Changing of the guard

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2018 - 12:00am

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the world’s greatest stars. Germany and Brazil are the world’s strongest teams. None of them are in Russia this weekend to contest the grandest finals in sport, the match to determine the champions of world football. 

The game has always been bigger than the individual. Such is the moral of this fable. And it applies across the disciplines – sport, entertainment, business, politics. Weather-weather, in local jargon. In an instant, the universe can shift its focus, find a new constellation of stars. It is, truly, a cautionary tale.

For football, we welcome the sublime Kylian Mbappe and soak up the unbelievable individual performances of the keepers of goal. As for their national teams, we await the coronation of France, with a squad scary dominant in offense and with an even scarier iron defense. 

Tomorrow’s finals is consistent with the narrative. France vs. Croatia, a battle of youngest players against the oldest. But France is also the oldest country and Croatia the youngest.  Tonight’s fixture for 3rd place, between England and Belgium, pits the former, yet another young team, against the latter’s golden generation of players. 

Allure. There is a Yiddish proverb that says he who seeks equality should go to a cemetery. It could have as well said: go find a playing field. In Sport, skill and passion, discipline and the perseverance to excel knows no station. Manny Pacquiao, from humble beginnings, dines with kings. It is one of the best tickets to fame and fortune. In football, the least fancied teams – Japan, Korea – can prove equal to the European and South American powerhouses. Even within the teams – Mbappe and Paul Pogba of the projects are the stars of a team captained by Hugo Lloris of the French upper crust. Liberte Egalite Fraternite will not find a better paradigm.

Speaking of Pacquiao, could tomorrow’s match against Argentinian Lucas Mathysse possibly be his last? We are relieved that he can focus again on his senatorial duties starting on Monday, win or lose. 

The Senate will need every hand on deck as it prepares for what is shaping up to be one of its greatest battles. The House is, once again, advancing the argument that: (a) the constituent power of Congress is something which the House alone can validly exercise – as in, they don’t need Senate participation at all in amending the Constitution; and (b) congressional and local elections can be cancelled. In football parlance, this House attack is clearly off-side.

The Senate President has been enlightened that the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the constitutional provision pertains to the date of the regular elections for Congress and not to the question of whether elections are to be held at all. So we can expect that the Senate will no longer second the proposal that mere legislation can extend the terms of incumbents. If the House wishes to debate the Constitutional amendments that surveys say nobody wants, they will have to take it on simultaneously with the rest of their legislative responsibilities.

When the President expresses at his 3rd State of the Nation Address his preference for the constitutional shift to federalism, his will just be another voice. Indeed, his prerogative to even initiate the amendment has been questioned. It’s really Congress that is empowered by the Constitution to either throw the question to the people via convention or hunker down and do the deed themselves through constituent assembly. 

Silly season. The SWS and Pulse Asia surveys have started to mold public consciousness about our 2019 Senate line ups. Without intending to, these surveys have served as shots across the bow to awaken sleeping giants. There are incumbents on the list who are, in the words of Aaron Sorkin, “too busy trying to keep their jobs that they’ve forgotten how to do their jobs.” It is earnestly hoped that their inclusion in the list of sure winners might finally rouse them to action. 

The Liberal Party senators should not have the monopoly of exercising what should be an entire institution’s freedom of expression. Where do the rest stand on the day’s pressing concerns? When it comes to public interest, there are no majorities or minorities. When was it written that Senators have the luxury of deciding not to get involved? I lived a lifetime at the side of a man who took a position on every issue. Often, it won him no admirers. But always, he could proudly tell his children that he represented his people the best he could. How many of our incumbents can say that with a straight face?

We have taken so much on faith. The drug war, the curious concessions to China, federalism. When confronted with a new President with a fresh take, we blindly follow and trust that he is taking us to a safe destination. But that is us sheep. The Senators are, themselves, shepherds. What are they doing taking these same leaps of faith when they should be supplying us the counterpoint to make sure our decisions are informed ones? 

WWMD. We read with interest the exploits of one Christopher “Bong” Go as he brought succor to the families victimized by the great fire at Geronimo Street in Sampaloc, Manila. While there, he traded the shoes on his feet for the slippers of one of the survivors. No, we do not see this as an exploitative gimmick. Rather, we applaud this act of humility exhibited by Mr. Go

The slippered man is not the only beneficiary here. These simple acts of humanity go a long way toward lifting the spirits of a wounded community. One Ernesto “Manong” Maceda would regularly Do this same thing each time he would find himself in a position to empathize. The shoes on his feet, the shirt or jacket off his back, the cap on his head. All given freely. The effect was instant and not soon forgotten.

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