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Witful Thinking, Wednesday
Winston “Arf-Arf” Arpon
PMA ‘64

A High Five


He is 50 years old, one of five siblings of parents who were icons in Philippine political history. He was the overwhelming choice of 15 million voters, add or subtract a few tens of thousands.  

Five words defined his successful campaign for the presidency; five words that could very well be the very foundation of his administration: Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap [1]. 

He will be the 15th President of the Philippines and the 5th President of the 5th Philippine Republic when he is sworn into office on this day, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. 5,000 cops from the National Capital Region will provide security for the occasion. 

We like these numbers [2], thank you.

 So, when he raises his hand to take his solemn oath of the highest office of the land before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales today at high noon, it is high time for us to give a big, big hand – no, make that a high five – to the man whose name bears five:   Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III. It’s the name that bears watching from here on.


At the precise moment after he says the last words of his oath – So Help Me God or Kasihan Nawa Ako Ng Diyos – he ceases to be what the media has been calling him since the first Comelec tally on the day of the election: Presumptive President. Hopefully, he does not go from there to be Presumptuous President.

As he is POTUS Obama over there, for us here, he will be POTP, President of the Philippines Aquino. With all due respect, of course, to those who will continue to call him Noy or Noynoy; PNoy, P-Noy or P.Noy.  

It’s a long passage, all of 111 years, from the first to this 15th President, from Aguinaldo to Aquino.

But like it or not, the rite of passage on this day is from Arroyo to Aquino – a short or long nine-year passage, depending on how kindly or gently history will view Arroyo’s reign.


Arroyo and Aquino are children of Philippine presidents past and passed; both hail from Central Luzon; and for good measure and as the less profound among us have observed and pointed out, their names have the same number of letters and start and end with the same letters. 

The similarity ends here, we hope. 


We are choosing, at least not on this day, to dwell upon the inescapable question of dynasty or destiny. (Maybe, it’s ‘and’ not ‘or.’). [3] 

But this could have been the inauguration of a grandson, instead of the son, of a past Philippine president, but for one man in particular, Senator Mar S.. Roxas. The man that Conrado de Quirot, we mean, Conrado one Quiros, heretofore a favorite columnist of ours, now loves to hate or hates to love, after admiring Roxas initially for his supreme act of sacrifice and statesmanship in stepping down in August last year to give way to the only son of departed Cory Aquino. 

Banned from being appointed to any public position within one year after losing in the last election by a law in the Philippine Freedom Constitution whose justification for existence quite frankly continues to elude us, the grandson of President Manuel Roxas has to be content to be of public service as “alter ego” of the President, whatever that means or entails.


Rain is predicted on the day of the inauguration. 

We’re thinking: how apropos!  

Rain for a land parched by the summer or by misgovernment of many a summer, or both, take your pick. Rain to quench the thirst of a people for good governance.

Rain to grow the seeds of hope of that land and its people.

On the other hand, for POTP Aquino himself, a reminder that in his life, as in his presidency, some rain must fall that will make some of his days dark and dreary, or even devoid of hope.


At the end of the day – no, make that at the end of five years and 365 days – we think and hope and pray that his, indeed, will be a five-star performance.


But waitt, there is more to this inauguration than POTP Aquino. 

Yes, WAITT, as in We're All In This Together: every Filipino – every man, every woman, every child.


We wrote earlier [4] of our role as adviser – self-appointed, unsolicited, unrecognized adviser to the President. And don’t forget, unappreciated. Nonetheless, this role we will take very, very seriously and with gusto.

By whatever name we go by, “vigilance-tees” or Devil’s Advocate, this will be our contribution, albeit a small one. It is the least that we can do for this President who by most indications at this point has given us no reason to doubt his sincerity and sense of purpose. But of course, this comes with our realization that vigilance is the root word of “vigilance-tees,” and that Devil’s Advocate does not mean, Advocate of the Devil. 

If this President, for whatever reason, should deviate, or worse, depart from and abandon his promise of good governance, we will be vocal and we will let him know before it becomes too late for him to do something about it. 

We think and we hope and we pray that for the nation’s sake that he will listen.


Newspaper columnist and member of the Aquino transition team, Manuel L. Quezon III, seemed to think that word ‘journey’ will ultimately find its way into the final draft of Aquino’s inaugural address [5]. Whether or not it does, this a journey all right, and to all intents and purposes, it has begun in earnest well before this inauguration, with the composition of the Cabinet, the start of several steps of that journey.

In the careful selection and vetting process, many called and were not chosen; many were called and were chosen. 

A few were cold, choosing not to be chosen; and one, in particular, was hot about being Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government and was not chosen.


As expected, some are or will be disappointed with one, two or more of the Cabinet choices of this President. These include those who made it known openly or behind the scenes that a fresh hand at the helm of the Department of Foreign Affairs was preferable. 

The vetting and the betting and the jockeying are far from over. Meanwhile, we think it would be well to remind them that this administration is a marathon, not a sprint. Not one or two but all of 24 quarters, and any change can happen in any of those 24. To borrow from the cliché, it’s a long, long haul from this June 30th to June 30 of 2016.

For POTP Aquino, as it should be for all of us, this is a long journey, a journey of 2,192 days.


@arf-arf ‘64
 wtw 2010-07
 makati, philippines


[1] Literally, "If no corruption, no poverty."

[2] Five, we must admit, happens to be a favorite number of ours; but  like other preferences, fetishes and s
uperstitions in one’s personal life, our reasons are better left unstated, unexplained; although we will feel obliged to explain – one–on-one – to our readers who really want to know why. Just in case, those readers haven’t noticed, the total is five – surprise! – for our End-Notes in this issue.  

[3] We may have a commentary or two on this matter in future issues of WTW’. 

[4] 2010-06 WTW/”Watchful Thinking: Where There’s Smoke”

[5] In a PDI account of an interview, Quezon mentioned the word ‘journey’ three times.



Witful Thinking, Wednesday