MANILA, NOVEMBER 27, 2003 (STAR) Mini critique By Isagani Cruz - "She is smart, she works hard, and she tries her damnedest best to please. But why is GMA not loved?" asks Ramon Magsaysay awardee Sheila S. Coronel in her article entitled "The Problem with Gloria" ( Having served as one of GMA’s undersecretaries and sat with her on several occasions, I can tell you one reason she is not lovable.

She looks straight through you. I don’t mean that she can see through you. I mean that she does not appear to take you seriously. She gives the impression that you might as well not be there in front of her.

In the beginning, I thought it was a product of extreme shyness or perhaps a habit formed from years of following the silly rule of nuns and priests that you should never look anyone in the eye but instead focus your stare only on the other person’s nose or mouth. A convent girl, she must have been a very obedient child, modeling herself to a fault on her nun teachers.

She changed gradually as she grew into the presidency. She became much more confident and definitely not shy. I had to discard my original theory and find a new one. I started to think that it was because she was arrogant and thought herself superior in intellect to anyone in front of her.

I quickly discarded that idea, too, however, when I saw her in action in front of her intellectual superiors, such as her former teachers or other persons known to be geniuses. Intellectually superior or even just plain intellectually arrogant people tend to bully other people with their ideas and words, rather than with the glare in their eyes or the volume of their voices. Instead, I never caught her arguing a point with anyone, superior or inferior. She would merely state her opinion and, if you did not agree with her, tough. She would rather pull rank because, after all, she is the president. That is not intellectual arrogance. That is fear of intellectual defeat.

Nowadays I think it is plain insecurity. Nobody voted for her to become our president. At EDSA II, she was chosen only because we were unwilling to let go of our Constitution. Even if we were throwing out a duly-elected President, we wanted to have a semblance of legality. So we allowed her to become President, even if we did not go to EDSA for her but against Joseph Estrada.

She knows that she owes her presidency to the people and to the military that supported the people. The people, unfortunately, whose voice is measured only by surveys outside of elections, clearly do not want her. She has consistently rated lower that just about everybody else of any consequence, such as more intelligent presidential candidates or even would-be candidates so obviously incompetent or inexperienced or crooked.

The military, on the other hand, even if only a handful of them actually took arms against their sea of troubles, are clearly not for her but merely against everyone else. If some charismatic person were to appear in front of soldiers and say that he or she can part the waves of terrorism, corruption, and low pay, the military will, faster than even the one-day bug at Oakwood, pledge allegiance to that someone.

Whatever it is, it is not her height. Ferdinand Marcos was no physical giant, and neither was Napoleon Bonaparte, but both could command men (and now, women) who have faced bullets and killed fellow human beings. She just does not have that kind of military presence you would die for.

Coronel says simply that "Arroyo is a disappointment." Coronel writes objectively, as a good journalist should, using facts that everybody knows or can verify. Coronel is clearly correct, but I think that my own subjective insights into the enigma that is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should flesh out some of the missing points in the article.

LANGUAGE MATTERS: We call it "people power," but elsewhere, it is called a "flash mob" or "flash crowd." In the U.S., flash mobs are organized through the Internet and through texting, just like our people power gatherings.

Here is a description of flash mobs from "A Flash Mob as it is termed in America, where the phenomenon originated in June 2003, is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place as a prank. People gradually became aware, through the internet, of an event called the ‘Mob Project’, planned for New York. After meeting in four pre-arranged Manhattan bars, further instructions were issued and a group of roughly 100 people converged upon the 9th floor rug department of Macy’s store, gathering around one particular rug. Anyone approached by a sales assistant was advised to say that the gatherers lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York, and that they were looking for a Love Rug to play on.

"A second mob was organized at Grand Central station, where police advised gatherers to relocate to the mezzanine of the Grand Hyatt hotel. There the mob erupted into spontaneous applause for a period of 15 seconds, after which the mob dispersed as quickly as it had appeared. This rapid convergence, followed by an equally swift disappearance, has become a staple of the flash mob/crowd phenomenon.

"Flash Crowd events quickly spread to Asia, and by August 2003 to Europe and the United Kingdom."

Americans and the British may have invented the term flash crowd or flash mob, but we invented the concept. Our people power crowds can last for days, compared to theirs that last only for seconds or at most hours. We also do not use flash crowds just to irritate others or to enjoy ourselves; we use it to change governments. Unfortunately, Americans and the British do English dictionaries, and people power will most likely lose out to flash mob.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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