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Opinion

EDITORIAL - You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

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Perhaps for the first time in his public life, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, whose gift of repartee is famous, was at a loss for a sharp and ready answer. Surprisingly rendered frantic by the unexpected, he fumbled and groped, then parted with an answer that truly sucked.

His political opponent, Atan Guardo, had challenged Osmeña to explain a lifestyle that obviously cannot be sustained by a mere P30,000 monthly salary he receives from the city. Osmeña is not beholden to Guardo to provide a quick answer. He could have taken his time.

Or he could have completely ignored the query and fired back his own challenge. Osmeña did neither. Predictably he was ready with a quick answer. Only this time it was neither sharp and true to its aim. In fact it backfired.

In so many words, Osmeña indirectly acknowledged that his salary indeed cannot sustain his lifestyle and that he was practically living off the charity of his many friends, or so it was how his answer was understood by most people.

So, okay, living off the charity of friends can perhaps explain the issue of lifestyle. What cannot be explained is the extent to which charity, or generosity, can be given without it eventually becoming an unwanted strain.

Now, sustained acts of charity and generosity that reach the point of strain can be remedied by either of only two ways — it is cut, or it needs to be recompensed. If it is cut, so be it. Maybe other benefactors can be found. But the need to be recompensed is another thing.

Lessons in human nature tell us how rare it is to find perpetual charity or generosity. There is almost no such thing as giving until it hurts. The few that there are are almost always in the realm of great romantic love, but never ever in the matter of sustaining lifestyles.

Now, when one talks of Osmeña, one talks of a man who has been mayor for roughly two decades. That is a very long time to live off the charity of friends, no matter how rich and caring they may be. Unless, of course, Osmeña at the very least also scratches their backs.

ANSWER ATAN GUARDO CEBU CITY MAYOR TOMAS OSME CHARITY FRIENDS GENEROSITY LIFESTYLE NTILDE OSME TIME
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