PBBM at Singapore GP. Sana all

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Critics of President Ferdinand " Bongbong " Marcos Jr. get anus itch everytime he enjoys the perks of a presidency they prayed so hard would not be his. It progresses to diarrhea when they see the Philippine president, neat, trim, fit, sculptured and cultured, being held in the highest esteem by other presidents and looking cute. Only to find he is not their president.

Like any son born to privilege, Bongbong loves the good life. He has a thing for car racing. So for the second year in a row, and upon the invitation of the Singaporean prime minister, he made sure to watch the Singapore Grand Prix days ago. And by going he made the case, without meaning to, about what it is to be " the" president, and what it is to be " just " a critic.

If I were president, I would go too. I commit neither offense nor excess in my opening up a soft underbelly to some personal passion. And I am the president. With the resources at my disposal, I can cram my schedules with as many official functions as there are critics howling at the gates. It is all a matter of managing the complexities of the office.

Singapore is a place extremely difficult to say no to. The food, the shopping, the cleanliness, the discipline. I have been to Singapore four times, all at no expense of mine. The first time was in 1989, a brief sidetrip on invitation of Ambassador Frank Benedicto. It was on the return trip from Bali where I attended the Third Asean Editors Conference as part of the Philippine delegation.

The second came shortly after that when Philippine Airlines hosted Cebuano editors on the inauguration of its first direct Cebu-Singapore flight. The third was on invitation of Ambassador Benedicto again for several Cebuano editors to visit prior to his new posting in South Korea. My fourth visit to Singapore was for an APEC Summit with President Arroyo attending.

Then PMS chief Cerge Remonde, always the Cebuano, secured five slots for his Cebu media friends --- Cheking Seares, Bobit Avila, Bobby Nalzarro, Choy Torralba, and myself --- for the delegation even if we were not part of the Malacanang Press Corps. Which was just as well, as Gloria was always happy with Cebu media, who always played fair and gave her a fair shake.

And that is why, in dealing with sources, especially principal sources who already go by such titles as presidents, professional members of the press might do well to be reminded that these people may not be people you particularly like but that as sources, we enter an unwritten condition with them as partners who deserve dignity and respect.

The six-year-term of Bongbong, obtained in an unprecedented mandate of more than 30 million cannot simply be measured fairly, and in good taste, on the basis of some predilection for fast cars alone. One does not really have to give up too much on the altar of personal sacrifice just to keep the balance of healthy public expectations going.

Criticizing just for its own sake never does any good, not even to the one criticizing. Baseless and meaningless criticism has a reckless way of blowing up in the face. Better to wait for real issues that matter in the national interest. That way credibility, which is so crucial in this business, is neither lost nor impaired.

Like that of the big bad wolf.

To his credit, Bongbong has largely ignored criticisms that are neither here nor there, like this particular one about the Singapore GP. It is unfortunate that First Lady Louise Araneta Marcos, ever the dutiful wife, tried a little pushback on Instagram. Best not to go there, Madam. The course is still long, the twists and turns unknown.

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