Wednesday, February 2, 2011

May the Porsche and the 4s Be With You

I will never forget what my philosophy professor, San Beda College Dean and ex-Jesuit Recaredo Enriquez said; “E gustibus non est disputandum.” Translated more literally, “there is not to be discussion regarding tastes”; but less literally, “in matters of taste there is no dispute.”

In her book, “Molly Bawn” which was written in 1878, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (nee Hamilton) wrote the line “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Obviously we all have different tastes. What appears beautiful to one individual may seem ugly to another.

These two lines have found universal acceptance so much so that they were virtually incorporated in the diplomatic, ethics and etiquette rules governing diplomatic, political and social circles worldwide.

That’s why I read with  amusement the columns, articles and comments of writers, reporters, politicians, bloggers and readers (who are either known critics or supposed supporters) on P-Noy’s acquisition of a third-hand 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera sports car for P4.5M; his personal preference to dating younger, smart and beautiful ladies; and his personal interest in guns.

Yet in front of them are the following reports:

(1) “The Bureau of Customs collected P20.224 billion in duties and taxes in January, exceeding by P2.62 billion or 14.9% of what it earned during the same period last year………The collection was the second highest collection in BOC history. The highest was recorded in July 2010 (P21.5) and the third highest was attained last December (P20.185), all during the Aquino Administration.”
(2)PHILIPPINES GDP SIZZLED to its Highest Growth Rate in the Post Marcos Era at 7.3 Percent.”
(3)”A total of P29.25 billion were remitted by 19 government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to the national government (NG) on Friday. This is an increase of more than 100% from last year’s remittance of over P9 billion.”

As a boy growing up, I was full of hopes and dreams. So did all of my childhood friends, classmates and relatives. Indeed, each of us had visions and missions to fulfill, and goals to accomplish. To many, “mataas ang pangarap” (high expectations) and to some, “mababaw ang kaligayahan” (easy to please) would be the appropriate description. What differentiates them? It is really more a matter of taste.

Not recognizing it would be “insensitivity” of the highest order!


I have two sisters who are still very much alive. One is a retired nurse and the other a retired CPA. Like most Filipinos, they share a similar no.1 priority: educating and preparing their children to live independently and happily. All their children are now successful professionals living as they both had envisioned.

But as expected, they have different tastes. One prefers spending most of her hard-earned money traveling to all the places in the world which she dreamt of visiting since childhood. Name it: Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, the Holy Land, Latin America……she is not finished yet. She will continue doing it for as long her health allows it. She also donated her inherited lands in the Philippines to the only daughter of our late eldest sister, a struggling teacher.

My other sister has a different take. She is spending most of her money building new homes on lots which she and her late first husband bought earlier. She is also remodeling the homes that she already built earlier. She also helps the daughter of our late eldest sister by letting the latter use for free the house and lot which she (the former) inherited in the Philippines.

But the bigger difference is this: my other sister (the builder) bought a Rolls Royce which she still has to this day. It has been used to drive a Philippine Presidential candidate and a U.S Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Director. I have also driven it.

Would I have bought it? My honest answer would be, probably not. Would I have questioned her taste? My answer is both honest and definite: NO. She always had a taste for mansions, castles and luxury cars.

Sometime in 1983, I saw this movie “Risky Business” which starred Tom Cruise. The most memorable moment in the movie is the appearance of the 1981 PORSCHE 928 driven by Tom Cruise. The famous line by Cruise in describing the car was, “PORSCHE. There is no substitute.”

Not too long after that, my brother-in-law was driving a PORSCHE of the same model and year. He just had to have it. His taste for the car had no substitute.

On the way to a campaign meeting for Delegate Kris, daughter of our common friend, David Valderrama, I was picked up to ride in a very expensive Convertible Supercar Mercedes Benz by a companero who was also a former President of the Philippine Lawyers Association here in Washington, D.C. He told me he always wanted to have one like it since childhood. He decided to finally buy it after retirement.

My wife and I still share driving a 1996 Toyota Camry. We have been and still are very happy with it. It brings us everywhere we want to go safely and inexpensively. It would be another two years until the next emission inspection.  Hence, there is no pressure to replace it.

After looking at the electric cars displayed at the most recent International Consumer Electronic Show (ICES) and the current Auto Show 2011 at the Washington Convention Center, we are now seriously looking at an electric car as our next automobile.  But still no pressure to buy one at this point.

As you realize by now, our taste is a little different from the others

When I joined the clamor for Noynoy to run for President, I never asked him to change or give up his personal tastes, his personal dreams and personal preferences. As stated in the following link:  he was my choice for President because he brought Hope, Honesty, Humility and Honor (4Hs) to the position.

I committed to support him not only as a candidate but most especially as a governing President for six years. As written in the following link:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the Philippines is beset with so many problems that it would really take more than six years to solve them. The solution and desired results lie in the several 4Ps mentioned such as “Prayers; Panacea; P-Noy; People with Power;  Pacquiao; Prelates, Priests and/or Preachers; Passionate people; Point men; Plans; Programs; Projects; Proposals; Policies; Procedures; Preparation; Perspiration; Parental authority and responsibility; Patents (creativity & inventions); Peace; Poverty alleviation; Patriotism;  Pedagogy; Portable computers & phones; Pens; Pencils; Paper; Pilots; Patrons; Papal and/or Pastoral teachings”

I will monitor his Presidency based on the above factors.

I never questioned the right and taste of my sisters, my brother-in-law and my lawyer friend.  I do not intend to question my elected Philippine President’s personal taste in cars, in ladies and in self-protection either. “E gustibus non est disputandum.”

When I mentioned to my barber re P-Noy’s Porsche, and the corresponding criticisms, his reaction was, “That’s it? P-Noy was given the powers and discretion to disburse billions and billions of pesos affecting millions and millions of people presently and  in the future by the Constitution, and these people are more concerned about a third-hand 2007 sports car that’s costing the tax payer ZERO PESOS? Do they expect him to drive a slow-moving and cheap vehicle instead?” Take it from my barber!

Running a country like the Philippines is a “risky business”. Required of the leader is excellent physical, mental and emotional health. Excellent tools and “vehicles” for peace and prosperity plus all the 4s mentioned above are needed. We wish our leader well and want him to have the best of everything.  Presidency must equal Excellence. “There is no substitute.” That’s why the President is called “His Excellency”.

The Filipino people voted for Fernando Poe, Jr and Joseph Estrada partly because they were perceived (via movie roles) as macho, ladies’ men, and sharp shooters. Marcos, Ramos and Noynoy were elected also partly because they were macho, ladies’ men and sharp shooters. In the U.S. the right to bear arms is a constitutional right. In the Philippines where enemies of the State such as NPA rebels and Muslim terrorists and secessionists are many, being a sharp-shooter should be praised and not criticized.

PH is now the internet domain for the Philippines. For me, it’s all about Ps and Hs. More specifically, the 4Hs and the many 4Ps as described above and in the links.

The proper greeting to P-Noy and the Philippines therefore is, “May the Porsche and the 4s be with you!”

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