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Opinion

‘Filipino senators’ famous quotes’

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

A nation of sheep can never be great. – Jovito Salonga

We have been elected to serve and in service we must give all. – Gerry Roxas

I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live with bended knees in shame. – Ninoy Aquino

I have always tried to base my actions on ideas, even at the risk of political annihilation. – Lorenzo Tañada

Transparency is the way to fight graft and corruption. – Raul Roco

Dare beyond your strength, hazard beyond your judgement. – Miriam Defensor-Santiago

The superior virtue is not to receive justice, it is to fight relentlessly for it. – Jose “Pepe” Diokno

Nationalism is nourished by a sense of history. – Claro M. Recto

Oh my darling, you look wonderful tonight. – Robinhood Padilla

This was from a meme titled “Filipino senators’ famous quotes” that’s been going around on Viber groups and on social media, but make no mistake – the quotes are not inaccurate.

Senator Padilla’s famous line here was taken from his moment on stage during a campaign sortie in 2022 when he sang Eric Clapton’s famous ballad “Wonderful Tonight,” to the applause and screams of a swooning crowd.

They cheered Philippine TV’s matinee idol as he took off his jacket to reveal a sleeveless green vest that bared his muscled arms, and put on a black cap in his trademark reverse way with the brim pointing backwards.

That the meme has been going around lately is no surprise, especially after the now viral incident at his office where his wife, TV personality Mariel Padilla, flaunted on Instagram a photo of herself receiving a gluta or skin-whitening intravenous drip, revealing to her four million followers that she never misses her drip therapy.

The Instagram photo has since been deleted after she drew a barrage of criticisms.

When I received the meme from one of our reporters covering lawmakers, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

Clearly, this is where we are now. This is the sad reality of our Congress today.

Gone are the statesmen who once walked the august halls of our chambers, who staunchly fought for the interests of this nation of 114 million and who, even in just one or two lines, could inspire Filipinos to do what is best for our country.

Some of them were intellectuals, the cream of the crop and the best and the brightest.

Olympic event

Watching these Filipino lawmakers debate on laws or issues used to be an educational and intellectual exercise, perhaps comparable, to a certain extent, to ancient Greece.

Ancient Greece, as published records from the olden times show, was where intellectuals debated on issues with brilliance and fervor.

“To speak at a legislative assembly required serious, highly developed and refined debate, because at stake generally were issues of peace and war,” according to Principles of Public Speaking, published by Lumen Learning.

In that society, public speaking was an Olympic event where the winner received an olive wreath and was paraded through his town like a hero.

Solon

In fact, the term solon – as we use now to refer to lawmakers – was derived from the name of Solon, a respected Athenian legislator who introduced the first form of polar democracy into Athens.

“Solon’s courts became the model for the Romans and centuries later for England and America,” according to the article.

In contrast, our Congress today has become a lamentable body – infiltrated by individuals who have yet to prove themselves worthy of the honor to be called “your honor.”

When I was a rookie journalist decades ago, I used to enjoy attending Senate hearings, if only for the jaw-dropping and stimulating words of wisdom you could get from lawmakers of decades past.

That is no longer the reality today. Both chambers, lamentably, are occupied by some court jesters and clowns.

If you find time to read the proposed measures or bills they file – signed at the end with their signatures – you will find the documents dizzying, incoherent and downright silly.

Why waste taxpayers’ money to legislate a measure for heartbreak emergency leaves or to punish ghosting, for instance? The st#pidity is mind-boggling.

And as Ms. Padilla’s drip session inside the office of her senator-husband shows, the Senate of today has become an extension of the senators’ – and their wives’ – past or present roles in society.

Ms. Padilla perhaps felt she was just in a TV network’s dressing room for celebrities.

To be fair to her, what she did wasn’t the only thing that makes today’s Congress a circus of sorts.

Her husband was once caught on TV combing his handlebar mustache during a Senate hearing.

There’s also a senator who feels like he is still on his television program – with the tape rolling and all – as he grabs every opportunity to grandstand during Senate investigations. I heard he even has his own TV crew to capture his every angle during these hearings.

We also have ex-convicts and recent convicts, and lawmakers who gladly defend religious leader Apollo Quiboloy, Rody Duterte’s pal who has been accused of sexual abuse.

For sure, there’s no lack of quirky characters in our chambers today. Filipino statesmen of decades past must be rolling in their graves.

As for Senator Robinhood Padilla, I am bewildered that he is bewildered over the storm of criticisms against his wife.

Uttered the senator: Oh my goodness!

Perhaps, our lawmakers would do well to have some intravenous drip, too, but this time, some vitamins for their brains.

*      *      *

Email: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at EyesWideOpen on FB.

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