FROM LINCOLN TO LACSON

MANILA, December 15, 2003  (STAR) PENMAN By Butch Dalisay - Leave it to professional worrywarts like me to find a problem where none exists. I’ve been losing sleep lately over what adjective to employ for our next President, whoever he or she may turn out to be.

I don’t mean adjectives like "cutesy," "incompetent," "arrogant," or "bloodthirsty." (Now why would anyone think of such unkind words to describe our distinguished aspirants?) I mean the splendiferous and grandiloquent adjectives that historians make of the names of presidents and leaders who apparently contributed something memorable to the nation and to its vocabulary – words like "Lincolnesque" and "Churchillian" and "Kennedyesque."

Admittedly, we haven’t had much of a tradition in this area. "Quezonian" comes to mind, ideally in the lofty context of "the Quezonian quest for independence," but the word has simply come to mean "someone from Quezon Province," as the members of the Quezonian Club of Edmonton and the Quezonian Association of Macau should have no trouble acknowledging. (On the other hand, I’d have to opine that the old "Tayabense" – now applicable only to the denizens of Tayabas town – had more character to it.)

Somewhere along R. Hidalgo St. in downtown Manila might yet be found the Quezonian Ladies Dormitory (and before you ask, no, I’ve never been there, nor have I made the acquaintance of any of its residents; credit Google for this factoid). Elsewhere in our memory, MLQ survives more handsomely, as in the pledge that students of MLQ University presumably make upon acceptance into that institution: "I am a Quezonian. I subscribe to the philosophy of ‘Know thyself’ and to the tenet ‘Pro Patria et Jure’ – for Country and Law." (I didn’t realize until I did a Google search that I’d written an essay a couple of years ago on the prose quality of our State of the Nation Addresses, where I observed that "In 1998, in his first Sona, Joseph Estrada must have thought he sounded positively Churchillian or Quezonian when he ended his speech with ‘We will once again walk together with heroes as we walk in the company of each other.’ Baduy!")

"Quezonian" seems to be paralleled only by "Rizalian" in popularity. It can’t hurt that, like Manuel Luis Quezon, Jose Rizal has a huge province to his name, spawning scores of Rizalian organizations around the planet. Last May, Pinoys in Paris staged a basketball game between the "Cavite" and "Rizalian" teams at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, named after the father of the modern Olympics no less; unfortunately, in the great tradition of Filipinos expat and otherwise, the tournament found itself mired in controversy, resulting in an appeal to the good offices of the Philippine Consulate for adjudication.

More pleasantly, there’s a www.rizalian.com, clicking which will take you to the website of Rizal High School Class 1979. The Knights of Rizal naturally adhere to Rizalian principles. "Education," says Punongbayan & Araullo executive (and Rizal descendant) Antonio Herbosa, "was the true Rizalian value."

There was, of course, that adjective "Marcosian" – employed, in current usage, by the same people likely to rail against "Hitlerian" tactics. The national ID proposed by GMA, for example, has been predictably denounced by the Bayan brigades as "a Marcosian measure."

Alternatively, my online dictionary defines "Marcosian" as a member of "a Gnostic sect of the second century, so called from Marcus, an Egyptian, who was reputed to be a magician." But the truly magical powers were possessed by the other Marcosian half, who thought nothing of making colossal buildings rise out of the bayside mud in seven days, giving birth to the term "Imeldific."

Strangely, though, we never really said that something was "Osmeñan" or "Roxasian" or "Garcian." Even Cory wasn’t "Aquinian" enough, nor Ramos "Ramosian." Let’s not even talk about "Macapagal-Arroyo," already a polysyllabic mouthful even without a suffix. (As for Erap, well, how about "Erapeutic"?)

We’d have to wonder if Raul Roco will leave a "Roconian" legacy behind (at least for flowery red shirts, a claim we can expect to be fiercely contested by believers in the Atienzan contribution to sartorial intemperance). In the same phonic neighborhood, there was that 7th-century BC politician Draco, who codified Athenian law into something so fair and yet also so severe that he lent his name to things no self-respecting trapo will consider, like draconian budget cuts.

Ah, and what of our albeit often absent and silent man of the hour, Fernando Poe Jr.? Here things get a little more complicated – linguistically, at least, if not politically and economically. The tradition in English adjective formation is that names ending in —OW or —AW sounds acquire a V, to wit: "Marlovian" for Christopher Marlowe and "Shavian" for George Bernard Shaw. (Roco and De Castro – whose camp followers might rightly be called De Castroites – get away with a short —OH in Pinoy pronunciation, as in "Vicky Toh.") This means that we can look forward (or not) to a Povian regime, in which will prominently figure certain Angaran and Enrilic notions, to be processed by FPJ’s spokesman into, uhm, Sottonic verses.

The most euphonically resonant moniker actually belongs to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has the good fortune of a surname that rhymes with Lincoln and who might therefore be expected to bequeath to us a grand Lacsonian tradition – whatever that may be, although a propensity for political bombast might be one of its elements. Ping should also influence a new generation of speechwriters and speechmakers with the niceties of Lacsonesque prose, such as "Alam ba ni Misis ‘toh!" – which, while decidedly short on the Latinate eloquence of the Gettysburg Address, has all the bite of a red ant trapped in that part of you where the sun never shines.

Oh, the problems we bring on ourselves.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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