Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Brief Encounter With Mr. Buencamino

So after a little commotion at this article of mine, I felt obliged to settle what remains of the slight misunderstanding between Mr. Joe America and me, and proceeded to explain the situation. As I was about to leave, though, what should stop me in my tracks, but Mr. Manuel Buencamino himself?

For those who do not know, Mr. Manuel Buencamino is one of the most notable apologists of the Aquino administration in the cyberspace. He also has some issues with Get Real Philippines (GRP), a blog I write for. Well, as far as this article is concerned, these are the only things you should know. Feel free to search some stuff about him, though. For the time being, let's move on. 

He then came up with a very lengthy, erm, critique of my statements. Of course, I felt tempted to retaliate, but I am on treading on someone else’s property, so I bit my lip and respectfully bid my thanks and goodbyes. 

Still, I feel responsible for my actions, so here is my little rebuttal to Mr. Buencamino. If you want to check the actual incident, visit this article of Joe America’s. 

(The slanted paragraphs are words from Mr. Buencamino.)

Arche wrote: "Did people love or adore the political dynasties you mentioned in your posts in the course of their terms? Yes, these dynasties incurred the wrath of the people in their conquest for power. Meanwhile, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan… how long did it take for people to start realizing their wrongs? Not to mention not everyone knows of it yet. This is my major point. What sets Noynoy and his lot apart from other dynasties is that they more or less won the hearts of the people for so long. Even now, Ninoy and Cory remain untouchable, because they are paragons of democracy… supposedly. Was this answer sufficient? ^^"

1. Shouldn't Arche have prefaced the answer to his question - "Did people love or adore the political dynasties you mentioned in your posts in the course of their terms?" - with a "Yes in the beginning of their terms they were adored and loved but then they incurred ....etc. etc." ? 

I don’t quite understand why he had to do this; whether this will help his case is, frankly, beyond me. But I am willing to tag along. 

2. Arche wrote further: "Meanwhile, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan… how long did it take for people to start realizing their wrongs? Not to mention not everyone knows of it yet."
i. Isn't it a bit premature to use "DID" when the question is actually "how long WILL it take..." because "Ninoy and Cory remain untouchable" ?

Sigh, semantics, semantics. Ninoy and Cory remain untouchable, not in a sense that criticisms are forcefully being silenced for the sake of their reputation, but in virtue of the technical and widely recognized definition of the word:

“Being beyond the reach of criticism, impeachment, or attack.” – TheFreeDictionary

The technical definition of “untouchable” does not necessitate the nonexistence of criticism. Criticisms may exist, but they are not enough to deal a lasting blow to one’s reputation or image. This holds true to Ninoy and Cory; critics do exist, but given the faith invested in them by the Filipino people, their images remain quasi-impervious to the growing skepticism from the rational community.

ii. And what is the "IT" in "not everyone knows of it yet"? Fer crissakes are critics being gagged, has there not been enough criticism in tri-media, social networks, and blogs for everyone to have heard of "IT"? Is arche frustrated that all those people who have been barraged with reports of "IT" have not reacted in the way that he hoped they would? 

The above explanation addresses the majority of this part of his, um… critique. Anyway, by “it,” I meant the wrongs perpetrated by the Aquino-Cojuangco clan. Be it intentional or not, a wrong is a wrong if it concerns the welfare and rights of other people. And yes, I am most certainly referring to the incidents at Hacienda Luisita.

And no, I am not in the least frustrated. I was not even expecting a specific reaction whatsoever. Of course, he is entitled to what he wants to believe, although I have but one question; why did he have to bring this up in the first place? What does this have to do with the issue he intends to raise?

3. As to arche's major point: "This is my major point. What sets Noynoy and his lot apart from other dynasties is that they more or less won the hearts of the people for so long. " 

Well yes, to their credit Noynoy and his lot have done just that. And what's wrong with achieving that, isn't democracy about winning and keeping the hearts of the people for as long as possible? Besides you don't win hearts by being undemocratic. You can win grudging obedience through tyranny but you cannot win hearts. Is arche faulting Noynoy or the people or both for the romance? Is he also criticizing democracy?

By the way, this is my answer to Joe America’s question regarding what sets the Aquino-Cojuangco clan apart from the other political dynasties. 

Am I faulting Noynoy and his lot for his romanticist approach? Perhaps I am; I don’t buy it. And I have a perfectly logical reason to be so, since democracy has nothing to do with romance.

“a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections” – Merriam Webster

I don’t see any allusion to “winning hearts” in the technical definition. Criticizing Noynoy’s propaganda is certainly not equal to criticizing democracy. By the way, I am more interested in winning “minds” than “hearts.” Heh heh.

4. "Even now, Ninoy and Cory remain untouchable, because they are paragons of democracy… supposedly" 

To many Filipinos, Ninoy and Cory ARE the paragons of democracy, that's why they remain untouchable. "SUPPOSEDLY" is arche's conclusion, one that is shared by an underwhelming minority who believe in the "IT" being peddled by Aquino bashers.

Yes, Ninoy and Cory do serve as democratic paragons to many Filipinos; in this respect only. However, the issue I want to raise is… are they really, in an objective perspective? This demands a separate debate, but I do not intend to press further, for the sake of brevity. 


II. Arche added: 

"The same answer was repeated by GRP visitor "dude," albeit more concise: 'That is easy. The Aquinos pretend to be good and saintly whereas the others do not pretend to be anything they are not. This makes them better than the Aquinos.'"

1. The first part of dude's sentence -"The Aquinos pretend to be good and saintly..." - is an interesting proposition because he has not offered any facts to support his contention that the Aquino's are pretending to be what they are not. Thus, dude is simply expressing his perception/opinion.

If we consider things strictly in the semantic context of dude’s statement, then you can say that it’s not substantiated. However, if we are to expand our domains and take into account the entirety of the context upon which dude formulates his arguments, the same assertion cannot be said. After all, our website has published proof after proof; establishing links regarding the Hacienda Luisita case, the lousy prosecution in Corona’s impeachment trial, etc. I am not here to debate the legitimacy of those; I am here to disprove this particular claim of Mr. Buencamino.

To simply take dude’s argument at face value betrays one’s lack of foresight. After all, it is an “excerpt.” To make a viable case, you have to consider the background of this statement; how he exactly came up with this statement, which is generously given, if you know where to look. 

Since we are dealing with mere perception and not facts then the perception of the overwhelming majority becomes the reality that arche and dude have to live with. And, as far as the majority of Filipinos are concerned, the reality is the Aquino's are not pretending to be good and saintly, they ARE good and saintly. That's why they remain untouchable!

My previous statement disproves the first sentence of this paragraph. Meanwhile… I don’t see any proof that the Aquino-Cojuangco clan folks are good and saintly as he claims. Oh my, what does this mean? 

2. The second part of dude's sentence - "whereas the others do not pretend to be anything they are not. This makes them better than the Aquinos" - brings up the question: Did "the others" admit to the allegations against them or did they protest their innocence? 

While it may very well raise that question, what dude says does not necessitate that question. Perhaps the other parties are not exerting any effort to flatter themselves in front of the searching eyes of the media. Perhaps they are mum about the issue. That is not the same as admitting their guilt, but they certainly aren’t pretending what they are not… because they are hardly doing anything.  It will not hurt to consider other possibilities.

a. If they admitted that they were a bunch of power hungry politicians as arche characterized them -"Yes, these dynasties incurred the wrath of the people in their conquest for power" - then how does that qualify them to be included in the "good-better-best" spectrum? Shouldn't they belong to the "bad-worse-worst" spectrum?

Since when have I established such moral spectrum? This is nothing but a straw-man argument. What I only did was to answer Joe Am’s question; what sets Noynoy’s clan apart?

b. If they protested their innocence despite what arche wrote regarding why they incurred the people's wrath then aren't they guilty of pretending to be what they are not? 

Dude and arche can't have it both ways. 

Okay, first, for the sake of formality; where is your proof? You could at least type it here; again, for the sake of formality. Second, you have not considered the third option… the third possibility; other dynasties remaining silent about the issue, which conveys an air of neutrality. Oh, and I am not obliged to substantiate the third option, as it is, as I’ve said, a possibility. You substantiate statements offered as facts

3. Finally, to admit, for example, that one is an asshole does not make one better or less of an asshole. As a matter of fact it reveals that one is not only resigned to being an asshole but he is also telling you to get used to it. And that makes him an even bigger asshole.

If this is an all-encompassing explanation, then honesty is indeed not the best policy. This explanation encourages assholes to hide their asshole-ness. Hm, not bad, Mr. Buencamino. 

On the other hand, an asshole who pretends not to be an asshole can be called a hypocritical asshole which is high up there in the spectrum of assholes because of the added quality of hypocrisy. 

However there is a redeeming value to hypocrisy. One who pretends not to be an asshole shows not only an ability to discern good from bad but also a desire to turn one's life around, to be among the good as opposed to being one of the assholes.

Heh heh, but what if the asshole in question is only interested in preserving his public image while is still into illegal business and political transactions? This argument is too presumptuous. 

Furthermore, on the other hand, you say that hypocritical assholes are more asshole-ish, but you also say that there is a redeeming value to hypocrisy. Where are they, really, in your moral spectrum, Mr. Buencamino? It is you who is obliged to answer this, since I did not even allude to a “moral spectrum” to begin with. 

Lastly, with this kind of viewpoint, aren’t you inadvertently encouraging crooks to keep their true identities hidden, because, as you said so yourself, there is a redeeming value to hypocrisy? 

So I don't get dude's point and why arche endorses it.

This is an easy one. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because Mr. Buencamino over-inflated the significance of my statements, when I simply intended to settle an account with Mr. Joe America. 

Basically, the GRP crowd has never gotten over the fact that the people did not vote for their candidate in 2010 and now they want Aquino to fail so they can be proven right, so they can crow "I told you so".

Before I departed from Mr. Joe America’s website, I left a few words.

“Mr. manuelbuencamino, I do not know what beef you have with GRP, but this has nothing to do with that. After all, I am but a new contributor.”

Still, despite being new, I can certainly detect a tinge of bitterness in these words—but who am I to talk? I’m just a newbie, after all. Anyway, to “dude,” please forgive me for causing your name to be involved in this debate. I’m truly sorry.

All in all, I am thankful for visiting Joe America’s website. I got the chance to meet one of the staunchest defenders of Noynoy and his family’s legacy. I had the golden opportunity to gauge his argumentative skill. What I think of it is, well, I prefer to keep it a secret. 

(EDIT: Alright, I'll spill it. It's at the comments section.)


Ben Kritz said...

Oh, please share. What do you think of it?

Arche said...

Well... fine. :D

I admit that I'm dismayed. Judging by his arguments featured in this article, I suspect that his strategy mainly consists of tiring his opponents out by lengthening his arguments, making a fuss out of relatively small things, while hardly offering anything concrete. It effectively gives the impression that one has a LOT to say.

In the course of his critique, never did he really invoke evidence that can conclusively disprove any of my assertions. Instead, he went technical and nitpicked on my sentence construction, my grammar, inflating the significance of otherwise harmless passages into complicated semantic puzzles. I also detected hints of straw-man arguments (most notably the moral spectrum).

He kind of messed up at the asshole part, though. He sort of trapped himself into supporting an awkward idea; that crooks who pretend not to be crooks actually do something good.

What's really nice about this kind of strategy is that there is a chance to actually evade having to face facts; you can tire opponents out by indirectly forcing them to justify their grammar and whatnot, while giving the impression that you "won." Still, the weakness is obvious; such strategies do not really work against people who are not only familiar with such tricks, but are also patient enough to expose the illusion. And I can say that I'm patient enough. :D

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