A lonely battle home

THE sudden death of Benigno Aquino 3rd (BSA3), 15th president of the country, comes as a shock, considering not much was made public. That is why people stayed on to listen and hear the medical certificate announcement, the confirmation of the sisters, the interview of the longtime driver and yaya, the very revealing talk by former Energy and Cabinet secretary Rene Almendras about "flatline" not being revealed to the sisters and seemingly pieces of the puzzle that do not fit in the narrative being made. Then the 15th was cremated, but he was not Covid-positive.

This article first appeared in The Manila Times on July 29, 2021

Truth be told, a president who rides the sunset experiences withdrawal symptoms, be it work or psychological. From the white horse leading the pack, upon end, one goes home to a place totally unknown and is where family plays a very important role. Adjustments are needed. People will have to be there. A project or two decided so time is used for productive things. Sliding back to Citizen Noy have to be a lot of handholding, going back to the things he loves doing and just preparing for the next phase.

Previous presidents did much once out of office. PFVR had his RPDev and was a prolific writer post-presidency. PGMA went back to the horse and rode again, becoming instrumental in passing key measures as Speaker of the House of Representatives. PJEE ran as mayor. But all of them were surrounded by family, relatives and friends. As the youngest, BSA3 could have been instrumental still in molding statecraft. For the country, he could have presented his views and could have been a steady hand for the next generation of leaders.

In that session with his doctors on his options, questions on survival were part and parcel of the discussion, as medical options were considered. Why would he stop his dialysis, twice? Was he giving up? And nobody saw it? And nobody cared? Truly the events leading to the death are worrisome and by not opening up on the real score, more and more issues are being raised. Which is sad because however we paint the six years of BSA3, we should always be thankful to all our presidents for it is not easy to be one.

I have issues against BSA3, the most troubling being the use of power to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona from office, Yolanda and the sheer crassness, and then Mamasapano where the commander-in-chief let his men down. Despite this, I am thankful the transition was made efficiently, a country better off just like building blocks. For every president lays down their bricks hoping history will be kind in judgment.

If only Apollo, his dog, could talk, he would probably tell us about the loneliness in the transition. The broken heart as alleged by the priest may just be a personal one and not pertaining to the nation because if you look at it, sitting by the chair, creeping melancholy was something he had to wrestle with. Going home is not supposed to be sad. He did his best. Mission accomplished, right? But home was an empty nest.

Robert Quinn, a leadership professor at the University of Michigan, wrote how the origin of the word "leader" means to "go forth and die." In his book Change the World, he writes: "Leadership authors do not understand leadership means 'Go forth to die.' If they did understand it, they would not be enticed to write about it - because people do not want to hear this message. Most people want to be told how to get extraordinary results with minimum risk. They want to know how to get out-of-the-box results with in-the-box courage. True leaders are servants who die to themselves so others may flourish. True leaders go forth not for themselves but for others."

 

Why would people want to be president when it's the most thankless job in the world? Go home, BSA3, you are at peace.

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About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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