Whenever I visit my doctors, I try to sound them off on current problems that bedevil us. This week, I visited Dr. Ricardo Quintos at the Cardinal Santos hospital; he is a cardiovascular specialist. He is looking after what my chronic diabetes had damaged in my circulatory system. Doctors know a lot about human nature and society – this goes with their territory; they are repositories of knowledge.
Dr. Quintos and I talked about this pandemic. I said I was afraid that there will be more pandemics and come a time when science cannot catch up with new vaccines to combat the new variants. To agravate this problem, he said that the effectivity of the new vaccines is limited, that we must establish new paradigms, create an environment where the virus cannot thrive, sunlight for instance, elements that will starve them, kill them.
Dr. Quintos was engaged in stem cell research; I recall an earlier discussion with him wherein he felt it was necessary to broaden the underlying philosophy of medicine itself, to prepare ourselves for the advent of more scientific advances.
Dr. Cesar Perez Jr. of the Philippine General Hospital operated on my left eye which was afflicted with glaucoma. My right eye also has glaucoma but I can still read without glasses. Every visit includes a mini-lecture on eyesight. Our eyes are made to enable us to look at the distance. We see the world and what is registered in the mind stays there as memory. Many of us are incapable of long-distance vision. We need eye glasses. How can we look at the far distance, not as space, but as time?
Dr. Vince Gomez is an orthopedic surgeon at the Makati Medical Center. Some years back, I dislocated my elbow and he used the x-ray machine to put it back. I considered it a neat and pretty trick and since then, I often consult him not just on medical problems but also on issues of national import.
My wife who has osteoporosis needs his attention more and I go along when she sees him. Dr. Gomez has an intimate view of Manila’s upper crust; he also can connect the dots, the relationships that explain why such and such decisions were made – not on the logic of the public good, but on the compulsion of social relationship. But he also sees in his clientele the Shakespearean truism that “the rich also bleed,” the rich truly concerned with bad government and poverty, their anonymous charities. We agree on the herculean effort needed to destroy the systemic obstacles to development.
Almost always, in my discussions with my doctors, we end up dissecting our hobbled society, particularly our leaders and why we are mired in poverty and corruption. I go back to my youthful thinking, all the way back when I was in high school when I saw Boris Karloff in that horror movie, Frankenstein. I realized then that the seat of all emotions, of the human personality itself, was the human brain. It was for this reason that I wanted to be a neurosurgeon and perhaps, just perhaps, be able to contribute knowledge on how to alter the brain through surgery or medication. That was the dream of the ancients, too, the wonderful and endless implications. But this could only be realized when the human race is extinct and man is replaced by robots. This is what the British scientist Stephen Hawking predicted. Mind you, the Chinese already have robots functioning as medical surgeons!
Dr. Quintos commented on our ailing society, its protean politics and what the Filipino voter wants – not an ideological leader, but someone who is macho, who appears courageous enough to take all the risks. The Filipinos are very emotional and passionate in their politics, with a propensity to idolize a single person, a redeemer. So, such politicians get elected and they shine briefly in the beginning. Then, their luster fades, and all that is expected of them turns to rubble.
Why do they fail? Again, in my 96 years with my feet on the ground, my memory still keen, I think I know why. It is not that they became ill, dispirited. They were destroyed by their own egos, by their tenacious hold on their personal goals, power itself, or greed – they are destroyed, often with that leader not realizing it. It follows then that real leadership is selflessness, and all the leader’s energies are focused, spent on something larger than himself, his people, his country.
To succeed, however, this leader must have real power – one: raw – the coercive and punitive power of the state, and two: moral. The first is the dominant feature of government already in place, or something new drawn from a revolution or a coup. The moral power is what he acquires as an individual. Machiavelli pontificated on this.
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We see all the political process now taking shape as the election year approaches. Men of goodwill are waiting for the political parties to name their candidates. This early – I’ve already made my choice: if former Justice Antonio Carpio will run, I’ll campaign for him. Whatever office he elects to run for, I’ll also campaign for Gilbert Teodoro.
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Meanwhile, I stand by my Facebook post last week on Duterte with this minor clarification. Many Filipinos do not comprehend English. I did not categorically state that Duterte is our best President now. I said that he MAY YET BE the best President. That judgement will be confirmed or refuted not now, but in the future.
I did not compare him to Magsaysay and say they are equal. I said, NEXT to Magsaysay. I never met President Duterte. I expected a very furious reaction to my statement because of the passionate opposition Duterte himself had developed. Listen. All of us are so involved with our time, the NOW in our country. Look around you, in Manila – can you not see the progress? In the provinces, too? Maybe because we are so used to the drumbeat of despair, the self-laceration we inflict on ourselves because we are suffering now. That we cannot perceive the deeper implications of the NOW.
But people like me had suffered more in the past, and the hopes I hold for this nation have not perished, they are evergreen. Filipinas has a future because it is young, because many Filipinos are young themselves and they have dreams.
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