Officials merit not perks but Styrofoam cups
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

British-American author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek narrates in a viral online video:

“There was a former undersecretary of defense who was invited to give a speech at a large conference of about a thousand people. He was standing on the stage with his coffee in a Styrofoam cup, prepared to march with his PowerPoint behind him. He took some of his coffee and smiled; he looked down at the coffee, then went off-script and said:

“’You know, last year I spoke at this exact same conference. Last year I was still the undersecretary. And when I spoke here last year, they flew me here business class. When I arrived at the airport there was somebody waiting for me to take me to my hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, they already had checked me in and they just took me up to my room and the next morning I came downstairs and there was someone waiting in the lobby to greet me. And they drove me to this here same venue. They took me through the back entrance and into the green room and handed me a cup of coffee in a beautiful ceramic cup.

“’I’m no longer the undersecretary. I flew here coach. I took a taxi to my hotel, checked myself in. When I came down the lobby this morning, I took another taxi to this venue. I came in the front door and found my way backstage and when I asked someone, ‘Do you have any coffee,’ he pointed to the coffee machine in the corner, and I poured myself a cup of coffee into this here Styrofoam.’

“The undersecretary says, ‘The lesson is the ceramic cup was never meant for me. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve the Styrofoam cup.’”

Sinek meant that anecdote as a lesson in humility and gratitude. He expounds on those virtues in his book “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t”. Humility and gratitude are basic traits to cultivate. Sticking by those, leaders are able to shun temptations to ostentation and entitlement, avarice and power lust.

The undersecretary’s Styrofoam cup could well be a lesson too to officials who forget their role. They were elected or appointed to serve. They were not placed there to enrich themselves, to abuse their positions, and to concoct legacy. The people’s expectation is to be led to continually improving lives.

Thirty-four years ago this week Filipinos rose up against plunderous, murderous tyrants. They had had enough of the man who had violated their freedoms in order to stay in office forever. They were fed up with the wife’s multimillion-dollar shopping sprees in New York, while walling up Manila’s slums to hide the squalor. They no longer could take the cronies’ control of food and utilities – rice, corn, copra, fertilizers, pesticides, farm machineries, steelworks, electricity, fuel, media, transport, banks, etc. They are said to have pocketed $30 billion in national wealth.

Thereafter the old oligarchs and displaced political dynasts returned. Poverty, inequality and abuses only worsened. Two hundred political clans control the 82 provinces and 136 cities. The greediest among them are able to pocket up to P2 billion in just a few years of alternating with kinsmen as governor, mayor, congressman. Like the vanquished tyrants they lie, cheat, steal.

They may need painful reminding that all they deserve is the Styrofoam cup.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives: www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

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