There is something about our president that is so uncanny. Sure, she looks innocent and pleasant enough, what with her diminutive height all dolled up in Paul Cabral suits and gowns, designer heels, and an ear-to-ear smile for an accessory. She speaks good English, delivers immaculate speeches, and looks unfazed with all the scandals and natural catastrophes that have shaken our little archipelago to its core, appears confident enough in the presence of powerful world leaders, and doesn’t look her prime age at sixty. But there is something about her that has always kept me intrigued, one might say, and eventually I have grown to distrust her civility, her outward confidence, and her schoolgirl smiles. That day when President Estrada finally stepped out of the Malacanang Palace, the nationalist in me rejoiced silently, optimistic that finally this country will soon rise from its long-forgotten ashes. I celebrated even more, sensing that the then vice-president seemed to be the exact antithesis of the ousted president: well-schooled and articulate, an economist by education, unaffiliated with the showbiz world, and a female.
Staring at the television that day, tirelessly watching coverage after coverage of the EDSA Dos Revolution, and the proclamation of the new leader, I did notice however, that there was something about the new head-of-state that bothered me. She was smiling crazily, as if she were on booze, grinning with unabashed triumph and celebration, as Senator Teofisto Guingona raised her hand, facing the countless Filipino masses that trooped to EDSA in an admirable showing of faith, unity, and nationalism. It appeared to me that she was too happy to be president, someone atat na atat to be in control of power. Yes, there was cause for celebration that day, but then again at that point the battle would have been far from over; the impeachment case would soon follow, stocks would be adversely affected by all the political turmoil, and as always, our economy would need a 360 degree overhaul. She nonetheless, could barely conceal her foolish excitement, her apparent giddiness for making history, in the face of such an unfortunate event that would hound this country for years to come. My eyes stayed glued to the television but I remember feeling uneasy, perturbed at the way she waved and waved, and owned the stage as if she had won the national elections, or the one-billion jackpot lottery.
So, six fateful years later, I was proven right. This doll-faced president has been implicated in numerous controversies, all of which she has treated with a shameless indifference. During her reign, our country has been branded as the second most dangerous place for journalists, next to Iraq, by reason of countless killings of activist-journalists. She confessed to communicating with an election official during the 2004 elections, and with a “cute-puppy” face, repeated apologies to the Filipino people over live television. Her infamous husband too, has dragged her name in his own web of transgressions, such as the Jose Pidal controversy, and more recently, the NBN ZTE Deal, which our doll-faced president has approved in slapdash fashion as if it was her and not the people’s money that was at stake. Whether or not all these accusations will prove them responsible in the end still remains to be seen. After all, didn’t we just look the other way when the Hello Garci hubbub erupted, accepting her sorry as if she merely stole a piece of bubblegum?
No, I do not hate our Madame President. She is indeed intelligent, a devout Catholic, and has her own brand of charisma. Sometimes, I find myself admiring her resiliency, the way she remains stoic and expressionless in the wake of intrigues, and her strong confidence in the country’s economy. But I do not claim to love her either. I just could not bring myself to do so, because that would be a feeble pretense on my part.
There is something uncanny about her, which I find so disconcerting. Each time, she reminds me of a chubby-faced porcelain doll who conceals her evil powers behind her toothy smile.
For our poor country’s sake, I hope I’m wrong.