Basking in the glow – Manila Standard

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posted June 20, 2017 at 12:01 am

At the commemoration of national hero’s 156th birth anniversary Monday in Calamba, Laguna, Philippine National Police chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa claimed to be a descendant of Jose Rizal.

One of the hero’s grandmothers was named Inez dela Rosa, he said. He believed she was their connection.

Love of country was a trait he got from his ancestor, he added.

Mr. Dela Rosa is a man known for cracking jokes, so we don’t really know whether he even actually believes his claim or if it was only something he drummed up as guest speaker for the occasion.

We can appreciate, however, that many politicians got to where they are not because of some prior achievement or proof of competence but because they basked in the glow of their kin, sometimes living but most conveniently dead.

What further example do we need than the previous president, Benigno Aquino III, who suddenly became a serious presidential contender when his mother, the former President Corazon Aquino, died of cancer in the year before the polls?

Mrs. Aquino herself reaped the benefits of being the widow of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. who was assassinated in 1983.

Not to look any further from this administration is Vice President Leni Robredo, who became popular upon the death of her husband, the former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash in 2012 when he was secretary of the Interior and Local Government.

There are many other examples.

It appears Filipinos believe leadership traits can be transferred like magic from the dead kin to the living. It appears, too, that no matter how many instances we have been proved wrong, we continue to believe this yarn and keep electing strangers with familiar names into office.

This is also why others not blessed with prominent kin attach themselves to those they perceive could boost their stock. Look at the personalities that swarm around whoever is in power, for instance, or those who abandon their party affiliations when it becomes less than convenient for them.

There is a reason Rizal remains a national hero and martyr—and he did this on his own, not by brandishing a famous last name or cozying up to some famous figure.

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