Assuming that you saw the ‘sword and sandal’ movie epic Gladiator that starred Russell Crowe — did you ever wonder what language singer Lisa Gerrard used in the theme song “We Are Free” of the movie? It’s hard deciphering if the language of “We Are Free” was Yiddish, as it used the word shalom, or Italian — but then we’ve heard enough Italian in those Mafia movies and some cooking shows to know that it’s not that either.
It was only recently that our relative in Vancouver, and my Facebook friend, enlightened me that the language is called IDIOGLOSSIA. Idioglossia is a distinct language created by one or a few people, and exclusive to them. It’s common among twins to naturally indulge in idioglossia.
It then occurred to me that one big reason why we could not fix our political problems in the recent past and get our country going on the path to prosperity is because many of our politicians engage in the practice of idioglossia. Idioglossia could explain the disjoint between political promise and public office track record. Our politicians promise us the sky and the moon but we hardly even get a piece of the earth. That’s grand scale idioglossia, wouldn’t you agree.
When our traditional politicians promise us economic emancipation, they’re into practicing idioglossia when they actually mean the use of public office in order to serve their personal interests, not the public good. Idioglossia it is because too many of them have promised us better social conditions for our families and communities but the reverse has happened. We’re now seeing the biggest number of poor and hungry Filipinos — the effect of an imbalanced utilization of resources that favor only a few.
Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was perhaps the biggest utilizer of idioglossia among our post-World War II presidents. In 1965, his voice thundered all over the archipelago saying: “This nation can be great again!” After 21 years in office, 13 years of that an imposed extended tenure, the farthest thing that we were was a great nation. Our economy was in shambles, the Red insurgency was nearing a stalemate condition, a Muslim secessionist movement was festering in Mindanao while rumors of a power struggle when Marcos dies caused capital flight and discouraged foreign investments.
When martial law was imposed on September 21, 1972, Marcos promised to eliminate the old oligarchy that was established by the former colonial rulers and create a New Society. The New Society sounded good when we first heard it. We gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was a nationalist and that eliminating the old oligarchs could only happen under his dictatorship. Sure, Marcos eliminated the old oligarchs, but he did that in order to install his own set of oligarchs, greedier and all of them fixated with monopolies.
The next biggest practitioner of idioglossia among our presidents since 1946 is Joseph “Erap” Estrada. Erap mesmerized the masses with his ERAP PARA SA MAHIRAP (Erap for the poor) campaign slogan in 1998. They idolized him for his many movie roles and they thought that the Erap on the cinema screen is the same Erap when he wielded political power.
Like Marcos before him, Erap’s presidency was the well of fortune of his select circle of cronies, none of them from the mahirap (poor) crowd. Erap’s presidency was marked by abuse of power and wide scale corruption. Even people close to him feared for their lives. Chavit Singson escaped death while Bubby Dacer wasn’t so lucky. An Erap crony behind the BW stock scam caused a sharp drop in the stock market. In the end, Erap became the first Philippine president to be convicted for the crime of plunder.
Erap’s successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was no different and in fact could be deemed as worse. Like Erap, Gloria is now detained for corruption charges and could become the second president that will be convicted.
In a way, Gloria’s worse track record became a platform for an Erap campaign for redemption. The extent of scandals during Gloria’s 9 years in power eclipsed the transgressions of Erap and he uses that now to campaign for the post of mayor of the city of Manila. It’s up to Manilans to decide what kind of a city they want. Erap’s ouster and conviction should have enlightened them.
In the 2013 as well as in all future elections, we should scrutinize the candidates and segregate them according to who’s truthful and who’s engaging in idioglossia.
After 12 years of Erap and Gloria, President Benigno S. Aquino (P-Noy) became such a welcome relief. A documentary that aired last January 25 on the Bio Cable Channel paid tribute to Cory C. Aquino, P-Noy’s mother. The narrator made note of how Cory had managed to change the course of Philippine history in life and in death. In life, Cory was the rallying point of the People Power Revolution. In death, Noynoy was thrust into public attention and was eventually elected president with the biggest winning margin in our history.
Recently in Davos, P-Noy was asked to deliver a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the progress of DAANG MATUWID (straight path). P-Noy showcased what honest, good governance has accomplished here in less than 3 years.
The highest public officials that were suspected of propagating corruption were brought to the bar of justice — the Sandiganbayan, in the case of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the impeachment court in the case of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. From importing rice, weather permitting, we might soon be exporting it. Once the hotbed of corruption, the Public Works Department under Sec. Babes Singson saved around $300 million while jobs are completed faster than before. The stock market broke its previous records more than 70 times while the IMF raised from 4 percent to 6 percent our projected 2013 GDP.
Yes, times are changing for the better and thank God for our president who tells us the truth, other than the good news.
* * *
Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”