In the style of Nancy Binay

dap hearing gmanews

Does he deserve respect as Cabinet Secretary, as a working executive of the Philippine State? [Photo source: GMA News]

It seems to me that men aspire toward “attitude” and women aspire toward “style”. That’s why advertisements aimed at men feature strong, handsome, athletic types slinging bottles of beer across the room and giving some gorgeous babe a lascivious look, that, of course – in the commercial – she falls for.

And as for that gorgeous babe, she has slathered herself with whitening creams for years, has decorated herself with hair of the proper Pantene shine, has a nose that looks like it came from Hollywood instead of Mindoro, and wears clothes that Filipinas try to find at the mall for P195. But rarely do.

Women go for style.

And some powerful women working in public office display their style for all of us to consider.

  • Senator Santiago, for instance, is a dynamic, usually indignant, Latin spouting, sex-joke spewing bastion of passionate rectitude.
  • Senator Poe is a demure, polite, bookish intellectual of dignified class and bearing.
  • Senators Legarda and Cayetano are middle-aged beauties of proper professional wardrobe, always coming across as principled, intelligent, composed, and proper . . . with just a touch of rebel in them. I think it is a certain tilt of the head that conveys both charm and dignity and – dare I say it about a senator? – sexuality – during their speeches.
  • Senator Villar, I’m sorry ma’am, but we do need a mother figure. And you are it. Loyal to father and the home town, always dedicated to common sense and good work.
  • The three furies, Mss. Morales, Henares, and De Lima, are past the days of their youthful allure, but have replaced it with an even more substantive style that projects competence, assurance, and integrity. It was good to hear Secretary De Lima accused of having had an extra-marital affair, for it reminds us that these three hard-driving, successful women, who mean so much to the nation Philippines, are, after all, not machines.

And we have the young Senator, the daughter of a popular vice president who thrust her into office ahead of her time – which was, on the basis of accomplishment – way ahead of her time.

Senator Nancy Binay is a complex piece of work. Her style deserves some extra attention, some parsing, for upon that style rests a huge decision of what style we wish to see envelop the Philippines. For Senator Binay, by popularity of name and reputation, is a trend setter.

Senator Binay was the star of the DAP hearings. Without question, she was the senator who dominated the scene like no other, who made veteran cabinet secretaries shrink back in their chairs and wonder, “why did I do government service, anyway?”

Those who didn’t like Ms. Binay’s performance (me, for instance), considered her rude, uninformed of the ways of government, and overbearing. Those who DID like her performance (her father, for instance), saw her as courageous, principled, intelligent and persistent. They sent her notes of praise after the performance.

Well, what are the standards of bearing we seek in the Philippine legislature? Is it like the British Parliament, when the Prime Minister is jeered and hooted into silence, or is it like the U.S. senate used to be, a place of diplomatic restraint and polite respect, one senator for the other? We can easily see what the Philippine legislature is today. But what do we WANT our legislature to project when it is working, when we are watching, when they are debating important matters?

Let’s just focus on the Senate, because the House is simply too large to comprehend. It is a committee beyond all rational comprehension now that I think about it. Ahahaha!

The Senate is a smaller committee and we can see that it has a split personality. It is both proper and dignified. And it is a place where personal spite now and then rises up to defeat that dignity. On any given day we have Senators Enrile and Trillanes spitting at one another, or Senator Santiago relentless digging at Senator Enrile.

So we can see that Senator Nancy Binay’s attack on cabinet members during the DAP hearing was wholly within the boundaries of current legislative style. It is common to confront, and to confront giving no quarter, no respect, no consideration.

Well, that is one way, I suppose. That is today’s way, and the good Senator on that basis earned her commendations.

Personally, I prefer more dignity in public display. A more conservative style. I think personal arguments ought to be taken off the floor of the Senate Chamber. Public displays by the legislature are much like the role model a parent presents for a child. The representation is a choice. It can be confrontational, even brutal, or it can be calm, thoughtful and respectful. I personally like values like discipline, and dignity, and honor, and integrity, and sacrifice of personal gain for national gain. I like compassion and consideration and concession to others. I like humility and sincerity.

I also like forthright.

But not rude.

Aspiring to good values does not mean disagreements on issues should not be aired. They NEED to be aired. But in a style that is respectful of others.

It is like the difference between the respectful style of commentary you traditionally find in this blog and the down and dirty, insulting style you too often find in Inquirer discussion threads, or at Get Real Post. Here people are direct, thoughtful and almost invariably respectful of others. There, people shove their opinions down the throats of others, always presume the worst intentions from people they don’t even know, relentlessly defend their own vast ignorance, and return objection with personal insult.

That, unfortunately, seems to be Senator Binay’s style. The issue at hand in the DAP hearing, fact finding on a major financial project, was less important to her than posturing. She found no need to LISTEN to what the invited guests had to say. Winning the point was what mattered, and if that could be done by insulting the guests (demanding they take an oath) or interrupting their conversation or sneering at their answers, then that was all okay. Worthy of praise, even, for those preferring politics to problem-solving.

But think about that. These are the nation’s most important leaders, right? The Cabinet officials are like top executives of a large corporation. The senators are the people who represent learned judgment, keen reflection and a bearing that says to this nation and other nations, “This is the Philippines!” These are substantial people.

Why was one substantial person, the Senator, so angry? Why was she taking the hearings almost as an affront to her, personally?

  • Was she angry about discretionary powers assumed by the President? Her father would never push his discretionary authority to the limits?
  • Was she angry because she had been so criticized during her campaign for Senate? Was she exorcising demons in the way of a spoiled child who always gets what she wants?
  • Was she getting back at Secretary Abad for the jailing of three UNA senators accused of plunder? Was he, to her, the Administration’s whipping boy for political vengeance?
  • Or was she simply an unskilled worker in a high position that demands some degree of circumspection and concession to others who do important work for Philippine citizens?

I don’t know.

I had actually given Senator Binay the benefit of the doubt up to the security guard incident when she came down on the side of her privileged brother, the Mayor of Makati, rather than the side of the working stiffs, the security guards who were only doing their job. The DAP hearing confirmed for me that this woman believes she is of special right, of inherited respect. Not earned respect.

It seems to me that most people, new on a job, recognizing they don’t have the experience and knowledge of those who have worked in their areas of specialty for years, would carry with them a sense of humility and respect for other high officials of government. For senior colleagues. Indeed, it seems culturally correct within the Philippines that a junior person grants certain respects to those senior in age or experience.

And certainly, nothing is lost by treating the invited cabinet members at the hearing with appreciation that the President did not pull “executive privilege” and hold his top officials back from attending. He was most willing to help the Senate inquiry. But rather than read the situation graciously, rather than appreciate the opportunity to learn something, Senator Binay took it as an invitation to attack. She would show them a thing or two.

Do we define this as Binay humility, or what do we call it?

The right of the privileged class? I don’t know. I found it bizarre.

Perhaps it is just lack of refined skills from a junior person working over her head, a crassness of youth that can be tempered with age and experience and wisdom.

Despite what she says, I think the young Senator was deeply hurt by criticisms during her senatorial campaign. The critics said she had no right to be a candidate. And she is determined to prove she is strong. And we are wrong.

If she indeed IS a hurt child out of water in a dog eat dog political world, don’t blame her critics, blame the people who put her where she does not belong. Blame her Daddy and the bad-thinking public who voted a person of no diplomatic skill into one of the most challenging arenas in the nation.

Blame Binay humility.

I understand Daddy sending her a note of praise. No one would tell their child after a nation-wide television performance, “uh, Daughter Dearest, you disrespected a lot of very fine people.”

But to me, personally, there is already too much disrespect in the Philippines. Too much hard-headed refusal to listen. Too much confrontation.

I would also guess that Ms. Binay is probably a decent person, face to face, one on one. She is smart. She does want to do well. Her main flaw seems to be denial that there are things she simply does not know, for lack of experience.

She was placed in a very difficult circumstance by her overly ambitious father.

But the good Senator has at least six years to apply herself to her current job. I hope she matures to become a more considerate and diplomatic senator than what she demonstrated at the DAP hearing. I hope she strives to listen and learn in hearings, not just speak. And I hope she chooses to grant respect to people who have earned it. Even if they are of the political opposition or did things differently than Ms. Binay would have.

I’d like to see her find a less confrontational style, for the example she sets for all Filipinos.

You might be inclined to say:

  • “Uh, Joe, you are a fine one to talk. Look at your partisan politics in America where they are suing Obama and trying to impeach him. Do you call that respectful?”

And my answer would be:

  • “I think Filipinos should aspire to do things better than they are done in America.”


35 Responses to “In the style of Nancy Binay”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    Recently, Senator Binay’s inadequacy in understanding issues was highlighted when she questioned the allocation of money for stem cell research by the DOH, arguing it could have been spent for hospital beds. Is she pandering or is she really inadequate?

    The replies of the DOH secretary and a Filipino scientist in NY:

    She brings to mind another Binay pick, Mitos Magsaysay who famously reduced issues into an “either-or” formula: “condom o trabaho?” (condoms or jobs?) Good thing the masses reduced her into oblivion. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I thought her senate inquiry of Mr. Abad dealt mainly with nits rather than concepts and the challenge was from a fundamentally inexperienced non-expert to a pro. That made the hostility of the attack seem totally out of place. The one concept she almost got to was that DBM determined when a project was effectively dead (the lighthouse), so in that way was re-interpreting the efficacy of a project without house input. Then spending the money somewhere else. There MUST be such discretionary authority with Executive, I think. Or else the House has to set up an operating budget function to be able to keep up with the many changes that will naturally arise in the spending of hundreds of billions of pesos.

    • macspeed says:

      @Andrew Lim

      I can say she is not a well experience senator to comment such and such.
      She is a Rude person as Joe AM said. No respect for senior senators…
      As if no etiquette in any course of discussion…

      • edgar lores says:

        1. In the post I count 14 instances of the root word “respect” in 3 forms: respect, disrespect and respectful.

        2. The consensus seems to be that Nancy has no vestige of respect.

        3. I think Nancy, and the Binays in general, have a healthy respect for certain things: wealth for one, social stature for another and certainly, most of all, for power.

        4. The father is an expert in the uses of power. He respects power and power-holders. Watch how he calibrates and recalibrates his responses and non-responses.
        4.1. Where he can, he will strike. Where he cannot, he may strike and retreat. Where he must not, he is silent. He is mostly silent.
        4.2. He is not a lion but a fox. In contrast, the President is a lion and, additionally, a hedgehog.

        5. Nancy is not a novice but an apprentice of power. As such, she wields power implacably.
        5.1. Whether she can or she cannot, she will strike. She cannot help herself. Her mental editor is missing.
        5.2. She is a budding vixen.

        6. What will save us from Nancy is her being a naïf. She is momentarily transparent. Hopefully she will not fully develop into a vixen with consequent opacity. Hopefully, too, she does not, unlike her father, carry malice in her heart.
        6.1. Is she the Irene Marcos of the Binay family, the white sheep? Can one maintain innocence if one grew up in a house of doubtful repute?
        6.2. She may be, like Abigail, too much her father’s daughter.

        • cha says:

          The VP is a fox. The President is a lion and hedgehog. Nancy is a budding vixen.

          And you my friend have the wide-eyed wisdom of an owl. It’s not Walt Whitman but this is what comes to mind :

          A wise old owl lived in an oak
          The more he saw the less he spoke
          The less he spoke the more he heard.
          Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?


    • cha says:

      Here’s an opportunity to use a Binay to shut down another Binay – Remember the P15 million PDAF allocation of the sister Congresswoman that went to vermiculture projects for the Makati urban jungle? And the sister Senator now has the gall to question the funding for stem cell research (which both medical and scientific community support) when her family went and spent millions of pesos to buy earthworm poop for their fiefdom?

      I see another pithy Andrew Lim verse/ catchphrase here (like Di baleng kurap basta aprub sa bishop) . This time about stem cells and earthworms maybe. Pretty please Andrew?

  2. andrewlim8 says:

    Inadequacy in the job can be remedied. But what is more appalling is this:

    The total lack of outrage of Nancy over Jinggoy Estrada, as if his PDAF involvement was nothing. That is scary.

    • Joe America says:

      As to the point of selective outrage, that needs to be addressed. I note that VP Binay has come out in favor of FOI (now that it is a done deal), but is not advocating an anti-Dynasty Bill. Hmmmm. I actually think Senator Estrada’s jailing HELPS the Binay dynasty, because rather than Estrada being VP, and then president in 2022 on the assumption of a Binay win, Nancy Binay can now follow in Father’s footsteps. He does not have to do a Marcos style takeover at all.

  3. josephivo says:

    Nancy not only believes in inherited respect but she also believes in inherited wisdom. Wisdom as experienced knowledge, the essence of a wise man/women, the trademark of a guru who understands and can explain the deeper grounds, exactly what you expect from a senator. And because dad got appointed by Corry, people better listen Nancy lectures Corry’s son.

    Do not blame the student (or OJT), blame the teacher.

    But she has the right color, she is one on us, she dares to say what we think. And later she dares to go back to what is more essential. Just as we are taught in the TV shows we like most, we have to concentrate on the style of a dress, something we really understand and can discuss.

    Do not praise the daughter for the color and understanding of the essentials, praise the father (in 2016), he knows how to create a ‘brand’.

    • Joe America says:

      He does know how to create a brand. For that he deserves praise. But I think he put his daughter in a bad place for a few years until she can earn her stripes. I note that the media are going to her first, now, for quotes about this or that. So she will be getting lots of practice. I think that now the mainstream UNA senators are in jail, she represents the new mainstream in a departure from overt corruption. UNA is dead. Long live Nancy.

  4. cha says:

    I may not like her style but to be fair, she did score some points on top of her misses in that Senate hearing. The DOTC’s failure to follow through on plans to upgrade airport facilities does need a lot of explaining given the sorry state of Philippine airports, and especially the NAIA. That the plan was aborted as a result of a decision to centralise purchasing to cut costs is somewhat ridiculous.

    I finally understand now why the father kept her for last, all those years tagging along as his personal assistant must have rubbed off on her the Jojo’s political instincts and abilities. Never mind the lack of sophistication and civility (as if the people who vote for their kind would care), she showed she can and will go for the kill anytime, anywhere. And that’s something the presidential aspirant,still pretending to be the administration’s friend, could really use at the moment to neutralise potential contenders.

    It will be a mistake for the other aspirants to the throne to underestimate her value to the VP’s presidential ambition. She clearly has enough firepower in her to get a hot air balloon going. (And she got the dress to prove it. Hehehe)

    I hope (I would think) their political opponents are smart enough to recognise that her strengths are also the dynastic family’s weakness. The more she scrutinises where the DAP and other monies has gone to, the more the Binay expenditures both in Makati and in her father’s VP portfolio become vulnerable to attack as well. Their stock response that the investigations into their own spending excesses are politically motivated becomes more untenable by the day.

    So bring it on, Senator Binay. I’d love to see how far her hot air balloon can take her before she goes pfffft.

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, I actually don’t think she will go pffffft. I think she has her father’s wily strength and ability to roll with punches, and slip away from opponents. She WILL mature as the mainstream opposition now that key UNA senators are in jail. Note that the media now head for her for quotes, more so than even Senator Poe . . . or about the same. As I penned to josephivo, UNA is dead, long live Nancy, as the reconstituted Daddy’s Party. I fully expect her to run for President after her father is done with his term.

      You are also right, she did score some important hits.

      • cha says:

        You harbinger of doom you. Actually, I thought of the same thing and almost wrote it down in my earlier comment (that she can run and possibly score herself a next level position.) But I’m an optimist at heart so I would rather bet on King Binay having exposed his queen too early and that it is just a matter of time before the opponent’s knights train their swords on her.

        I’ll bet you a packet of Tim Tams , my side of the board will win. 🙂

  5. brianitus says:

    Overbearing. Thank you, Uncle Joe. That was the word I was looking for.

    I sort of LOL’d when she attacked Sec. Ona.

  6. edgar lores says:


    O Nancy! My Nancy! our fearful DAP is done;
    The plan has gone off the straight track, the cash we got is gone;
    The pork is queer, no longer here, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the stubborn wheel, the budget lost and erring:

    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the flowing stripes of green,
    Which on the dress my Nancy wears,
    Make me smile and grin.

    O Nancy! My Nancy! shut up and hear Abad;
    Shut up—for you the tongue is strung—for you the tone is shrill;
    For you all mouth and spittle spray—for you the galleries crowding;
    For you they laugh, the swaying mass, their pug-nosed faces burning;

    Here Nancy! dear sister!
    This palm slap on my head;
    It is some dream that on the Web,
    I’ve fallen on my bed.

    My Nancy does not give up, her lips are red, not still;
    My sister does not see Abad, who shows impulse and skill;
    The DAP is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
    The fearful plan, the money ship, comes in with object won;

    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
    And I, with no chagrin,
    Watch the webs my Nancy weaves,
    Make me smile and grin.

  7. Jose Guevarra says:

    Nancy Binay is the epitome of why we must demand the passage of an anti-dynasty bill. Rumor has it that there is already a bill pending in the House that will disqualify her father from seeking the presidency while Nancy remains seated as senator. It will also disqualify her sister and brother from the local offices they respectively hold. I earnestly hope this is all true.

    • Joe America says:

      That would be interesting. I hope it is true, too.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. The bill may contain a provision to prohibit concurrent overlapping terms.
      1.1. Nancy is serving a 6-year term, from 2013 to 2019.
      1.2. If the bill is passed into law, the father may be disqualified for seeking office in 2016.
      1.3. However, the father may run if Nancy resigns.

      2. The law will also disqualify sister Abigail (representative) and brother Junjun (mayor) from seeking office in 2016. However, it will NOT disqualify them from their current positions because no law can be made retroactive (ex post facto).

      3. At any rate, the terms of both Abigail and Junjun will end in 2016.
      3.1. Abigail is on her 3rd and last term in the Lower House. She cannot seek a 4th consecutive term by law.
      3.1.1. If the bill is passed, she will be disqualified from running until 2022.
      3.1.2. If the bill is NOT passed, she may run for the Senate in 2016.

      4. Junjun is on his 2nd term as mayor. He qualifies for a 3rd consecutive term.
      4.1. If the bill is passed, he will be disqualified from running until 2022.
      4.2. If the bill is NOT passed, he may seek re-election as mayor in 2016. Or he may run for the Lower House or the Senate.

      5. Worst scenario if the bill is NOT passed: one Binay in Malacanang and three (3) in the Senate!
      5.1. This may be the best scenario to some people.

      6. To avoid this worst scenario, there are two Big Ifs: (1) If the bill passes and (2) if it contains a prohibition for concurrent overlapping terms.
      6.1. I wonder if the bill disallows relatives (say, Nancy, Abigail and Junjun) from seeking office at the same election (say, in 2022).

      7. If ever, the Binay Dynasty will upstage, outdo and outlast the Marcos Dynasty because who can resist eating cake?

      • Joe America says:

        The bill would present VP Binay with a tough choice. Become president and cut off the kids’ direct path to the presidency or skip the presidency. In other words, my kids or “me” a 74 year old man . . . Come to think of it, the bill would impose those kinds of choices on a lot of dynastic families.

        • edgar lores says:

          It all depends on how the father seems himself. Mentally, I would say he would calculate his chances are better as progenitor. Also, he has dedicated his entire life to reaching the apex.

          I agree that physically and health-wise, he may have cause to have second thoughts.

          By current estimation, himself and others, he is still the top gorilla. 😉


          I note that my comments are studded with animal references – lion, fox, hedgehog, vixen and gorilla. Hehe.

          • Joe America says:

            We could go insects. tarantula, praying mantis, bee, centipede and rhinoceros beetle

            Yes, he is top gorilla and he would have a hard time setting a lifetime obsession aside.

  8. Bing Garcia says:

    Joe, very nice article.

  9. parengtony says:

    How did Nancy B come to the conclusion that government should have spent the money to buy more hospitable beds instead of for stem cell research?

    Answer: She thinks stem cell biology is nothing but some sort of a fountain of youth stuff that only moneyed people are interested in.

    And, you know what, she scored a heck of a lot of pogi points with voters as most of them, yours truly included (prior to the Senate hearing), are as uninformed as Nancy B on stem cell biology.

  10. vernon says:

    Sad to say this, Joe, yet a lot of those who grew up in Makati (as some of us did) have learned that ever since the Binays’ foray into that city’s politics; you can not use the name Binay and dignity in the same sentence.



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