Wanted: Leader who can take the Philippines out of an abusive relationship | Inquirer Opinion

Wanted: Leader who can take the Philippines out of an abusive relationship

04:01 AM October 20, 2021

I have often asked why we vote for leaders who have acted other than in our interest in so many ways and on so many occasions.

Our nation might best be described as suffering from the extended national equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome, where a captive begins to empathize with their captor. Our country is trapped in this paradigm.


This year 2021 marks precisely 500 years since the arrival of Magellan on our shores. In the half-century since then, our country has been groomed and schooled, and we have a history and tradition that began with being servile to the authority of the Spanish and the infallibility of the Church, to the strength of a colonizer, to the wealthy and the learned, to the authority of a despot, and now to be servile to power itself.

For tender mercies and small kindnesses, we transact in terms of patronage and “ayuda.”


The difference in the lived experience and the opportunities available to Filipinos across the social and economic strata, and that history, means that most of our country can’t even conceive that there could possibly be any other way.

Each one of us concludes the situation to be beyond redemption. We are individually powerless to change it, and we can’t see it changing, as we know deep down that we battle ourselves as much as we might rage against our chosen political villains.

Leni Robredo’s message is a small but significant start in escaping this paradigm. It unites us in the power of love—that as a mother or as parents, we strive for a better life for our children.

It reminds us that the abuses of our current President are so egregious, so shockingly bad, that we would not tolerate them in our children’s upbringing.

And it reminds us that whether we succeed or not in our parenting, for most of us it is incumbent that we find the strength to try our best. And so the struggle for change is not one that should be so daunting.

Former president Noynoy Aquino showed us what a strong, decisive, and selfless person could accomplish with a team. Leni promises to take that tradition further. This is not about Leni. This is about a journey that should not end with Leni. It should be about a thread of leadership that we can choose to weave for our country.

We began with a discussion of the Stockholm Syndrome.


Three days ago, on Oct. 8, from the same country, but this time from Oslo, we had the supreme recognition of Maria Ressa’s contribution to civic transparency, public accountability, and good governance. And by implication, a denunciation of those who actively seek to deny and frustrate that vocation.

It takes a lot of self-awareness, a lot of courage, and an unshakeable resolve to escape a life of abuse. And a lot of help.

And having escaped such a life, the effort of making a better life does not end.

A lot of us recognize and value Randy David’s continuing contribution to social commentary. Taking that further, I hope our country sees that Maria Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize exemplifies the means and opportunity for our country to lift itself from the confines of our history and ignorance and imagine a better way forward.

And I believe Leni Robredo—her candidacy and her message—shows us why and where we can find the strength for change.

Jay Mendoza,Normanhurst, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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TAGS: Elections, Leni Robredo, Letters to the Editor
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