David VS Gloriath (UPDATED)
Professor Randy David is eliciting considerable public reaction to his declaration of possibly seeking the congressional seat in the 2nd District of Pampanga, setting up a battle of ideological opposites, a battle that pits him against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that conjures up the biblical David VS Goliath, Good Fights Evil scenario.
In knee-jerk fashion, the allies of GMA plus her own son, Rep. Mikey Arroyo, are daring the U.P. political science professor and firebrand socialist democrat to make good his threat while belittling his chance.
The political opposition says it’s ready to adopt Prof. David, with civil society groups also flooding him with immediate expressions of support.
Between Filipinos looking at Prof. Randy as a pint-sized political David or a Don Quixote tilting at the formidable Arroyo-Palaka windmill, they know in their hearts that it is the nation that stands to learn an important political lesson, and may even win, too.
If at all, Prof Randy will not be without his trusty steel Rosinante:
Inquirer columnist and ABS-CBN current affairs program producer Patricia Evangelista has essayed a truly eloquent rendering of what has driven Prof. David to challenge Gloriath.
IN THE VALLEY of Elah, twice a day for 40 days, Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, challenged the Israelites to send out their champion and decide the battle in single combat. The Israelites were afraid – except for one boy. David, son of Jesse, who refused his brother Saul’s armor and took only a sling and five stones taken from a brook.
And so the battle: the towering Goliath, armor glinting in the sunlight, David with his staff and sling. There was taunting, and the names of gods were thrown as curses, and David struck Goliath with a stone from his sling. The Philistine fell, and young David cut off the Philistine’s head. At Goliath’s death, “the troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron.”
I am told that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is running for office in Pampanga. Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman denies the Philippine Daily Inquirer report quoting the President’s intentions, and both Pampanga Vice Governor Joseller Guiao and Quezon City Representative Matias Defensor point to the fact that Ms Arroyo has yet to announce her political plan. And yet both gentlemen of the administration say that her candidacy will be welcome news. Defensor says it would mean a leader with experience. Guiao says she makes his townsmen happy, as “she brings many projects and our people are benefiting from them.”
It is Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello who couches his opinion in terms of the myth. David would face Goliath, but Goliath would win.
I have seen the photograph of sociology professor Randy David on his motorcycle, a gray-haired Don Quixote riding off to chase his unreachable star. This is what he calls the gauntlet he tossed before his President, a quixotic quest. In “Man of La Mancha,” Aldonza tells Don Quixote that there is no use for heroes. The world is a dung heap, she says, “and maggots crawl over it.” Whether I win or lose does not matter, says Quixote. “Only that I follow the quest.”
The fact that I understand we are desperate for heroes, and that we have settled, again and again, for men who cast tall shadows by walking on stilts, does not mean I’m not looking for the man with the balls to walk through the dung. This is what a hero is: a man who stands at the mouth of hell and chooses to step into the dark. It is not that choice that makes a hero, it is the choices he makes after – the way he walks the path, the way he stands before Goliath, the choices he makes long after his sling runs out of stones. The killing fields of Cambodia and the bones buried in Holocaust graves were results of the intentions of messiahs who claimed they wanted to make the world a better place.
I do not know if David is a hero, but I do know that he and his Ducati stand in the way of a giant whose lumbering gait can crush what is left of a disillusioned country. Speaker Prospero Nograles questions David’s intentions: in that he will run to prevent Ms Arroyo from winning – “only because he disliked PGMA [Arroyo] and not the usual reason for running, which is for public service.”
It will be perhaps the greatest public service to prevent the Arroyo dynasty from committing one more national rape – the sort that Nograles happily cheers on from the sidelines, while waiting for his turn.
Take a look at this country. Count the suicides. Look at the father who fed his children refuse from the trash bin of a restaurant and cried as he watched them die. Look at the senator who shakes the grimy hands of her constituents and calls herself a middle-class single mother with a P42-million net worth – not even counting the Forbes Park home she failed to declare. Look at the billions in corruption. Look at the arrogance of the generals. Look at the woman buried in a cement-filled drum. Look at the presidential son crowing from his perch in the House of Representatives, laughing at the man who says he will not allow Ms Arroyo to continue on with her shenanigans in his own backyard. And so he should laugh. After all, so did Goliath.
This is where the story begins.
Bello calls it “a normal human craving,” the desire “to challenge a strong opponent.” It is a craving that perhaps Bello is missing, along with a large number of the House of Representatives – theirs is a craving to attach themselves to power.
And yet Bello is wrong. It is not a desire to fight against a Goliath that drives people behind David. It is the same candle-lit support that pushed a Catholic priest into power over the heads of dynasties. It’s this odd notion called hope, persistent in spite of the awareness that this man may just be another Arroyo: brought to power on the shoulders of a hopeful nation, only to put on her hob-nailed boots. People will pay for his placards, will walk in his rallies, will torch the effigies and start online campaigns, will drop their last twenty into a mayonnaise can for a man who offers a possibility of something better than this.
Perhaps this is what David knows, what Joseph Campbell once said so eloquently when he spoke of the path of heroes. We have not even to risk the adventure alone. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. “And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
Another thoroughly informative piece on Prof. David has been posted by The Warrior Lawyer, Atty. Butch Dado, the loving husband of top-rating blogger Noemi Dado.
This David is no pushover. Soft-spoken, intellectual and unassuming, but definitely not low profile, Prof. David had been a television personality for seventeen years, as a host of a number of well-received public affairs talk shows. He is also a long-time columnist of the Inquirer. Thus, he is comfortable being in the public eye. Neither is he a stranger to controversy, having been active in progressive political circles for decades. He was arrested in 2006 during the series of demonstrations against President Arroyo at the time of the 20th anniversary of the people power revolt when GMA declared a state of national emergency in the face of rising protests against her corrupt government.
I have known him for more than three decades, since my freshman year in college when we were fortunate enough to have him as our Sociology 11 prof. He has a knack for bringing home lessons about Philippine society using methods beyond the classroom. I remember his taking us to the National Mental Hospital, as a way of exposing his young and mostly sheltered wards to another aspect of Philippine reality which we could confront and change in a positive way, if we chose to. He was an intense teacher, but he never forced his views on us. It was the height of martial law, but his passion for ideas and political exchange was palpable and contagious. We’ve had a few opportunities to interact since then. And while I am not one of his many intimates, we are close enough to be on a first-name basis when we occasionally bump into each other. I was therefore elated when I heard on the radio that he would enter the realm of traditional politics for the first , and possibly last, time if GMA runs for Congress as a way of holding on to power. By a twist of fate, both she and Randy come from the same congressional district.
Randy David will have more than an even chance of trumping Arroyo on what she believes is her home turf. Consider the following:
1. Randy David is the Anti-Arroyo- Randy David is the perfect foil for the discredited GMA. An academic all his life, even while he had a busy second career as a talk-show host, he is perceived, rightfully, as an honest and right-minded man who only wants to do his duty as a citizen, which is to do everything he can to arrest the destruction of our democratic institutions. He has none of the political baggage of the traditional politician, although ironically Randy’s late father was a close friend and political party-mate of GMA’s father. Should he run, David will personify the principled new politics which has found fertile ground in Pampanga. He is everything Arroyo is not: moral, upright and untainted by the brand of patronage politics practiced by Arroyo.
2. Randy David has (or will soon have) the network and resources to win – The David clan is widely respected and known throughout Pampanga. Family counts for a lot in local politics. More importantly, should GMA adopt the tactic of being the congressional candidate prior to the predicted shift to a parliamentary system (and from there to the prime ministership) the focus of next year’s national election would be the 2nd district of Pampanga. Civil society and all other forces opposed to Arroyo’s politics as usual would find it easier to pool their resources and bring them to bear on a much smaller political arena. Already, the Liberal Party of presidential candidate Mar Roxas has offered to make Randy their official candidate in the district. The LP was the party of the fathers of both GMA and David. The United Opposition (UNO) has also expressed support for him. The David campaign will be flooded with funds and volunteers while the congressional tussle itself be closely monitored by local and international election watchdogs. This will make it all the harder, although not impossible, for GMA to cheat.
3. The voters of Pampanga are unpredictable – as shown by their election of cleric-on-leave Gov. Ed Panlilio, who defied the money and muscle of the Arroyo-anointed candidate to sweep the 2007 Pampanga gubernatorial polls.
David is a reluctant candidate and is the first to admit that this undertaking is quixotic. But he has all the qualities of a man who, in the words of sociologist Max Weber, can “put his hand on the wheel of history”. As enumerated by Weber, Randy David reveals the three pre-eminent qualities that are decisive for the politician: passion, responsibility and sense of proportion. The ideal politician approaches politics not as a playground for his ego, but as a field in which he seeks to achieve a cause much larger than himself. He takes responsibility for actions. And he always maintains a objective perspective, of his ultimately minor role in the larger scheme of things.