Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez did the unexpected during the second anniversary of Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda.’’
Even as thousands marched across San Juanico Bridge and into the streets of Palo and Tacloban decrying the Aquino government’s neglect of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city Yolanda virtually wiped out two years ago, the mayor, “who is a Romualdez while the president is an Aquino” (Then-Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas’ famous admonition), took it upon himself to “thank the national leadership, including the President, for all the help given to Tacloban.”
And then Romualdez said sorry. “Please forgive us if we had said something hurtful because we are just human and we got hurt because what happened was truly painful.”
“At no time were we ungrateful for all the help that was extended to us,” the Tacloban mayor added.
Now that is most admirable. I decline to call it an act of noblesse oblige, because we are no longer in a feudal system where some are born “nobler” than others, and an act of kindness, gratitude, even apology, to someone of lower rank is considered a sign of the humility of nobility.
In a sense, Mayor Alfred was just expressing what many Filipinos in their heart of hearts wish of the character of their leaders—compassion. Forgiveness. And thereafter—moving forward.
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Though official results are yet forthcoming as we write this article, the people of Myanmar have cast their vote for the future of their backwater of a country struggling against decades of military rule. And the results indicate that democracy has won, and the yearning of the Burmese for a free order and free choice has finally resounded.
But what is even more remarkable is that despite an almost universal respect and admiration for their heroine in the struggle, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate will not even sit as president of Myanmar. This because of a constitutional provision that bans her from the position on account of her marriage to a foreigner, now deceased, with whom she had two children, both British subjects. Great Britain, at the time when “the sun never set on the Empire,” was once colonial master of Burma, as well as its neighbors, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and most of what was once Asia Minor.
What does this tell us? That Lady Aung San Suu Kyi, despite her almost goddess-like popularity, followed the law, the Constitution which was forged by the former military cabal that ruled her country.
And her credentials as a freedom-fighter, daughter of one of the most highly revered figures in Burmese history, as inspiration to a people who are at present among the most backward (by Western standards) in Asean, are beyond any reproach.
She wields power even if she is legally powerless. And her acceptance of the rule of law makes her moral ascendancy over the generals and their parliamentary puppets even stronger.
Here in our country, a woman who once renounced her citizenship in favor of the foreign nationality of her husband and children now wants to impose her ambition to lead the country on the strength of sheer popularity, perceived at that.
Not for her is the long and winding road of proving her credentials to such high office first, being a two-year senator on top of a two-year administration of a movie review and classification body.
Not for her either is the respect for the letter of the fundamental law of the land, which was ratified overwhelmingly by the Filipino people in 1987, even if her 20-million votes garnered when she ran as senator under unknown pretenses in 2013 may be numerically more.
Lady Suu Kyi has a lot to teach Lady Grace by way of example.