Not a few of our friends have asked us this question about a common friend we had back then. These guys who asked us this ubiquitous question are not politicians. They are usually chiefs of offices and former heads of agencies.
They are referring to a young politician we met in the late 80s and early 90s who was once idealistic and willing to learn the ways of supposedly alternative politics. Now, I am frequently asked this question because these chiefs of offices and heads of agencies have met this erstwhile-young-and-idealistic-politician recently and found him quite different, even repugnant, compared to how we knew him before.
“Gikan ko sa office sa atong migo bay. Wa na man kaila naku”. That is their usual remark.
My honest answer to that question is, “I really do not know why”. Some would surmise that perhaps there are medical and surgical ways of explaining this phenomenon; this radical change for the worse, from being friendly to being unfriendly, to say the least.
If it helps to explain, let me recall that this politician has had streaks of winning and losing in his political battles. In one of those years, I remember him telling me and others this: “Kining politika duwa nis mga yawa. Busa kamo, kung wa pa mo mosud ini, ayaw na. Sagdi na lang mi kay nahinayak na mi”. Or, something to that effect.
This is a far cry from the idealism and alternative politics that we tried during his early years. This sounds very much like the statement of a trapo (traditional politician). This is not his original composition. But it rings true as a description of dirty politics. Perhaps, it was his way of telling us that he has said goodbye to his idealism and our dreams of a better kind of politics.
You might say I am being naïve and unrealistic. You may be right. But no, I am just describing someone’s transformation; and it is definitely not for the better.
Then, these common friends of ours try to go for the jugular with a whooping naughty question: ANG GRABE GYUD NGA NAHITABO BAY, NGANONG NAHIMO NA SIYANG ATTACK DOG SA USA KA BILLIONAIRE CHINESE NON-BOHOLANO POLITICIAN TRYING TO LORD IT OVER BOHOLANOS”?
This is too much. Too loaded. I am just describing how friends are complaining with these kinds of questions. Let me remind you though, that there is no rule or definition about “how to be a Boholano”. That is something cultural. I am not going there.
But attack dog? Tsk tsk maybe you mean, he keeps attacking the Bohol Chronicle. That is really something. You do not attack a revered Boholano cultural institution that is older than you. By doing that, it is like you are insulting old people, or maybe even your own parents. That’s a no-no in Boholano culture.
“But why become an attack dog?”, political kibitzers pester us with such nagging question. I have my own theories about this. But they speculate that there are 50 or 100 million ways to explain this behavior of becoming someone else’s attack dog. I do not know about that, really.
This is my own theory about this. Threefold Society is consistent in its advocacy that there are three spheres of society, cultural, economic and political. One should not lord it over others. If they do, then, that is the cause of so many problems in our local communities in particular, and our national and global situation in general.
The media, churches, private schools, nongovernment organizations, people’s organizations and all other institutions paid for by private funds to do public service belong to the Civil Society sector. To the Business sector belong all institutions that are paid for by private funds to do private service. To the Government belong all institutions that are paid for by public funds to do public service.
Once one sector intends to dictate on the others, all sorts of problems will arise. This is very clear in our collective experiences. There are businessmen who want to influence politicians to get contractual favors; and vice versa. The same is true with NGOs who ingratiate themselves with politicians to get funds for their organizations. Or, politicians who try to make sure that NGOs with massive followers will align with their political agenda. This is the crux of the matter.
The Bohol Chronicle is the oldest, most enduring civil society organization in the field of media in the province of Bohol. No one will argue with that. But for politicians to insist that the Bohol Chronicle should write only stories that please their eyes and ears is a gross violation of the principle of parity between and among these three sectors.
To use an educative example, let me explain with my own experience. In the 2016 elections, I voted for Roxas and Robredo. I am not a “dilawan”. There is no such thing. I know the Dutertes because I grew up in Davao. But my conscience tells me Roxas and Robredo were aligned with my values.
Here comes a contemporary of mine from the DWC College of Law who kept attacking Roxas and Robredo in his column in a newspaper that he owns. There is another friend of ours who is highly respected among Boholano journalists who was also working for the Dutertes. Did I hate them? Did I attack them? No, never. We are friends; and that’s forever.
There is this other local newspaper that tries to compete with the Bohol Chronicle. I used to write for them, too. They have chosen to be friendly with local politicians. Do I hate them or attack them in any way? No. I respect them if that is their editorial choice. I consider their editors and staff to be my friends now and after the elections.
Why harass a newspaper to make it follow your whims and caprices? Why call them bias or twister of facts if they do not try to please you? Can you not stand criticism?
To my friend (even if he does not seem to consider me one anymore), I leave you with this Chinese proverb: “One moment of anger is worth a hundred days of sorrow”. That applies to me, you and everyone else.