President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo just delivered her final State of the Nation Address. It was a badly written speech. I found it very incoherent and anti-climatic. It felt like it could have ended in three different points and started in two others.
Essentially, it’s a big F-bomb to her critics. She knows that her administration will not be remembered fondly — hence the repetitive assertion that she brought progress at the expense of popularity — and did her best to expound on exactly what she did and why she did them. She’s justifying all her political failings with the economic progress she has made. Ever the professor, she came with all the numbers and figures she needed. Ever the politician, she came with the human props she helped emancipate. But were they enough?
That was her last SONA. It wasn’t really about setting an agenda for congress. More than anything, it was her opportunity to tell us how she wants to be remembered. This was her chance to dictate her legacy.
So how will she be remembered?
Watching her, I could not help but notice how agitated she seemed. She was rushing her speech and even shouting at times. Her swipes at her opponents were very pointed. I think GMA will be remembered as a very unpopular, bitter president. She has been divisive despite all the work she has done, her only genuine appeal came when she said that her long working hours cannot be denied (which we can’t).
And yet, the ultimate tragedy is that when all her hard work pays off, she will not be remembered for them. She knows this. Her posture and demeanor in the speech showed it. She is an economist. Her policies, if ever all she said were true, will materialize in the long-term when the people have long forgotten her.
This was her chance to say, “In 10 years, remember the work we have done now.”
She blew it. She didn’t say it. Maybe she did, so that’s worse — we weren’t listening. She no longer got us to listen. She gave up on us the moment she gave up on her critics, because what she got wrong was that we all care for our country too. Her critics were those who wanted nothing but for her to succeed and leave the presidency with a lasting legacy.
From Bonifacio at Balintawak to Cory Aquino at EDSA and up to today, we have struggled to bring power to the people, and this country to the eminence it deserves. – PGMA, SONA 2009
Another point that left a foul taste in my mouth was when she alluded to Bonifacio and Aquino, and implied that her administration brought power to the people too.
Using history is a powerful rhetorical device that can easily sweep away the casual listener. But this just didn’t work. One will have to justify historical metaphors. Failure to do so would be as ingenious of alluding to God or some other power as justification for one’s actions.
But no, PGMA. Just no.