Palaces are for emperors and kings

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

As he prepares to officially become president, BBM might want to look up a Facebook article posted by INSIDER that goes: “South Korea’s new president wants to end a 74-year tradition and move out of the presidential home” written by Amanda Goh. In the article, Goh reports that newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol wants to move out of the Blue House and transfer his office to a defense ministry compound driven by his desire to be a People-First President. The article also quotes fengshui practitioners as saying that the Blue House is inauspicious as reflected by the misfortunes of past presidents.

When you review the fate of past presidents who lived in Malacañang Palace, you have to wonder. Ferdinand Marcos Sr and family were chased out of Malacañang, Cory Aquino was under siege and attacked in Malacañang, FVR fared better but suffered misfortune in his family later, Erap was forced out of Malacañang & detained, PGMA lived under constant duress in Malacañang & ultimately suffered the same fate as Erap, PNoy opted to stay at the Bahay Pangarap / guest house or Times street, and President Duterte has time and again talked about the “mumu” or ghosts that haunt Malacañang and opted to stay at the Bahay Pangarap.

Setting tales of ghosts, curses and misfortunes aside, just the unguarded statement of a BBM supporter declaring in his rally that BBM will soon be going back home to Malacañang was quite concerning and divisive for many people on opposite sides of the fence. In terms of image or optics, the return of Bongbong Marcos to Malacañang will be equivalent to a visual tsunami. Pro or anti, it will be an image that will surely go around the world and back. The question is, when it comes back to the Philippines, will the country be all the better or worse for it? Would it further polarize our nation? What good will “going back home to Malacañang” achieve? Is one family’s quest for redemption or validation worth the potential global ridicule?  31 million votes should be more than enough proof. Knowing it would be an act of rubbing salt to fresh wounds, Bongbong Marcos should consider minimizing controversies and conflicts this early in his presidency.

Instead of playing into expectations and proving his critics right, BBM should consider the suggestions of his predecessors, starting from Ramon Magsaysay who I think first suggested or declared that Malacañang is the People’s Palace. Only emperors and kings live in palaces. Convert Malacañang into a museum and relocate the Office of the President nearer to Quezon City where most of the government departments are and closer to BBM’s actual residence.

As BBM gives thought to his next steps, he might want to sit down with his immediate staff and security managers to address the growing resentment of people caused by the phalanx of burly security personnel surrounding BBM. Trust me, I know that there are grounds for establishing a wall or human shield but in terms of managing visuals and public perception, it might be better if BBM’s security made the circle wider to begin with. When security are too close to their boss it results in a bit of pushing, shoving and lots of resentment. If the idea is to secure BBM, then make it a double circle – one wide and a smaller middle composed of men and women who are higher and wider. Given BBM’s history, having a phalanx of centurions just looks bad.

It will take a few months more before the reality and enormous burden of the presidency hits Bongbong Marcos, but even now people are already asking “What’s in it for Me?” or for the Philippine economy. It is one thing to draw a crowd of 30-plus million in an election, but it is another thing to feed them or keep them interested. Remember, Jesus Christ fed 5,000 and was realistic enough to know that people were not interested in his divine powers but simply wanted to be fed: “ I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill” (John-6:26).

The bulk of BBM supporters are reportedly from the D & E sectors of society, are people in the words of a former president who will be thinking with their stomachs and not with their brains and a “hungry stomach knows no laws.”

In the meantime, fuel prices keep going up, toll fees going up, our 1 million-plus unemployment remains, the stock market has reflected concerns and Google has had an increase in searches and offering for immigration abroad. So while the BBM camp monitors the final count down, potential headaches have started to surface. BBM announced that Sara Duterte will take on the combined positions of vice president and secretary of education while reiterating that he will pursue his campaign proclamations to address the vital issues of power, infrastructure, etc.

Most management consultants will tell you that the worst thing to do in setting up a company is not to have a business plan and organization. Just as bad is making one in a hurry or temporary basis, especially if that company happens to be the Philippine Government under Marcos and Associates. BBM emphasized that his focus was on winning the election, and now what? Yes “Now What” because unlike a family corporation or a small E-business, you don’t get a time out or the luxury of taking it slow and being deliberate. BBM might just be playing his cards close to his chest but under the circumstances, it may smoothen his entrance if people were clear on who else is on board HMS Marcos in terms of Cabinet members, what their action plan is and if they will soon present a “TOP TEN PRIORITY LIST” because under the circumstances, I doubt if there will be a honeymoon period.


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