MADAME Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not lying when she said that she will take the country to the “Enchanted Kingdom.” In fact, she has already taken great strides to get us there.
Many people either laughed or scoffed at the terminology which Arroyo had used to describe ‘socio-economic deliverance’ or a ‘period of an enlightened leadership’.
Little did they realize that Arroyo has been refining her methodology since the time she had made a poor showing in the senatorial race of 1992 up to 1995 when she decided to reinvent her packaging.
What happened it 1995?
In 1995, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo adopted the subtle methods of non-verbal communications.
In mass communications, messages can be verbal—which utilizes oral or written language—or it can be non-verbal, which harnesses the power of picture images and other impressions that create a favorable impact on intended audiences. Since the mind perceives and absorbs messages way beyond the limitations of language, communicators always pay attention to the power of non-verbal communications in influencing action and behavior.
In 1995, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo returned to the next bout in the senatorial race to redeem her previous bad showing in 1992 by wielding the commonest trick known in the advertising world, subliminal seduction. She wooed the masses by flooding the country with full-color posters that made her look like a splitting image of Nora Aunor, the very icon of the Filipino masses that embodied their rags-to-riches Cinderella fantasies. When the election results came in, she easily topped all other contenders, gaining for herself recognition as presidential material. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo learned that feeding the masses with fairy tales and fantasies produced favorable results and she never forgot that.
An ancient Chinese proverb literally translated, says that ‘a picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words’ and not “one thousand words” as mistakenly translated by English speakers. Politicians all over the world who project good images are, of course, great believers of this.
In two television debates (in 1960 and 1980) that played a decisive role in the outcome of the US presidential elections, the candidates who won looked better and projected positive non-verbals on television. The charismatic and all-American looks of John F. Kennedy won over Richard Nixon’s dark scowling face while the charming and easy-going Ronald Reagan easily overwhelmed Jimmy Carter’s relatively unremarkable picture-image.
In fact, if one were to read the 1960 and 1980 debate transcripts alone, the verbal performances of Nixon and Carter overshadowed their contenders. This should not come as a surprise since they both had more access and familiarity with information and issues, with Nixon as incumbent vice-president and Carter a president seeking re-election then.
The photo ops mania
Thus, from day 1 of her ascendancy on January 21, 2001, Madame Arroyo was determined to wield non-verbals as her very own potent weapon of mass deception. Outside of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, no Malacanang resident has ever been exposed to as many photo-ops on an annual basis as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In fact, Gloria cared less about what has been quoted from her than having a bad front page photo. We all saw how she was never bothered when she lied barefaced to the nation that she won’t run in 2004 or when she said “I’m sorry” during the height of the Garci tapes controversy. She ran in 2004 and caused this unresolved national crisis. She gave the impression to the nation that she will make a full disclosure about the Garci tapes controversy but her obviously well-rehearsed ‘I am sorry’ rhetoric only added to her growing list of lies and cover-ups.
Take a look at the photos on the front pages of newspapers friendly to Madame Arroyo and see how discordant these images are to the reality of current events and the present state of affairs in the country. The Malacanang “double speak” specialists have raised to the level of evil art the negation of adverse situations and positions through non-verbal communications.
Macapagal-Arroyo’s appearance last May 23, 2006 at the Episcopal ordination of Msgr. Francisco Montecillo Padilla in Cebu was a classic example. Said to be neither invited nor expected to the event, Madame Arroyo requested the Catholic Bishops to allow her to drop in. Being the propagators of Christian love, the Bishops had no choice but to cordially face her. Before they knew what was happening, they were on the front page of the May 24 issue of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, displaying beaming smiles with Madame Arroyo which contrasts to the series of strong anti-Arroyo statements of the Bishops on various issues.
After the “I am sorry” mess, Cory Aquino had finally seen where the controversy of the Garci tapes would lead the country and she thus asked for Madame Arroyo’s resignation. But on August 21, 2005, as Cory Aquino, friends and sympathizers hear Mass by the tomb of Ninoy Aquino to commemorate the day of his assassination, in comes Madame Arroyo uninvited and unannounced but in time for the picture-taking.
Are these acts the result of excessive gall and temerity or sheer madness? No, there is method to the madness—as Shakespeare put it. These are acts that are undertaken because the perpetrator knows that pictures tend to make a lasting impression over statements.
People hardly pay attention or remember statements. One can either agree or disagree with what is said. But impressions, images and non-verbal cues go beyond the conscious level and sink deep into the subconscious thinking process to influence behavior in surprisingly unexpected ways. It is from the subconscious where fantasy is imagined and mistaken for reality.
Consistent with her primary media tool, non-verbal communications, Arroyo does not debate the Bishops or Cory Aquino on the positions that they took against her. Malacanang is usually content to issue a statement when these positions are taken, just to have one for the record, and then utilize their support groups to attack the persons opposing Arroyo. But the main rebuttal comes with the non-verbal assault where the other party unwittingly participates.
You may want to call it devious and deceitful but Madame Arroyo will stick to what is to her a working formula.
Today is Independence Day and you owe it to yourself to free yourself from Arroyo’s method of mass deception. Every time you come across a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo photo on print or her television appearance, just ask yourself if what you’re seeing is real and if what the picture suggests represents the truth.
It is the truth, not contrived, doctored or deceitfully staged photos, which shall set you free.
You may email William M. Esposo at: firstname.lastname@example.org