Tell it to SunStar: Different strokes

Jesus Sievert

LET me just put in my two cents worth of thoughts on the opinion expressed by Ms. Marian May Tan in her article, ‘On Senate yesteryears,’ SunStar, Dec. 19, 2019, relative to Atty. Democrito C. Barcenas’ piece, ‘Missing the Senate of yesteryears,’ SunStar, Dec. 17. 2019.

Both are actually right in their own respective ways. Indeed, Barcenas’ article evokes pleasant memories of the past highly intellectual members of the Senate who were mostly lawyers by profession. I was so mesmerized then by their eloquence and brilliance during their privilege speeches and debates during Senate hearings that I lost track of the number of times I missed classes because I simply did not have the urge to extricate myself from my seat.

Yes, those were the years when radio broadcast was not at its best yet. How I wished it was televised then, as it is today, instead of visualizing mentally their emotions, gestures and facial expressions, as one clearly sees in modern times, when senators are grandstanding.

If I may add to the illustrious names that Barcenas mentioned like Aquino, Salonga, Diokno, and Tañada, there was also Lorenzo Sumulong, Arturo Tolentino, Francisco “Soc”Rodrigo, Roseller Lim and Raul Manglapus, among others, who held me utterly enthralled. Lest we forget, the dazzling of them all was Ferdinand Marcos!

Yet, what happened to these preeminent politicians who were, as Barcenas described, “principled intellectual brilliance, mastery of parliamentary rules, unquestionable patriotism and unsullied integrity,” and to the country for that matter, when Marcos realized that he was the most brainy and Machiavellian of them all? It is for this reason, perhaps, that Ms. Tan lamented the ridicule made by Barcenas at the neophyte senators, namely Christopher Go and Ronald de la Rosa, calling them “intellectual lilliputians” to the detriment of the country. And she is right to feel that way, too. We all know Go and de la Rosa for as long as when President Rodrigo Duterte was catapulted to his presidential seat. But that they are among the closest and trusted men of Duterte who have shown loyalty and honesty in serving the latter is no reason for belittling them, especially more so that they are not lawyers. Needless to say that it is too early to judge what they are capable of doing as senators. They may not be as brilliant and eloquent as their predecessors of yesteryears, but they, too, are educated and successful in their own rights and are learning fast in their new jobs.

The Marcos era of learned men has painfully taught the Filipino people that those who are brilliant and experts in law do not necessarily make a country great. It is for this reason that Duterte won overwhelmingly the presidency in 2016 and his senatorial bets swept the elections for the senate in 2019 for we are now living in different times.

Thus, we find ourselves now having leaders and politicians with different strokes that are appropriate for different times. It makes looking at the past, therefore, futile simply because the future has gone not to every one’s liking.