Of ampaos, honor and creed

Rice crispies or ampaos are very prevalent in the country. There are round and square ones; plain or with peanuts. Sweet and brownish outside, the round ones are hollow inside. It was a growing up food for those who grew up in the province and a most anticipated pasalubong for kids who grew up in the metropolis.

Rice crispies or ampaos are very prevalent in the country. There are round and square ones; plain or with peanuts. Sweet and brownish outside, the round ones are hollow inside. It was a growing up food for those who grew up in the province and a most anticipated pasalubong for kids who grew up in the metropolis.

Unfortunately today, ampaos have attained a derogatory and negative meaning akin to “bobo” (stupid). What a shame! Someone just used ampao to describe a politician so brainless. Other terms associated to ampao are: doltish, dumb, foolish, idiotic, imbecilic, inane, moronic, mentally deficient, senseless, etc. Choose your pick because of one’s political socialization, a leader is now saying there are ampaos in our midst.

I do not know if the ampao word was inserted by a presidential speechwriter with a giant toothache, who wanted to redefine food or was mad at ampaos. Was the use of ampao in the league of “wang-wangs,” “kayo ang Boss ko” and “saan nanggagaling ang tigas ng mukha”? But, really, are there ampao politicians? I would like to know.

Are there brainless politicians? I don’t think so, because look how the then Countrywide Development Fund has been transformed? Now it is the Priority Development Assistance Fund. Are voters better off with the change? Are there stupid politicians, Mr. President? May we know who they are? It’s just fair to do so because at least voters would have a face to remember. Some in the Aquino Cabinet used to be politicians, are they the ampaos the President alluded to? If they were, they are in fact so brilliant to think of the Development Acceleration Fund (DAP) and bundling up all infrastructure projects in one timeline.

If the President referred to “ampao” candidates, who are these? Seriously, are there ampao candidates for the Presidency? Oh wow! Democracy has lost its roots when the very Constitution does not test a candidate’s ability to read and write. In fact, the Constitution allows a poor person to be president someday. And that poor person may not even be a son of an icon. Intelligent people do not end up president in this country. A degree from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, etc. is not even a vital factor for a candidate. Voters do not vote for degrees. Voters do not even look at accomplishments. Or has someone forgotten how he started?

Being a former lecturer in various universities some years back, I shudder at the idea that there are stupid students. Yes, I do fail students but I would often say: “walang bobong estudyante, tamad lang.” That is why I would tell my students they should not waste the chance given them by their parents to learn. Others are not given that chance.

And so we go to the case of Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia, who was not able to graduate from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) last Sunday. Cudia was said to be running for salutatorian and because of the nuances of the English language he was judged lying under the Honor Code.

Before invoking the Honor Code, the PMA should probably add more units of English so that plebes are able to communicate and should write what they mean. The case of Cudia is an example. He was not lying because he was merely giving a narration of facts, which was supported by his Operational Research Instructor Maria Monica Costales. Cudia was two minutes late for his 3 pm English class on that day because he said they were “dismissed a little bit late” in a previous class. Costales instructed Cudia and four other cadets to wait so she could give them their section’s grades for the earlier exam. His class was dismissed on time but was asked by his instructor to wait. Would a cadet disobey an instruction and go to his next class so he will not be late?And the so-called Honor Code was invoked? The Honor Code states that a cadet should “not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among them who do so.” It’s supposedly a culture that binds alumni and they are protective of the code. The Honor Committee who looked into the Cudia case said it’s not about being late. Darn, then what was it all about? Four years put to naught because of a student wanting to know his grade in a class and a lecturer telling him to wait. And of course the nuance of the English language, of which PMA graduates are not known for. So where was the lying there?

When PMA graduates tell civilians to back off from the Cudia issue it shows hubris. I guess they think of themselves as a class distinct from the rest of us. There should be a review of the PMA curriculum. They may be a premier school but taxpayers subsidize it. They may be an elite class but that Honor Code should be not just a blah blah like any Greek-lettered organization or like a Junior Chamber International (JCI) or the Jaycees.

The Honor Code should condemn when they see their mistahs lying, cheating and stealing. They should question their seniors when they cross the line. Someone said, we civilians forget the sacrifice soldiers have given. No we don’t, but we also believe strongly that then you wear that uniform and bear a gun, you know what you are supposed to do with it. When you choose to be soldiers, you do not soil the uniform. And when the uniform is soiled, you do not choose to be quiet. Just like the JCI. Have we heard your collective voice when one of your own became embroiled in the PDAF issue? Whatever happened to your creed?

And so do we have more ampaos because of the inability of certain institutions and individuals to live by the code or the creed?

When you caution the public not to vote for ampaos, are you not inviting a class war? Are you not saying indirectly that voters are too stupid?

If you have not understood the voters at all, the peaks of surveys may just be ephemeral. The reality on the ground may just shake a learned man looking at the presidency.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
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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