COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
For as long as I can remember, I am extremely fascinated with personalities, especially great leaders in politics, religion, the arts, and even those anti-social characters that cunningly get around the law. It is simple fascination with what a man can become given his societal and environmental limits, and plain admiration for sheer talent, intelligence, will, and determination to rise above the ordinary and commonplace. It is simple fascination when a man shapes society rather than be shaped by it.
No wonder I am more inclined to read biographies and histories of people from different lands. I also like reading Reader’s Digest as early as grade school where each copy tells us true stories of people who rise against different odds and adversities, where the spirit of man can be clearly shown as one person surpasses his present situation and predicament, giving us hope that nothing is impossible and that we can conquer the unknown.
It is not only the great law abiders that fascinate me but also the great law breakers who appear to show more cunning and genius. Early in high school when I was reading Confucian writings like a bible and considered Confucius a great human being, I was also fascinated with Patricia Hearst and the leading members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Late in high school though, I got hooked with the American anthropologist Margaret Mead and the great religious leaders of the world like Tagore and Buddha.
But the fascination for royalties and revolutionaries will always remain. I got exposed to European royalties at an early age as they were depicted in big colored pictures in Life magazines we had in our home. I used to browse their photos even before I could read, marveling at their magnificent attires, dignified bearing, their sleek cars and royal houses. The revolutionaries I was first exposed on television, on watching Western movies with American-Indian freedom fighters.
By the time I reached college, I started reading on Mao Tse-tung, his life and writings, and the great social and political thinkers in the 19th and 20th century. I was not familiar with Che Guevara then but he was my brother’s idol, along with his fascination with the secret services, from the KGB to Mossad. But my most interesting revolutionary and socialist leader is still Josip Broz-Tito of Yugoslavia.
In our Philippine setting, we have personalities, past and present, who influenced the course of our nation’s history. Marcos, the great operator, reorganized Philippine society, then Cory, the greatest Filipina in our time, restored it. And we have our great revolutionaries like Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay, and Vicente Lukban. But my most interesting Pinoy is still Erap, for he makes me laugh and smile, and he is man enough to face the charges brought against him and accept the consequences.
Yet we have in our midst now the unfolding of a new leader in the person of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Having lived in the shadow of his illustrious parents, Noynoy appeared to have stayed in the background all these years, probably internalizing the characters of both Ninoy and Cory. And it was Cory’s death that allowed him to spread his wings as he was partly freed from that shadow.
Listening to him speak at his first press conference after his proclamation as president-elect by Congress, Noynoy was quite a revelation. He is pragmatic but firm with his principles, and he’s turning out to be a quick thinker like Ninoy yet uncompromising like Cory. I like the way he answers questions; direct and down-to-earth, clear and not delusive. And like the transformation of Cory into a great leader and personality, we shall be seeing the transformation of Noynoy into a promising one in the years to come.
June 17, 2010