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The Manila Times : Leadership standards and principles of PH national tradition

News & Interviews
7 December 2021

By Yen Makabenta | The Manila Times

First word

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) would not look so flustered and foolish, if, besides opening the door to every petition to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr., it can articulate a credible standard whereby such petitions will be judged for either their validity or nuisance value.

This disqualification business must not be reduced to a matter of whim because weak or failing candidates and their partisans can easily manufacture thousands of DQ petitions at will. There must be a yardstick to differentiate between a valid qualification challenge and a spurious one. The standard should be applied quickly and firmly by the poll body.

Why on earth is the Comelec spokesman toying with the idea of turning BBM into a mere independent candidate? So, what if a former officer was not consulted when BBM was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Federal Party?

A presidential election is a serious and expensive quest by the nation for leadership in a new election term. It is a no-nonsense review of the credentials of candidates, and a contest between policy agendas. It is not a witless parade of inane press releases and publicity gimmicks by the candidates, which will likely be forgotten even before the nation votes.

Three standards for leadership

There are real norms and standards whereby our political culture judges and weighs whether a candidate is fit or unfit for the presidency.

According to Joanne Ciulla, a leading authority on the ethics of leadership, the question of "what constitutes a good leader lies at the heart of the public debate on leadership."

In his book, Transforming Leadership (Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 2003), the distinguished political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns argues that there are three types of standards or norms as they relate to leadership: virtues, ethics and public values.

Virtue refers to the old-fashioned norms of conduct — habits of action, such as chastity, sobriety, cleanliness, honesty in personal relationships, self-control.

Ethics reflects modes of more formal and transactional conduct — integrity, promise-keeping, trustworthiness, reciprocity, accountability — supremely expressed in the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you ).

In leadership terms, ethics, according to leadership scholar Joseph C. Rost, are the criteria for the ways leaders and followers interact as they attempt to influence one another and other people.

Public values are the lofty public principles such as, liberty, equality (including brotherhood and sisterhood), justice and the pursuit of happiness.

Transforming leaders define public values that embrace the supreme enduring principles of a people. These values are the shaping ideas behind constitutions and laws and their interpretations. They are the essence of declarations of independence, revolutionary proclamations, and momentous statements by leaders that go to the core meaning of events.

The term political culture refers to a people's fundamental beliefs and assumptions about how government and politics should operate. Political culture also varies from group to group. Racial, ethnic and religious background can affect people's political attitudes toward political parties, candidates and issues.

A combination of core political beliefs and different backgrounds influences people's electoral behavior.

Principles of PH national tradition

In March1971, in a lecture on Filipino nationalism delivered at the Ateneo de Manila university, the late historian Horacio de la Costa, S.J. argued that the Filipino national tradition can be summed up in five principles:

  1. Pagsasarili. It is the principle of self-reliance. It is the burning ambition of every Filipino to be himself, to be his own man,or to be a person in his own right.
  2. Pakikisama. It is the principle of partnership, the equitable sharing of goods and services among all who help to produce those goods or render those services, and this in the spirit of partnership.
  3. Pagkakaisa. National unity or concerted action for the achievement of shared goals and aspirations.
  4. Pagkabayani. Patriotism, total dedication to the nation
  5. Pakikipag-kapwa-tao. Human solidarity and brotherhood. Dedication to the development of one's nation so it can participate on free and equal terms in the total development of mankind.

We approach the brotherhood of man not with a petition, but a gift, a gift distinctively, uniquely Filipino.

Concluding his luminous essay, Fr. De la Costa wrote: "If we seek to retain remembrance of the past, and employ historians to help us do so, it is not so much to indulge in the barren delights of antiquarianism as to derive from the thoughts and words of our predecessors a better understanding of our present concerns. And so we must ask ourselves what enlightenment we can draw from our national tradition with reference to our present national task."

Pity party

I introduce today a postscript in my column.

From 1987 to 992, while serving as editor in chief of the Philippine Daily Globe, I wrote a daily front-page column called "Good Morning" under the pen name I. Cañete Demain. GM was typically a 350-word essay, which I utilized as a writing discipline, like morning calisthenics.

I recently renewed the discipline in anticipation of the publication of a "Good Morning" collection next year. Starting today, I will include a new good morning essay to conclude my columns.

My subject today is "pity party."

Pity party is colloquial American English. It denotes an instance of self-indulgently feeling sorry for yourself.

The term came to mind as I watched and heard the river of regret and sighs over the termination of the presidential candidacies of Senators Bong Go and Bato de la Rosa. No less crestfallen are the would-be kingmakers whose presidential fantasies melted down.

One of the earliest written instances of pity party is "Pity Party," a 1978 song by American country singer Barbara Mandrell. In it, she sings about "having a pity party" after her lover leaves her, at times portraying her loneliness as if she's actually throwing a sad party for herself.

The term pity party spread in the 1970-1990s, and was used to criticize self-indulgent pity in everything from self-help books to agricultural periodicals. Barbara Mandrell started a trend, as many artists titled their songs pity party since her track. Elsewhere in pop culture, there's a successful clown singer who goes by Puddles Pity Party, and a Los Angeles-based rock band who call themselves The Pity Party.

While it is an informal expression used in spoken, print and digital contexts alike, pity party is common and widespread enough to also appear in more formal contexts. For instance, a September 2016 Washington Post opinion piece by Jennifer Rubin accused the GOP of becoming a "pity party for white males."

What if a politician were to register "pity party" in the country's party-list system in the May 2022 elections? It might get more votes than many of the bogus political parties in the list.

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