2016 Dream Team: Aquino and Aquino

aquino and aquino

Aquino and Aquino

We need a new approach.

One of the things I wrestle with in my cross-cultural discovery trek is the apparent fact that an American style government overlaid on the Filipino hierarchical culture creates a lot of odd results. Like local mayors become dynastic warlords and the Congress gets packed with dynastic power-mongers, boxers, crybabies, plagiarists and dictator’s wives.

The public is broadly educated, but that education is shallow and lacking in one simple lesson: “If you vote for the wrong guy, it eventually comes back to bite you in the butt. That is why you are so outrageously poor.”

Now that concept seems pretty simple to me, and it can be demonstrated by simply looking around. But it doesn’t get translated right I guess.

There is not much hope for change because media entertainment is flashy and glitzy and shallow and the media news is flashy and grisly and shallow. Inertia is huge (see “Philippine Physics: Inertia Rules“). Concepts like productivity and punctuality and efficiency are foreign words . . . or swear words . . . I’m not exactly sure which.

So I look at Filipino culture and ask:

How can we adapt government better to the key cultural traits that are right here right now?

Well, in the Philippines, government is not of principle, but of personality. Political parties shape-shift to fit the people in power, the people in power don’t revolve around an enduring platform of principle and ideal. And once in office, politicians come to “own” the position. Any challenge is considered an affront to honor. Thus we have that all-too-pervasive characteristic of the three-year election cycle: murder.

So, in striving for a peaceful, productive Philippines, my idea is that we should set out to build a new government around six distinct positions and personalities. Here they are:

  • President, a person of impeccable flash and glitz and . . . other qualities. We shall nominate Kris Aquino.
  • Vice President, the guy who knows what’s going on and can get work done. Noynoy Aquino.
  • Secretary of Defense, a man who does not tolerate bad behavior, the Mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte.
  • Secretary of Foreign Affairs, sure to keep both China and the US off balance, Vice Ganda.
  • DILG Secretary, the Mafia Boss himself, our nation’s honorary Godfather, Jejomar Binay.
  • Justice Secretary, the little lady with the gunslinging father, Grace Poe.

Now perhaps you are muttering to yourself,

“Oh, Good Lord, JoeAm, get serious!”


“Joe’s gone off the deep end; that storm must have been too much for his fragile emotions.”


“Hahaha, that’s good, tell me more!”


Secretary of Foreign Affairs

Well, let’s think about it. Again, think about the three main cultural qualities: (1) glitz, (2) power-mongering and favor trading, and (3) new on the scene, economic productivity (as in OFW inbound money, tourism, call centers and real estate).  We want to leverage those three qualities in our political approach. Make them real strengths, as it were. For example:

President Kris Aquino

This is one woman who can stomp all over Jejomar Binay’s popular appeal. And she need not abandon her ABS-CBN contract. Indeed, “The Kris Aquino Show” can reach new rating heights as Boy Abunda does his weekly two-hour Kissy Krissy interviews, asking her about the latest crises  (sure to evoke tears) or triumphs (awash with beaming smiles and claps and free prizes for the live audience).

Indeed, given her recent statement that she has injected peace into her life by giving up sex, we can give her the operative handle of “Nun in Chief” and let her get the CBCP political bishops back on the right side of government. Maybe they will give up their meddling ways and let the nation move forward to prosperity and promise.

Vice President Noynoy Aquino

As Kris is putting the gush on affairs of state, someone has to actually do those affairs of state, and that will be the ex-President’s job. He’ll run the cabinet meetings and assure that the steps he began during his term get carried through for another six years. In other words, we will be six years further along cleaning this place up of its corrupt and self-serving ways. His charter, from Kris directly: make good appointments, keep the upper crust clean of corruption, jail recidivist plunderers, and cut red tape.

Secretary of Defense,  Rodrigo Duterte


Secretary of Defense

Mr. Duterte can defer to Foreign Affairs to execute a new China policy. His primary mission will be to clean up the NPA. He’ll have the authority to toss those armchair generals who mainly cuddle up to the bar and coddle their Military Academy classmates. Or maybe its coddle and cuddle, I get confused on that point. Duterte can appoint his vigilante posse leaders as generals and give them their marching orders.

The military strategy will be to establish marshal law on Mindanao. Duterte will issue a strict order to NPA members to resign from their little extortionists’ club and go back to work being constructive participants in building a strong regional economy.

For three years, the following groups will be banned from Mindanao: tourists, media, and human rights officials. Then we’ll see what the big island looks like on the other side of the three years, no questions asked.

When the NPA is back producing a whole new sector of the Mindanao economy, Duterte can double-check the Muslim peace program to make sure it is also working as expected. Or see what those perky boys from China are up to.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Vice Ganda

I wrote a blog a while back that emphasized Philippine sovereignty, and made the point that Filipinos should not move to the back of the bus if the US or China suggest that is where they should sit (see “Why Mayor Estrada Is Wrong about Hong Kong“). Ahahahaha, no one tells Vice where to sit. We don’t even know what CR he/she should visit.

Those boring, pontificating, posturing ASEAN meetings will never be the same. The warm-up for Vice’s speeches can be done by the Assistant Secretary, Megan Young. She is not Miss World for nothing, you know.

The new China policy will be to laugh at the Chinese for their incessant overbearing ways, the general tenor of which you can easily find by watching old Three Stooges reruns.

DILG Secretary Jejomar Binay

Well, we know Jesusjosephmary will be disappointed when Krissy cleans his election-day clock, but he always wanted to run DILG, and we will let him do it his way. He can wheel and deal his Godfather intimidations and favors to get those provinces, cities and municipalities to grow like Makati. He’ll be able to extract condos or resort homes in every community across the land. He can put Club Med out of business if he rents his units right. Or are they already broke? I lost track  . . .

Face it, Binay is conniving as hell but he can sure get people to unify and solve problems to make money. The Binay movie role would have been ideal played by Marlon Brando. But he died off on his island in the Carribbean, so maybe Juan Dela Cruz can do it.

Secretary of Justice Grace Poe


Secretary of Justice

Now this position gets me very jazzed. Fernando Poe is the prototype action hero. He set the stage for Manny Pacquiao. Poe was a tough guy who shot bad guys on screen and broke the back of the movie director’s exclusionary club in real life. A legitimate thinking man and action guy. Grace is his namesake Senatorial daughter and she has shown herself to be an action lady herself by pushing FOI on a fast-track no matter what the President thinks, and lecturing other senators as to their sloth about it.

So with Grace, we have popularity, power, AND productivity. All THREE of the cultural leverage points.

And if there is a job that needs action in the Philippines, it is that slo-mo Justice Department. Like, Grace will assume a Hawaii Five-O pose, exclaim “Book ’em Danny!” and “haul ’em to court next week!”

Or a Shorter Version of this General Idea

Just elect Grace Poe president in 2016.

39 Responses to “2016 Dream Team: Aquino and Aquino”
  1. Tommy says:

    Hahahahahahahaha!!!! Excellent!!!

  2. joeyDF says:

    hahaha lmfao like saying u get the dose of ur meds…but what can i say, they’re better off than
    those trapos jockeying up for 2016 😦

    • Joe America says:

      Sure, put my slate up against Binay’s roster of Estradas and Marcoses and Garcias and Enriles and my power-packed slate would definitely get the job done better.

  3. ella says:

    Very interesting, but why Binay? How about a position for Ben Hur Luy?

    • Joe America says:

      Ben Hur Luy would have the position of chief investigator under Secretary De Lima, who would remain on her job. So would Hinares at BIR and the Ombudsman Morales.

      Binay is a master at building cities and we want more Makatis. That’s it basically. We recognize that the culture in the Philippines will continue to operate primarily on who you know, and he knows everybody. Remember, our task is to fit government to the culture, not change the government or the culture.

      • cha says:

        “Binay is a master at building cities and we want more Makatis.”

        Er, Binay did not actually build Makati. The Ayalas did. Makati was already the premier city, central business district for much of Metro Manila way before Binay came into the picture. Binay was but a struggling human rights lawyer and law school professor when he was plucked by then newly installed President Cory Aquino to be the OIC of Makati and eventually became its Mayor, a post he held on to and then passed on to the members of his family like it was their birth right. Binay did not make Makati into what it is today. Its Makati that made Binay into the rich and powerful politician that he is today. So there.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, welcome, traveler. I appreciate being set straight on that. Maybe one of the Ayalas should be DILG Secretary.

          • cha says:

            Thanks. Just got back actually. Was reading the blog while in Manila; so many inspired and insightful points being raised by you and your readers but always too exhausted to chime in and add to the commentary. I thought I might still lie low for a while but then the bit about Binay really got me out of the woodwork. I don’t think I spoke to any one person while in Manila who had anything good to say about the man.

            • Joe America says:

              Welcome home, then. It has indeed been a little peppy here, blogwise. When you’re rested and ready to write, I’d be very interested in your other observations from the trip.

              G’daye and g’nyte. 🙂

  4. Maxie says:

    “Just elect Grace Poe president in 2016”. Seriously, Grace Poe for president and Leni Robredo for vice-pres! A formidable team!

    • Joe America says:

      Well, we’d need to find a place for Leni on our Dream Team, for sure. But I think it is very important to keep Mr. Aquino’s knowledge and management skill on the team.

      I wonder, though, given the fine, stern work of De Lima, Hinares, and Morales, if the Philippines would work better if the men were consigned to the tuba table under the mango tree, and the girls took charge. Might be a blog perking here somewhere . . .

  5. I had a good morning laugh, but trying to be a little more serious, I have my own dream team:

    President: Grace Poe– committed, hardworking, visionary and intelligent in her own right

    Vice-President: Richard Gordon– To complement a hardworking and motherly President, we need a veteran, hard-nosed statesman. Dick has the administrative experience and is as straightforward as Duterte without the brutish side. He also knows how to run an economic zone.

    DILG Sec: Joey Salceda– proven at the local level. I’m sure he’ll have a vision just like Robredo.

    NEDA Vice-chair: Mar Roxas– I know this is not the Presidency that he is aspiring to reach, but this is the post which will utilize his academic and professional background– economics. Or maybe a special adviser to economic, trade, industry affairs. IMO, he doesn’t have the people skills to be a good President.

    Defense: Duterte– Aside from suppressing revolts, I want to see someone with balls who can erase the “pabaon” corruption culture and indiscipline in the military. Let’s put his toughness to the greatest test. Add the fact that he will be an outsider because he isn’t an AFP officer.

    *Seriously, why are you considering this guy when we talked about rule of law in the last blog? HAHAHA

    DOTC: Probably Abaya again if he can succeed with the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project.

    DPWH: Francis Tolentino– He seems hands-on and not corrupt.

    Ombudsman: If possible retain Carpio-Morales

    Senators: Leile De Lima–Thinking of a saner Miriam Santiago substitute.
    Grace Pulido-Tan– A brilliant accountant who’ll be useful in oversight committees.
    Hagedorn– He did well in Palawan. Why not give him a chance in the Senate?

    Governor of Cam Sur:Leni Robredo– aside from usurping the current dynasty at the post, she can introduce herself as an effective administrator.

    I can’t think of a complete slate as of the moment. In 2 years, more interesting things should and will happen.

    • Joe America says:

      Superb. Absolutely superb. I say forget elections and let David Webb be king-maker in chief.

      The underlying foundations of the Rule of Law blog and this one are different. That one said we must change the rule of law or not much improvement will get done. And it may take 20 years to clean up policing, investigations, prosecution and the courts. This one says we don’t have to change anything but the players, and we’ll get it done right away.

      • I see where you’re coming from.

        Doing away with the discussion and putting it in practice, I personally prefer the Rule of Law route over the player-centric one.

        • Joe America says:

          Right, I agree. I’m not sure what steps are being taken within the Executive Branch, behind the scenes. It SEEMS as if the approach is to send a message by jailing corrupt government people, starting at the top (record number of Ombudsman cases). But for enduring improvement, what has to happen is a re-building of the infrastructure of law enforcement at four critical levels:

          1) Policing (It seems there is a focus on corruption within the police ranks, but not on patrolling and finding villains like drug dealers and child traffickers.)
          2) Investigation of crimes (Is anything being done to speed it up? Why do cases languish? Is it properly equipped? I get the sense it is not modern at all.)
          3) Prosecution (Same questions. Is it properly funded and staffed?)
          4) Court speed and law-based judgments (that is Judiciary, but Executive, with Congress, can fund the courts well and jawbone for change.)

          Too much time is spent on administrative pencil pushing, like NBI clearances, and not enough on crime-fighting.

          Big work is needed to get up to speed, I think.

  6. Paul Lazo says:

    Seems like you got yourself into a pickle. You seem to contradict yourself when you accurately state that “Well, in the Philippines, government is not of principle, but of personality…” and dedicate a paragraph to say that this system hasn’t worked. Then you go ahead and choose popular personalities as candidates. What happened? Or did I get you wrong?

    • Joe America says:

      Hmmmmm. How can I weasel out of that . . . . . . I conceded that it is a government of personality, and rather than try to change it, I’m going to go with the flow. But pick personalities that work, for the goals we need to achieve. The whole idea is to stop trying to do the impossible, change the structure of government or change the culture of favor and power, but to pick people who can work within those parameters.

      Or elect Grace Poe . . . who best fits the model of someone who can get something done.

  7. essie says:

    I was sitting here reading and thinking, “What the heck? Has Joe lost his damn mind?!” The I read the last sentence… LOL. Thanks for the chuckle.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 Yes, you have to get to the last line. And people who’ve known me for a long time don’t know whether or not to take me seriously either . . . so they mostly don’t.

  8. Joseph-Ivo says:

    Families are so all important in the Philippines, starting with the Holy Family, the less holy political families and the ordinary families depending on their ate working oversees.

    You start well with 2 Aquino’s but you forgot a hard working Bam as secretary of extended families. Where is Elenita, Jejomar jr. and Nancy as secretaries of core families, secretary of guaranteeing respect, and secretary of OJT’s?

    The priority of the new administration should be the implementation of the anti-dynasty provisions in the constitution so it can dissolve itself straightaway.

  9. letlet says:

    Hilarious, LOL

    I absolutely agree with Grace Poe as President for 2016 but Leni Robredo, majority of the voters are not aware of her. I agree with PNoy as Vice President.

  10. Dee says:

    I am at lost for words. Rarely happens, but your satire is really a sad commentary on how you can get the attention of an average Filipino. Ideas need to be peddled to the 75% because that is a big bulk of voters and seems to be the source of vote selling during election cycles. How do you target that segment of the society and market the idea that they are working against their own good when they sell their vote or choose a candidate for superficial reasons?

    • Joe America says:

      If I were LP, I’d ask tourism secretary Jimenez. Rather than sell the Philippines, or a political candidate, as he did before, he can sell a concept. He’s very very good. LP will need to do that to offset Binay’s popular appeal.

    • My solution: Forced diaspora

      Send the 75% to toil in developed countries as overworked and low-paid blue-collars. That way, they could see the problems of the country from an outsider’s perspective. In addition, they will realize how bad the Philippines has been left behind.

      Some researchers at UP are looking at the effect of OFW diaspora on the political mindset of the OFWs. They assert that working in and exposing them to developed countries with better political system makes them more mature voters and spectators.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      The problem with poverty is that the poor are wrongly represented. Proof? They are still poor, even poorer than before.

      Is “the 75%” to blame in the Philippines? That’s too easy. Look at the US, the poor are getting less and less too, the 1% more and more. In the Philippines the attempts of the poor to choose “pro-poor” candidates was not so bad. Noynoy, Estrada, Magsaysay, even Marcos. The problem was that some were / are short lived to have a lasting impact, others, surrounded by the right people at the start, could not resist the corruptive influence of power and don’t blame the 75% for that, many “intellectuals fell in the same trap.

      The question could be: “What to do to keep pro-poor presidents on the right path?”

      • Seems like we have a harder question to answer. Controlling the psyche of a normal man is tough. What more of a president?

        Straying off topic, I honestly think this personality approach won’t change anything in the LONG RUN. Sure, a relatively good president will try to make reforms like what Noynoy is doing. But what happens when he’s gone?

        If more Filipinos adopt a more mature attitude towards rule of law and elections, the country will get better results.

        The poor can start by controlling their childbirths and fixing their lives so that they won’t rely on bribes, loyalties and other instruments of patronage.

        • Joseph-Ivo says:

          I fully agree, trying to change human nature will be a little difficult to achieve.

          I’m thinking more at increasing the influence for parties surrounding presidents, more attention in the media for ideas instead of personalities, more transparency to play shorter on the ball, more short time achievable goals (no wang-wang as a classic example) instead of high flying principles, increase (create) the gap between doing business and doing politics, reward politicians for their ideas and achievements, not for their bank account – finance political parties…

          Family size is a result of poverty, not the cause. Poverty is result of stunting, lack of food early on, resulting in less potential. Poverty is the cause of a narrowing horizon in conscience: food tonight, all the other things become impulsive. Only for the poor children are a gift because they are seen as future income providers, one may make as maid in Hong Kong…

    • Suibon says:

      I wonder where Vilma Santos fits in here. As capable an administrator as she was an actress — glitz shakes hands with effectiveness, and discovers that both need not be mutually exclusive.

      Or is Kris just that glitzy a personality? Maybe a plum job as DILG secretary, closer to her track record as a politician, will better suit her?

  11. dating.pinoy says:

    If this team makes it in 2016, I will surely try in earnest to regain my Philippine citizenship.

  12. Mel NL says:

    I had a good laugh after reading this blog! You made my day, Joe! Hope your wish come true. hehehe . Thanks for the article. It really tickled me so much!!

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