true motive-force, the driver’s seat. Until we do, we might as well just sit back, relax and watch the grand entrance of political hyenas who will soon be grabbing a piece of Noynoy’s political carcass. 

I like wishful thinking, even if it’s more like wishing than thinking. But who knows! Miracles can happen.



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