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Home » Migrated » Wang-Wang Thoughts

Wang-Wang Thoughts

President Benigno C. Aquino III’s inaugural speech struck many with his famous “walang wang-wang” (no sirens) comments. His noiseless presidential convoy through the streets of Metro Manila drew much positive reaction. At last, here is a leader who walks (or rides) his talk, whose actions speak louder than his words.

We remember his mother Cory Aquino in 1986, who set out to be the opposite of Ferdinand Marcos. President Noy wants to continue his mother’s legacy of humble service. He also wants to be the opposite of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Luckily for us, it’s a case of “like mother, like son.” What a contrast to the unlamented nine-year GMA administration. The last elections and the abused party-list system showed that, for them, it is “like mother, like sons.”

We have been given several second chances in our country’s history. President Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) was followed 36 years later by his daughter, Gloria M. Arroyo. President Cory Aquino (1986-92) was followed 18 years later by her son Noynoy Aquino. There was EDSA I in 1986 and EDSA II in 2001. Lest we forget, the Marcoses are on the comeback trail, 24 years later.
Few nations ever experience second chances. Now, were these second opportunities or second offenses? Do we learn from the mistakes of the past, or do we just keep repeating them? Is it true that experience is the best teacher?

We remember the EDSA I images where the Marcos troops and tanks were met by religious images and rosaries. We said the bloodless revolution was a miracle of faith and prayer, and we claim to have impressed the rest of the world with People Power.

What happened after EDSA I? Was there any change in our values and attitudes? Did we not go back to our usual self-serving politics and personal ambition? Did we not return to our abstract faith and self-centered prayers? Did we learn to overcome our self-interest to focus on the common good?
Soon after, it was business as usual – individually, socially, politically, even religiously. We did not rethink our political or educational system. We did not rethink our teaching of the faith. We did not turn away with our wrong ways. We did not repent or reform.

2010 is a very important year for us. It is hopefully the turning point of our Philippine history. The campaign battle-cry of Cory Aquino in 1986 still rings true today – “Tama Na, Sobra Na, Palitan Na!” is continued today by PNoy’s “walang wang-wang” policy.

Why did PNoy’s no wang-wang comments resonate so much with the common tao? What was in this folksy or makatao remark that captured the public pulse? What did we experience during the past administration?
We saw a culture of self-importance and impunity. We saw presidential orders silencing and stonewalling charges of cheating and corruption. We saw official wrong-doing condoned by an attitude of “what-are-we-in-power-for?” We saw our right to good governance violated. We saw the truth twisted shamelessly.

A flawed culture is where selfishness prevails, where it is everyone for himself. The arrogant and indiscriminate use of sirens and escorts was actually against the law. The no wang-wang policy is a return to law and order. It is a rejection of the flaunting of power and privilege so brazen in the past. It is a call for change. It invites us to a radical paradigm shift.

PNoy’s no wang-wang policy sent a strong message to all of us. It said good-bye and good riddance to the arrogant and corrupt ways of the past. It told the Filipino people, we are here to serve and not be served.
Wang-wangs do not only refer to the sirens that we see or hear. There may be no physical or audible sirens, but we have invisible or silent wang-wangs inside each of us. The ego is the root of all self-importance and self-aggrandizement. It produces an attitude, a mentality, a culture or a way of life.

We have different terms for this – BSS (believe sa sarili), KSP (kulang sa pansin), KIA (know-it-all), IMI (I am important) etc. We have Chabacano expressions like tampa bueno (pretending to be good) and tampa si quien (pretending to be somebody).

Years ago public schools had this slogan painted on their roofs – Bayan Muna Bago ang Sarili. Today the unpainted slogan seems to be – Ako Muna Bago ang Lahat.
This invisible wang-wang may be something individual or something institutionalized. It is the source of all pretension, one-upmanship, showiness and conflict. It is there in our decisions or deeds. It manifests itself in small as well as big ways.

Let us keep in mind PNoy’s resounding exhortation – walang wang-wang! Saying no to the ego means saying yes to others and the common good.

Salvador Wee, S.J.