One of the things Filipino politicos have learned well over the past six years is how the low standards and expectations of the people they are supposed to serve and please can actually be lowered further once they are already in power.
From 2016-2022, we saw how campaign promises can be made as outrageous as possible because a man’s word no longer means anything hence, such promises do not have to be kept.
And yet, despite the lack of fulfilled campaign promises, most of us still managed to survive 6 years of mediocre national leadership. Some of the underprivileged did not make it, losing their lives along the way, but those lives were taken at a time of our history when the new leader was still trying to keep some of his outrageous promises, which morbidly included indiscriminate killings.
As soon as our leaders figured out they could get away with not keeping most promises, the nation was left on autopilot. Those who knew how to play the game and were connected to the right people saw their lots improve while the majority of those who expected their government to have their best interests in mind ended up basically wasting six years of their life, gaining nothing but life experience and more white hairs.
Given the rare opportunity to make up for an egregious mistake, the Filipino people instead doubled up on their choice of leader for the next six years. This time electing a guy who doesn’t even have a university degree, has been convicted for tax evasion, and didn’t even have the chutzpah to make any outrageous plans or promises for the country.
The good news is that we’ve been there and done that. If we survived Rodrigo Duterte’s absentee brand of leadership, surely we can weather whatever Ferdinand Marcos Jr., our newly inaugurated President, does or doesn’t bring to our table. We might end up wasting another six years, making the years of misery a total of 12, or we might luck out and get a better president than the previous one. Qualifications may matter, but luck is golden, and rumor has it, their family has lots of golden luck that we might be able to benefit from.
The even better news is that with the bar set so low, it is almost impossible to fail. All the younger and hopefully healthier president needs to do better than his predecessor is simply get off the chopper after the presidential fly by during a natural disaster, instead of simply posting a selfie with the bestie. With expectations so low, a simple act like that could get him a standing ovation during his next SONA.
The world is currently in the midst of a crises fest. The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been officially ended. Russia’s war in Ukraine will continue to reverberate throughout the planet. The cost of fuel and living is skyrocketing. Our nation is wallowing in debt, the peso is depreciating. We need a qualified and competent leader to guide us through all these challenges. How the leader our voters chose is going to perform will be interesting to watch over the next few months.
The best thing about low expectations, from the point of view of the one who has to perform, is that it is easier to “succeed” when you are expected to fail. I don’t know what Marcos supporters are expecting from his presidency, but I’m hoping they knew what they were voting for and have adjusted their expectations accordingly. Because it would be ironic if the people who put him in power, expecting a magical golden age, are the first to be disappointed and disgruntled while those who voted for the other candidates have lower expectations and are therefore more deadma and apathetic to whatever comes our way.
As we begin another six years of a new president. Let us take comfort in the fact that we survived the last one. If Mr. Marcos Jr. and his team can do better than Mr. Duterte, we can already consider it a win. If he does worse, then let us just consider it another test of our famed resiliency. Whatever happens, we chose it and now we have to live by it.
Wishing President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the best of luck as he starts his term as the 17th president of the Philippines. I hope proves his critics wrong and perhaps even reraise the standards and expectations from the highest office in the land.*