I nearly went nuts refereeing infighting women executives in the ad agency I managed before I retired.
Catfights are difficult to control, almost impossible to fix. Very few women admit mistakes when they engage in in-fighting, jealousy jousts or plain pataasan ng kilay.
When it comes to chutzpah, nothing beats the female species. It’s in their hormones, their chemistry. It’s their self-defense mechanism, their offensive thrust. It’s their survival instinct.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” We experienced this in our women power politics. We knew how true this was when former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spurned the advice of the late ex-president Cory Aquino to step down at the height of the Hello Garci scandal. How dare Cory!?! Ah, basta! I (me, Gloria) am the president!
The clamor of women activists and representatives for Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez to resign was reason enough to activate the “Hell hath no fury” syndrome. Merci invoked due process to give her a steely defense posture (and chutzpah, too).
Adding fuel to the fire of public opinion was the group of feisty feminists who trooped to Merceditas’ house equipped with buttons and placards insulting the ombudsman. How dare they! I’m (me, Merceditas) the ombudsman!
Gutierrez believed she was the rightful holder of the Office of Ombudsman. To her, the impeachment move by congress was politically motivated. At that time, Arroyo and Gutierrez, women of power and prestige, couldn’t be shamed out of office.
A parallelism existed in the sense that Merci’s patroness, former President Arroyo, believed that the presidency was rightfully hers, regardless of nasty innuendos in “Hello Garci.” Her public apology was only for the telephone call. She was mum about the content of the call. That’s a lot of chutzpah.
The antithesis of chutzpah is delicadeza, a sensitivity for subscribing to a “do good and avoid evil” behavior. It’s a core virtue of a person with strong moral fiber. As a family value, delicadeza is revered and practiced among traditional middle class families and old-fashioned hometown communities.
Delicadeza is the social criterion for maintaining respect and dignity of individuals within the community. For a civil servant, any suspicion of misdeed requires resignation from office. For delicadeza’s sake. One’s reputation must be kept immaculate, not only as a reality but also as a perception.
Women power, in various degrees, shaped much of our political and social optimism and skepticism. Throughout my adult life, I stood in awe of the achievements of powerful women who ruled our country, just as I rued their obvious failures.
Grandeur and splendor
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos exposed us to the grandeur and splendor of “think big” projects. Imeldific glorified Filipino creativity and flaunted it with her premium brand of Filipinism. Her caveat: profligacy, a shoe fetish and human rights violations that made the civilized world mock Marcos’ Martial Law.
The late former President Corazon Aquino restored democracy and freedom. But tita Cory was bedeviled by serial coup d’ etats, divisiveness and incompetence in addressing the endless power failures that damaged the economy.
Ex-President Arroyo trumpeted the country’s economic growth because she secured strong economic fundamentals. But ate Glo drove us insane because of mega-corruption done with impunity, which demonized the bureaucracy and demoralized the constituency.
Tita Cory now belongs to the pantheon of heroes, secured by the love and prayers of a people who admired her for her incorruptibility and simplicity. The frenzy over her demise serendipitously bequeathed the presidency to her unico hijo bachelor son, thanks to that unbelievable resurrection of the yellow-ribbon magic.
We knew what ate Glo did to tita Cory. She went to Cory’s wake, stayed briefly and got nothing but cold stares.
Merci blinked. She quit under P-Noy’s intimidating glare. Cory’s son P-Noy became a bona fide lady-killer.
Imeldific, true to form, is all aplomb despite her sea of troubles with PCGG cases. She does not catfight. She sticks to her mantra of the true, the good, and the beautiful. She’s fashionable and grasyosa as ever. Her hubris saves her from being a tragic figure. In fact, she got elected representative in Ilocos.
Ate Glo devalued herself from president to representative. She is well-loved in her district in Pampanga. But a Damocles sword hung over her head for the mega-corruption she left unsolved. The law exacted justice, and she was hauled to court and is now under house arrest because of a bad spine. The braces on her neck gave her a weird martyred look.
Up to our dying day, we shall never know whether Imeldific can do a class act of going to tita Cory on bended knee to ask for forgiveness. Nor will we know if tita Cory can do the class act of forgiving the Marcoses.
Ah! “Frailty, thy name is woman.”—Hamlet Act I, Scene II, William Shakespeare