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Readings on Japan 1

Bushido: The soul of Japan

An exposition of Japanese thought
Nitobe, I. (2006). Australia: Axiom Publishing
Sources of Bushido
memory, and such filial piety as are not taught by any other creed, were inculcated by the Shin
to doctrines, imparting passivity to the otherwise arrogant character of the samurai. Shinto
theology has no place for the dogma of "original sin." On the contrary, it believes in the innate
goodness and Godlike purity of the human soul, adoring it as the adytum from which divine
oracles are proclaimed. Everybody has observed that the Shinto shrines are conspicuously
devoid of objects and instruments of worship, and that a plain mirror hung in the sanctuary
forms the essential part of its furnishing. The presence of this article is easy to explain: it typifies
the human heart, which, when perfectly placid and clear, reflects the very image of the Deity.
When you stand, therefore, in front of the shrine to worship, you see your own image ret1ected
on its shining surface, and the act of worship is tantamount to the old Delphic injunction, "Know
Thyself." But self-knowledge does not imply, either in the Greek or Japanese teaching,
knowledge of the physical part of man, not his anatomy or his psycho-physics; knowledge was
to be of a moral kind, the introspection of our moral nature. Mommsen, comparing the Greek
and the Roman, says that when the former worshipped he raised his eyes to Heaven, for his
prayer was contemplation, while the latter veiled his head, for his was reflection. Essentially like
the Roman conception of religion, our ret1ection brought into prominence not so much the moral
as the national consciousness of the individual. Its nature-worship endeared the country to our
inmost souls, while its ancestor-worship, tracing from lineage to lineage, made the Imperial
family the fountain-head of the whole nation. To us the country is more than land and soil from
which to mine gold or to reap grain-it is the sacred abode of the gods, the spirits of our
forefathers: to us the Emperor is more than the Arch Constable of a Rechtsstaat, or even the
Patron of a Culturstaat - he is the bodily representative of Heaven on earth blending in his
person its power and its mercy. If what M. Boutmy says is true of English royalty - that it "is not
only the image of authority, but the author and symbol of national unity," as I believe it to be,
doubly and trebly may this be affirmed of royalty in Japan.
The tenets of Shintoism cover the two predominating features of the emotional life of our
race - Patriotism and Loyalty. Arthur May Knapp very truly says: "In Hebrew literature it is often
difficult to tell whether the writer is speaking of God or of the Commonwealth; of Heaven or of
Jerusalem; of the Messiah or of the Nation itself." A similar confusion may be noticed in the
nomenclature of our national faith. I said confusion, because it will be so deemed by a logical
intellect on account of its verbal ambiguity; still, being a frame work of national instinct and race
feelings, it never pretends to systematic philosophy or a rational theology. This religion-or, is it
not more correct to say, the race emotions which this religion expressed? - thoroughly imbued
Bushido with loyalty to the sovereign and love of country. These acted more as impulses than as
doctrines; for Shintoism, unlike the Medieval Christian Church, prescribed to its votaries
scarcely any credenda, furnishing them at the same time with agenda of a straightforward and
simple type.
As to strictly ethical doctrines, the teachings of Confucius were the most prolific source
of Bushido. His enunciation of the five moral relations between master and servant (the
governing and the governed), father and son, husband and wife, older and younger brother,
and between friend and friend, was but a confirmation of what the race instinct had recognised
before his writings were introduced from China. The calm, benignant and worldly-wise character
of his politico - ethical precepts - as particularly well suited to the samurai, who formed the
ruling class. His aristocratic and conservative tone was well adapted to the requirements of
these warrior statesmen. Next to Confucius, Mencius exercised an immense authority over
Bushido. His forcible and often quite democratic theories were exceedingly taking to
sympathetic natures, and they were even thought dangerous to, and subversive of, the existing
social order, hence his works were for a long time under censure. Still, the words of this master
mind found permanent lodgment in the heart of the samurai.
The writings of Confucius and Mencius formed the principal text-books for youths and
the highest authority in discussion among the old. A mere acquaintance with the classics of
these two sages was held, however, in no high esteem. A common proverb ridicules one who
has only an intellectual knowledge of Confucius, as a man ever studious but ignorant of
Analects. A typical samurai calls a literary savant a book-smelling sot. Another compares
learning to an ill-smelling vegetable that must be boiled and boiled before it is fit for use. A man
who has read little smells a little pedantic, and a man who has read much smells yet more so;
both are alike unpleasant. The writer meant thereby that knowledge becomes really such only
Readings on Japan 2

when it is assimilated in the mind of the learner and shows in his character. An intellectual
specialist was considered a machine. Intellect itself was considered subordinate to ethical
emotion. Man and the universe were conceived to be alike spiritual and ethical. Bushido could
not accept the judgment of Huxley, that the cosmic process was unmoral.
Bushido made light of knowledge of such. It was not pursued as an end in itself, but as a
means to the attainment of wisdom. Hence, he who stopped short of this end was regarded no
higher than a convenient machine, which could turn out poems and maxims at bidding. Thus,
knowledge was conceived as identical with its practical application in life; and this Socratic
doctrine found its greatest exponent in the Chinese philosopher Wan Yang Ming, who never
wearies of repeating, "To know and 'to act are one and the same."
xxx Thus, whatever the sources, the essential principles which Bushido imbibed from
them and assimilated to itself, were few and simple. Few and simple as these were, they were
sufficient to furnish a safe conduct of life even through the unsafest days of the most unsettled
period of our nation's history. The wholesome unsophisticated nature of our warrior ancestors
derived ample food for their spirit from a sheaf of commonplace and fragmentary teachings,
gleaned as it were on the highways and byways of ancient thought, and, stimulated by the
demands of the age, formed from these gleanings a new and unique type of manhood. xxx

Rectitude Or Justice
HERE we discern the most cogent precept in the code of the samurai. Nothing is more
loathsome to him than underhand dealings and crooked undertakings. The conception of
Rectitude may be erroneous - it may be narrow. A well-known bushi defines it as a power of
resolution:- "Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance
with reason, without wavering,-to die when it is right to die, to strike when to strike is right."
Another speaks of it in the following terms: "Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and
stature. As without bones the head cannot rest on the top of the spine, nor hands move nor feet
stand, so without rectitude neither talent nor learning can make of a human frame a samurai.
With it the lack of accomplishments is as nothing." Mencius calls Benevolence man's mind, and
Rectitude or Righteousness his path. "How lamentable," he exclaims, "is it to neglect the path
and not pursue it, to lose the mind and not know to seek it again. When men's fowls and dogs
are lost, they know to seek for them again, but they lose their mind and do not know to seek for
it. Have we not here "as in a glass darkly" a parable propounded three hundred years later in
another clime and by a greater Teacher, Who called Himself the Way of Righteousness, through

whom the lost could be found? Righteousness, according to Mencius, is a straight and narrow
path which a man ought to take to regain the lost paradise.
Even in the latter days of feudalism, when the long continuance of peace brought leisure
into the life of the warrior class and with it dissipations of all kinds and accomplishments of
gentle arts, the epithet Gishi (a man of rectitude) was considered superior to any name that
signified mastery of learning or art. The Forty-seven Faithfuls - of whom so much is made in Our

popular education - are known in common parlance as the Forty-seven Gishi. In times when
cunning artifice was liable to pass for military tact and downright falsehood for rus ' de f!uerre,
this manly virtue, frank and honest, was a jewel that shone the brightest and was most highly
praised. Rectitude is a twin brother to Valour another martial virtue. xxx Giri, literally
the Right Reason, but which came in lime to mean a vague sense of duty which public opinion
expects an incumbent to fulfil. In its original and unalloyed sense, it meant duty, pure and
simple, - hence, we speak of the Girl we owe to parents to superiors, to inferiors, to society at
Iarge, and so forth. In these instances Girl is duty; for what else is duty than what Right
Reason demands and commands us to do? xxx
Giri primarily meant no more than duty, and I dare say its etymology was derived from
the fact, that in our conduct, say to our parents, though love should be the only motive, lacking
that, there must be some other authority to enforce filial piety; and they formulated this authority
in Giri. Very rightly did they formulate this authority – Giri - since if love does not rush to deeds
of virtue, recourse must be had to man's intellect and his reason must be quickened to convince
him of the necessity of acting aright. The same is true of any other moral obligation. The instant
Duty becomes onerous, Right Reason steps in to prevent our shirking it. Giri thus understood is
a severe taskmaster, with a birch-rod in his hand to make sluggards perform their part. It is a
secondary power in ethics; as a motive it is infinitely inferior to the Christian doctrine of love,
which should be the law. I deem it a product of the conditions of an artificial society - of a
Society in which accident of birth and unmerited favour instituted class distinctions, in which the
family was the social unit, in which seniority of age was of more account than superiority of
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talents, in which natural affections had often to succumb before arbitrary man-made customs.
Because of this very artificiality, Giri in time degenerated into a vague sense of propriety called
up to explain this and sanction that, - as, for example, why a mother must, if need be, sacrifice
all her other children in order to save the first-born; or why a daughter must sell her chastity to
get funds to pay for the father's dissipation, and the like. Starting as Right Reason, Giri has, tn
my opinion, often stooped to casuistry. It has even degenerated into cowardly fear of censure.
I might say of Giri what Scott wrote of patriotism, that "as it is the fairest, so it is often the most
suspicious, mask of other feelings." Carried beyond or below Right Reason, Giri became a
monstrous misnomer. It harboured under its wings every sort of sophistry and hypocrisy. It
would have been easily turned into a

Courage, The Spirit Of Daring and Bearing

COURAGE was scarcely deemed worthy to be counted among virtues, unless it was exercised
in the cause of Righteousness. In his Analects Confucius defines Courage by explaining, as is
often his wont, what its negative is. "Perceiving what is right," he says, "and doing it not, argues
lack of courage." Put this epigram into a positive statement, and it runs, "Courage is doing what
is right." To run all kinds of hazards, to jeopard one's self, to rush into the jaws of death-these
are too often identified with Valour, and in the profession of arms such rashness of conduct-what
Shakespeare calls "valour misbegot" - is unjustly applauded; but not so in the Precepts of
Knighthood. Death for a cause unworthy of dying for, was called a "dog's death." "To rush into
the thick of battle and to be slain in it," says a Prince of Mito, "is easy enough, and the merest
churl is equal to the task; but," he continues, "it is true courage to live when it is right to live, and

to die only when it is right to die"-and yet the prince had not even heard of the name of Plato,
who defines courage as "the knowledge of things that a man should fear and that he should
not fear." A distinction which is made in the West between moral and physical courage has long
been recognised among us. What samurai youth has not heard of "Great Valour" and the
"Valour of a Villain?"
Valour, Fortitude, Bravery, Fearlessness, Courage, being the qualities of soul which
appeal most easily to juvenile minds, and which can be trained by exercise and example, were,
so to speak, the most popular virtues, early emulated among the youth. Stories of military
exploits were repeated almost before boys left their mother's breast. Does a little booby cry for
any ache? The mother scolds him in this fashion: "What a coward to cry for a trifling pain! What
will you do when your arm is cut off in battle? What when you are called upon to commit hara-
kiri?" We all know the pathetic fortitude of a famished little boy-prince of Sendai, who in the
drama is made to say to his little page, "Seest thou those tiny sparrows in the nest, how their
yellow bills are opened wide, and now see! There comes their mother with worms to feed them.
How eagerly and happily the little ones eat! But for a samurai, when his stomach is empty, it is a
disgrace to feel hungry." Anecdotes of fortitude and bravery abound in nursery tales, though
stories of this kind are not by any means the only method of early imbuing the spirit with daring
and fearlessness, Parents, with sternness sometimes verging on cruelty, set their children to
tasks that called forth all the pluck that was in them. "Bears hurl their cubs down the gorge,"
they said. Samurai's sons were let down to steep valleys of hardship, and spurred to Sisyphus-
like tasks. Occasional deprivation of food or exposure to cold, was considered a highly
efficacious test for inuring them to endurance. Children of tender age were sent among utter
strangers with some message to deliver, were made to rise before the sun, and before
breakfast attend to their reading exercises, walking to their teachers with bare feet in the cold of
winter; they frequently-once or twice a month, as on the festival of a god of learning, - came
together in small groups and passed the night without sleep, in reading aloud by turns.
Pilgrimages to all sorts of uncanny places-to execution grounds, to graveyards, to houses
reputed of being haunted, were favourite pastimes of the young. In the days when decapitation
was public, not only were small boys sent to witness the ghastly scene but they were made to
visit alone the place III the darkness of night and there to leave a mark of their visit on the
trunkless head.

Benevolence, The Feeling Of Distress

LOVE, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, were ever recognised to be
supreme virtues, the highest of all the attributes of the human soul. It was deemed a princely
virtue in a twofold sense: princely among the manifold attributes of a noble spirit; princely as
particularly befitting a princely profession. We needed no Shakespeare to feel-though, perhaps,
like the rest of the world, we needed him to express it - that mercy became a monarch better
than his crown, that it was above his sceptered sway. How often both Confucius and
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Mencius repeat the highest requirement of a ruler of men to consist in benevolence. Confucius
would say, - "Let but a prince cultivate virtue, people will flock to him; with people will come
to him lands; lands will bring forth for him wealth; wealth will give him the benefit of right uses.
Virtue is the root, and wealth an outcome." Again, "Never has there been a case of a sovereign
loving benevolence, and the people not loving righteousness." Mencius follows close at his
heels and says, "Instances are on record where individuals attained to supreme power in a
Single state, without benevolence, but never have I heard of a whole empire falling into the
hands of one who lacked this virtue. Also, it is impossible that anyone should become ruler of
the people to whom they have not yielded the subjection of their hearts. Both defined this
indispensable requirement in a ruler by saying, "Benevolence-benevolence is Man."
Thus also, in a sense not usually assigned to the term, Bushido accepted and
corroborated paternal government-paternal also as opposed to the less interested
avuncular government. The difference between a despotic and a paternal government lies in
this, that in the one the people obey reluctantly, while in the other they do so with "that proud
submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of heart which kept alive, even in
servitude itself, the spirit of exalted freedom." The old saying is not entirely false which called
the king of England the "king of devils, because of his subjects' often insurrections against, and
depositions of, their princes," and which made the French monarch the "king of asses, because
of their infinite taxes and impositions," but which gave the title of the king of men to the
sovereign of Spain "because of his subjects' willing obedience." But enough!
We knew benevolence was a tender virtue and mother-like. If upright Rectitude and
stem justice were peculiarly masculine, Mercy had the gentleness and the persuasiveness of a
feminine nature. We were warned against indulging in indiscriminate charity, without seasoning
it with justice and rectitude. Masamune expressed it well in his oft-quoted aphorism -
"Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness; benevolence indulged beyond measure
sinks into weakness." Fortunately, mercy was not so rare as it was beautiful, for it is universally
true that "The bravest are the tenderest, the loving are the daring." "Bus hi no nasake"-the
tenderness of a warrior-had a sound which appealed at once to whatever was noble in us; not
that the mercy of a samurai was generically different from the mercy of any other being, but
because it implied mercy where mercy was not a blind impulse, but where it recognised due
regard to justice, and where mercy did not remain merely a certain state of mind, but where it
was backed with power to save or kill. As economists speak of demand as being effectual or
ineffectual, similarly we may call the mercy of Bushi effectual, since it implied the power of
acting for the good or detriment of the recipient.
Benevolence to the weak, the down-trodden or the vanquished, was ever extolled as
peculiarly becoming to a samurai. Lovers of Japanese art must be familiar with the
representation of a priest riding backwards on a cow. The rider was once a warrior who in
his day made his name a by-word of terror. In that terrible battle of Sumano-ura, (1184 A. D.)
which was one of the most decisive in our history, he overtook an enemy and in single combat
had him in the clutch of his gigantic arms. Now the etiquette of war required that on such
occasions no blood should be spilt, unless the weaker party proved to be a man of rank or
ability equal to that of the stronger. The grim combatant would have the name of the man under
him; but he refusing to make it known, his helmet was ruthlessly tom off, when the sight of a
juvenile face, fair and beardless, made the astonished knight relax his hold. Helping the youth to
his feet, in paternal tones he bade the stripling go: "Off, young prince, to thy mother's side! The
sword of Kumagaye shall never be tarnished by a drop of thy blood. Haste and flee o'er yon
pass before thine enemies come in sight!" The young warrior refused to go and begged
Kumagaye, for the honour of both, to dispatch him on the spot. Above the hoary head of the
veteran gleams the cold blade, which many a time before has sundered the chords of life, but
his stout heart quails; there flashes athwart his mental eye the vision of his own boy, who this
self-same day marched to the sound of bugle to try his maiden arms; the strong hand of the
warrior quivers; again he begs his victim to flee for his life. Finding all his entreaties vain
and hearing the approaching steps of his comrades, he exclaims: "If thou art overtaken, thou
mayst fall at a more ignoble hand than mine. 0 thou Infinite! receive his soul!" In an instant the
sword flashes in the air, and when it falls it is red with adolescent blood. When the war is ended,
we find our soldier returning in triumph, but little cares he now for honour or fame; he
renounces his warlike career, shaves his head, dons a priestly garb, devotes the rest of his days
to holy pilgrimage, never turning his back to the West where lies the Paradise whence
salvation comes and whither the sun hastes daily for his rest.
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Critics may point out flaws in this story, which is casuistically vulnerable. Let it be: all the
same it shows that Tenderness, Pity, and Love were traits which adorned the most sanguinary
exploits of a samurai. It was an old maxim among them that "It becometh not the fowler to slay
the bird which takes refuge in his bosom." This in a large measure explains why the Red Cross
movement considered so peculiarly Christian, so readily found a firm footing among us.
Decades before we heard of the Geneva Convention, Bakin, our greatest novelist, had
familiarised us with the medical treatment of a fallen foe. In the principality of Satsuma, noted for
its martial spirit and education, the custom prevailed for young men to practise music; not the
blast of trumpets or the beat of drums,- "those clamorous harbingers of blood and death"-stirring
us to imitate the actions of a tiger, but sad and tender melodies on the biwa, soothing our fiery
spirits, drawing our thoughts away from scent of blood and scenes of carnage. Polybius tells us
of the Constitution of Arcadia, which required all youths under thirty to practise music, in order
that this gentle art might alleviate the rigours of the inclement region. It is to its influence that he
attributes the absence of cruelty in that part of the Arcadian mountains.
Nor was Satsuma the only place in Japan where gentleness was inculcated among the
warrior class. A Prince of Shirakawa jots down his random thoughts, and among them is the
following: "Though they collie stealing to your bedside in the silent watches of the night, drive
not away, but rather cherish these- the fragrance of flowers, the sound of distant bells, the insect
hummings of a frosty night." And again, "Though they may wound your feelings, these three you
have only to forgive, the breeze that scatters your flowers, the cloud that hides your
moon, and the man who tries to pick quarrels with you."

When propriety was elevated to the sine qua non of social intercourse, it was only to be
expected that an elaborate system of etiquette should come into vogue to train youth in correct
social behaviour. How one must bow in accosting others, how he must walk and sit, were taught
and learned with utmost care. Table manners grew to be a science. Tea serving and drinking
were raised to ceremony. A man of education is, of course, expected to be master of all these.
Very fitly does Mr. Veblen, in his interesting book, call decorum "a product and an exponent
of the leisure-class life."
I have heard slighting remarks made by Europeans upon our elaborate discipline of
politeness. It has been criticised as absorbing too much of our thought and in so far a folly to
observe strict obedience to it. I admit that there may be unnecessary niceties in ceremonious
etiquette,' but whether it partakes as much of folly as the adherence to ever-changing fashions
of the West, is a question not very clear to my mind. Even fashions I do not consider solely as
freaks of vanity; on the contrary, I look upon these as a ceaseless search of the human mind for
the beautiful. Much less do I consider elaborate ceremony as altogether trivial; for it denotes the
result of long observation to the most appropriate method of achieving a certain result. If
there is anything to do, there is certainly a best way to do it, and the best way is both the most
economical and the most graceful. Mr. Spencer defines grace as the most economical manner
of motion. The tea ceremony presents certain definite ways of manipulating a bowl, a spoon, a
napkin, etc. To a novice it looks tedious. But one sool1 discovers that the way prescribed is,
after all, the most saving of time and labour; in other words, the most economical use of force, -
hence, according to Spencer's dictum the most graceful.
As an example of how the simplest thing can be made into an art and then become
spiritual culture, I may take Cha-no-yu, the tea ceremony. Tea-sipping as a fine art! Why should
it not be? In the children drawing pictures on the sand, or in the savage carving on a rock, was
the promise of a Raphael or a Michelangelo. How much more is the drinking of a beverage,
which began with the transcendental contemplation of a Hindoo anchorite, entitled to develop
into a handmaid of Religion and Morality? That calmness of mind, that serenity of temper, that
composure and quietness of demeanour which are the first essentials of Cha-no- yu, are without
doubt the first conditions of right thinking and right feeling. The scrupulous cleanliness of the
little room, shut off from sight and sound of the madding crowd, is in itself conducive to direct
one's thoughts from the world. The bare interior does not engross one's attention like the
innumerable pictures and bric-a-brac of a Western parlour; the presence I of hakemono calls
our attention more to grace of design than to beauty of colour. The utmost refinement of taste is
the object aimed at; whereas anything like display is banished with religious horror. The very
fact that it was invented by a contemplative recluse, in a time when wars and the rumours of
wars were incessant, is well calculated to show that this institution was more than a pastime.
Before entering the quiet precincts of the tea-room, the company assembling to partake of
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the ceremony laid aside, together with their swords, the ferocity of battle-field or the cares of
government, there to find peace and friendship.
Cha-no-yu. is more than a ceremony-it is a fine art; it is poetry, with articulate gestures
for rhythms: it is a modus operandi of soul discipline. Its greatest value lies in this last phase.
Not infrequently the other phases preponderated in the mind of its votaries, but that does not
prove that its essence was not of a spiritual nature.
Politeness will be a great acquisition, if it does no more than impart grace to manners;
but its function does not stop here. For propriety, springing as it does from motives of
benevolence and modesty, and actuated by tender feelings toward the sensibilities of others, is
ever a graceful expression of sympathy. Its requirement is that we should weep with those that
weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. xxx

Veracity And Sincerity

WITHOUT veracity and sincerity, politeness is a farce and a show. "Propriety carried beyond
right bounds," says Masamune, "becomes a lie." An ancient poet has outdone Polonius in the
advice he gives: "To thyself be faithful: if in thy heart thou strayest not from truth, without prayer
of thine the Gods will keep thee whole." The apotheosis of Sincerity to which Confucius gives
expression in the Doctrine of the Mean, attributes to it transcendental powers, almost identifying
them with the Divine. "Sincerity is the end and the beginning of all things; without Sincerity there
would be nothing." He then dwells with eloquence on its far-reaching and long-enduring
nature, its power to produce changes without movement and by its mere presence to
accomplish its purpose without effort. From the Chinese ideogram for Sincerity, which is a
combination of "Word" and "Perfect," one is tempted to draw a parallel between it and the Neo-
Platonic doctrine of Logos – to such height does the sage soar in his unwonted mystic flight.
Lying or equivocation were deemed equally cowardly. The bushi held that his high social
position demanded a loftier standard of veracity than that of the tradesman and peasant. Bushi
no ichi- on - the word of a samurai, or in exact German equivalent, Ritterwort-was sufficient
guarantee for the truthfulness of an assertion. His word carried such weight with it that promises

were generally made and fulfilled without a written pledge, which would have been deemed
quite beneath his dignity. Many thrilling anecdotes were told of those who atoned by death for
ni-gon; a double tongue.
The regard for veracity was so high that, unlike the generality of Christians who
persistently violate the plain commands of the Teacher not to swear, the best of samurai looked
upon an oath as derogatory to their honour. I am well aware that they did swear by different
deities or upon their swords; but never has swearing degenerated into wanton form and
irreverent interjection. To emphasise our words a practice was sometimes resorted to of
literally sealing with blood. For the explanation of such a practice, I need only refer my readers
to Goethe's Faust.
I own I am speaking now of the Bushido idea of veracity: but it may not be amiss to
devote a few words to our commercial integrity, of which I have heard much complaint in foreign
books and journals. A loose business morality has indeed been the worst blot on our national
reputation; but before abusing it or hastily condemning the whole race for it, let us calmly study
it and we shall be rewarded with consolation for the future.
Of all the great occupations of life, none was farther removed from the profession of
arms than commerce. The merchant was placed lowest in the category of vocations, - the
knight, the tiller of the soil, the mechanic, the merchant. The samurai derived his income from
land and could even indulge, if he had a mind to, in amateur farming; but the counter and
abacus were abhorred. We know the wisdom of this social arrangement, Montesquieu has
made it clear that the debarring of the nobility from mercantile pursuits was an admirable social
policy, in that it prevented wealth from accumulating in the hands of the powerful. The
separation of power and riches kept the distribution of the latter more nearly equable. Professor
Dill, the author of Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, has brought afresh
to our mind that one cause of the decadence of the Roman Empire, was the permission given to
the nobility to engage in trade, and the consequent monopoly of wealth and power by a minority
of the senatorial families.
Those who are well acquainted with our history will remember that only a few years after
our treaty ports were opened to foreign trade, feudalism was abolished, and when with it the
Samurai’s fief’s were taken and bonds issued to them in compensation, they were given liberty
to invest them in mercantile transactions. Now you may ask, "Why could they not bring their
much boasted veracity into their new business relations and so reforms the old abuses?" Those
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who had eyes to see could not weep enough, those who had hearts to feel could not
sympathise enough, with the fate of many a noble and honest samurai who signally and
irrevocably failed in his new and unfamiliar field of trade and industry, through sheer lack of
shrewdness in coping with his artful plebeian rival. When we know that eighty per cent. of the
business houses fail in so industrial a country as America, is it any wonder that scarcely one
among a hundred samurai who went into trade could succeed in his new vocation? It will be
long before it will be recognised how many fortunes were wrecked in the attempt to apply
Bushido ethics to business methods; but it was soon patent to every observing mind that the
ways of wealth were not the ways of honour. In what respects, then, were they different?
Of the three incentives to veracity that Lecky enumerates, viz., the industrial, the
political, and the philosophical, the first was altogether lacking in Bushido. As to the second, it
could develop little in a political community under a feudal system. It is in itsphilosophical and,
as Lecky says, in its highest aspect, that honesty attained elevated rank in our catalogue of
virtues. With all my sincere regard for the high commercial integrity of the Anglo-Saxon race,
when I ask for the ultimate ground, I am told that "honesty is the best policy,"- that it pays to be
honest. Is this not this virtue, then, its own reward? If it is followed because it brings in more
cash than falsehood, I am afraid Bushido would rather indulge in lies!
If Bushido rejects a doctrine of quid pro quo rewards, the shrewder tradesman will
readily accept it. Lecky has very truly remarked that veracity owes its growth largely to
commerce and manufacture; as Nietzsche puts it, honesty is the youngest of the virtues - in
other words, it is the foster- child of modern industry.
Without this mother, veracity was like a blue-blood orphan whom only the most
cultivated mind could adopt and nourish. Such minds were general among the samurai, but, for
want of a more democratic and utilitarian foster-mother, the tender child jailed to thrive.
Industries advancing, veracity will prove an easy, nay, a profitable virtue to practise. Just think-
as late as November, 1880, Bismarck sent a circular to the professional consuls of the German
Empire, warning them of "a lamentable lack of reliability with regard to German shipments inter
alia, apparent both as to quality and quantity." Nowadays we hear comparatively little of German
carelessness and dishonesty in trade. In twenty years her merchants have learned that in the
end honesty pays. Already our merchants have found that out. xxx

THE sense of honour, implying a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth,
could not fail to characterise the samurai, born and bred to value the duties and privileges of
their profession. Though the word ordinarily given nowadays as the translation of honour was
not used freely, yet the idea was conveyed by such terms as na (name) men-moku
(countenance), guai-bun (outside hearing), reminding us respectively of the biblical use of
"name," of the evolution of the term "personality" from the Greek mask, and of "fain .." A good
name-one's reputation, "the immortal part of one's s 'If, what remains being bestial" - assumed
as a matter of course, any infringement upon its integrity was felt as shame, and the sense of
shame (Ren-chi-shin) was one of the earliest to be cherished in juvenile education. "You will be
laughed at," "It will disgrace you," "Are you not ashamed?" were the last appeal to correct
behaviour on the part of a youthful delinquent. Such a recourse to his honour touched the most
sensitive spot in the child’s heart, as though it had been nursed on honour while he was in
his mother's womb; for most truly is honour a pre-natal influence, being closely bound up with
strong family consciousness. "In losing the solidarity of families," says Balzac "society has lost
the fundamental force which Montesquie named Honour." Indeed, the sense of shame seems to
me to be the earliest indication of the moral consciousness of the race. The first and worst
punishment which befell humanity in consequence of tasting "the fruit of that forbidden tree" was
to my mind, not the sorrow of child-birth, nor the thorns and thistles, but the awakening of the
sense of shame. Few incidents in history excel in pathos the scene of the first mother plying,
with heaving breast and tremulous fingers, her crude needle on the few fig leaves which her
dejected husband plucked for her. This first fruit of disobedience clings to us with a tenacity that
nothing else does. All the sartorial ingenuity of mankind has not yet succeeded in sewing an
apron that will efficaciously hide. Our sense of shame. That samurai was right who refused to
compromise his character by a slight humiliation in his youth; “because,” he said, “dishonour is
like a scar on a tree, which time, instead of effacing, only helps to enlarge."
Mencius had taught centuries before, in almost the identical phrase, what Carlyle has
latterly expressed, namely, that shame is the soil of all Virtue, of good manners and good
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The fear of disgrace was so great that if our literature lacks such eloquence as
Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Norfolk it nevertheless hung like Damocles' sword over the
head of every samurai and often assumed a morbid character. In the name of honour, deeds
were perpetrated which can find no justification in the code of Bushido. At the slightest, nay-
imaginary insuIt – the quick - tempered braggart took offence, resorted to the use of the sword,
and many an unnecessary strife was raised and many an innocent life lost. The story of a well-
meaning citizen who called the attention of a bus hi to a flea jumping on his back, and who was
forthwith cut in two, for the simple and questionable reason, that inasmuch as fleas are
parasites which feed on animals, it was an unpardonable insult to identify a noble warrior with a
beast-I say, stories like these are too frivolous to believe. Yet, the circulation of such stories
implies three things: (1) that they were invented to overawe common people; (2) that abuses
were really made of the samurai's profession of honour; and (3) that a very strong sense of
shame was developed among them. It is plainly unfair to take an abnormal case to cast blame
upon the precepts, any more than to judge of the true teachings of Christ from the fruits of
religious fanaticism and extravagance, inquisitions and hypocrisy. But, as in religious
monomania there is something touchingly noble as compared with the delirium tremens of a
drunkard, so in that extreme sensitiveness of the samurai about their honour do we not
recognise the substratum of a genuine virtue?
The morbid excess into which the delicate code of honour was inclined to run was
strongly counterbalanced by preaching magnanimity and patience. To take offence at slight
provocation was ridiculed as "short-tempered." The popular adage said: "To bear what you think
you cannot bear is really to bear." The great Iyeyasu left to posterity a few maxims, among
which are the following: - "The life of man is like going a long distance with a heavy load upon
the shoulders. Haste not ... Reproach none, but be forever watchful of thine own short-
comings ... Forbearance is the basis of length of days." He proved in his life what he preached.
A literary wit put a characteristic epigram into the mouths of three well-known personages in our
history: to Nobunaga he attributed, "I will kill her, if the nightingale sings not in time"; to
Hideyoshi, "I will force her to Sing for me"; and to Iyeyasu, "I will wait till she opens her lips."
Patience and long-suffering were also highly commended by Mencius. In one place he
writes to this effect: "Though you denude yourself and insult me, what is that to me? You cannot
defile my soul by your outrage." Elsewhere he teaches that anger at a petty offence is unworthy
a superior man, but indignation for a great cause is righteous wrath.
To what height of unmartial and unresisting meekness Bushido could reach in some of
its votaries, may be seen in their utterances. Take, for instance, this saying of Ogawa: "When
others speak all manner of evil things against thee, return not evil for evil, but rather reflect that
thou was not more faithful in the discharge of thy duties." Take another of Kumazawa: - "When
others blame thee, blame them not; when others are angry at thee, return not anger. joy cometh
only as Passion and Desire part." Still another instance I may cite from Saigo, upon whose
overhanging brows "Shame is ashamed to sit": - "The Way is the way of Heaven and Earth;
Man's place is to follow it; therefore make it the object of thy life to reverence Heaven.
Heaven loves me and others with equal love; therefore with the love wherewith thou lovest
thyself, love others. Make not Man thy partner but Heaven, and making Heaven thy partner do
thy best. Never condemn others; but see to it that thou comest not short of thine own mark."
Some of these sayings remind us of Christian expostulations, and show us how far in practical
morality natural religion can approach the revealed. Not only did these sayings remain as
utterances, but they were really embodied in acts.
It must be admitted that the very few attained this sublime height of magnanimity,
patience and forgiveness. It was a great pity that nothing clear and general was expressed as to
what constitutes honour, only a few enlightened minds being aware that it "from no condition
rises," but that it lies in each acting well his part; for nothing was easier than for youths to forget
in the heat of action what they had learned in Mcncius in their calmer moments. Said this sage:
'''Tis in every man's mind to love honour; but little doth he dream that what is truly honourable
lies within himself and not elsewhere. The honour which men confer is not good honour. Those
whom Chao the Great ennobles, he can make mean again." For the most part, an insult
was quickly resented and repaid by death, as we shall see later, while honour-too often nothing
higher than vainglory or worldly approbation-was prized as the summum bonum of earthly
existence. Fame, and not wealth or knowledge, was the goal toward which youths had to strive.
Many a lad swore within himself as he crossed the threshold of his paternal home, that he
would not recross it until he had made a name in the world; and many an ambitious mother
refused to see her sons again unless they could "return home," as the expression is,
"caparisoned in brocade." To shun shame or win a name, samurai boys would submit to any
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privations and undergo severest ordeals of bodily or mental suffering. They knew that honour
won in youth grows with age. xxx

The Duty Of Loyalty

FEUDAL morality shares other virtues in common with other systems of ethics, with other
classes of people, but this virtue - homage and fealty to a superior-is its distinctive feature. I am
aware that personal fidelity is a moral adhesion existing among all sorts and conditions of men-a
gang of pickpockets owe allegiance to a Fagin; but it is only in the code of chivalrous honour
that loyalty assumes paramount importance. In spite of Hegel's criticism that the fidelity of
feudal vassals, being an obligation to an individual and not to a commonwealth, is a bond
established on totally unjust principles, a great compatriot of his made it his boast that personal
loyalty was a German virtue. Bismarck had good reasons to do so, not because the Treue he
boasts of was the monopoly of his Fatherland or of any single nation or race, but because this
favoured fruit of
chivalry lingers latest among the people where feudalism has lasted longest. In America, where
"everybody is as good as anybody else," and, as the Irishman added, "better too," such
exalted ideas of loyalty as we feel for our sovereign may be deemed "excellent within certain
bounds," but preposterous as encouraged among us. Montesquieu complained long ago that
right on one side of the Pyrenees was wrong on the other, and the recent Dreyfus trial proved
the truth of his remark, save that the Pyrenees were not the sole boundary beyond which
French justice finds no accord. Similarly, loyalty as we conceive it may find few admirers
elsewhere, not because our conception is wrong, but because it is, I am afraid, forgotten, and
also because we carry it to a degree not reached in any other country. Griffis was quite right in
stating that whereas in China Confucian ethics made obedience to parents the primary human
duty, in Japan precedence was given to loyalty. xxx
The story is of one of the greatest characters of our history Michizane, who, falling a
victim to jealousy and calumny, is exiled from the capital. Not content with this, his unrelenting
enemies are now bent upon the extinction of his family. Strict search for his son-not yet grown-
reveals the fact of his being secreted in a village school kept by one Genzo, a former vassal
of Michizane. When orders are dispatched to the schoolmaster to deliver the head of the
juvenile offender on a certain day, his first idea is to find a suitable substitute for it. He ponders
over his school-list, scrutinises with careful eyes all the boys, as they stroll into the class-room,
but none among the children born of the soil bears the least resemblance to his protege. His
despair, however, is but for a moment; for, behold, a new scholar is announced - a comely boy
of the same age as his master's son escorted by a mother of noble mien. xxx
No less conscious of the resemblance between infant lord and infant retainer, were the
mother and the boy himself. In the privacy of home both had laid themselves upon the altar; the
one his life-the other her heart, yet without sign to the outer world. Unwitting of what had passed
between them, it is the teacher from whom comes the suggestion.
Here, then, is the scapegoat. - The rest of the narrative may be briefly told. On the day
appointed, arrives the officer commissioned to identify and receive the head of the youth. Will
he be deceived by the false head? The poor Genzo's hand is on the hilt of the sword, ready to
strike a blow either at the man or at himself, should the examination defeat his scheme. The
officer takes up the gruesome object before him, goes calmly over each feature, and in a
deliberate, business-like tone, pronounces it genuine. That evening in a lonely home awaits the
mother we saw in the school. Does she know the fate of her child? It is not for his return that
she watches with eagerness for the opening of the wicket. Her father-in-law has been for a long
time a recipient of Michizane's bounties, but since his banishment, circumstances have forced
her husband to follow the service of the enemy of his family's benefactor. He himself could not
be untrue to his own cruel master; but his son could serve the cause of the grandsire's lord. As
one acquainted with the exile's family, it was he who had been entrusted with the task of
identifying the boy's head. Now the day's-yea, the life's-hard work is done, he returns home and
as he crosses its threshold, he accosts his wife, saying: "Rejoice, my wife, our darling son has
proved of service to his lord!"
"What an atrocious story!" I hear my readers exclaim. "Parents deliberately sacrificing
their own innocent child to save the life of another man's!" But this child was a conscious and
willing victim: it is a story of vicarious death-as significant as, and not more revolting than, the
story of Abraham's intended sacrifice of Isaac. In both cases was obedience to the call of duty,
utter submission to the command of a higher voice, whether given by a visible or an invisible
angel, or heard by an outward or an inward ear - but I abstain from preaching.
The individualism of the West, which recognises separate interests for father and son,
husband and wife, necessarily brings into strong relief the duties owed by one to the other; but
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Bushido held that the interest of the family and of the members thereof is intact,-one and
inseparable. This interest it bound up with affection-natural, instinctive, irresistible; hence, if we
die for one we love with natural love (which animals themselves possess), what is that? "For if
ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?"
In his great history, Sanyo relates in touching language the heart struggle of Shigemori
concerning his father's rebellious conduct. "If I be loyal, my father must be undone; if I obey my
father, my duty to my sovereign must go amiss." Poor Shigemori! We see him afterward praying
with all his soul that kind Heaven may visit him with death, that he may be released from this
world where it is hard for purity and righteousness to dwell.
Many a Shigernori has his heart tom by the conflict between duty and affection. Indeed,
neither Shakespeare nor the Old Testament itself contains an adequate rendering of ko, our
conception of filial piety, and yet in such conflicts Bushido never wavered in its choice of loyalty.
Women, too, encouraged their offspring to sacrifice all for the king. Even as resolute as Widow
Windham and her illustrious consort, the samurai matron stood ready to give up her boys for the
cause of loyalty.
Since Bushido, like Aristotle and some modern sociologists, conceived the state as
antedating the individual, - the latter being born into the former as part and parcel thereof,-he
must live and die for it or for the incumbent of its legitimate authority. Readers of Crito will
remember the argument with which Socrates represents the laws of the city as pleading with
him on the subject of his escape. Among others he makes them (the laws or the state) say:
"Since you were begotten and nurtured and educated under us, dare you once to say you are
not our offspring and servant, you and your fathers before you?" These are words which do not
impress us as anything extraordinary; for the same thing has long been on the lips of Bushido,
with this modification, that the laws and the state were represented with us by a personal being.
Loyalty is an ethical outcome of this political theory.
We may remember at this juncture that even among so democratic a people as the
English, "the sentiment of personal fidelity to a man and his posterity which their Germanic
ancestors felt for their chiefs, has," as Monsieur Boutmy recently said, "only passed more or
less into their profound loyalty to the race and blood of their princes, as evidenced in their
extraordinary attachment to the dynasty."
Political subordination, Mr. Spencer predicts, will give place to loyalty, to the dictates of
conscience. Suppose his induction is realised-will loyalty and its concomitant instinct of
reverence disappear forever? We transfer our allegiance from one master to another, without
being unfaithful to either: from being subjects of a ruler that wields the temporal sceptre we
become servants of the monarch who sits enthroned in the penetralia of our hearts. A few years
ago a very stupid controversy, started by the misguided disciples of Spencer, made havoc
among the reading class of Japan. In their zeal to uphold the claim of the throne to undivided
loyalty, they charged Christians with treasonable propensity in that they avow fidelity to their
Lord and Master. They arrayed forth sophistical arguments without the wit of Sophists, and
scholastic tortuosities minus the niceties of the Schoolmen. Little did they know that we can, in a
sense, "serve two masters without holding to the one or despising the other," "rendering unto
Ceesar the things that are Ceesar's and unto God the things that are God's." Did not Socrates,
all the while he unflinchingly refused to concede one iota of loyalty to his daemon, obey with
equal fidelity and equanimity the command of his earthly master, the State? His conscience he
followed, alive; his country he served, dying. Alack the day when a state grows so powerful as to
demand of its citizens the dictates of their conscience!
Bushido did not require us to make our conscience the slave of any lord or king. Thomas
Mowbray was a veritable spokesman for us when he said:
"Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot.
My life thou shall command, but not my shame.
The one my duty owes; but my fair name,
Despite of death, that lives upon my grave,
To dark dishonour's use, thou shall not have."
A man who sacrificed his own conscience to the capricious will or freak or fancy of a
sovereign was accorded a low place in the estimate of the Precepts. Such an one was despised
as nei-shin, a cringeling, who makes court by unscrupulous fawning, or as cho-shin, a favourite
who steals his master's affections by means of servile compliance; these two species of
subjects corresponding exactly to those which Iago describes,-the one, a duteous and knee-
crooking knave, doting on his own obsequious bondage, wearing out his time much like his
master's ass' the other trimming in forms and visages of duty, keeping yet his heart attending on
himself. When a subject differed from his master the loyal path for him to pursue was to use
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every available means to persuade him of his error, as Kent did to King Lear. Failing in this, let
the master deal with him as he wills. In cases of this kind, it was quite a usual course for the
samurai to make the last appeal to the intelligence and conscience of his lord by demonstrating
the sincerity of his words with the shedding of his own blood.
Life being regarded as the means whereby to serve his master, and its ideal being set
upon honour, the whole education and training of a samurai were conducted accordingly.

THE discipline of fortitude on the one hand, inculcating endurance without a groan, and
the teaching of politeness on the other, requiring us not to mar the pleasure or serenity of
another by expressions of our own sorrow or pain, combined to engender a stoical turn of mind,
and eventually to confirm it into a national trait of apparent stoicism. I say apparent stoicism,
because I do not believe that true stoicism can ever become the characteristic of a whole
nation, and also because some of our national manners and customs may seem to a foreign
observer hard-hearted. Yet we are really as susceptible to tender emotion as any race under the
sky .
I am inclined to think that in one sense we have to feel more than others-yes, doubly
more since the very attempt to restrain natural promptings entails suffering. Imagine boys-and
girls, too-brought up not to resort to the shedding of a tear or the uttering of a groan for the relief
of their feelings, - and there is a physiological problem whether such effort steels their nerves or
makes them more sensitive.
It was considered unmanly for a samurai to betray his emotions on his face. "He shows
no sign of joy or anger," was a phrase used, in describing a great character. The most natural
affections were kept under control. A father could embrace his son only at the expense of his
dignity; a husband would not kiss his wife - no, not in the presence of other people, whatever he
might do in private! There may be some truth in the remark of a witty youth when he said,
"American husbands kiss their wives in public and beat them in private; Japanese husbands
beat theirs in public and kiss them in private."
Calmness of behaviour, composure of mind, should not be disturbed by passion of any
kind. I remember when, during the late war with China, a regiment left a certain town, a large
concourse of people flocked to the station to bid farewell to the general and his army. On this
occasion an American resident resorted to the place, expecting to witness loud demonstrations
as the nation itself was highly excited and there were fathers' mothers, wives, and sweethearts
of the soldiers in the crowd: The American was strangely disappointed; for as the whistle
blew and the train began to move, the hats of thousands of people were silently taken off and
their heads bowed in reverential farewell; no waving of handkerchiefs, no word uttered, but deep
silence in which only an attentive ear could catch a few broken sobs. In domestic life, too, I
know of a father who spent whole nights listening to the breathing of a sick child, standing
behind the door that he might not be caught in such an act of parental weakness! I know of a
mother who, in her last moments, refrained from sending for her son, that he might not
be disturbed in his studies. Our history and everyday life are replete with examples of heroic
matrons who can well bear comparison with some of the most touching pages of Plutarch.
It is the same discipline of self-restraint which is accountable for the absence of more
frequent revivals in the Christian churches of Japan. When a man or woman feels his or her
soul stirred, the first instinct is quietly to suppress the manifestation of it. In rare instances is the
tongue set free by an irresistible spirit, when we have eloquence of sincerity and fervour. It is
putting a premium upon a breach of the third commandment to encourage speaking lightly of
spiritual experience. It is truly jarring to Japanese ears to hear the most sacred words, the most
secret heart experiences, thrown out in promiscuous audiences. "Dost thou feel the soil of thy
soul stirred with tender thoughts? It is time for seeds to sprout. Disturb it not with speech; but let
it work alone in quietness and secrecy,"-writes a young samurai in his diary.
To give in so many articulate words one's inmost thoughts and feelings-notably the
religious-is taken among us as an unmistakable sign that they are neither very profound nor
very sincere. "Only a pomegranate is he"-so runs a popular saying "who, when he gapes his
mouth, displays the contents of his heart."
It is not altogether perverseness of oriental minds that the instant our emotions are
moved, we try to guard our lips in order to hide them. Speech is very often with us, as the
Frenchman defines it, "the art of concealing thought."
Call upon a Japanese friend in time of deepest affliction and he will invariably receive
you laughing, with red eyes or moist cheeks. At first you may think him hysterical. Press him for
explanation and you will get a few broken commonplaces - "Human life has sorrow"; "They who
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meet must part"; "He that is born must die"; "It is foolish to count the years of a child that
is gone, but a woman's heart will indulge in follies"; and the like. xxx
Indeed, the Japanese have recourse to risibility whenever the frailties of human nature
are put to severest test. I think we possess a better reason than Democritus himself for our
Abderian tendency, for laughter with us oftenest veils an effort to regain balance of temper when
disturbed by any untoward circumstance. It is a counterpoise of sorrow or rage.
The suppression of feelings being thus steadily insisted upon, they find their safety-valve
in poetical aphorisms. A poet of the tenth century writes "In Japan and China as well humanity
when moved by sorrow, tells its bitter grief inverse." Another who tries to console her broken
heart by fancying her departed child absent on his wonted chase after the dragon-fly hums,
"How far today in chase, I wonder,
Has gone my hunter of the dragon-fly!"

Enlightened Virtue of flourishing or perishing is a matter of time.” If virtue can be applied, what
is the necessity of a monastery? If the time could be relied on, what would be the use of rules?
(records of the fields)

Worry and troubles

Yuantong said to Dajiao: The ancient saints governed their minds before sprouting, stopped
feelings before confusion. In general, preparing beforehand means no trouble. Therefore “the
alarm is beaten at the outer gate to deal with thugs,” and preparations are made beforehand.
When the task is done beforehand, then it is easy. If you do it hurriedly and carelessly, it must
be hard. The fact that the ancient sages had not a day’s trouble truly lies in this. (jiufeng annals)

Three essentials of leadership

Master Fushan Yuan said: There are three essentials of leadership: humanity, clarity, and
courage. Humanely practicing the virtues of the Way promotes the influence of the teaching,
pacifies those in both high and low positions, and delights those who pass by. Someone with
clarity follows proper behavior and just duty, recognizes what is safe and what is dangerous,
examines people to see whether they are wise or foolish, and distinguished right and wrong.
The courageous see things through to their conclusion, settling them without doubt. They get rid
of whatever is wrong or false.
Humanity without clarity is like having a field but not plowing it. Clarity is like having
sprouts but not weeding. Courage without humanity is like knowing how to reap but not how to
sow. When all three of these are present, the community thrives. When one is lacking, the
community deteriorates. When two are lacking, the community is in peril, and when there is not
one of the three, the way of leadership is in ruins. (letter to master jingyin tai)

Speech and action

Baiyun said to the layman Yang Wuwei: What can be said but not practiced is better not said.
What can be practiced but not spoken of is better not done. When you utter words, you should
always consider their end. When you establish a practice, you must always consider what it
covers. In this, ancient sages were careful about their words and chose their acts. When they
spoke they did not just demonstrate the principle of Chan, they used it to open the minds of
students who were not yet enlightened. When they established their practices, they did not just
take care of themselves, they used them to educate students who were undeveloped.
Therefore, when they spoke their words had standards, and when they acted it was with
proper manners. So ultimately they were able to speak without trouble and act without disgrace.
Their words thus became scriptures, their acts became standards. So it is said, “Speech and
action are the pivot of ideal people, the basis of governing one’s person.” They can move
heaven and earth, touch even ghosts and spirits, so they should be respected. (true record of

Being in the world without misery

Huitang said: What has been long neglected cannot be restored immediately.
Ills that have been accumulating for a long time cannot be cleared away immediately.
One cannot enjoy oneself forever. Human emotions cannot be just right.
Calamity cannot be avoided by trying to run away from it. Anyone working as a teacher who was
realized that these five things can be in the world without misery. (letter to master xiang)

No Deception
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Huanglong said: If in your speech and silence, in what you do and what you do not do, you can
say of yourself that you do not deceive heaven above, do not deceive people outwardly, and do
not deceive your own mind within,” this can truly be called achievement.
Yet remaining careful about the hidden and the subtle when alone, if you find that there is
ultimately no deception going on at all, then this can be called achievement. (letter reply to wang

Loss of Integrity
Yang Shaowu said to Huitang: The whole matter of being known as a teacher and upholding the
teaching in place of the Buddhas, causing mendicants to turn their minds to the Way, revising
morals and changing customs, is not something that can be done by the shallow.
Monks of the last age do not cultivate virtues, and few have integrity. Time and again they bribe
and curry favor, wagging their tails seeking sympathy, pursuing fame and fortune at the doors of
temporal power. One day their karma will be fulfilled and their luck will be dissipated – gods and
humans will be sick of them. They will defile the true religion and be a burden to their teachers
and companions. How can I not lament? Huitang agreed. (lingyam’s remnants)

Don’t Rush
Ying Shaowu said to Master Zhenjing Wen:Whatever is rushed to maturity will surely break
down early. Whatever is accomplished in a hurry will surely be easily destroyed. What is done
without making consideration for the long run, and is hastily finished, is not of a far-reaching and
great character. Now sky and earth are most miraculous, but still it is only after three years and
two intercalary months that they complete their accomplishment and fulfill their transformations.
How much the more so for the miracle of the Great Way – how could it be easily mastered? It is
essential to build up achievement and accumulate virtue. Therefore it is said, “When you want to
be quick, you don’t succeed; act carefully and you won’t miss.” A beautiful accomplishment
takes a long time, ultimately involving lifelong consideration. A sage said, “Keep it with faith,
practice it with keenness, perfect it with faithfulness – then though the task be great, you will
surely succeed.” (lingyuan’s remnants)

The Best People

Fojian said to Shun Fodeng: The most excellent people do not consider fame and position to be
prosperity, and those who arrive at the truth are not troubled by oppression or devastation.
To exert one’s strength when seeing there is favor to be gained, or to offer one’s services when
seeing there is profit in it, is the behavior of mediocre and lesser people. (diary)

Self and Others

Master Sixin related: Yuantong Xiu once said, : “If one cannot be upright oneself and yet wishes
to make others so, that is called lapse of virtue. If one cannot be respectful oneself and yet
wishes to make others so, that is called violation of propriety. If someone working as a teacher
lapses from virtue and goes against propriety, what can be used to extend guidelines for the
future?” (letter to lingyuan)

The Quickest Shortcut

Sixin said: The quickest shortcut to entry into the Way consists of moderation and
relinquishment. I see many students with minds excited and mouths stammering all eager to
succeed to the Chan ancients, but I do not find one in ten thousand when I look for those with a
family in society who are not willing to read books but want to be officials – even a little
Confucian boy knows this is impossible. (Extensive Record)

Sincerity and Trustworthiness

Sixin said to Caotang: For the task of leadership, sincerity and trustworthiness are essential in
speech and action. If your words are sincere and trustworthy, the impression they make will be
deep. If your words are not sincere or trustworthy, the impression they make will be shallow.
Insincere words and untrustworthy deeds are tolerable even in ordinary life in the mundane
world, lest one be slighted by the people – how much more so when acting as the leader of a
community, expounding the teaching of the enlightened ones. If you lack sincerity and
trustworthiness in what you say and do, who in the world would follow you? (true record of

Readings on Japan 14

It is related that when Master Sixin was leader of the community at Cuiyan monastery, he heard
that Master Jiaofan had been banished from the continent, and that he was passing through the
region of Cuiyan on the way to his place of exile on the southern island of Hainan. Sixin sent a
party to meet Jiaofan and bring him back to the monastery, where Sixin treated him cordially as
a guest for several days and saw him off reluctantly.
Some people, noting that he had criticized Jiaofan in the past, said that Sixin was
inconsistent. Sixin said, “Jiaofan is a virtuous wearer of the patchwork robe. In the past I used
extreme words to remove the ostentation of his excellence. Now that he has run into foul play,
this is his lot. I treat him according to the usual principles of the Chan communities.”
Those who know say that Sixin acted in this manner because he had no partiality in regard to
people. (records of west mountain)

Discerning Feelings
Caotang said: There is essentially nothing to leadership but to carefully observe people’s
conditions and know them all, in both upper and lower echelons. When people’s inner
conditions are thoroughly understood, then inside and outside are in harmony. When above and
below communicate, all affairs are set in order. This is how leadership is made secure.
If the leader cannot minutely discern people’s psychological conditions, and the feeling of those
below is not communicated above, then above and below oppose each other and matters are
disordered. This is how leadership goes to ruin.
It may happen that a leader will presume upon intellectual brilliance and often hold to
biased views, failing to comprehend people’s feelings, rejecting community counsel and giving
importance to his own authority, neglecting public consideration and practicing private favoritism
– all of this causes the road of advance in goodness to become narrower and narrower, and
causes the path of responsibility for the community to become fainter and fainter.
Such leaders repudiate whatever they have never before seen or heard, and become set in their
ways, to which they are habituated and y which they are veiled. To hope that the leadership of
people like this would be great and far reaching is like walking backward trying to go forward.
(letter to shantang)

Controlling Bias
Caotang said: There is nothing special to leadership - essentially it is a matter of controlling the
evils of biased information and autocracy. Do not just go by whatever is said to you first – then
the obsequities of petty people seeking favor will not be able to confuse you. After all, the
feelings of a group of people are not one, and objective reason is hard to see. You should
investigate something to see its benefit or harm, examine whether it is appropriate and suitable
or not; then after that you may carry it out.

Caotang said to Shantang: In all things, if right and wrong are not clear, you must be careful.
When right and wrong are clear, you should decide on the basis of reason, consider where the
truth lies, and settle the issue without doubt. In this way, you cannot be confused by flattery and
cannot be moved by powerful argument.

Shantang wrote to a high government official: A rule for governing subordinates is that favor
should not be excessive, for if it is excessive they will become haughty. And authority should not
be too strict, for if it is too strict they will be resentful. If you want favor without haughtiness and
authority without resentment, then favor should be given to those with merit, and not given to
people arbitrarily. Authority should be exercised where there is wrong-doing, and should not be
wrongly brought to bear on those without offense. In this way, though favor be rich, the people
will not become haughty, and though authority be strict, the people will not become resentful.
If, on the other hand, you richly reward those whose merit is not worthy of elevation and
severely punish those whose offense is not worthy of blame, then eventually you will cause
small people to give rise to hauteur and resentment. (letter to ministry President Zhang)

In nominating leaders for public study communities, it is imperative to nominate those who
preserve the Way and are peaceful and modest, who when nominated will grow stronger in will
and integrity, who will not ruin the community finances wherever they go but will fully develop
the community and also be master of the teaching, rescuing the present day from its
decadence. As for wily deceiving tricksters who have no sense of shame and, knowing how to
Readings on Japan 15

flatter and wait on authority, cleave to powerful upper-class families, why should they be
nominated? (letter to Zhu-an)

Miaoxi said: The ancients first chose those with enlightenment and virtue, then recommended
those with ability and learning, to advance in their time. If one who is not a good vessel is placed
before others, most who see and hear will slight him, and due to this monks will think to
themselves of polishing their reputation and merit to become established. Recently we have
seen the Chan communities decline as students are heedless of the virtues of the Way and lack
integrity and humility. They slander the pure and plain as being crude simpletons, and praise the
noisy dilettantes as being smart. Therefore the perceptions of newcomers are not clear. They go
hunting and fishing to extract and copy in order to supply themselves with eloquent remarks and
sayings, getting deeper into this as time goes on, until it has become a decadent trend. When
you talk to them about the Way of the sages, they are as blind as if they had their faces to the
wall. These people are just about impossible to help. (letter to Zicang)

Making Community Flourish

Assembly Chief Yin said: Few are the leaders who can succeed in making a community flourish.
This is because most of them forget truth and virtue and give up benevolence and duty,
abandoning the regulations of the Dharma and going by their personal feelings. Sincerely
considering the decline and disappearance of spiritual schools, one should make oneself true
yet humble to others, pick out the wise and good for mutual assistance, honor those of long
standing virtue to others. After that, for those whom you employ as assistants, retain those who
are more mature, and keep away the opportunistic flatterers. The value of this is that there will
be no slander of corruption, and no disruption by factionalism. (Forest of Wisdom collection)

Some Bad Habits

Wanan said: Recently we see students fondly clinging to prejudiced views, not comprehending
people’s conditions, shallow in faith, recalcitrant, liking people to flatter them, admiring those
who follow them while estranging those who differ from them. Even if they have one bit of
knowledge or half an understanding, yet it is covered by these kinds of bad habits. Many are
those who grow old without attainment. (Forest of Wisdom collection)

Personal Responsibility
Master Bian said:
The so-called chief elder teaches in the place of the Buddha. Essential to this is purification of
oneself in dealing with the community, utmost honesty and sincerity in executing affairs, and
care not to divide one’s mind by choosing between gain and loss. It is up to the individual to do
this, so one should definitely act in this way. As for the matter of succeeding or otherwise, even
the sages of old could not be sure – how can we force the issue? (Moon Cake collection)

Four Limbs of Leadership

Fozhi said to Shuian: The body of leadership has four limbs: enlightenment and virtue; speech
and action, humaneness and justice, etiquette and law. Enlightenment and virtue are the root of
the teaching; humaneness and justice are branches of the teaching. With no root, it is
impossible to stand; with no branches it is impossible to be complete.
The ancient sages saw that students could not govern themselves, so they set up
communities to settle them, and established leadership to direct them. Therefore the honor of
the community is not for the leader, the plenitude of the necessities of life is not for the students
– all of it is for the Way of enlightenment.
Therefore a good leader should honor first enlightenment and virtue, and be careful in
speech and action. To be able to be a student, one should think first of goodness and right, and
follow etiquette and law.
Thus the leadership could not stand but for the students and the students cannot
develop without the leadership. The leadership and the students are like the body and the arms,
like the head and the feet. When great and small accord without opposition, they go by means
of each other.
Therefore it is said, “Students keep the communities, the communities keep virtue.” If the
leadership has no virtue, then that community is on the verge of decline. (True record)
Readings on Japan 16

Trading Off
Shuian said: Recently we see leaders in various places with mind tricks to control their
followers, while their followers serve the leaders with ulterior motives of influence, power, and
profit. The leaders and followers trade off, above and below fooling each other. How can
education prosper and communities flourish? (a letter)

Leadership Training
Choan said: To train yourself to deal with the assembly, it is necessary to use wisdom. To dispel
delusion and remove sentiments, you must first be aware. If you turn away from awareness and
mix with the dusts, then your mind will be enshrouded. When wisdom and folly are not
distinguished, matters get tangled up. (letter to a monastery superintendent)

The Peril of Leadership

Choan said: Fine land nurtures beings well, a benevolent ruler nurtures people well. Nowadays
many who are known as leaders do not take the people to heart, instead giving precedence to
their own desires. They do not like hearing good words, and do like to cover up their faults,
indulging in improper practices and vainly pleasing themselves for a time. When petty people
take to the likes and dislikes of the leaders, is the path of leadership not in peril. (letter to a
Chan elder)

Choosing Assistants
Choan said: As a leader, Ye-an comprehends the processes of the human mind and is aware of
the great body of the community. He once said to me, “To be the host in a place you must
choose people of determination and action for assistants. They are like a comb for hair, a mirror
for a face – then what is beneficial and what is deleterious, what is fine and what is unseemly,
cannot be hidden.” (annals of Phantom Hermitage)

Three Don’ts
Mian said: In leadership there are three don’ts: when there is much to do, don’t be afraid; when
there is nothing to do, don’t be hasty; and don’t talk about opinions of right and wrong.
A leader who succeeds in these three things won’t be confused or deluded by external
objects. (an attendant’s record)

Making Choices
Master Zide Hui said: In general, when people are sincere and headed in the right
direction, they can still be employed even if they are dull. If they are flatterers with ulterior
motives, they are ultimately harmful even if the are smart.
On the whole, if their psychological orientation is not correct, people are unworthy of
establishment in positions of service and leadership even if they have talent and ability. (letter to
Master Jiantang)

Talent and Capacity

Chan Master Xiatang Yuan said to Huoan: People’s talent and capacity are naturally
great or small, for these things cannot be taught. Those whose paper is small cannot wrap up
large objects; those whose rope is short cannot draw from deep well. An owl can catch a louse
and see a hare by night, but when the sun comes out in daytime, it irritates the owl’s eyes so
much that it cannot even see a hill. It seems that the distribution is set. (Annals of Tiger Hill)

Essentials of Leadership
Wuzu said to Fojian: As a leader it is essential to be generous with the community while
being frugal with oneself. As for the rest, the petty matters, do not be concerned with them.
When you give people tasks, probe them deeply to see if they are sincere. When you
choose your words, take the most serious. Leaders are naturally honored when their words are
taken seriously; the community is naturally impressed when people are chosen for their
When you are honorable, the community obeys even if you are not stern; when the
community is impressed, things get done even if no orders are given. The wise and the stupid
each naturally convey their minds, small and great each exert their effort.
This is more than ten thousand times better than those who hold on by authoritarian
power and those who cannot help following them, oppressed by compulsion. (letter to Fojian, in
the personal record of an attendant)
Readings on Japan 17


A Love Affair with the People
A Profile of an Anonymous Governor
Ma. Teresa Ortega-Briones
([2007], Frontline Leadership. Quezon City: Ateneo School of Government and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)

There is this story told about Governor MP of a province in the Visayas, a story that has the makings of a
folktale. The Governor was the special guest of a far-flung barangay, invited to do the honors of crowning
the fiesta queen. The other guests, including the district congressman, had already gone the rounds of
visiting their key political supporters, as was the tradition of the place. It was getting late, and they had
been waiting for the special guest for several hours. The Governor sent word that she would be delayed, as
she was still having a meeting in another village several towns away.
The neophyte congressman, who could wait no longer, asked that they go ahead with the
coronation, MP or no MP. But the barangay captain and the town mayor refused; it was a mortal sin to
disappoint MP. Besides, they had invited the governor for other, far better, reasons. They wanted to hear
MP announce - during her diskurso as the guest of honor - their long-awaited projects for the village.
The village officials were disappointed to see the congressman, who was visibly irked, and his
entourage leave. The bayle, or fiesta dance, had already commenced, while the fiesta queen retired for the
time being, exhausted as she was after the half-hour parade along narrow trails. The more senior villagers
would not be deprived of their early sleep, and sleep they did.
Three hours later, the barangay captain and the town mayor, together with the other pageant
organizers - all of them tipsy from native liquor - went the rounds of the village, rousing those who were
asleep and calling everybody to proceed to the basketball court. The Governor and her entourage were
about to arrive. They could proceed with the coronation - and hear from the lady's lips the much-awaited
announcement of a livestock dispersal project and the construction of a new waiting shed. Never mind
the congressman, who was good with words but hardly delivered.
Governor MP completed 3 terms, and then became a member of Congress for 1 term before
retiring from politics owing to "health reasons." In the meantime, her son replaced her as Governor and is
on his 2nd term. Her husband was also the Governor before she took over.
MP grew up in a rural town and finished her elementary and secondary education in public
schools. She pursued higher education and graduated from a Catholic university with a liberal arts
degree, major in English (cum laude). Her professional experiences became useful for her subsequent
career in local politics. Her 14-year stint as a court stenographer of a Regional Trial Court gave her a
solid background in legal procedures. Then she spent 13 years as cash and collection manager and
finance manager of 2 private companies. Those years honed her financial management skills.
The families of MP's mother and father are no strangers to national and local politics. A grand-
uncle from her mother's side became a member of the Philippine Legislature, the National Assembly, the
House of Representatives, and the Senate from 1916 to 1946. Her brother was a 3-term member of
Congress, while her sister is currently on her 3rd term in Congress. How is "leadership" - specifically
leadership in governance - understood by MP and those who were with her during her tenure as governor?
What made her a leader, if indeed she was one? What were her prevalent leadership practices? How did
the story of her leadership unfold? What were her standards, especially when confronted with leadership
dilemmas? The following accounts provide us with a glimpse of how MP was as a governor, a leader, and a
public servant. These stories were told by MP and those who worked closely with her.

Leadership as a Shared Vision for Development."Leadership" for MP is the ability to help other
people especially the poor. It is a "position" where "you can do something to help them" by being able
to give what they need. For MP, however, responding to people's needs should not be pure and simple
dole-out; it is an approach "to move them to do something for themselves".
Two department heads who worked with MP in the provincial government talk of leadership as
the "ability to influence and move people" which has two targets. The first is organizational: it is the
ability to manage the organization and make people do their jobs efficiently and with commitment. The
second target is societal where the organization becomes the vehicle "for moving people towards
development" in which people's needs are addressed. A nephew and executive assistant (EA) of MP
summed this up when he described MP's leadership as "people-oriented."

Leadership as Mutual Relationship. The Provincial Tourism Officer (PTO) of MP believes that a
leader is one who has the "ability to share his or her vision with the people...and move them to realize
that vision." Programs or projects can only succeed if the leader is able to show and convince the
people how these would benefit them.
Leadership, however, is a mutual relationship between the leader and the people. It is not a
one-way movement. If the leader's responsibility is to bring to the people goods and services, it is
because the leader wants to "gain the people's respect." This two-way movement entails the leader's
"commitment, dedication, and sacrifice" - qualities needed "in order to govern," according to MP's
cousin who is a member of the judiciary. A leader thus "gains the people's support" if he or she "gains
respect through one's position and one's integrity by living a life worth emulating."

Between Leadership and Leader. There seems to be a clear distinction between "leadership" and
"leader" in the minds of the respondents, even though the two concepts are closely intertwined. The
Governor and the participants of a focus group discussion (FGD) say that leadership is the "position," while
the leader is "the person who leads." The PTO, on the other hand, says that "leadership comes with the
position," but any person "can be a leader even if he or she has no [formal] position."
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Leadership is also conceived as a "quality" of a person which can be observed through his or her
"style" or way of exercising leadership. Two important aspects of leadership are the perceptions of the people
about the leader and the communication skills of the leader. How people perceive their leader especially in
the case of an elective official is crucial because people tend to look for specific leadership qualities, which
include the ability to find the best fit between specific community needs, on the one hand, and programs/
projects that address them, on the other. Moreover, the leader should have the ability to communicate her
intentions to the people so that the intended programs/projects become acceptable and relevant to them. A
leader who speaks the people's language is said to have an edge over the others.
There appear to be several hallmarks of MP's leadership practices as governor: (a) a "hands-
on" style of leadership and management, (b) a sense of shared accountability, (c) a consultative
attitude, (d) a service orientation, (e) a projected presence, and (f) a concern for generating resources.

A "Hands-On" Leader and Manager. The Governor had admitted to being a "hands-on" leader and
manager to the point that she would micro-manage her office and social activities. She was "ma-
detalye", from correcting the "grammar and syntax of her staffs paperwork- including the periods and
the commas - down to the color and design of the table cloths" and the overall ambience of any
occasion, including what dress the staff should wear. Her staff were always on their toes when she was
around, taking extra care to avoid slip-ups.
Her staff and the department heads were impressed with how meticulous MP pored over
documents. Her many marginal notes were awaited with both excitement and trepidation. These small
things inspired them because they showed that, busy as she was, she still bothered to go through their
Her PTO suspects that MP's meticulous nature comes from her seeming boundless energy, which
sometimes complicates matters for her staff. "There are times when you cannot ask her to sit down and
plan...go-go-go lang kami, dealing with one activity after another. She has these ideas, then tells us what to
do, but then she ends up doing it with us."
The Governor found it difficult to rely on reports from the field. She preferred to go to even the
most remote barangay, to hear directly from her constituents what projects or services they needed.
For example, MP would monitor infrastructure projects herself "rather than rely 100 percent on the
engineers [because] I wanted to see what was happening on the ground, whether the project was
being implemented as expected given the budget allocation." She adds, "I want things done, and done

A Sense of Shared Accountability. The Governor was known to hand checks directly to local
officials in full view of everybody. Fiestas were good venues for this practice. This was intentional on
her part, she says. Everybody is a witness, thus everybody knows the purpose of1 the funds as well as
the exact amount handed over. For MP, the local officials are the "stewards" who have to be extra
careful in how the funds are utilized. A municipal mayor together with some Sangguniang Bayan (SB)
members confirmed this practice. The Governor assumed that this would help local officials to be more
transparent and accountable.
In most cases, project funds were not given in toto. Local officials were "encouraged" to give their
share from their IRA (internal revenue allotment) or to tap other sources. Again, the assumption was that
local officials would make sure that the projects were implemented well because their local governments
hud. a share in the costs and thus had some ownership of the projects.

Being Consultative. Her EA says that MP consulted others before deciding on important matters. The
Governor usually formed committees and teams to manage activities. Her meetings with the mayors
were not purely serious business; they sometimes lapsed into good-natured banter and story-telling.
According to her EA, "MP's leadership was a continuous rubbing oAQf elbows with other political
leaders and ordinary citizens. She gather signals from her peers as to where she wanted to go, and she
learned about her constituents' needs from ordinary citizens."
The director of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) affirms that, when MP had a
project in mind, she would discuss it first with her senior staff, present her ideas, then solicit their opinion.
Or she consulted with community leaders known for their probity. The PTO says that MP was a good
listener, but had the habit of picking the brains of local officials when they submitted project proposals.

Service Orientation. The department heads who worked with MP in the Capitolyo wonder where she got
her energy when it came to public service. "Wala siyang kapaguran" [She didn't seem to tire], they observed.
Her EA said: "She would do everything within her power to bring her projects and services to the baran-gays
despite limited resources. She didn't seem to care about ROI [return on investment]... everything for her was
about service."
A municipal mayor and several SB members express similar opinions. Whenever MP visited the
barangays, she brought the Capitolyo department heads in tow. Barangay concerns were referred to the
appropriate agency, and MP would expect immediate action from the department head. Meetings were
usually "one-stop-shops" in which the provincial government made its presence felt directly by ordinary

Projected Presence. According to the mayor and his SB members, MP was a "visible figure in the
barangays...she has visited around 85% in our town, including those in the hinterlands." Her Provincial
Administrator (PA) made the same observation: "I think of all the governors, it was only MP who was
able to visit most, if not all, the barangays, even those in the remotest areas. MP knows which
barangay needs what, and which barangay has an ongoing project to address a particular need."
Her presence went beyond the physical, the respondents say. Returning to a remote barangay a
year later, MP could still recall who among the women were pregnant then, or ask someone about his
mother who was bedridden at that time, or recall the color of a dress worn by a Ma. People were often
Readings on Japan 19

astonished by MP's prodigious memory when it came to details. One can imagine how ordinary rural folk
feel when given this kind of attention.
The Governor made poor people feel important. The PA recalls that time when she was asked by
MP to be the latter's proxy as a wedding sponsor. This happened when MP, politician that she was,
accommodated two invitations to be a sponsor on the same day and hour - one from a high middle class
family and another from a lower class family of a barangay official. Her staff expected MP to go to the
higher class wedding, but she chose to go to the other wedding. Incidents like this endeared MP to
ordinary people.
Because not all barangays in the province were accessible to motorized vehicles, MP was sometimes
forced to ride in a contraption pulled by a carabao. It was not unusual for her to hike to be able to reach a
mountain village. What drove MP to work this way? "She loves going to her constituents and be seen by
them," her cousin says. The Governor called this "my love affair with the barangay." This was the reason why
mayors and barangay officials prioritized her on their guest list during special occasions like fiestas. These
provided them with an opportunity to air their problems to the provincial government and, at the same time,
receive MP's much-anticipated "gift packages" in the form of projects.

Generating Resources. Her PTO says that MP had a knack for generating resources from outside
government. When MP put her sights on a particular project that had no budget, she would go the rounds
tapping international funding agencies and socio-civic organizations. The Governor wanted support funds
to be available so as not to frustrate her constituents.
In the assessment of her EA, however, some of MP's projects lacked sustainability. The province
simply lacked the technical capability and expertise to maintain those projects, which were unable to raise
their own revenue. Some of these "flagship projects" included techno-demo agricultural farms and tourism,
educational, and cultural showcases.

Leadership Moments. What were moments or situations when MP was called to leadership? For the
respondents, the call to leadership was always seen in the context of a disaster or crisis situation.
The Governor recalled that she felt being called to leadership during an emergency when a
barangay site was reported to have huge cracks on the ground. Upon consultation with the social welfare
agency and the provincial board, MP found it necessary to persuade the residents to leave the area and
relocate. The residents agreed after some convincing. She promised to provide for the housing materials if
the residents would construct the houses. She would think that her swift action and speedy decision
brought to the fore her leadership abilities.
Her PA and PTO would refer to MP's calls to leadership in the context of disasters and calamities.
The Governor would always be on top of the situation, they said, making on-the-spot decisions and issuing
commands. She expected her people to be on the site right away. It was during these times that "she does
things she is not required to do as the leader, but does it anyway." The PDCC director observed this during
the Ormoc City flashflood disaster, when MP was one of the first government officials to respond even
though she was not required to be there, Ormoc being a chartered city. These anecdotes indicate that, for
most respondents, leadership qualities are primarily manifested during crisis situations when the
demands are more serious and urgent.

Leadership in Public Service. How do the respondents understand "leadership in public service"
as practiced by MP? What are the situations in which one can clearly see the state and quality of her
practice of leadership? How does her exercise of leadership affect her family?
For MP, "leadership in public service" is "not just giving projects to the barangays. What is
more important is the human face of leadership: doing things that [the people] least expect you will
do for them, joining [with] them in their activities, being present in their celebrations like fiestas." The
Governor believes that leadership is not a mere concept; it has to be seen, heard and felt by the
people one leads. It has to have a human face - and this, she believes, she was able to provide during
her tenure as governor.
Leadership in public service is reciprocal. The Governor says that a leader needs to be present
with and among her constituents and feel their yearnings. In return, the people will assure the leader
of their "loyalty and protect her leadership." The goal of such leadership is the public good, which can
only be ensured if the leader has a sense of accountability to the public, unlike in the private sector
where the leader is accountable to her immediate superior in particular and to the organization in
The PA agrees that leadership in public service should entail presence. She defines presence as
"being there at the right time and even ahead of time." Presence may not be physical but vicarious.
When she was pressed for time, MP ensured that her senior staff would go to represent her in social
functions and other appointments.
Ironically, MP's need to be present to her constituents was also her Achilles heel. Her daily
itinerary was always full. Her first appointment for the day would start on time, but her tendency to
extend her meetings would eat up into the next items on her schedule. At the end of the day (or
dawn, in many cases), people would still be waiting for her. The Governor realized that this was her
weakness, but believed that the people would understand and opt to wait.

Cracks in the Family. Governor MP and her siblings descended from a big political clan in the
western part of the province. Her marriage with somebody who is from a political clan in the
northeastern part consolidated their political hold over the province. Her style of leadership and some
of her decisions, however, had a deleterious effect on her family.
The Governor claims that it was normal for the family members to consult each other, discuss
the careers of those who were politically inclined, and decide collectively. During the past ten years,
however, cracks appeared that led to a painful split among her siblings.
Readings on Japan 20

1995 Elections. The political career of MP began when she succeeded her husband as Governor. Her
brother won his third term as Congressman, while her sister was the mayor of their hometown.

1998 Elections. The 1998 elections became a showdown in MP's family. Her brother, who was not
eligible anymore to run for Congress, asked her to step aside, as he wanted the gubernatorial post
himself. Governor MP declined. Some political observers pointed out that MP could not run for
Congress in her brother's district, as she was a registered voter in another district in which the
incumbent belonged to another powerful political clan. It was a battle royale for the top provincial
post between the two siblings, and MP won her second term.
A daughter of MP's brother ran and won against MP's sister, the mayor of their hometown, in
the race for member of Congress in the district that MP's brother was vacating.

2001 Elections. Governor MP appeared to be on a roll. She won her third term. This time, MP's niece
who was gunning for a second term in Congress was defeated by MP's sister, the former mayor of their

2004 Elections. The 2004 elections saw another rigodon in MP's family. Because she was on her third
term and could not run anymore as governor, she decided to run for Congress in her district. She ran
unopposed, having gained the support of six of the seven mayors.
Taking over MP's post as governor was her son, a management engineering graduate of the Ateneo
de Manila University. He won against a former lead prosecutor in the Estrada impeachment case.
The sister of MP ran for reelection with their brother as opponent, and she won a 2nd term. Thus,
MP and her sister were members of Congress in which they represented different districts in their province
in 2004-2007.

Standing Up to Her Brother. In 1995, MP's husband would not run for Governor anymore. To keep the
family's hold on the post, he persuaded her to run. Her brother, an incumbent Congressman, agreed.
Governor MP recalled that, when her brother expressed his intention to replace her in 1998,
people from all walks of life - especially from far-flung barangays - trooped to her office to implore her to run
again, even if this meant pitting her against her brother. "I had to heed the cry of the people." She was
convinced that the "people liked my style of leadership, especially my presence as their governor, and the
fact that I was able to provide them basic services." She also believed that one term was not enough to
complete her projects in the barangays.
Her decision to run for a second term led to the split among her siblings. The situation was
aggravated in the succeeding elections. An incumbent congresswoman, MP's sister, tearfully recalled
those difficult times when family members had to campaign against each other. What hurt most,
according to MP's sister, were the black propaganda and trumped-up issues. Try as they might, they
could not escape from the way electoral campaigns were conducted in their districts. The voting
masses and their political detractors lapped up the dirty linen that the siblings were apparently
washing in public.
In 2005, MP's brother succumbed to cancer of the lymph nodes. Right before his death, the
three siblings were reconciled.

Marital Separation. While MP's siblings were divided over her decision to run for a second term, her
husband was affected by her style of leadership. When he was governor, he was a macro-manager who
would delegate many tasks to his staff and people in the field. Unlike MP, he rarely visited remote barangays
except to campaign or to inaugurate big projects.
The penchant of MP for paying visits to remote barangays ate up most of her day, leaving her
no time to attend to domestic matters. She came home late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
This did not sit well with the husband and ex-Governor. He tried to persuade MP to let her personnel
instead do the rounds in the villages, but she refused. She also objected to his tendency to interfere in
her decisions. Their unresolved differences eventually led to their parting of ways. According to
observers, their children appear to have remained unaffected by their separation.
The people who worked with MP witnessed the constant friction between the two. Even the
members of MP's staff walked their way around her husband because MP would always remind them,
"Who's the boss around here?" It was hard for the local government officials as well as the Capitolyo
staff to avoid being caught in the middle, but it was harder to ignore the rumors that went with the
domestic fallout.

Personality. Some of MP's problems arose either from her personality and temper or from the
systemic flaws of the bureaucracy. She acknowledged she had a "perfectionist" streak, and
recognized that her staff and other provincial officials found it difficult dealing with her
meticulousness and penchant for details. Puede na 'yan [That is passable] was not in MP's
vocabulary, and when people failed to deliver, she confessed, "unit ang ulo ko" [it would raise my
temper]. Her PTO said, "she wanted things to be done perfectly, to the point that our resources were
often strained because of her high standards." Also, she had a strong work ethic - "she worked and
worked and worked - and she expected her people to do the same."
The penchant of MP to be "hands-on" made her seem makulit [taxing] at times to those
around her. The Governor wanted her personnel to show initiative in any activity or project on the
condition that they gave her feedback every step of the way. When things went awry, one had to be
ready with a good reason. This put a lot of pressure on the personnel. Also, her apparently
boundless energy to be in many places at the same time resulted in insufficient focus on the priority
The Governor might be soft-spoken and "democratic" when dealing with local officials and her
constituents, but she was a hard driver when it came to her staff, according to her PTO. Sloppy work
Readings on Japan 21

was not tolerated. "Kung magalit siya talagang nagsisigaw ...papagalitan ka talaga kahit may ibang
nakarinig" [When she gets angry, she raises her voice and scolds you...even within the earshot of other
people], recalled her PTO.
Many of the staff feared MP because she tended to "exact the best" from them. This was a
reason for the staffs fast turnover - some simply quit, while a few were fired. "[MP] is like a 'mother' -
she is mabait [kind], but when she gets angry, she boils sometimes to the point that she seems to lose
her professionalism," sums up her PTO. But once outside her office, she would be composed especially
when she would be meeting her peers and other high ranking local government officials.
While the staff considered MP a demanding manager, the mayors and SB members who were
interviewed spoke of MP's inability to say "no" to her constituents as a constraint on her leadership. For
them, she was "too understanding and accommodating" that people had a tendency to abuse her
kindness. The PTO said she acted as MP's shield when favor-seekers came, while the PDCC director
said that MP was able turn down favor-seekers in a "sweet" way.

Systemic Problems. The Governor encountered several systemic problems that became constraints
on her ability to exercise effective leadership in the province. These include the following: (a) a lack of
fit between national and local priorities; (b) over-bureaucratic procedures and policies; (c) the
"untouchables" in the bureaucracy; (d) the kanya-kanya [uncooperative] syndrome of turf-conscious
The Governor complained that projects conceived and ordered "from above" were often not in
harmony with local priorities, resulting in the waste of resources. She cited as an example how the
Department of Public Works and Highways controlled the budget for infrastructure projects. If she had
her way, MP said she would "implement the projects as a joint effort" between the national agency and
the province. Better yet, such projects should be handled at the local level because that would lead to
better implementation and monitoring, resulting in "lower operational costs." The Governor said that, to
speed up the process and for cost-cutting purposes, she would plan and implement her own projects
than rely on the national government. Bureaucratic red tape was a bane during her stint.
Her staff and department heads often found it difficult to convince MP that short-circuiting the
bureaucracy, as was often her wont, would do them harm instead of good. "We had to follow policies
and procedures," they said, "lest she - and we - would be hauled before the Ombudsman" by
opponents who were waiting for her to make that blunder. One instance they cited was a project to
distribute agricultural equipment to the barangays. The Governor wanted to buy directly from an
agricultural supplier whose equipment was of good quality. The project team objected because that
would go against "bidding procedures," but MP told them "to find a way" (gumawa kayo ng paraan).
The project team wrote her a letter explaining why they could not do so. As expected, MP showed her
displeasure, but accepted their position.
They recalled another project that MP wanted implemented on the eve of the election
campaign, a no-no in the Omnibus Election Code. The departments heads refused to "find a way" as MP
requested lest that would be used against her in the campaign. "We would have liked to implement that
project, but doing so at that time would have been illegal. It would have killed her [political career]."
Another stumbling block concerned the "untouchables" in the Capitolyo - officers who had
security of tenure but whose loyalty was suspect. These were the people who, in subtle but obvious
ways, stymied MP's efforts to reform the system in the bureaucracy. Her PTO said that MP would have
loved to axe these employees because of their non-performance. It was one of MP's frustrations to be
unable to fire them.
It was MP's dream to see elected officials in the province and the municipalities "work together
[as a team]." But the partisan and personalistic culture of politics in the province often turned that
dream into a nightmare. "Kanya-kanya ang gusto nila" [They wanted to do things their own way], she
lamented. Thus, some of her initiatives, like establishing a one-stop-shop market and the improvement
of the port facilities, could not take off.

Aunthentic Leadership. Two themes can form a basis for saying that a leader in the public sector is
an authentic leader. The first is integrity - the ability to fulfill her promises to the constituents
especially in terms of the delivery of services that would improve their lives. The second, which
appears to be a requirement for the first, is empathy - the ability to feel or share people's aspirations
and needs.
Integrity appears to cut across the opinions of the respondents. In MP's words, "an authentic
leader is one who does what she has promised to the people...ginagawa niya ang kanyang mga sinasabi
para sa ikabubuti ng kanyang mga constituents" [she puts into action (her promises) for the good of her
As for empathy, her PTO said that MP "might not be eloquent in English, but the masses loved
her because she could speak their language." She had the ability to reach out to people's hearts, and
she was "always available to the common tao...close to them." Her knack for sensing the needs of
people enabled her to respond accordingly. Because of this, people reciprocated with their loyalty.
What made leadership in governance interesting for MP? Life, passion, joy, drive...these were
terms used by respondents to describe ingredients of MP's leadership. They agreed that she did not
seem to tire in fulfilling her commitments. The Governor said that it was always a joy to "see the
people happy because I am instrumental in improving their lives." Her PTO added, "MP is a person who
thrives on challenges...The more you challenge her, the more she drives herself...and her drive to
surmount any challenge is infectious."
Public service especially for those in elective positions can be a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week job. In
emergency or crisis situations, for example, private companies and their offices might be closed, but
government offices have to be open. When times are normal, elected officials are also expected, to be on
call to attend to the needs of their constituencies. Her EA asserted that MP worked well whether in
Readings on Japan 22

emergencies or unexciting times. He added that MP's presence and availability sent a strong message to
her constituents - the government will go to you, instead of the other way around.

Leadership and Power. There is no doubt that the respondents perceived MP as a powerful leader, and
in her practice, leadership, position, and power are intertwined. An integral part in the exercise of
leadership, according to MP, is power. "It is leadership that gives you power, and it is [through] power that
you can show your leadership," she says. But power as an integral component of leadership is not
everything, she adds. The exercise of power and authority as a leader in governance should redound to
the benefit of the people by "moving those who have the resources" to help those who are needy so that
they are "enabled to move themselves [towards development]." Moreover, one's power as a leader is
meaningless "if you do not have the ability or the heart to improve people's lives." The Governor adds that
power has been truly exhibited "when you see the rewards of your efforts...seeing the people move not for
you but for themselves."
The department heads agree. Having power as a legitimate leader makes one "confident to
implement programs and make decisions." For them, power is a requirement in the exercise-of
leadership especially in governance: "If you are a leader without power, how can you make people
follow you? Nobody would listen to you or obey you."
Her PTO said that MP "used power to get things done even if resources were not always available."
The Governor also used her connections with those in power to spread her powerbase. Her cousin recalled
the time when MP endorsed to Malacanang her appointment as a member of the judiciary. Many judges in
the province, in fact, owe their appointments to MP, she said. The Governor likewise used her power to
"demand accountability" from her staff and local officials.

Sources of Power. There appear to be external and internal sources of MP's power. The external
sources refer to factors in the environment while internal sources refer to factors that flow from MP's
personality and character. The position of MP as governor was a source of her power. Yet she would add:
"If you have no leadership [qualities], you don't have any business using that power." Closely related to
position is legitimacy to which MP had a claim as somebody who was democratically elected. Her cousin
said another source of MP's power was her connections "to the center of political power, Manila." Her
access to Malacanang, the Senate, the House of Representatives and national agencies was an advantage
in obtaining projects and resources for the province.
Another external source of MP's power comprises socio-political support groups like the
political families of her parents and the political family of her husband. Other socio-political support
groups constitute her clan's balwarte [powerbase] which comprise groups loyal to her interlocking
political families and maintained through political patronage. These include barangays that have
benefited from MP's projects such as medical missions, livelihood projects, day-care centers, and
waiting sheds. Her PTO said that all the small projects in the barangays provided instant name-recall,
which gave MP an edge over her political rivals.
The charisma of MP was an internal source of her power. "Mapa-oo ka sa kanya dahil very
persuasive siya. Kahit mahirap gawin, hana-pan mo ng paraan para magawa mo ang ipinagawa sa iyo"
[You cannot but say 'Yes' to her because she is very persuasive. Even if the task is very difficult, you have
to look for a way to do it], according to the respondents. Her integrity in making campaign promises for
which she would work hard for their fulfillment was another source of MP's power.
The department heads cited the instance when the province hosted the Boy Scouts of the
Philippines National Jamboree, a no mean feat considering the logistics and resources required for the
activity. Her allies in the province were apprehensive not only because of the costs but also because
she could be accused of using the affair for political reasons, as it was nearing election time. "Pero di
siya nagpapigil" [MP could not be dissuaded], they remembered. "We had to do our part, even if the
tasks were beyond us, because we saw that she was working harder than any of us...she would tell us
what to do...'You do this, you do that'...sometimes she did not even bother to consult us. She made all
the decisions, and we just followed her. In the end, she was able to pull it off."

Leadership Standards. The respondents identified three main sources of MP's standards in exercising
leadership and power. These are the codes upheld by the government, her family upbringing, and her
personal work ethic.
As a public servant in local governance, it was incumbent for MP to follow the Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees as well as the Local Government Code. She, however,
was sometimes annoyed at some provisions that seemed to promote inefficiency and to delay project
implementation and service delivery.
Her EA and PTO affirmed that MP's family upbringing influenced her standards in exercising
leadership and power. The families of her parents were not from the "upper classes like the
hacienderos ...they were not born with silver spoons in their mouths." They were "political" families
because they were used to dealing with ordinary people whose votes were invaluable during election
day. Relating with and understanding the common folk became the family's standard in politics.
Even though MP reached out actively to poor people, she never appeared in public sloppily
dressed and without make-up. To her staff, she was a model of elegance. According to her EA, since
MP's parents often had visitors, her mother would not allow any of her daughters "to go out of their
rooms unmade-up." This became part of MP's standard in public service: She never hesitated to tell her
staff to wear make-up or to improve the way they dressed. Her staff recounted that, before they and MP
would appear in the same function, they would get prior information about MP's dress so that they
would not appear wearing a similar outfit or one with the same color.
Her personal work ethic, which she carried over from her days as a court stenographer and then a
finance manager, was another standard in her leadership. She was a "workaholic" who rarely gave herself a
break from her many appointments. "Nahahawa kami sa energy level niya" [We get infected by her energy
level], they said.
Readings on Japan 23

Leadership and Management. Academics tend to make distinctions between leadership and
management. The respondents stressed that, in practice, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
The Governor was quite sure that "leadership and management should go hand in hand" in order
to be effective in the public sector. For her, leadership is required in management: "Kung wala kang
leadership, wala ka ring management" [If you have no leadership (ability), you have no management
Necessary in management are the "systems and policies to put things in order so that you can
implement projects in the right way." But as a leader, one has to have "add-ons" that go beyond systems
and policies.
She cited as an example the implementation of a supplementary feeding project that was part of
a province-wide nutrition program. As the leader responsible for the project, she had to see the bigger
picture and coordinate seemingly unrelated activities. Thus, as a leader, she needed to be able to relate
malnutrition (addressed by the supplementary feeding program) with food availability in each family
(addressed by the Department of Agriculture) and health concerns (addressed by the Department of
Health). Thus, for MP, rojects such as supplementary feeding could not and should not be regarded as
stand-alone efforts. She considered it her job to see the connections and the relationships, to educate
others about the links, and to persuade them so that they would act accordingly. The Governor termed
this leadership ability as "selling your ideas to the right people so that they will believe in you that you
can do it and, at the same time, they will believe in themselves that they, too, can do it...and that I am
there to support them."

How much leadership and how much management is needed to improve public service?
The Governor affirmed that effective basic management would already do much to improve public service.
This did not mean that leadership should be relegated to the backburner. Leadership, for MP, is the sine qua
non for holding together any government organization.
The other respondents saw the necessity of both leadership and management in improving
public service. The department heads - who perceived themselves as both leaders and managers -
believed that there should be a balance between the two. In order to be an effective public servant, one
has to have efficient sytems and procedures guided by relevant policies and, at the same time, have the
people skills, which are within the ambit of leadership. For them, leadership, and not management,
inspires subordinates and followers to act without being ordered. The PDCC director sums this up: "One
needs to manage the organization's resources and one should also have the ability to get other people's
commitment to make things happen."
The cousin of MP would warn against being too rigid in following rules and procedures. She
suggested that leadership in public service means that there are times when one has to bend the rules
(or go beyond the rules) to serve the greater good.

A Square Peg in a Round Hole?

A Profile of Governor Robert Lyndon S. Barbers
Ma. Teresa Ortega-Briones
([2007], Frontline Leadership. Quezon City: Ateneo School of Government and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
Everybody was excited - for the first time, the department heads and Sangguniang Panlalawigan
members were going to Boracay, the world-famous island of white-sand beaches. Fresh on their
minds was the Governor's announcement: this trip was to be the culmination of a series of staff
development and team-building activities. For several days, the Capi-tolyo people had been
scrimping on their daily allowances for their share of the expenses, a strict requirement of the
Governor's. Everyone wanted to enjoy the trip and spend a little bit more than what they could
really afford. Never mind the detractors with their nasty remarks being broadcast over the media,
saying the Governor was having a "junket" using taxpayers' money.
As they boarded the ship that would take them to Cebu City, from where they would travel on to
Boracay, they noticed the Governor carrying a bulging plastic bag from which peeked green tips of leeks
and what seemed like other leafy vegetables. His aide toted another plastic bag with kitchen utensils;
staff members from the Governor's office dragged a huge styro-foam ice box.
Unable to contain their curiosity, someone asked the Governor about the contents of the bags
and the icebox. The Governor proudly opened the bags in one were several kilos of tomatoes, onions,
garlic, and bottles of vinegar and soy sauce as well as other condiments. In the other were cooking
utensils - a set of knives, several ladles, a chopping block, and other kitchen items. In the icebox were
chicken, pork and assorted sea food. The Governor explained, in all seriousness, how much they could
save instead of buying these things in Boracay or elsewhere. There were plenty of raised eyebrows and
suppressed smiles. "Kuripot kaayo, no? Kulang na long dad-on ang tibuok kusina" [He's such a niggard,
no? He might as well have brought the kitchen], they whispered behind his back.
As everybody but the Governor guessed, the tomatoes, leeks and onions did not survive the
trip to Boracay because the contents started rolling out of the plastic bags while they were about to
board the plane. The knives, ladles and chopping block, however, were useful, and the Boracay trip
overall was a success.
Back in Surigao City, everybody had a good time telling the story of the governor whose list of
monikers - Batman, Amerikano,2 estrikto [strict], Hitler - had been getting longer by the day and to which
another had been added: kuripot [niggard]. Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers was aware of these
nicknames, but could only sigh and smile.

Coming of Age. Robert Lyndon S. Barbers is the eldest son of the late Senator Robert 'Bobby' Z.
Barbers and the former Virgie Smith of Makati City.3 Judge Felix V. Barbers (ret.) and Dr. Regina Z, Barbers,
grandparents of Lyndon, recalled that, as a small boy, he was friendly, fun-loving, obedient, and religious.
Readings on Japan 24

During summer vacations, Lyndon would stay with the senior Barbers in Surigao City. His attachment to his
Lolo-Daddy and Lola-Mommy became the foundation of their mentor-mentee relationship.
In those days, Lyndon would go to the wharf with his great-grandfather, Adriano Zabala, who was
the president of the Surigao Labor Union. They would watch the stevedores loading and unloading cargo
from the vessels. Lyndon's playmates were the children of the stevedores who taught him how to speak
the Surigaonon dialect (a variation of the Cebuano language) and, more importantly, what life was at the
pier. His love for the sea (he practically swam everyday with his probinsyano friends) gave him a strong
physique but made him darker so much so that he became the butt of jokes in the family.
Immediately after graduation from high school, Lyndon was sent to the United States for college.
He enrolled in Riverside Community College where he earned an Associate of Arts degree. Barbers then
proceeded to the California State University, San Bernardino, where he graduated with a Bachelor of
Arts in Political Science. To support himself, he worked as a crew member in a McDonald's outlet in Los
While studying in college, Lyndon married Tricia Isidro, a US-raised Filipino who finished a
degree in fashion design. They have three children, Stephanie, Matthew and Luke.

A Reluctant Candidate. Lyndon's stint in government service started in December 1995 when he
worked as his father's technical assistant when the latter was the 2nd district Representative of Surigao
del Norte. In April 1996, Pres. Fidel Ramos appointed Rep. Barbers as Secretary of the Interior and Local
Governments, and Lyndon moved to his father's new office. In July 1997, the President appointed Lyndon
as the National Capital Region (NCR) director of the Tourism Department (DoT).
In 2001, Lyndon was prevailed upon by his father and other family members to run for governor in
their province. At that time, when his father was a Senator while his brother, Ace, was the 2nd district
Representative, he had little interest in running for an elective position. "Politics was forced on me by my
father and brother," he says.

His grandparents, who played a big role in his political life, write in their chronicle:
Lyndon is the rare breed in the family where everyone has now become politically minded. He was
so concerned with his work as NCR director and head of the Tourist Security Division of the DoT....
As grandparents we were at first vehemently against his entering politics because we believed
that inasmuch as he [was] already holding a responsible position in the DoT, his future in tourism
is brighter than embracing a political career because of its uncertainties.

Judge Barbers recalls that his son, Bobby, was hesitant to endorse other gubernatorial aspirants
because the Senator suspected that they were only after the campaign funds. The other reason of the
Senator was the assurance of a win given their family name.
When confronted [with] the decision of his father, Lyndon was asked to give his consent. Reluctant
to enter politics, he told the members of the family that if Lolo Daddy consents to his entering politics; he
will throw his hat into the political arena. He asked me what can I say and being convinced of the validity
of Bobby's arguments, I told him 'to go for broke.'
Lyndon won in the 2001 elections and became, at the age of 32, the youngest governor of the
province. Thus began the reluctant governor who would be reelected in 2004 but would be unsuccessful in
his bid to be the 2nd district Representative in 2007.

Leadership Ways. Leaders have their unique ways of exercising leadership, and Gov. Barbers has
exhibited his own set of practices. He underscores the inspiration that he taps from a number of sources:
My wife - she's very supportive in all the things I do. My children make me think that all the
things that I should do are for the good of the next generations. However, with regard to my
inspiration at the political level, it's no less than my father. And of course, my mother who
instilled in me the moral values as my compass in life. But most of all, God the Father is my
ultimate inspiration. He gives me the strength, courage and wisdom to do the things I have to
do for the good of my province and my constituents according to His will and for His greater

Another source of inspiration is the people he serves. Seeing the people's faces brighten because he is
able to help them is enough "to do better and keep on going." His vision is a "just and God-centered local
In addition, Barbers has distinguished himself in his emphasis on imposing discipline; being
strategic, systematic, and involved; utilizing democratic and consultative processes; encouraging
subordinate initiative; wielding a personal touch; and serving as a role model.

"Strike Board" Discipline. When he assumed office during his first term, Barbers immediately earned
the moniker "Hitler" and estrikto. The Capitolyo staff and local officials were used to doing things their own
way and this did not sit well with Barbers. The Capitolyo people were convinced that Barbers' ways were
not acceptable in Surigao.
Barbers' first term was particularly stormy. It was a kind of love-hate affair with the heads of line
agencies as well as the rank-and-file in the various units. The people had been used to having indulgent
trapos [traditional politicians] run the provincial government, and they expected their newly-elected
governor to work in the same way. This was unacceptable to Barbers, who regarded the provincial
government as "a corporation or a company that provides services." Barbers says, "everybody was
surprised [because] they could not believe that I, being a politician, would treat everyone with a
'corporate attitude.'"
Readings on Japan 25

A panel with pictures and the names of the provincial governor's staff sits inside Barbers'
office. Right beside the pictures were check marks, and above the marks were the words, written in
bold, "Tardy", "Absent", "Mistakes." When asked about the curious-looking panel, Barbers smiled
impishly and explained,
That is my 'Strike Board.' It's my way of instilling discipline in my staff. Outside the office, you
are friends, but when it comes to work, you have to work. Pag palaging late o mali-mali ang
gawa, talagang magagalit ako. [If a staff member is always late or commits the same mistakes
over and over, 1 really get angry.] But I make sure no kung magagalit ako sa kanila [when I get
angry at them], it's a professional anger, nothing personal. I try to balance between [having]
the personal touch and the authority of my position, policy implementation, and exacting
outputs from them.

The "Strike Board" then is there "so that they will leam. If they do it [commit the same blunder] thrice, it
means 'strike [out]' na sila, just like in baseball. 1 have sent some of my staff on 'exile' to hardship
postings, like the provincial jail or one of the islands. In most cases, they learn."
The Four Rules of the Provincial Governor's Office (PGO)
I. DO NOT give the Governor problems without solutions.
II. All instructions of the Governor should be followed unless it will damage the personality
and image of the concerned staff.
III. A three-strike policy with regard to tardiness, absences and mistakes: One is enough;
Two is too much; Three cannot be - you're OUT
III. GENERAL RULE: The Governor is always right. If the Governor is wrong, please refer to Rule IV-1

NOTE: Any PGO staff who disagrees with any of these PGO policies may opt to get out or stick it out.
These policies shall take effect immediately unless sooner revoked.

The Department Heads and other Capitolyo employees who are covered by the Civil Service
Commission are not spared from the PGO rules. "Time is very important for me," Barbers says. "Eight
[o'clock] is eight [o'clock]." Barbers is particularly conscientious when it comes to the "Monday-Friday
syndrome," when employees tend to be tardy on Mondays and leave their offices early on Fridays.
Monday flag-raising ceremonies, mandated for all government workers, have become well-attended
activities, with Barbers waiting for the employees to arrive.
Judge Barbers says Lyndon is "strict and is a disciplinarian... ayaw niya ma-late sa pagpasok sa
office o pag-start ng activity" [he doesn't like people to be late coming to the office or starting any
activity]. While he had mellowed a bit on his second term, the Governor did not change when it came to
punctuality. Local government officials in the municipalities and the barangays, as well as other
government employees, had learned to be on time for their appointments and activities. He says:
Kayo kung may barangay o town affair at di makapag-umpisa ng ta-mang oras, bibigyan ko sila
ng ilang minuto. Then, kung they don't start, aalis na ako. I tell them na hindi lang ito ang
trabaho ko. [If there is a barangay or town affair and they don't start on time, I usually give
them a few more minutes. Then, if they still don't start, I leave. I tell them I also have other
things to do.]

I remember one time when I was invited to a function in one of the public schools. It was getting late,
and I still had other appointments. I was very frank with the teachers. I told them na alam ko utang na
loob ko sa inyo itong position ko, but then, hindi lang kayo ang nauutangan ko ng loob. May iba pa, at
dapat puntahan ko rin sila, ayaw ko na ma-late doon, nakakahiya baka naman masyadong dramatic
entrance o pa-VIP. [I told them I realize I owe my position to you, but then, you are not the only ones
that I owe my position to.
There are others, and I also have to see them. I don't want to be late in my appointment with
them. It would be embarrassing on my part if I come in like a prima donna or some VIP.]
It was difficult for him to adjust to the so-called Filipino time, used as he was to being on the
dot. Eventually, people adjusted. He says:
Sila dapat ang mag-adjust sa akin kasi sa dami-dami nila at ako lamang mag-isa kaya pag
may affair sa barangay o town at invited ako, di na nila ako ilagay sa first part. Sa kalagitnaan
na ang number ko, at kung 10 a.m. ang time ko, dapat makapagsalita na ako sa ganoong
oras. [They should adjust to me because they are so many and I'm only one. That's why they
won't place me during the first part of a program in a barangay or town activity. They have
learned to place my speaking part somewhere mid-program, and if the program says I am to
speak at 10 a.m., then I should speak at that time.]

Strategic and Systematic. Barbers' style of governance is often described as systematic and
strategic. It is strategic in the sense that his vision and plans are clear and communicated to the people.
At the same time, he takes into consideration the bigger picture; national priorities, actual conditions in
the province, the needs of his constituents, and the availability of resources both human and material are
considered beforehand. In terms of integration, Barbers says, "there is always coordination between our
projects and national projects, especially if we - the province, the municipalities, the barangays - are
required to put up counterparts."
One of his staff cites the province's program to increase the agricultural output. When Barbers
learned that majority of farmers were dependent on rice production, he ordered the provincial office of
the Department of Agriculture (DA) to "think of other ways like inter-cropping so that the farmers will
have other sources of revenue while waiting for their rice to be harvested."
He also pushed the DA to upgrade old-fashioned ways of rice farming. However, others found it
necessary to balance Barbers' output-orientation ("resulta agad" [immediate results]) with the locals'
Readings on Japan 26

leisurely way of doing things. "We found the going difficult because the attitude of the farmers in America
was different from the attitude of those in Surigao," says one staff member. "While farmers in the US are
big-time and they have the technology and the machines, our farmers are still using the daro-daro [plow]
system. But we assured Barbers that we would do our best to educate our farmers on how to improve
their production. But we had to caution him and ourselves - dahan-dahan lang kasi di pwede mabilis ang
success" [we should do it gradually and slowly because there is no shortcut to success].
Barbers' style of governance follows a system. For instance, prior to formulating the budgets, he
meets all the department heads, informing them of his priorities per department and consulting them about
the feasibility of implementing specific projects. Once priorities have been agreed upon, he asks the
department heads to meet with their respective staff to draw up plans complete with budget estimates,
which are then submitted to him. "In this way, the concepts for the programs and projects as well as the
details of each plan do not only come from Gov but also from the department heads and their staff," says
one staff member.
Barbers amazes the department heads with his ability to discuss each of their programs in
detail, including figures in their budgets. In this way, he participates in the planning, implementation,
and monitoring of programs. He encourages the rank-and-file to attend the meetings "to let them know
what we are discussing and planning" as well as to hear their inputs and get to know them better on a
personal basis.
Barbers is a "hands-on" person, according to his staff, especially when it comes to monitoring a
program or project. Because it is impossible for him to personally follow up all ongoing projects, he has
set up a Community Affairs Office. He meets the department heads twice a month for feedback or
updates. "Bitbit niya ang records ng monitoring ng kanyang Community Affairs Office. Kukumustahin niya
isa-isa. At dahil alam niya ang programs ng bawat department, hindi sya pwedeng lokohin" [He would
bring with him the records of the Community Affairs Office. He would ask how the programs are
faring...and because he knows the details of the programs of each department, nobody can fool him],
says his staff members. He can recite, for example, the number of fruit trees planted in a particular
barangay, and the report of the concerned department should tally with what he knows.Barbers' seeming
obsession with monitoring and updated information about his projects is attributed to two things. First, he
is intent on ensuring that his projects make a difference on the lives of people. "Gusto niya may impact
sa mga tao ang aming ginagawa" [Our projects should have impact on the people], say the department
heads. Second, he wants his people to perform. "He wants us to be effective leaders in our respective
units, that we perform our roles." They add:
Pag may hindi magandang mangyayari sa [project or program] implementation, kami lahat ang
ma-blame kasi lahat kami involved. Pag maganda naman, kami lahat ang pinupuri. [If
something goes wrong with implementation, all of us are to be blamed because we are all
involved in it. But if everything goes well, all of us get commendations.]

Barbers reminds everyone in the Capitolyo that every program and project should have ROI [return on
investment] - "dapat may income tayo d'yan, pati sa investment natin" [we should earn some income
from the projec and investment], he would say when a project is about to be launched When he sees that
the budget for a project cannot be supported in toto the province, he would look for funds from other
sources. "Magaling siya so [he is talented at] networking, sa fund sourcing," observe the department

Democratic and Consultative Actions. While there are Surigaonons who think that Barbers is
authoritarian and too aggressive especially with his belief that he is always right in the end, there are
others who mention his democratic and consultative actions as a leader.
One of the things the department heads like about Barbers is his receptivity when told that his
directive cannot be done due to some legal or procedural impediment. If questions come up regarding a
proposal for farmers, for instance, he will not hesitate to call for a meeting of the agricultural sector in a
particular town to validate the data.
Whenever Barbers does the rounds in the municipalities, he calls the barangay chairs to the
poblacion [town center] where they discuss community needs and possible interventions. He would ask
them to submit resolutions or proposals, regardless of party affiliations. To Barbers, "dapat ang taong
bayan maka-beneftt din, hindi lang mga political leaders [the citizens also should be able to benefit, not
only the political leaders], as long as these projects are within the executive agenda." In the process, he
has visited all 27 municipalities, one city, and 435 barangays. He is the first governor in the history of the
province who has visited all the barangays.
One council member attests that he listens to the comments of the Sanggu-niang Panlalawigan
members. He has this line during their sessions, "Sulti mo kung ganahan mo o dili. Basta please feel free to
talk" [Tell me (your comments) whether you like (my proposal) or not].
Aside from conferring with his inner circle within the bureaucracy, the Governor consults his
mentor, his grandfather. He never fails to seek advice especially when legal matters are involved. With a
laugh, Judge Barbers says, "[He has to consult me], otherwise, I will spank him!"

Subordinate Initiative. Governor Barbers expects his subordinates to exercise initiative in their
work. Woe to a department head or staff member who whines and whimpers before him.
I would reprimand them with the reminder: 'Don't give me problems without solutions.' Kasi sa
dami kong concerns and problems na hinahawakan, bibigyan pa ako ng problema lalo na kung maliit na
bagay lang [With my many concerns and problems, they will still add trivial problems at times]. 'Kaya mo
yan, e' [You can do it], I would tell them. What I want to hear from them is something like this: 'Gob, ito,
may problema tayo pero ginawan ko ng paraan. Ok ba ito?' [Gov, I have a problem but here's my
solution. Is this okay?] So I tell them, 'Okay 'yan, pero dagdagan natin 'yan. Ganito ang paraan natin.
Hindi n'yo pa ba naisip gawin [That's okay, but let me add to it. This is how we will do it. Haven't you
Readings on Japan 27

thought of this] especially we've been together for almost five years na? This is now my second term, still
you don't know the way I work, the way I think? Do I still have to remind you every time?'
Some employees in the Capitolyo perceive Barbers' style of management to be un-Filipino so
that they feel ill at ease before him. While he may be Amerikano or "brutally frank," he is also
"trusting" and "confident that we can do our jobs," according to the department heads. They have
accepted this fact of his personality because, "at least, alam namin saan kami nag-kakamali" [we know
where we go wrong].

Personal Touch. Barbers claims he is a "listening" person with a personal touch: "My leadership
[style] has a personal touch...they [constituents] can see me any time and they can tell me their
problems or concerns. I listen to them and give advice if needed," he says. His experience tells him
that three things are important when "dealing with people: "First, you should gain the respect of your
constituents; second, you should be a good listener; and third, you should personalize leadership." To
personalize interaction with a constituent, "you should be able to go down or up to [his or her] level."
Judge Barbers and PGO staff have observed that the Governor has tried harder to exude
friendliness in public. His speeches are peppered with jokes. Even his reprimands sound like he is joking.
He attends informal employee gatherings, like the Family Day Celebration, where he and the members of
his family also vied for prizes. Lately, employees have come out of his office with huge grins on their faces
after being given a pat on the back for jobs well done.
Barbers has been like a "stage father" to his employees. "Pag may activity kami, andoon siya,
nagco-coach sa amin, o siya mismo ang mag-facilitate" [When we have activities, he is there, coaching
us, or facilitating], they report.
Barbers is known to admit his mistakes and apologize - in public or over the radio - to people
whom he wronged inadvertently. Some PGO staff remember an incident during his first term when he
reshuffled several department heads and health administrators of government-run health facilities
without the benefit of a comprehensive consultation. The respondents said barbers was too trusting
with his so-called advisers who took advantage of the neophyte governor.
His personal touch has helped him mediate and resolve conflicts. The respondents still
remember the polarization of the employees when he took over: some old-timers - holdovers of the
previous administration - resisted the Governor's change initiatives, while another group openly
supported him. The media had a heyday feasting on the "incompetence" of the new Governor.
Barbers conducted consultations to trace the source of the conflict. This led to the series of
teambuilding activities, including a Family Day, which has been institutionalized as an annual
fellowship activity, as well as the trip to Boracay.
Barbers is known to be gender-sensitive, perhaps because of his stint as NCR director and head
of the Tourist Security Division of the DoT. This unit is responsible for giving protection and other
assistance to tourists all over the country, and deals with the problems of pedophilia and sex tours. He
claims to abhor the display of women like they were objects:
Ayaw ko sa mga mutya-mutya kaya 'di ako pumupunta sa mga coronation. Kasi ayaw ko na
parang pino-promote ang mga kababai-han na parang isang bagay na pwedeng bilhin, lalo
na kung ang hihintayin ng mga tao ay ang bikini portion. [I have never liked beauty
contests that's why I refuse invitations to crown local queens. I don't like it when women
are promoted like commodities, especially when people are looking forward to one thing -
the bikini swimsuit portion.]

Leadership by Example. Barbers is conscientious about projecting a particular image to his

constituents and employees. He is punctual and at his office before 8 o'clock in the morning "para
maipakita ko na kayang hindi ma-late" [so that I can show that being on time can be done]. His staff
claim that he has no time for leisure activities like mahjong. Some of them several times have
witnessed Barbers working in his office during weekends, poring over documents.
Barbers tries to show to his constituents that he is a different politician. He refuses to have his
personal travel and other expenses reimbursed (like his trips to and from Manila, where his family
resides), unlike other officials. He says:
When I go to Jollibee, pumipila din ako kasi that's the policy - na kaya kong gawin ang
ipinapatupad noting order [I also join the queue because that's the policy - that I, too, can
follow what is required to have order].8 Noong may festival sumali ako sa cleaning, at noong
nag-concert isa ako sa nagbabantay, parang tanod. Dala kopamaspas o pamalo. Nagpu-pulis ako
para ma-secure ang peace and order. [During the (Bonok-Bonok) festival,91 joined in the clean-up
efforts, and during the concert I was a guard, patrolling the place with a nightstick. I helped police
the place.] I like simple living. Wala akong bagong sasakyan mula sa pagka-upo ko rito. Minsan
nagmo-motor lang ako. [I have not acquired a new vehicle since I assumed office. Sometimes I
just go around in a motorcycle.]

His practice of frontline leadership sometimes places him in dangerous situations, which seem to excite
him. Judge Barbers narrates that Lyndon organized a composite team of law enforcers to go after drug
pushers and users.11The team was able to secure search warrants, and conducted a series of lightning
raids that apprehended more than 22 suspects in a month's time.
Barbers personally led most of these raids, thus the "Batman" moniker. Barbers says he wanted
to cover all the bases during these operations: He would lead the raid to keep an eye on the law
enforcers (who were known to use illegal means in apprehending suspects, such as planting evidence or
pilfering confiscated items), and he would bring some members of the media to keep an eye on
everybody, including himself.
Barbers' example has made an impact on other local officials. One mayor, for instance, says: "I
am trying to follow his style kay mas maayo man ang relasyon sa mga kaubanan sa trabaho [because it
Readings on Japan 28

helps in improving one's relationship with one's co-workers]. He is a professional ug binag-o ang iyang
leadership style. Dili siya trapo." [His leadership style is progressive. He is not a traditional politician.]

Leadership Moments.Barbers and the other respondents recount several stories about "moments of
leadership." He believes he is called to leadership whenever he acts as "mediator" in conflict situations.
For instance, he is sometimes forced to step in during budget deliberations when mayors fight over who
gets the biggest share of the pie. Barbers feels thankful for his training in Labor Management Conflict
Settlement during his stint in the DoT when he was often called to attend to labor disputes.
His staff members recall an instance when the Governor made a tough decision. Neophyte as he
was on his first term, he thought he could rely on his father's trusted lieutenants who were old hands in
the Capitolyo. These "advisers" influenced him to make precipitate decisions. A high-ranking provincial
official, who was close to his father and who acted as adviser, was engaging in shady transactions and
was exposed. Torn between axing the official and retaining him out of respect for his father, the Governor
decided to "stand for what is right." Even his opponents admired his gumption for firing the official, who
later turned against him and the entire Barbers family.
In 2004, the Provincial Board and the mayors were in mid-session when they received word of a
hostage incident in Tubod, a sleepy town. A family had been taken hostage by a man wanted by the
military. Barbers calmly announced that he was going to attend to the crisis. Upon being told to let the
police or the military take care of the situation, he answered, "I have to be there. Iba yung pulis, iba rin
ang tatay ng province" [The police is one thing, the father of the province is another]. Barbers ended up
negotiating with the hostage-taker, fearing that the soldiers, all battle-ready, would start shooting. His
skills as a mediator came in handy, and the situation was resolved peacefully with the hostage-taker
landing in jail.
On another occasion, Barbers personally led the rescue and relief operations during a landslide in
Barangay Rizal in Surigao City. "He was there, nan-gunay pagtrabaho [leading the operations], mobilizing
resources and, overall, very responsive in helping the people who were affected," they recall.

Environmental Issues.Surigao del Norte is known as a mineral-rich province where mining is one
of the leading industries. In recent years, the environmental and social effects of mining have been
felt in the province. The Manila Mining Company, operating in the Municipality of Placer, had a tailings
pond leakage, an incident that threatened nearby communities. Barbers was just starting out on his
first term when residents and groups of small-time miners accused the mining firm of violating the
provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 with regard to the protection of the environment and the
community. Environmental groups added their voice to the issue.
Barbers and other provincial officials visited the area to assess the situation and to hear the
residents and affected groups. They concluded that allowing the mining operations to continue would
put the people and the environment at unacceptable risk. The provincial government lobbied for the
closure of the mine site. Barbers personally asked the assistance of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, of
which he is a leading member, to support the lobby. Not long after, the mining operations closed down.
The issue did not end there. Barbers wanted an institutionalized and sustainable response.
Thus, he started the ball rolling to formulate a master development plan that would deal with
environmental and mineral resources issues. The process was participatory, involving various sectors
and stakeholders including government and non-government organizations, faith-based organizations,
the academe, the media, the local development councils, municipal councils, and barangay leaders. The
outcome of this process was the "Environmental Code of Surigao del Norte" and the "Provincial Mineral
Resources Development Master Plan," which was conceived as a "guide in all mining development
undertakings of the province." Barbers hopes that both documents will "significantly direct the
development of the province's natural resources and wealth through collaborative involvement of the
different sectors in society."

Leadership Measures.For Barbers, a leader in public service should have the capacity to determine and
address the needs of the people in order to uplift their lives. A public servant may not be a leader but a mere
follower. It takes more to be a leader in the public sector whose actions and character can be evaluated
through the following measures: willingness to sacrifice; quality of priorities; transparency, honesty and
integrity; commitment to participatory and shared responsibility; and capacity to increase revenues.

Sacrifice. Sacrifice, for Barbers, is the ability of a leader to give up something that is personally valuable
for the common good. He says:
Sa totoo lang, wala sa intensyon ng isang totoo at tapat na lider in public service ang
magpapayaman. Ang totoo, maghihirap ka sa public service kahit mayaman ka dahil mag-
aabono ka. [Truth to tell, a genuine leader in public service has no intention to enrich himself.
In fact, you will suffer in public service even if you happen to be rich because you will spend
personal resources.] But that's where your leadership and managerial skills are needed.
Leadership in public service requires a lot of sacrifices, a lot of critical decision-making and
political will.

Another aspect of sacrifice is the willingness and capacity to listen to the problems and concerns of
others with a view to helping them. He says:
Dito sa Capitol, lahat ng problema napapakinggan mo. Lahat nga mga tao diyan na nakapila sa
labas ay may kanya-kanyang problema - bayad sa kuryente, bayad sa tubig, tuition fee,
hospitaliza-tion, pamasahe, kabaong, embalsamo. Grabe na siguro ang problema ko kung
hingan pa ako ng advice ng isang farmer kung ano ang gagawin kung ang kanyang kalabaw ay
nakipag-away sa kalabaw ng kanyang kapitbahay. Tag mangyari 'yan, mag-suicide na talaga
akol (Laughter)
Readings on Japan 29

[Here in the Capitol, you listen to all kinds of problems. Each of those people lining up outside my
office has a problem - the electric bill, the water bill, tuition fee, hospitalization, transportation
fare, coffin, embalming. It would really be the pits if a farmer whose carabao has been fighting
with the carabao of his neighbor asks me for advice on what to do. If that happens, I will
commit suicide! (Laughter)]

Quality of Priorities. The priority programs and services that bring about development are also
determinants of the quality of leadership in public service. Barbers' priorities were chosen owing to their
impact and net benefits.

Governor Barber's Priorities: Promoting the Tourism Industry. Surigao del Norte is no longer
primarily known as the nickel-producing province. Today, it is a tourist destination attracting people
from the world over. This was aided in part by the Governor's stint in the DoT, and partly by his
brother, Robert Dean Barbers, who is the General Manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority.
According to Barbers, Surigao del Norte seeks to be "globally competitive... that's why tourism is
one of my priorities.... We have [one of the] best surfing areas..." So one of the first things Barbers did
was to map out a tourism strategy. He set his sights on Siargao Island, among others, specifically the
town of General Luna, where giant or Cloud 9 waves that curl in on themselves are ideal for surfing. He
organized the annual international surfing competition with local and international contestants.
Despite the windfall the industry can bring to the environment, Barbers is "sensitive" to moral
and ethical issues. He has put in place policies and mechanisms to mitigate the negative impacts of
the tourism industry. He says "sensitive ako d'yan - kung may makita akong mga foreigners na mga
bata ang kanilang kasama - n'yun bang issue ng pedophilia" [1 am sensitive to that - if I see foreigners
bringing along children - the issue of pedophilia]. His office closely coordinates with the Department of
Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police, and the local governments.

Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign. Surigao City, because of its strategic location, has unfortunately
become a transit point in the illegal drugs trade. Barbers has led raiding teams on suspected drug
dens. By participating in the drug Transparency, Honesty, and Integrity.
Barbers realizes that, without capable and dedicated human resources, good governance in the
province is impossible. With this end in view, a "moral recovery program" was set in place to target all
employees and staff from the Capitolyo down to the municipal and barangay offices.
Businessmen who transact with the provincial government have second thoughts about giving
money to facilitate transactions since the Governor makes it known that he disapproves it. He says:
Transparency ang kailangan palagi, walang hokus pokus kaya tu-maas ang revenue namin kasi
marami ang nagbabayad na ng buwis. At ang pera pumasok sa government treasury kasi wala
na ang areglo-areglo at walang lulusot kaya wala naman ang empleyadong gagawa o papayag
sa 'SOP'.

[What we need is transparency always, no hocus-pocus. Because of this, our revenue has
increased, as many people pay their taxes (and other fees). The money goes to the treasury
because there are no under-the-table deals, nothing illegal goes through, and thus no employee
makes or accepts 'SOP.'

A campaign for transparency and honesty has improved basic services delivery. The Provincial Health
Officer cites the accessibility of low-priced medicines in public hospitals and health centers. The
procurement process has been streamlined, following strict bidding procedures. Judge Barbers recalls that
this was set in place after Lyndon discovered the anomalous purchase of expired medicines worth millions.
While past administrations used public resources and employees in their election campaigns,
Barbers avoided this practice, and he did not mobilize •the department heads for his campaign sorties. He
tried to be fair by rejecting the practice of firing employees hired by previous administrations. Instead,
employees were fired only with sufficient basis.
Barbers has the "ability to translate his words and promises into action," say his department
heads. The Governor is known for going into the fray instead of merely delegating tasks. For instance,
at the height of the antidrug advocacy program, Barbers went "from school to school, talking to the
students and administrators. He also visited churches and chapels where he presented the evils of
illegal drugs using power-point presentations." He has the ability also to separate work from play:
"Kung trabaho, trabaho gyod; kung lipay-lipay, lipay-lipay gyod" [When it's work, we really work; when
it's time to relax, we relax], says a staff member.

Shared Responsibility. Barbers puts a premium on having the local governments, sectoral groups, and
citizens organizations participate in governance. "Partnership" in a project can mean 50 percent funding
from the provincial government, with the other 50 percent shouldered by the partner LGU. The province
works with NGOs with good track records, using the 50-50 scheme. The LGU (or NGO) implements and the
provincial government monitors and evaluates.
For Barbers, dole-outs have no place in governance, except in emergencies. The principle of quid
pro quo operates every time the government provides services. Barbers makes it clear to project
beneficiaries, such as farmer groups, that it is their obligation to pay their taxes "as their share so that
the government can continue implementing projects."
According to his staff, government-run hospitals and health centers in the province, as part of his
no dole-out policy, ask for a minimal consultation fee of PI 5 per indigent patient. This brings additional
revenue for health and medical services. This policy was the result of a consultation process with
municipal and barangay health professionals and health workers.
Readings on Japan 30

Against Nepotism. Barbers is clear on his stand against nepotism. Relatives are banned from directly
or indirectly benefiting from any project or activity on account of his position as governor.
Several incidents tested his commitment in this matter. Once, a relative caught operating a
sand-and-gravel quarrying business with no license or permit was brought to court. A cousin was
arrested for alleged illegal gambling operations. Their appeals to Lyndon went unheeded. "They were
very angry at me, but I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't want to jeopardize my governance and
leadership. I just wanted the law to take its course," says Barbers of the incidents.
Even those closest to the Governor have had to exercise caution to avoid being perceived as
currying favors from him. Dr. Regina Barbers, his grandmother and a former Vice-Governor of the
province, relates that she and other family members have respected the boundaries set by the Governor.
As the incumbent chairwoman of the Red Cross-Surigao del Norte Chapter, Dr. Barbers is often in the
public eye, conducting medical missions and other welfare services. "I see to it na 'di ako naka-front, o di
ako magpapakilala na ako ang lola ni Gov. Otherwise, baka mababahiran ang kanyang leadership" [I see
to it that I am not there out front, or introduced as the grandmother of the Governor. Otherwise, his
leadership might get tainted], she says.
Some relatives and family friends think the Governor has gone overboard in this matter, Judge
Barbers says. Even relatives with legal business with the Capitolyo are affected. For instance, a cousin's
bid for a catering service was rejected by Lyndon. "Walang kamag-anak na sumasama sa bidding in
whatever form o gusto magpapa-endorse para employment sa Kapitolyo" [No relatives are allowed to
participate in any bidding in whatever form, or to be endorsed for employment in the Capitol], the
grandfather adds. Unlike nepotism, however, a "political dynasty" is not regarded by the Governor as
wrong, as long as the free will of the voters prevails.
According to Dr. Barbers, job applicants have sought the grandparents' endorsement for
employment in the Capitol. They invariably advise them to go to the Personnel Office. "Kung
qualified sila, madawat sila. Dili g'yod 'mi manghilabot kay masuko si Lyndon. Dili 'mi gusto nga
maglabad ang iyang ulo" [If the applicants are qualified, then they might be hired. We don't want to
intervene because Lyndon gets angry. We don't want to be a headache to him], she adds.

Organizational Problems. Barbers had to confront organizational and personal leadership problems.
The most serious organizational issue he had to deal with as a neophyte governor was the change-
resistant culture of the bureaucracy at the Capitol, which had seen better times, not to mention the
partisan mentality of most of the local officials. His political science background and his business
management orientation would have a difficult encounter with the ingrained habits of the organization
and the individuals comprising it. His situation was like that of a square peg being hammered into a
round hole.
Most employees and officials found it difficult to adjust to Barbers' work ethic and no-nonsense
attitude in dealing with them. Barbers admits "they were shocked when I took over" because they were
used to 2-hour lunch breaks. Most employees had a hard time reforming their easy-going ways.
As soon as he assumed office, Barbers started coming in before 8 a.m., working through lunch
break, and going home late. He institutionalized his policy of punctuality and accuracy with his "Strike
Board." It was initially difficult for the PGO staff, but they eventually learned. The department heads
were not spared. He placed a time-in/time-out logbook inside his office where he saw - and thus
monitored - them signing in. This had a "multiplier effect," according to Barbers: because the heads
had to stay in their offices for the required number of hours, their respective staff members had to do
the same.
Small changes produced small victories. Upon assuming office, Barbers began to require every
employee to wear an ID; no one was allowed entry without it. He wanted his staff to look smart before their
clients, so he ordered strict adherence to a "dress code." The story is told of Barbers taking this so seriously
that, once while passing by a female employee on her way home, he stopped his motorbike and jokingly
told the employee that she would look better if she wore high-heeled shoes instead of sandals.
During conferences or unannounced visits to the offices, women staff members are instructed to
apply makeup on their faces. This particular policy started off another round of complaints - and name-
calling. Some suspected Barbers of being gay because of his seeming obsession with high-heeled shoes and
Another issue Barbers looked into when he assumed office referred to the qualifications of his
employees. To some people this smelted of a witch-hunt. Barbers saw the qualification assessment as a
way of helping the employees improve their skills because "when I came in [many] people in the
organization were not qualified for their positions." He suspects that many got appointed "because of
political accommodations." The department heads, who cannot forget that incident, say, "there was a gap
between him and us with regard to who were qualified."
Barbers proudly claims that he himself goes the rounds and monitors the offices. "Kung wala
ako, nag-a-assign ako ng tigbantay, at ang tigbantay, pinabantayan ko rin" [When I'm not around, I
assign someone to monitor the offices, but I also ask another person to watch the monitor], he says
with a smile.
A close circle of friends composed of several department heads and provincial officials tries to
balance Barbers' Amerikano image. They provide him feedback about the impressions and reactions of
Capitolyo employees with regard to his policies and pronouncements. They act as his "brakes" to slow him
down when he wants things done posthaste. They try to make him understand the Surigaonon way of life -
the inato culture of exhibiting behavior appropriate only in one's household or familiar territory such as
wearing slippers and casual clothes. By his second term, Barbers had learned the ropes and made some
adjustments to local ways.

Dealing with the President. As governor and local party leader, Barbers encountered dilemmas
relating to the political environment of the country and the national leadership. He thinks that the
prevailing political system puts more importance on what one has said rather than what one has done. For
Readings on Japan 31

him, the highest criterion of leadership in public service comes down to what one has accomplished for
the good of the constituents.
He confesses to being appalled, at times, with the way the national leadership decides and
manages its affairs, but he tries to be prudent, and finds a way to soften the impact on his people. He
I try to find ways in making this and that particular request or instruction na maganda pa rin
ang kalabasan [to still come out good]...Using my own discretion, gagawan ko ng paraan. Kasi
tuwing magbibigay siya ng instruction sa akin, parang... 'Ooooops.'[I try to find a way.
Because each time she gives me instructions, it's like...'Ooooops.']

The Governor and the rest of the Barbers clan had been subjected to intrigues because, despite their
claim to be political allies of Pres. Gloria Ma-capagal Arroyo, Rep. Ace was among those who signed the
impeachment complaint against the President in 2005. Lyndon asserted that he would not exert
influence on Ace when it came to matters deliberated in Congress, but the Barbers family expressed its
support for Ace after he made his decision on the impeachment. At the same time, another brother,
Dean, remained a presidential appointee as head of the Philippine Tourism Authority. Thus, detractors of
the Barbers family have said that it engaged in a dishonorable game to ensure that it would have a
share in the spoils no matter which side would win in the battle between the administration and the

Dealing with Painful Criticism. Current local politics is highly partisan and personality-oriented, and
under this system, any public official is considered fair game. "Ang hirap dito kahit sino ang nakaupo at
kahit gumawa ka ng mabuti titirahin ka pa rin ng oposisyon" [The problem is, whoever sits in office,
even if you do well, the opposition will always find fault in what you do], according to Barbers' staff.
Barbers appears unaffected by the brickbats thrown at him - usually through the "paid
media" - and laughs off his critics. He says that he takes criticisms as "inspiration to do better." He
likes to say in public: "Tapos na ang politika pagkatapos ng eleksyon. Lahat mag-cooperate kahit
iba't-iba'ng political parties for the development of the province" [Politicking should end right after
the elections. All should work together even those from different political parties].
Despite his hard image, Barbers, the governor, has a soft side, which seems vulnerable to
attacks. He admits to being hurt when his detractors say his efforts to mingle with ordinary people and
to be like everybody else (such as queuing at fastfood restaurants) are just "pa-pogi points" [deeds for
His co-workers in the Capitolyo also whenever his father was criticized.In October 2003,
Newsbreak, a weekly magazine, published an article, "Barbers Cut," which showed a wide discrepancy
between the declared wealth and properties of Sen. Barbers, on the one hand, and his government salary on
the other. The Senator and his sons filed a libel suit against the author, Gemma Bagayaua, and the editorial
board. The article won for its author a Jaime V. Ongpin Award for Investigative Journalism.
In April 2004, during the campaign period in which Sen. Bobby was running for a 2nd term, Rep.
Ace was running for a 3rd term, and Gov. Lyndon was running for his 2nd term, the TV show,
Imbestigador, conducted an "expose" that seemed to suggest that the Barbers brothers were involved in
acts of corruption and murder. The brothers claimed that the program had allowed itself to be used by
their political nemesis, the Matugas clan, and they filed a libel suit against the show's host and the

Dealing with Favor-Seeking Supporters. Gov. Lyndon and Rep. Ace were reelected in 2004 but Sen.
Bobby was not. The Governor would complain about people who trooped to his office or residence asking for
this or that favor as a quid pro quo for supporting him during the election. In his view, the problem centers
on the Filipino value of utang na loob in which one tends to become beholden to another person for a favor
bestowed. Barbers says:
I have to be sensitive to the attitude and behavior of the typical Filipino. I have to deal with
things like pakikiusap [asking for a favor], utang na loob [returning a favor], political the mayor who is my political ally and who asks that his son be
employed in the Capitolyo even if the guy is not qualified.... So where do we start? Kaya sabi
ko [That's why I say] the only way this country can change and progress is to have genocide

Those whose requests could not be accommodated would react like jilted lovers and seek out a higher
authority like the Senator when he was still alive. The father would ask his son to respond favorably to
supporters as much as possible. The PGO then had to devise a system in which employment seekers
would be sent to one office while those seeking something more "personal" would be allowed to see
the Governor or referred to the appropriate department. Nevertheless, PGO personnel have not
hesitated to turn down those lacking qualifications. Jilted favor-seekers would spread nasty stories
about the Governor, who would conclude that the economic state of the province is still problematic
and for which better education would be the long-term solution.

A Promise by His Father's Deathbed. Bobby Barbers passed away in December 2005, and at
his deathbed he made Lyndon, the eldest son, swear that he and his brothers would not abandon
Surigao. "Mahirap tumanggi sa kahilingan ng isang taong mala-pit na mamatay" [it is difficult to
say no to a person who is dying], Lyndon affirms. In the 2007 elections, Lyndon ran for
Representative and lost while Ace ran for Governor and won.
Lyndon has said that what he wanted was to be a career person in some government office
or private company and not to be in politics. As an ex-Governor, will he still try to exercise leadership
Readings on Japan 32

in Surigao or somewhere else, in governance or in business? Will he still abide by his father's request,
and how will he choose to do so?

A Concoction of Luck, Hard Work, and Science

A Profile of Governor Josefina "Josie" Mendoza de la Cruz
* Joy Aceron and Vina Vicente
([2007], Frontline Leadership. Quezon City: Ateneo School of Government and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
"She had just turned 21, a fresh graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University. Like any young adult,
Josefma Mendoza or Josie, as she is luridly called, was hanging out with her friends with whom she
comfortably shared her thoughts and dreams. It was local election season in February 1980 in a
country still under Martial Law. Not too many people were keen nhout running under the ruling party,
the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL, New Society Movement), owing to growing dissent towards the
dictator, 1'resident Ferdinand Marcos. It was difficult for the KBL to complete a slate In some locales.
While hanging out in the streets in a day that would change her life, losie and her friends
were watching candidates who were going around campaigning. Since Marcos suspended
elections during the first 6 years of Martial Law, they were curious about the electoral exercise. It
was at this moment, in a sudden illumination, Josie remarked aloud, "Gusto ko rin kumandidato" (I
also want to run for office).
It was as if those words were heard by the gods that, in an unexpected turn of events a few
days before the deadline for the filing of candidacy, one of the KBL candidates for councilor backed out
from the race. With not much time left to find a candidate, one of the KBL members remembered
hearing Josie in the streets saying she wanted to run. Perhaps because of the absence of alternatives,
the local KBL sought out Josie and drafted her to run for councilor of Bocaue.
She filed her candidacy ten minutes before the deadline with her photograph to follow. To
the surprise of many, the young Josie Mendoza topped the elections, becoming the youngest
councilor of Bocaue. In less than two I decades, she would become the first female Governor of

Luck in the Rise to Power. The rise to power of Josie Mendoza—who became Josie de la Cruz after
marrying Rogelio, her childhood friend-involved some lucky breaks that one* might think it was destiny
Less than two years after she got elected as the youngest councilor, another unexpected
event happened, and she assumed the position of Bocaue vice I mayor at the age of 23. But unlike
the subtlety of the "world's mysterious ways" the last time, this one was rather drastic-the incumbent
vice mayor died. As the number one councilor, she was the legitimate successor to the position.
In 1988, de la Cruz thought her political career was over. Yet again, there was an opening that
led to her election as the youngest provincial board member of Bulacan. Similar to her first foray into
politics, the scarcity of candidates who were willing to run, this time against the LDP, the dominant
party in the administration of President Cory Aquino, was the reason she was fielded by a "splintered
opposition"—a coalition of smaller political parties, namely, the Liberal Party, the Nacionalista Party,
and the PDF Laban.
In 1992, de la Cruz became the first female Vice Governor of Bulacan and was re-elected in
1995. In this period, she was fortunate to have Governor Roberto "Obet" Pagdanganan as her mentor
and ally. Years later, he would become her worst foe.
Finally, she reached the governorship. Again, call it luck or providence, she initially assumed
the position when, on his last term, Governor Pag-ilanganan had to resign in order to run for the
Senate. De la Cruz was a sitting governor when she ran for the same position a few months later in
the 1998 elections. She won her own mandate as provincial chief execu-t ive, and would complete
three terms and succeed in helping her younger brother, Joselito 'Jonjon' Mendoza, take her place
as governor against Obet Pagdanganan in the 2007 elections.

Ideas on Leadership. For Gov. de la Cruz, a leader is a product of her time. "Every leader has got the
chance to be a great leader of her time,"1 she remarks. "A leader responds, and if she is to be an
effective leader, she must respond to the needs of her time; and these needs change." 2 Furthermore,
a leader inspires, convinces and moves her people towards a common outcome. But more than just
possessing the power of words, a leader leads by example.
Leadership, for de la Cruz, is largely common sense. There are those who are born with it,
possessing a good gut-feel, while others develop their common sense. De la Cruz admits that she herself
at first used only gut-feel. "In the beginning, all I had was gut-feel,"3 she said. With little or no exposure
to life in politics, she had to learn the ropes and feel her way through the job.
Only when she had formal training on governance that she learned tri theories and concepts
behind her actions and decisions.
Another important element of leadership according to de la Cruz, is the heart. "One can have
all the training and education but if the heart is not in the right place that is when you start
having problems that is when you start to have inconsistencies," says de la Cruz. "There are man1
good leaders who turn out to be disappointments because the heart is not in the right place/'4 de la
Cruz added.
She believes a strong sense of values is important in leadership. In fac she even has a theory
that she wants tested or used in an empirical study or research. It is her hypothesis that the best leaders
come from the middle class because this class has the strongest sense of values.

Election and Awards. Upon entering public service, de la Cruz had a solid educational background. She
graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with degrees in Management
Engineering and Psychology.
Readings on Japan 33

Although luck gave her the opportunity to run for councilor in 1980, it was through the strong
social networks of her family that she won her first election. Her mother was a teacher for several years so
she had plenty of students, while her father was a Division Superintendent of the Department of
Education. Her grandmother was active in their church. Their family was known to be one of the pioneers in
the business of importing and exporting veterinary products.
Although she was not active in school, she was a community youth leader as the national
president of the Catholic Youth Organization. This also helped her first electoral bid.
Josie de la Cruz has shown dedicated service and performed well in public office. She was hailed
Most Outstanding Lady Board Member of the Year and Outstanding Provincial Official in 1991, given the
Leadership Award in 1993, and recognized as Most Outstanding Vice-Governor of the Philippines in 1993
and one of the Ten Outstanding Young Filipinos in 1997. In 2000, she was awarded the Outstanding
Governor of the Philippines by the Consumers Union of the Philippines. During her term as governor,
the province won the Konrad Adenauer Local Government Award in 1999, Most Outstanding LGU in
Population Development in 1999, and the Gawad Galing Pook in 2000, when she herself was awarded the
Lingkod Bayan Award by the Civil Service Commission.

Everyday Public Affairs. Gov. de la Cruz is "not the typical manager,", who comes to the office everyday
eight-to-five, and directs subordinates from the comfort of an air-conditioned room. She stays in office
whole day Monday, during the Peoples Day; but the rest of the week, she would first do rounds in the
municipalities talking to people where "she would try to find things out, discover and ask for problems."
After traveling from town to town, if she still has time, she would settle in at her office in the
Provincial Capitol. When she is there, her receiving room is always open, and she also dedicates some
time at the convention center so people can approach her and tell her what they need. "I have a dedicated
line for them, and they can send me email and tell me what they want,"says the Governor. Her staff takes
this opportunity to approach her to address some of their pressing issues.
The Governor expects her staff to be accessible to the public. Her chief-of-staff for 12 years,
Sienna Maureen Hilario, immediately answers phone calls and text messages. She is practically wired
to a laptop, answering email requests and questions.
De la Cruz devotes time to meeting with various sectors. For example, every third Tuesday of the
month, different religious groups have breakfast with her, in order to discuss situations and concerns that
affect their members.
When she sees an issue or concern, de la Cruz is quick to find a solution. "After recognizing the
problem, she would find ways and do networking," according to Hilario. "She would ask for assistance from
her networks. Even at home, she thinks of how to solve the problems. Sometimes, she would wake me up
very late at night to share her ideas and give instructions solve the problems we face."
To solve social problems, de la Cruz has this to say: "The key in today's world is networking and
alliances. No province can stand on its own."12 She has different projects going on such as information-
sharing seminars and income-generating activities with other cities and provinces.
Gov. de la Cruz believes in a strong private-public sector partnership, because, "at the end of the
day, the private sector balances the perspective of government and Mngs added resources."13 This
belief is manifested in the linkage between the provincial government and the different private
enterprises in developing the province-wide food exchange program, which is now privately-led.
Although she has minimal participation in its actual operations, De la Cruz believes she needs to go on a
roadshow to promote the program.
For some other problems, de la Cruz would bring up her favorite word: communication. "Many
conflicts can be avoided just by having time for dialogue."

Hard Realities. While she sees to it that she responds promptly to the needs and concerns of her
constituencies, the common and uncommon issues and challenges in public sector leadership just
seem unending. "The biggest problem of a leader is managing people," de la Cruz replied, when asked
about her problems through the years. She jokingly remarks that it would be much easier if the people
she managed were robots. "Everyone is a leader...even a college student can form his own opinion and
make his own decisions."
"There was a time Gob (Josie) told me, Tt is lonely up here,'"16recalled Gladys Sta. Rita, the
Provincial Administrator of Bulacan for 17 years and who has become a close friend of de la Cruz. An
accomplished local official herself, Sta. Rita further remarked:
"Kasi so.situation niya, may mga dati syang kaibigan na nawawala na long dahil sa politika. (In
her case, she would lose friends because of politics.) She also doesn't have time for her
friends. Mahirap din paid maging nasa position niya. (It is also difficult to be in her place.)
Kaya ganito ako kadedicated sa trabaho kasi nakita ko kung gaano siya kadedicated sa
kanyang trabaho. (I am very dedicated to my job because I have seen how dedicated she is to
her work.)"

De la Cruz admits, "I have to be able to maintain distance sometimes. I get so emotionally involved
that it gives me problems." Even members of her staff have observed that she has the tendency to linger
over a single problem until she has found a way to solve it. "When I listen to a woman whose husband is
missing, of course I will sympathize with that woman. I would fight tooth and nail trying to find the
husband because I feel what she feels."
Her chief-of staff describes the sacrifices de la Cruz had to make in order to do her job well:
I think there were a lot of personal sacrifices that she had to make for the past years that she
has been in public service. Foremost is the time that she could have spent with her family. She
is a workaholic. There were times I had to get the grades of her child in school.

She also had sacrificed time for herself. While other governors are playing golf, she couldn't even bring
herself to the salon for a simple manicure. She is so committed she sleeps, talks, breathes public
Readings on Japan 34

service. She has forsaken herself literally. She doesn't sleep. She has sacrificed her health. Nowadays,
no week would pass without her getting sick...She also sacrificed what could have been a bright career
in business because she is good in business. As she would say, she could sell refrigerators even to the
Eskimos, [paraphrased]
Some sacrifices she made were closer to home, for as Hilario recalls, "even her marriage was
sacrificed." The Governor says that her two youngest children sleep in her bedroom because she does not
want them to experience what her older children went through: her regular absence brought about by
her work as a public servant.20If she were not dedicated in serving others, she would not be able to make
For Hilario, this is a fact: "If you are a governor and a woman at that, you have to work
doubly hard. ™ It is difficult sometimes to meet the expectations linked to both roles."

Standing for One's Principles. Gov. de la Cruz took a stand for what she thought was right despite
the high political cost when she spoke publicly in favor of the impeachment case against President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo in 2005. The Governor wanted to give the President the opportunity to disprove the
allegations in the proper forum. This, however, proved to be a hard decision for the former. She says:
The impeachment matter was not popular among my own political group. I did take the
opposition side, while of course it was very costly in many situations. I just thought I had to
follow my conscience, which told me that, at some point in time, you will have to defy your
group. I can only be true to my conscience.

Hilario recalls that, in one instance, de la Cruz criticized the President in public and said, "There is so
much deceit; it is time for the President to step down." There seemed to be betrayal of public trust, and
people's trust and confidence is necessary for the effective exercise of leadership.
"It was a big challenge for her to speak up for the truth despite all pressures," but de la Cruz
demonstrated her integrity. Her chief-of-staff odds:
She was fearless. We would tell her to be calm and think deeply first before she speaks. But
she made up her mind. She believed she was standing up for the truth....There was pressure
from above for her to buckle down but she did not give in. So she was thinking not only for the
good of Bulacan but also for the good of the nation. Not all leaders have that courage. That's
what inspired us. Instead of us changing her mind and her position, she was able to change our

The Governor admits: "I was worried about the implications to the province. You cannot be irresponsible.
My decision will have an impact on 2.8 million people and it is not always easy."
She was worried about what it could do to her political party. "It threat-cued to divide our group.
It might cut ties with my congressmen." She was also warned of the risk of being suspended from office
owing to pending complaints of corruption, grave misconduct, and abuse of authority filed against her
at the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly favoring private companies that were linked to her
It appears that her years in service have taught her reality in its coldest form. "There will always
be negative consequences. You will have enemies. Standing for what is right is not necessarily popular to
your group. The most difficult challenge of a politician today is to continue to stand for what is right."
She adds: "Sometimes, what is popular is not right, and what is just is not popular. But after all, it's not a
popularity contest."
Her conscience helped her through the trying periods in her political career. "If at the end of the
day, I can no longer look at myself in the mirror, then I don't think it's worth continuing."27 Also, "if you
cannot stand by your word, what can people really count on?"

Resisting Temptation. Public office is a position filled with temptation. Power corrupts, as the saying
goes. To obtain unfair advantage, one has to gain the favor of those in power. In exchange, those in
power will have to get their share in the undue gain.
"There are a lot of offers," said Hilario, "but the governor is very particular in protecting her
name. As she would say, Tangalan ko lang ang puhunan ko' (My only political capital is my name)."
One specific case was the quarrying of expensive tearose marble in historic Biak-na-Bato.
According to Hilario, "commissions" had been offered by some persons who wanted to monopolize the
quarrying, but the governor did not entertain the offers. "The governor makes sure she does not make a
living out of politics. She fights graft and corruption seriously," her chief-of-staff asserted. The key to
addressing corruption, according to de la Cruz, lies in clarifying and limiting the discretion of public officials
by instituting policies and making sure these are observed.
Innuendoes are perhaps an extension of politics, and de la Cruz has not been immune from
them. For instance, there are allegations that "she has allowed relatives to land lucrative government
contracts, leading to graft charges filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman." The feisty
Governor, however, has fought tooth and nail to protect her name by filing libel suits against some of
her accusers.
Another criticism thrown her way was that she and her staff traveled abroad on official time and at
taxpayers' expense too often. As a staunch advocate of education and communication, she maintained
that the purpose of the trips was to share and gather information on best practices that could be
applied to the province. She also attended several seminars on leadership and good governance. In their
trips, she and her staff promoted Bulacan and its industries, ranging from agricultural products to
pyrotechnics and jewelry, in order to generate investments and increase exports.

Continuity and Sustainability. Gov. de la Cruz had to confront the challenge of continuity and
sustainability. One way she and her personnel dealt with it was to prepare templates of how they
operated so that her successor could use it and would not start from scratch.
Readings on Japan 35

One reason succession was a concern was the future of co-terminus staff mid employees. "It is
not because you want to continue but because of the burden of all these people that you are responsible
for. I worry for them,"32 the Governor said.
The succession issue has implications on whether one's ongoing and unfinished projects will be
completed. How does one mitigate the uncertainty over succession? "You should have a core group of
champions. That is how you are able to multiply yourself several times over. Without that we cannot
sustain our plans, without that it will be very difficult to expand,"33 de la Cruz further explains.
While confident that she already had a core group that she could depend on to continue her
projects, de la Cruz admitted that she had difficulty grooming a successor. "I hope they will lift the term
limit to allow me another term," she says. "Supporters, especially in the business community, ask what
will happen after my term. What happens afterwards becomes an issue. I never thought succession would
become an issue, but it is."
Gov. de la Cruz believed that there are people out there worthy of being her successor. "If I
have four maids, one of them will stand out and be the natural leader. What is good is for that natural
ability to be nurtured. You mature in time. You mature in your job and you grow while doing it."
In the end, de la Cruz decided to support the gubernatorial bid of her brother, the Association of
Barangay Captains (ABC) President Jonjon Mendoza, who ran under the pro-Arroyo KAMPI party. Her decision
was a controversial one, for she had to switch from the Lakas-CMD party to KAMPI and opposed her former
partymate and mentor, Obet Pagdanganan. Thus her critics have accused her of turning into another
traditional politician who is establishing a political dynasty.
Because of her track record as an effective and responsive public servant, de la Cruz was urged
by some supporters to run for the House of Representatives or the Senate. "They say that this is a new
season in my life, a deepening of my role as a leader." But she was not interested. "I am an executive. I
am a hands-on manager. I don't think I will make a good congressman."
And with that, Josie de la Cruz decided to become a private citizen and move on to other things.
She has been exploring the feasibility of establishing a 2nd call center in Bulacan so she can employ and
absorb the people with whom she had worked these years. In her words: "I would rather retire and go to
the private sector. I'll be more productive elsewhere [than in Congress]."

Expectations and Patronage Politics. A tough part of the Governor's job involved occasions when
some members of the private sector would try to influence her to give them undue advantage. She said,
"I have to manage it, and I don't yield." She claimed that the same was true for co-workers, family
members, and friends. "When you are no longer contributing to the common good, I will have to confront
She is a believer in a constituent responsive government, which entails a system "to get the feel
of your constituency. It doesn't necessarily mean being popular, but it is being able to meet expectations."
Thus, she has often used survey technology, both informal and formal, to be able to identify and
address the expectations of the public.
De la Cruz is wary of people who think she is the answer to all their problems, or of government
officials who think they are the answer to all social ills. "It is a problem if people are made to believe
that leaders have all the answers. And that is why leaders also tend to make promises. I don't promise
heaven and earth. I only promise I will do my best if you work with me. With your support and my effort, we
will be able to accomplish many things."
"It's the balancing that is difficult. There will always be vested interest, and there will always be
negative comments. I just have to manage it."41 Instead of allowing herself to be affected by negative talk,
de la Cruz chooses to plod on and keep working.
It also helps to be policy-oriented. "If there are no policies, okay, then formulate the policies,"
she tells her people. She has introduced an employee handbook, which has made the personnel more
aware of their rights and responsibilities. When there are particular issues that some employees want
addressed, de la Cruz simply asks about what the handbook says. "You don't even need me to make a
decision; it has already been made for you."
Dilemmas are minimized with the employee handbook, government policies, and laws. De la Cruz
does not believe in encroaching on what policy says, and she firmly disagrees with doing without. "If there
are gray areas, then you come to me. Otherwise, it is cut and dried. It's there."
Having been in public service for a long time, she is familiar with patronage politics, which she calls
politics as usual. "Patronage politics is the name of the game. And you are expected to take care of
your people regardless if they are right or wrong. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I cannot subscribe to
She claims that she would attend weddings, baptisms, and wakes of constituents out of sensitivity
to Filipino culture and for the purpose of spending time in prayer during the religious services. She
usually .left after the services and rarely attended receptions.

Open Communication and Visibility. Today, when information technology is becoming a critical tool for
good governance and efficiency, the provincial government of Bulacan boasts of a website that is
designed to help people get what they want when they want it.
The URL is all that the Bulakenos need for local government services
they seek. The site includes features such as a health services page, announcements, and an e-
procurement window for bidding. The provincial government personnel can also access departmental
budgets, maps, property information, human resources information, and financial documents using this
Constituents can log on to look for jobs or to contribute to helping save Biak-ncL-Bato. If one
has a problem, there is a window entitled "Isumbong Mo Kay Gov," as well as various email and online
forum windows, for airing out grievances. There is also a window that offers an SMS contact number for
text-message comments or complaints. "As long as the communication lines are open, we will receive
feedback and adjust accordingly," dela Cruz says.
Readings on Japan 36

A story published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) during the
campaign period for the 2007 elections, however, mentions some transactions of the provincial
government which are not characterized by transparency, despite the status of Bulacan as a vanguard in
e-governance. The PCIJ reporter requested a copy of the annual provincial budget from the offices of the
budget officer and the provincial accountant on separate occasions, but only meager data were given. It
seems that the Governor had instructed the provincial offices to be wary of queries from the media as
regards information that her opponents could misuse. In an interview, the Governor admitted that she
began to develop some phobia towards the media when a malicious story about her relationship with
Gov. Pagdanganan was carried by several media outlets before her campaign for re-election as Vice-
Governor in 1995.
Besides communication and visibility, the message is important. To be an empowering and
accountable leader, one should have a platform of governance. In de la Cruz' case, she has her 5-pomt
Agenda, which sprouted from her constant interaction with the people of Bulacan and from the ideas
of her predecessors.
De la Cruz would communicate her platform to her constituency so that they would know what
are her plans for their province and to what matters her administration could be made accountable.

Problem-Solving. For de la Cruz, ingredients for solving problems include humility, consensus-building,
and hard work. She says:
One has to have humility. A lot of problems could have been avoided if we just have a little
humility to accept the truth or to accept a mistake. You can ask my people: if there is one thing
I am comfortable with, it's apologizing if I know I have made a mistake. I'd never see it as
something that makes me less superior or less a person just because I admitted that I
committed a mistake. It just goes to show that I am as human as the other one.

De la Cruz values communication highly, and puts a premium on conversation and interaction, especially
with ordinary folk. "I always say that a good leader must know how to listen. The problem with us is we all
know how to talk. We don't know how to listen." And she makes sure that, when she is around for a
discussion, when she is talking to someone, she is 100% present and listening. "When I am sick, I don't
face the public. It's not fair if I face them and pretend to listen but then nothing registers."
Sta. Rita says: "The governor listens to reason. She admits when she makes a mistake and
apologizes for it."52 One case was when the Governor publicly apologized to a police officer during her
regular Monday program because she mistakenly accused him of being involved in drug dealing, which
resulted in the latter's suspension from office. She based her accusation on a report of one of the
mayors. After finding out that the police officer was innocent, she apologized and reinstated him.
The Governor solves problems through consensus-building. Her chief-of-staff maintains: "She
gives premium to consensus for the greater good.... Here in the capital, she would always say unity is
important. So there is unity here and cooperation. Being a consensus-builder fits her well."
The Governor says: "I cannot ram through what I believe in. I try to convince, I try to motivate.
But I cannot dictate. That is how high a regard I have for a person."
According to her chief-of-staff, the "consensus" of 21 of the 24 Bulacan mayors was the primary
reason for the decision of de la Cruz to transfer from the Lakas-NUCD party, which chose Obet
Pagdanganan as its gubernatorial candidate, to the KAMPI party under which her brother would run.
For de la Cruz, humility and consensus-building would be for naught without hard work. Her staff
would call de la Cruz a workaholic for being too focused and obsessed with her projects. Sta. Rita related:
"She thinks of work and works all the time, even during travels abroad, and we would send papers and
documents to the Capitol through LBC even when we were only on a three- or five-day travel abroad." Her
chief-of-staff shared that the Governor did her work even at home, and hardly slept.

Sticking to the Policy.Gov. de la Cruz gives primacy to policy: "I try to be very consistent and that's
why I also make sure that the terms, the rules of the game, are very clear. Because that is fairness, and if
you say that these are the rules, then we go by them."
She believes that sticking to the policy made it easier for her to deal with demands, conflicting
interests, and the pressures of patronage politics:
In the last eight years of managing a province with such a big population, it was simpler to
preserve the policies and remain consistent with these policies. In very special cases when I
had to make an exemption, I ask my people to find me a way to go around the policy and be able
to justify the exemption. Otherwise, then I'm sorry, we just have to implement the policy.

Sta. Rita affirms, "for example, in hiring, our policy sets very high standards and this is always
followed."59 Only honor graduates from reputable schools are hired for key positions in the Capitol, and a
semestral performance appraisal is conducted.
One time, relates de la Cruz, she had to deny the request of a relative, a 36-year old nurse who
wanted to be hired in one of the public hospitals so she could collect qualifying hours to apply for a job
abroad. "I told her, 'I cannot make exceptions for you just because you're my relative. Our policy is that
we don't hire over 35, and just because you are my relative doesn't mean that you're exempted.'
The nurse reportedly cried, but de la Cruz just offered a shoulder to cry on. Policies in the provincial
government are made public through its website and various circulars, and de la Cruz upholds them.
Despite accusations that she favors companies linked to her relatives, she maintains, "my relatives
complain because they don't get special treatment."

Being Scientific. Regular public polling serves as a powerful tool for de la Cruz to determine the
sentiments, opinions, and attitudes of her constituency. Although her staff conducts regular consultations,
they would rather rely on surveys that are scientific. "Only the few active ones attend consultations," says
Readings on Japan 37

Expectations are determined through the use of surveys. Programs and policies are evaluated by
going through the process of sampling, field interviews, data processing and analysis. Data and
statistics constitute a key to making a decision and taking action—be it a policy, a program or a
campaign strategy.
Sta. Rita provides an example of the usefulness of a scientific survey in making decisions:
We had an initiative to re-engineer the bureaucracy. Others said it was political suicide to have
many employees laid off. We did a survey about this and the people approved the policy. We were
able to manage the change process. We became one of the leanest bureaucracies.

In its seriousness to be scientific, the provincial government has invested in expensive information
technology infrastructure, the Geographic Information System (CIS). Through the said technology, correct
and specific statistics and data are generated. To complement it, they also have the community-based
monitoring system.
The Governor regularly checked her net approval rating, which made it easy for her to determine
her chances in the elections. She would make necessary adjustments to address significant
dissatisfaction she discovered. In the 2007 elections, survey technology helped her determine not only
the fighting chance of her brother in his gubernatorial bid but also the probable impact of her negative
campaigning against his opponent.

Performance and Politics. For de la Cruz, good performance is good politics. To win in the political
arena, one has to perform well. If you have good programs and they yield results whose impact is felt at
the grassroots, then you are wielding power well.
"This is the better way to get re-elected-good programs," says Hilario. Owing to her projects, de
la Cruz did not have much difficulty consolidating her base and keeping her political machinery intact.
The mayors would usually listen to her because they know that majority of the Bulakenos are quite
satisfied with her performance.
Having effective programs, however, is not sufficient for the governor's office. These programs
must be directly attributable to her. This is the reason why almost all the big projects of de la Cruz
have been named after her or have posters or billboards with her face on it. An example is the Joint
Systems Improvement in Education (JOSIE) project.
This practice of putting her name or face on projects has prompted critics to label her as another
traditional politician, who reinforces the current culture of personality-based politics. The Governor, on
the other hand, sees it as a way to show people that their government is working for them. According to
her chief-of-staff, "name recall and association is important" for the Governor's political career.
She strives for excellence and makes sure all the people working in the Capitol are competent, if not
brilliant: "It helps to have bright people around you because they can dish out good ideas. You need to
be able to share credit." As much as possible, she tries to exercise this principle in everyday dealings,
whether with her staff or her constituents. She makes it a point to meet with her staff on a regular
basis, to make sure that she conveys a message of approachability to those who work in the Capitol. She
regularly checks her email, and lets her staff know that she is available for consultation.
"I know how to listen. I know how to appreciate a good idea. I know how to give credit."67 Thus,
she gives her personnel the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world, whether as a
representative of the province to seminars and trainings or as a member of trade missions.

Care, Foresight and Charisma. One of the priorities of de la Cruz is the welfare of her employees
especially her trusted ones. While she exacts from them much output, she shares with them simple joys
like a treat to a movie. She likes buying and wrapping gifts for them. Her thoughtfulness and care would
make lowly clerks feel special. Such care strengthens their loyalty to her.
It also pays to have foresight, to anticipate things and adjust accordingly. Deep foresight and
intuition give a leader an advantage, especially in politics. Being able to calculate what could happen
given a certain scenario puts you always one step ahead of the rest. Foresight initially can be gut-feel but
can also be developed to become a systematic or methodical practice.
Charisma is definitely a plus in leadership. Supporters of de la Cruz affirm that she is charismatic
especially when she speaks in public. Unfortunately for those who are not given this gift, there is a
strong belief that it is not something that can be developed. Either you have it or you don't. At the same
time, it is not enough to have charisma especially if it is used for mere self-aggrandizement. It is not even
necessary for effective leadership.

Potent Combination.Gov. de la Cruz draws strength from her immediate blood relations, who provide
the critical emotional and financial means of support which enable her to face the challenges of public
service and to exercise effective leadership.

When the Traditional and the Managerial Merge

A Profile of Mayor Mary Jane C. Ortega
Joy G. Aceron
It was February 1998. The Ramos presidency was In its\ final months, and the national elections were
fast approaching. The 10th Congress had passed Republic Act 8509, the law that converted San
Fernando, La Union into a component city. This was the last piece of legislation pushed by then Rep. Victor
F. Ortega in the final year of his 3rd term in llu1 House of Representatives.
Two months before the May elections, the Ortegas of La Union—one of I hr oldest political clans
in the country—had to make a decision on who should run as mayor of the new San Fernando City. They
had two options in the offing. The first was for Victor and his younger brother who was the incumbent
and end-termer mayor, Manuel "Manoling," to swap positions—Victor to run as mayor while Manoling
would run as Representative of the 1st District of La Union. The second option was for their younger
Readings on Japan 38

brother, Pablo, who was the number one councilor of San Fernando for two (2) consecutive terms, to run
for mayor.
Two variables clinched the decision for the Ortegas: the opponent and the newly acquired status
of San Fernando. The opposition at that time was Artemio Tadiar, a retired commanding general of the
Philippine Marines who played a critical role in the 1986 People Power event. Ordered by then Armed
Forces Chief of Staff Fabian Ver to capture Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo using whatever force was
necessary, he refused to fire on the anti-Marcos civilian crowd that gathered along EDSA.
Tadiar ran for the position of congressman against Victor Ortega in 1995 but lost. Recognizing the
narrow margin between his votes and that of Victor in San Fernando, Tadiar saw the mayoralty race as a
promising opening for his bid for political leadership in La Union. The Ortegas were aware of these same
political calculations. If Pablo was to run, he could have probably won, but it would have been a "tight
squeeze."1 Victor, on the other hand, did not want to resign as the Speaker Pro-Tempore in the House, a
position that, as per the Election Code, he should give up if he did decide to run for mayor.
Then came the idea of fielding a good manager rather than a seasoned politician, since San
Fernando would soon become a city. Confident as they were that cityhood would get the nod of the people
in the plebiscite set for the 20th of March preceding the elections, Victor looked at Mary Jane, his wife who
was beside him; and said: "I think you will be a good one. I think the city needs a manager-a leader as well
as a manager. I guess it's high time."2
Hence it came to pass that the 1998 mayoralty elections of San Fernando City was a contest
between a "lady candidate and a macho man."3 While Tadiar commented that the battle was between a
rooster and a hen, Mary lane would respond with what turned out to be her classic campaign line, "Kung
kayo, ni mister, kayo, ni misis" (a title of a popular soap opera: "If the husband can do it, the wife can do it
On 30 June 1998, Mary Jane Crisanto Ortega took her oath as the first mayor of the City of San
Fernando, winning the 1998 mayoralty elections with 65% of the votes.

Early Training. Mary Jane was born in Indang, Cavite on 30 May 1941 to Jose F. Crisanto, Sr. of Quiapo,
Manila, and Adela Cruz of Navotas, Rizal. Her father was an Assistant Director on Vocational Education.
At a young age, Mary Jane had consistently landed at the top of her class. When she finished her
elementary school at the Union College of Manila in 1952, she ended up as the class valedictorian. When
she entered high school, Mary Jane "went into a shell."5 She got so engrossed in reading that the
librarian had to issue her two library cards in a year. She entered into "the world of books and withdrew
from the real world,"6 not finding enough time for her subjects in school. Her grades suffered and she
graduated with barely passing marks.
Her parents never scolded her for her low grades in high school. When she ijraduated, her parents
were as proud and happy as when she graduated valedictorian in elementary school. "There was no
reproach on their faces,"7 und she realized how much her parents loved her and how much trust and luith
they had in her. This put her to shame.
Even at seven years old, she was already allowed to decide what dress to wear for a children's
party, forcing her to figure out for herself if she was over or underdressed. She was trained to make
decisions for herself and take the consequences of her decisions.
At her high school graduation, Mary Jane resolved to do better and excel j in whatever
undertaking she chose. In college, she wanted to study at the University of the Philippines (UP). Her
parents, however, dissuaded her as they were scared that she would be influenced to "go to the
mountains"8 by the activists in UP. They preferred that their daughter remain under in the conservative
system of the College of Holy Spirit. She abided by her parents' request and took up an Associate in Arts
there. She became Vice-President of the Student Catholic Action and a chapter member of the National
Union of Students in the Philippines. After two years, however, she decided to transfer to Letran College.
Her parents agreed when the young Mary Jane told them she was going to take up Spanish.
In Letran, Mary Jane served as the Literary and Sports Editor of Letran News and finished two
language majors, English and Spanish. She finished her Spanish major in 11/2 years with a general
weighted average that would have qualified her for Magna Cum Laude. She was denied the said honor
because of Letran's two-year residency requirement for honors. Although frustrated, Mary Jane became
more motivated to excel. She continued her English major and finally graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of
Arts major in Spanish and English.
In 1972, she took her degree in Master of Arts in Language Teaching from the Ateneo de Manila
University. Her masteral thesis was entitled A Study in Linguistic Styles: Max Lerner and Carmen
Guerrero Nakpil. She also took] up Special Studies in French.

The Making of a Good Manager.As a professional, Mary Jane served as an instructor in several
schools like Our Lady of Loreto College in 1959, the University of the East (UE) from 1962 to 1965, Father
Burgos College in 1965, Union Christian College in La Union in 1966, and Saint Louis College in Baguio
City in 1972.
While teaching in UE, she met Victor Ortega, who was pursuing Accountancy and was her student
in Spanish, which was one of the general education subjects students had to take. Victor and Mary Jane
were married in 1963, and thus started on their way to becoming a powerful couple in La Union's
political history.
After her teaching stint, Mary Jane became the comptroller (treasurer and administrative officer)
of the Philippine Daily Express Publishing Corporation from 1972 to 1987. In 1986, upon Corazon Aquino's
assumption of the presidency through People Power, all corporations held by the dictatorship were either
closed down or sequestered—the Philippine Daily Express (PDE) included.
The Aquino administration did not totally stop PDE operations; it closed down its publishing
component in 1987 but retained its printing section, which was eventually named Express Commercial
Printers (ECP). Mary Jane was made its general manager due to her good relationship with creditors. She
Readings on Japan 39

recalls, "I was able to get credits from our suppliers...and it was just on the good relationship that I had
with the suppliers and their belief in me."
The printing house was profitable and a business success in the nine years of operation under
Mary Jane. It was printing 30% of the Philippine Daily Inquirer's circulation, the Daily Standard and a couple
of Chinese newspapers. Mary Jane's stint as the general manager of ECP earned her a reputat i o n for being
an excellent manager. ECP was sold in 1996.
Before finally plunging into elective office, Mary Jane became a member of the Board of Regents of
Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University from 1997 to 1998. She was also active in international
conferences on women, and was an officer in several civic organizations such as the Philippine Council of
Management Foundation (PHILCOMAN), Inner Wheel Clubs, National Council of Women of the Philippines,
and the International Council of Women.

Multi-Awarded Public Service. Mary Jane Ortega was reelected as mayor in the 2001 elections,
reaping 92.5% of the votes. Her winning streak continued in 2004, when she won with 90.5% of the
votes. Ortega completed her third and last term by the end of June 2007.
Her busy day as local chief executive was described in an article posted on San Fernando City's
official website:
Mary Jane Ortega begins her typical workday at 8 in the morning. This early in the day she
meets with her constituents who walk into her office seeking assistance for a number of things,
majority of whom are seeking medical help...After attending to her constituents, Mayor Ortega
proceeds to a series of committee meetings throughout the day. Interspersed with these are
visits to various areas in the city for barangay consultations. She ends the day by attending 'to
the paperwork awaiting her on her desk—a quiet way to end an otherwise busy day.

Ortega has received countless awards and citations that recognized her leadership both as the local chief
executive of San Fernando as well as a private citizen.

Awards Reaped by Mary Jane Ortega:

Woman of Distinction Award, 1992 and 2001;
Gintong Ina Award, 1995;
Outstanding Letran Alumna Award, 2000;
Likas Yaman Award, 2001;
Habitat Scroll of Honor Award (First Filipino Awardee), 2000;
Outstanding Woman in Good Governance Award, 2002;
Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence, 2003;
Outstanding Mayor, 2004

Likewise, San Fernando City (SFC) has received numerous awards under her leadership. The City
has been described as such:
The adult literacy rate is high. There is a large selection of higher education institutions. The
infant mortality rate is low. Incidence of theft is low. The city government focused on urban
environmental measures, human resource development and housing. Social development
programs and infrastructure cover almost half of the budget at 47%. Tourism invigorated
economic activity with the Botanical Garden, Bacsil Ridge and the like as main tourist spots. SFC
is noted for its excellent communication facilities.

Recently, it was named first in the Asian Institute of Management's (All1 Competitive Cities under the small
cities category.

Leader and Manager. According to Mayor Ortega, "a leader is one who does the right thing, but a
manager does things right." She said it is not enough for a person to lie just a leader in public office; she
should also be a manager. "You do not just do the right thing but you also have to do things right."14 This
idea has guided her exercise of leadership.
Ortega recognizes that, in our country, there are "leaders" who do not have leadership qualities,
thus the need to differentiate the concepts "leader" and "leadership." Nevertheless, as Ortega explains,
the differentiation is not without conceptual complications.
If elected officials do not have leadership qualities, then they have no right to be leaders. Hence,
not all elected officials have traits of leadership. But then again, if you look at it in the loose definition—
that a leader has followers—elected officials are leaders for they were elected by their followers. However,
in our society, there are times people follow not only because of the leadership qualities but because of
other considerations, (paraphrased)
There have been defining moments in Ortega's life as a public official who IMS exercised

Fateful First Steps. Mayor Ortega regards her stint in the Express Commercial Printers as a showcase of
her leadership qualities and capacity especially in the world nl business. The city accountant of San
Fernando says: "It is good she ((Ortega) was not reared in politics. She compensated it with knowledge
of I he corporate world, which is needed in implementing the Local Government Code. The people of San
Fernando are educated enough to know who will give them a good future. We are output-oriented."
During her run for mayor in 1998, Ortega was challenged to exercise leadership. Despite knowing that
she was up against a formidable opponent, she accepted the challenge immediately when it was offered
to her. Victor describes Mary Jane's first electoral bid as her "baptism of fire."
As Ortega recalls:
I became a Mayor without warning, without wishing it...I accepted the challenge when it was
offered to me because I remember the saying that 'He who hesitates is lost.'... and 'If there is a
Readings on Japan 40

person who believes in you—even just one—you should not turn this person down; you ought to
believe in yourself as well.'

Capacitating the City's Human Resources. Immediately upon assuming office during her first
term, Ortega called a I meeting with the department heads of the City. She decided to keep the]
bureaucracy intact since she saw no need for any revamp or changes in :the personnel that might
cause commotion and politicking. The meeting, according to the city accountant, was designed to draw
out all the figures I and data that Ortega needed. "She was trying to know the strengths, opportunities,
threats and weaknesses of the City."
Not only did Ortega learn and understand the situation, she responded by I prioritizing capacity-
building and human resource development. She provided the heads with skills and knowledge in
management and local governance, and in the process, taught them to be proud of their City and to go j
beyond political affiliations.
As the SFC vice-mayor puts it:
With the three-year capability-building program for the department heads initiated by Mayor
Ortega, the heads have widened their horizon and their vision. From then on, it was easy for the
Mayor to delegate tasks to them. Nawala na rin iyong attitude na 'tao ako ni Pedro na mayor
dati; tao siya ni ganito.' (The attitude that "I am a supporter of Pedro the former mayor, while
he is a supporter of somebody else" disappeared.) The city government was taught to have a
common direction.

According to Victor Ortega, capacity-building was critical at that time since San Fernando had just
become a city, and the change entailed bigger responsibilities.
The city administrator—who had worked with the Mayor since day one of her administration-
recalled that, on Ortega's second month in office, she took the department heads on a city tour.
After this, the Mayor asked them, "How many of you have been on a city tour before?" and no
one raised a hand. The Mayor then told them, "Now that you have done a city lour, I expect all of
you to do this to your relatives." The administrator sees this as a mark of the Mayor's deep
understanding of the City and her way of making the department heads appreciate it themselves.

International Partnership-Building. The website of San Fernando City shows the different
international organizations and institutions the City has partnered with. This reflects how active the
Mayor has been in international engagements. She was so active I hut, from July 1998 to June 2006, she
participated in 62 international gatherings as a speaker, resource person, guest, participant or a member,
setting a record of nearly 8 official out-of-the-country appointments every While this was brought up as
an issue by her political opponents during elections—accusing the Mayor of not spending enough time
to do her job—Ortega and her managers cited a handful of benefits her trips abroad had given the City.
Most important of these is the financial assistance in terms of grants and loans extended by
international and multi-national institutions such as the World Bank (WB), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Ortega impressed the funding institutions during her participation in the World Bank Urban
Forum Week held in Washington DC on 12-15 May 1999, followed by the Asian City Development Strategy
Conference in Tokyo, Japan in July 1999. The WB invited Philippine city mayors to compete for technical
assistance on urban development strategies. Of the 24 invited, only seven, Ortega among them, came.
The instruction was for each mayor to sell his/her city, and the city with the best presentation would
win. Ortega shared what transpired in the meeting:
When it was my turn, I said, T have noticed that you have invited 24 cities but there are only
seven of us here. I have also heard of the money that you have for this technical assistance. Why can
you not give technical assistance to all of us seven?' They said, 'No way. « Japan is the one giving the
money according to particular terms of reference. There is only one city that will be given the assistance.
Please go on and sell your city.' So I sold my city.
The next meeting that we had, World Bank officials came up to me, and said, 'Mayor, we
discussed your proposition and it is a good idea but we will not increase the pie. But if you can convince
the 6 other mayors to share the same pie, we can give you all the assistance.' So I came to the 6 other
mayors and we talked. I asked them, 'how sure are you that your city will be chosen? Wouldn't, it be
better if we all seven could be getting the technical assistance?' And there was one who was hesitant
because they felt they would win. But the moment they had doubt, I said 'how can you be sure you'll
win?' So I spoke for the group and told WB officials, we have now agreed that all of us seven will share
the pie.
Finally, in the WB conference, Ortega was tested when she was asked to speak ahead of schedule
because the mayor of a city in Vietnam did not arrive. After her semi-impromptu presentation, one of the
guests came to her and said, "Whatever you have spent for your travel here, your city will have it back a
hundredfold. I assure you." In the Cities Alliance Meeting of 1999 in Berlin, she met the UN Habitat
Executive Director who appointed her one of the 12 mayors in the United Nations Advisory Committee of
Focal Authorities (UNACLA) from 2000 to date. She was also appointed as member of the Executive
Committee of the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI).
The city's administrator stresses the benefits from Ortega's travels abroad.
It has encouraged the growth of partnership programs with other cities that have good practices like
our most productive city partner, the township of Langley, British Columbia in Canada. It's been going on
for five years now and it has helped us in the area of urban planning, information and communications
technology, local economic development, emergency planning and law enforcement. Aside from that, it
has translated the widening of our experience in development strategy and in good governance because
whenever she goes both as a speaker and participant, she brings back ideas that she actually replicates
and implements.
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The Challenges of Leadership in Governance. Leadership in governance confronts peculiar issues

and dilemmas. According to the vice mayor: "Leadership in any political office is entirely different from
private office."24 He explained that this is because of the difference in the environment, the demands, and
the expectations.
A challenge in the form of an issue, a problem, a dilemma or a crisis accentuates the kind and
quality of leadership, which can become better or worse as a result. In some challenging situations, a
leader is made or unmade.
The challenges of leadership can be personal or institutional Oftentimes, however, challenges
form a smorgasbord of personal and institutional, issue and dilemma, problem and crisis. There is difficulty
in marking the boundaries of these forms and types of challenges.

Personality Issue. When a person becomes a leader, he or she is expected to behave and act in a
particular manner normally dictated by culture. In the case of Mayor Ortega, her personality is one of
the most frequently raised issues about her leadership. There are accounts of the Mayor confronting,
scolding, or shouting at somebody, and some consider such behavior inappropriate.
The city administrator provides a good description of the issue:
She speaks her mind. She tells it to your face. And this is not very Filipino. That is the difference
with the Mayor. 1 happen not to be Filipino also in that sense so we get along. It is not difficult for
me to listen to criticisms and to thresh out things face-to-face. But for others who are very
Filipino, that is a very sensitive area or issue.

Leadership (in Philippines), they say, requires that you maintain smooth interpersonal relationship. But
leadership also dictates that sometimes you have to be firm. You have to be true and honest. She is firm.
Anyone who talks business speaks business and has a busi-,-ness face. Seryoso iyong dating and firm
ang voice. She was a teacher for the longest time...she tells it to your face like she is a teacher. She is
actually like a mother and yes, she is like a teacher most of the time. That's her background.
Mayor Ortega does recognize this issue about her personality: "Probably I come in too
strongly...because I give my piece of mind. I am very frank. I tell it the way I see it. If you dish it out, you
should also take it. You cannot be a sissy and dish things out and not take it."

Dissent as a Given. In spite of the recognition the city has received for its achievements, there tire
critics of Ortega as a leader. While the vice mayor describes Ortega as focused, firm and with strong
political will, her opponent in the 2004 elections describes her as showy, non-transparent and
undemocratic. While both the parish priest and the city accountant assert that Ortega is a visionary,
sensitive to people's needs, and inspiring, a known "critical ally"alleges that she is vindictive, self-
righteous and not always truthful. Both critics and supporters, however, agree that she is intelligent,
resourceful, confident, hardworking, and good at marketing.
Mayor Ortega affirms that it is a given in leadership in governance that you can never please
everybody. There will always be differences on how the leader or the leadership is perceived or
appreciated. This is one OF the burdens of leadership. Leaders run never please everybody no matter
how hard they work or how well they perform.
When a leader treats criticism and personal dislike as inevitable, she may end up ignoring
valid views. An SFC councilor asserts that the Mayor has not responded to his critical feedback and
suggestions probably because she believes that the feedback stems from personal dislike. Mayor
Ortega seems to have validated this observation when she said: "There are people whom you care
(about) and you think you can reform so you try to talk to them. There are people who will always be
critical no matter what."
The city administrator explains why dissent is a given. "In basic human relations, there
are people who really will not like you. You cannot do anything about them. You do not have control
over other people's minds. You just have to do what you need to do. Then they have to gauge what
your i intentions are.."

A Personal Dilemma. When asked about occasions of personal dilemma as a leader, Mayor Ortega
could think of only one incident that depicted a tug-of-war of her priorities. She was scheduled to go
to Ansan City, South Korea to formally execute! a Memorandum of Understanding for Economic
Cooperation between the cities of San Fernando and Ansan. A few days before her departure, her
daughter was scheduled for an operation. Ortega had initially thought the operation was a simple
procedure on a tumor; then she was told it was cancer.
The trip to Korea was a prior commitment, yet her daughter needed emotional support. Mayor
Ortega ended up leaving for Korea-a decision she made at the last minute. She recalls: "My husband
said right after the operation, 'Anyway the operation is over and you can't do anything about it. You
go ahead and I will stay here.' My plane to Ansan almost left me." 30 As a result of Mayor Ortega's trip,
San Fernando received 280 computers from Ansan.

The Political Dynasty: Advantage or Disadvantage? Another frequently raised issue against
Mayor Ortega and the entire Ortega clan is the matter of political dynasty. The Ortegas have occupied
elective and appointed positions in La Union for over a century. In 1901, Joa-quin Ortega was
appointed governor by the US colonial administration. In 2006, ten (10) Ortegas were holding various
elective posts in La Union. 31 After the 2007 elections, the Ortegas retained the offices of Governor, 1st
district Representative, and SFC Mayor. While the Ortegas' long period in public office validates the
family's "tradition of public service and credibility,"32 it may signify a stagnant democracy due to a
restricted or non-existing "circulation of the elite." 33 Opinions on the political dynasty issue vary.
Ortega's city administrator says:
It is not an issue. Why punish people who deliver? Like in Frankfurt, they have a Mayor for 25
years and she keeps on delivering. Look how developed Frankfurt is?...It is not an issue if you
Readings on Japan 42

are in power for a long time. It is not actually the length of service. It is the qual ity of the
service that you give. If the leader delivers, why punish him/her? On the other hand, if you
have a term limitation, three years is too long kung hindi naman nagdedeliver. If I had my
way, I'd like Mayor Mary Jane to stay on as a Mayor...She really delivers. She has brought San
Fernando into the map of the Global World. She is a very good marketing arm.

A critical councilor says:

Gusto nila sila lang ang parating bida. (They want to always be the only stars.) Parang (As if)
virtually, they are a monopoly of, good public service. Parang ayaw nila na mapunta sa iba na
hindi sigurado. (As if they do not want power to go to another whom they cannot control.)

As far as Mayor Ortega is concerned, her link to a political dynasty is a big advantage. She provides
two reasons why it is advantageous: (1) she receives all the support and assistance she needs in running
the city government; (2) she feels politically secure because she can rely on the good tradition of
leadership of the Ortegas.

Mayor Ortega explains how political security creates political will:

They always say we need leaders with political will. You can have political will only if you are
politically secure...If the people give their support to the leader, she becomes a better leader. If
people do not support their leader, she is weakened. Who is to blame if the leader does not
perform? I think it is the people; because they did not support their leader. But if people give
their support and the leader knows that, and the leader does not abuse the trust and support,
the leader will have the political will to do what is right and do things right, (paraphrased)

The Mayor also defends the Ortegas' hold on public posts:

The Ortegas grew up eating, breathing and drinking politics. It is in their blood. Whenever
somebody dies, an Ortega will always be one of the first to go to the family of the deceased...The
asikaso (care) is the advantage we have. It is the concern. It is the time and energy to take care
of them (the people). It naturally comes out. If they [opposition] want to [hold public office], they
should work doubly hard.

Meeting Expectations. Like criticism, social expectations are inescapable in the exercise of leadership,
and sometimes the expectations are unreasonable. How does Mayor Ortega handle expectations and
meet the demands? Victor Ortega shared this principle the couple subscribes to in handling
Sasabihin mo sa tao, pare, maski anong tulong ang ibigay ko sa iyo, kung ayaw mo namang
tulungan ang sarili mo, wala tayong magagawa. (You tell the person: friend, no matter what
help I give you, if you do not help yourself, we can accomplish nothing.) That is the main principle
we follow. Even in helping barangays, whatever it is, you have to let them participate. You have to
involve them. They should be stakeholders in whatever project that you do in the barangay. They
have to sweat for it. Mas sustainable din kung kabalikat mo sila. (It is more sustainable if the
burden is shared with them.)

The city administrator shared that Mayor Ortega handles expectations by not promising anything she
cannot fulfill. During elections, he recalled, the Mayor would only revisit the vision and mission of the
City. By doing so, the Mayor was able to present what she intended to fulfill when elected without directly
promising anything.

Doing What Were Necessary and Right. Although she said that she did not encounter many
dilemmas in doing what were necessary and right, Mayor Ortega recognized the difficulties of doing so.
There were several instances when the Mayor resisted to give in I o what was popular.
The earliest challenge was when she had just assumed office in SFC and was confronted with the
problem of how to remove overlaps in the fulfillment of the duties of the executive and the legislative
branches. "Since the passage of the law (R.A. 7160), nobody really attempted to fully implement its
provisions on the separation of the executive and the legislative,"39 the city administrator recalled.
On the first year of her administration, Mayor Ortega clearly defined the boundaries. The City
Council was given the power to legislate including the power to act on the budget; while the executive
powers were given to the different departments of the City Government headed by the Office of the Mayor.
This did not sit well with some of the councilors, and they continued to perform executive
functions. After receiving reports about it, the Mayor constantly reminded the councilors of the legislative-
executive separation. It annoyed some of them, and they took it up with the department heads. The
councilors grilled the latter during committee meetings of the Council.
To resolve the growing tension, the Mayor did not give in; she instead created the Executive-
Legislative Development Authority Council or the EL-DAC. This has been a venue for dialogue and
exchange between the executive and the legislative branches.
There were also instances when she was pressured to set aside policies that were not popular in
light of the coming elections. One of these instances was when the City Government had to dismantle
fish cages in the Carlatan river.
There were fish cages in the Carlatan. I said dismantle or you will have a fish kill. Let the river
breathe. The fisherfolk did not like this. The first time was Christmas, so I let it pass. The next time, it was
fiesta, so again I gave in. Third time, election time was around the corner. Election time came. They
thought I was going to give in. My 92.5% [victory] might have been 93% if I did not dismantle them, but
it had to be done.
After that, in September, we called them again and we identified where they should build their
fish cages. So we said we will raffle it off. But before we raffled it off, they talked among themselves sino
Readings on Japan 43

iyong magkasosyo [who would become partners]. They were able to settle the whole thing through the
raffle, and everyone was given his share. One of them gave their response Ammum mayor, ti kinagpay-
su na, nasakit ti nakem mi iddi pinaikkat mo. Ngem iddi nagbagyo ti july,nalugi kami kuma, ta
nadadael jay kwama. Tatta maawatan min, agyaman kami ken ka. (You know, Mayor, the truth is we
felt bad when you removed the fish cages. But when the storm came in July, we thought if you did not
remove it, it would have been destroyed and we would have lost a lot of money. Now, we understand and
we thank you.)'
Another instance was the policy to convert tricycles from two-strokes to four-strokes so as to
protect the environment.
We asked them [the tricycle drivers] to convert from two-strokes to four-strokes. I asked the city
council to pass an ordinance but they came to me and said, 'imbaga da baka agpasugnod iti tricycle
drivers ta election 2001.' (The tricycle drivers might go into a sulk and we have elections in 2001.) So I
met with them (tricycle drivers). I met with the operators. I told them what a two-stroke engine can do
to them. With total suspended particulates, their health was at risk. I gave them all the reasons.
In 2001, we had 1200 two-strokes out of 1600, and even without an ordinance, as of today, we
have 1200 four-strokes. And 1 discovered at that time that there were 79 units which were 30 years old. I
said, "I am giving you one year to phase-out. I am giving you money. We will lend it to you without
interest and to be paid back in one year," which they took. As of today, we do not have tricycles older
than 15 years. All without an ordinance.
Mayor Ortega shared her realizations: "If you serve the people well, you don't have to spend big
in elections. Leaders spend only if they do not want to serve. It is like a trade-off."42 She also realized that
people refuse change because they do not understand. It is therefore important for leaders not to give in
to pressure because people will eventually appreciate the good once they have experienced and
understood it.

Power and Leadership. Power is that which enables a person to make another person behave in a
particular manner. On the other hand, politics is simply denned as the exercise of power and
influence; hence, political relationships involve, to a significant extent, control, influence, power and
authority. Political action is sometimes understood as "striving to change or influence the distribution of
power in society."
How does Mayor Ortega conduct her politics? Central to her exercise power is her membership in
a political dynasty. She believes this gives hethe security necessary for the exercise of political will. She
is able to do who has to be done because she is secure about her political resources.
In making important political decisions, Mayor Ortega would normally turn to her "political
guru," her husband, Victor, who helps her in handling political alliances and parties. Accordingly, the
Ortegas consult among themselves first before coming up with a political decision. As observed by the
vice mayor, "They come to the public as one. You do not see them debate... To be strong leaders, they
have to show to the public their unity in decision-making."
Mayor Ortega firmly believes that absolute power corrupts absolutely. She has said that, although
the Ortegas hold critical positions in the governments of San Fernando City and La Union, they never
abuse it for they are aware of regular elections that ensure the sovereignty of the people.
Absolute power is when you have dictatorship. We still have to go through an election. The
electorate will be the ones to dictate who are the ones who will lead... Who is the boss? The people. [Power
is] theirs to give and theirs to take away.
The question then arises: are elections in SFC credible? An Ortega opponent says it is not, but has
no solid evidence to offer.48 Meanwhile, Mayor Ortega sees no need to resort to illegal means such as vote-
buying to get the support of the people: "I give them immediate gratification even when there is no
election. If they come and I really see their need, they do not have to wait for an election."
The vice mayor reveals a strategy they have used to keep the elections cheap. He says that
they used to target the leaders (which is complicated and costly), but now they opt to go to the people
directly through the media.
The city administrator plays a role in ensuring that the City Government is insulated from
politics during elections. She shares: "I am happy that I am not into politics. While most others file their
leave of absence, I stay on and look after the fort...A differentiation should be made between those who
really deliver all around the year and those who only deliver during the election."
Mayor Ortega underscores the importance of perception in winning over the people. "It is
not enough that you are a good leader; they (people) should know that you are a good leader."
Perception is rooted in communication, and when it comes to selling and marketing ideas and
thoughts, it is a consensus that Ortega is astounding. As the vice mayor commented, "If she (the
Mayor) can convince a kid at the age of three to sing 'San Fernando .... San Fernando...' she can
convince anyone."

Management and Leadership. While the family provides the necessary political machinery and
her talent for communication provides the political tool, Mayor Ortega's performance has been one of
the major factors that have kept her in office for almost a decade.52 Local and international
recognition affirms her record of good performance.
Under Ortega's management, the City Government has become a "learn ing organization."
The Mayor recognizes the importance of technology transfer and capability-building; thus, she sees
to it that all the department heads are able to attend seminars and trainings that will upgrade their
capabilities and skills. By being equipped with the latest tools and technologies that worked
successfully in other places here and abroad, the City Government is able to deliver results and
perform competently.
She tries to assess the assets of the city and improve them. She believes in capacity building.
She believes that we can do more. She tried to improve everybody. She says with pride that, even
when she is out of San Fernando, the City is running the way it should be. It is because she has
Readings on Japan 44

improved the skills of the people here. She always shares the fame that she gets. Your contribution is
accepted and appreciated. (paraphrased)
The Mayor's management style is performance-based, but aside from focusing on the
performance of City Hall, she also ensures that the barangays are capable.
We did the Barangay Development Strategy. We made them (the barangays) do their plans
and we assisted them to do that, giving them the idea that they have to have projects that they
can afford and to consider what the impacts are. The way I look at it, doing three rounds of that,
they have been empowered.. Now even the barangay-based volunteers and NGOs have a way of
gauging and measuring the performance of the barangay leaders.
Another aspect of management is resolving problems and conflicts. The city administrator
describes Mayor Ortega's conflict resolution and management style.
Ang style kasi niya she never sits on a problem. She gets it out in the open and resolves it as
soon as possible. What I like about her is her sense of propriety and justice. She brings together the
people concerned and solves the problem in their presence. She discusses it right now, right here,
and finds a solution to the problem. She doesn't stop at airing issues; she moves forward and asks
what we do about it now. So you end up satisfied at the end of the session. Even while you are
battered there is resolution at the end of everything.
The city planning officer describes Mayor Ortega's leadership as participatory owing to her
bottom-up approach in planning in which the communities identify their needs. Mayor Ortega "looks
at development from (i holistic perspective. She says the people of San Fernando City should be
healthy not only physically but also mentally and spiritually."

Conclusion: When the Traditional and the Managerial Merge. The traditional understanding of
Filipino leadership focuses on the leade or the person. Filipino folk culture, which prioritizes personal
relation-) ships, manifests itself in personality-oriented politics.
Those who have been dominant in the exercise of leadership are called inl the literature as the
"elite," whose members possess the following characteristics:
They come from a political family or dynasty.
They belong to a high socio-economic class and are landed.
They have a "superior level of educational attainment" (from top universities and schools in the
Philippines and abroad). Most are lawyers.
They are members or have been members of associations that "reflect the nature of their
occupational activities, economic interests, cultural ties and social status."
They live an extravagant lifestyle.
They are usually friendly and nice.
Most of the elite practice traditional politics, which is characterized by patron-client or unequal
reciprocal relations. Kinship plays a primal and critical role in traditional politics, and political
exercises become family affairs. Decisions are made in consideration of how to strengthen the
power! base or how to consolidate one's position. Thus, the interests of moneyed groups are
looked after, and alliances are established using resources and posts in the government as means
of leverage.

The Filipino cultural trait of pakikisama, which spurs people to be polite, j respectful, accommodating
and non-confrontational, is given high regard. Finally, the culture of poverty, which leans toward
immediate or short-term J gains and benefits for oneself and one's family or group, is exploited by
traditional politicians to perpetuate clan power.
In contrast to traditional leadership, which is personality-based, "managerial leadership" is more
appropriate to our times and can be characterized as follows:
Flexible - able to meet changing environmental influences;
Fast - able to make necessary quick decisions even within multiple layers of management;
Empowered - able to respond to changes owing to sufficient discretion and resources;
Open in its communications - sets up open communication channels that promote the
timely distribution of information across levels of the organization;
Innovative - operates in an environment that supports risk-taking and rewards innovation;
Learning-oriented - supports and promotes institutional learning for new information to
enhance performance;
Development-focused - sustains learning and enhances skills to accomplish objectives;
Lean - optimizes financial and human resources;
Energized - able to reach high levels of activity and enthusiasm in which work is fun and
Team-oriented - focuses on organizational performance and how to work effectively together to
achieve a common purpose;
Performance-based - monitors individual and group performance and holds each one
Value-driven - incorporates a strong set of values to provide stability and consistency.

Managerial leadership is a form of "new leadership," and befits "new politics," which contrasts with
traditional politics.
The new politician "approaches politics not as a playground for his ego, but as a field in which he
seeks to achieve a cause much larger than himself, his family, or any other entity he represents. The
striving for power in his case is a purely objective enterprise, which he takes up methodologically and
relentlessly and dedicates exclusively to the service of the cause." This is a results-oriented leader with a
substantive purpose whose conduct is rooted in an "ethics of responsibility," which is an "attitude that
compels the leader to give an account always of the foreseeable consequences of his decisions."
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For the new politician, the end does not justify the means, and power is not the goal of politics.
Power is a means to achieve a higher purpose that seeks to change life or society for the better.
Mayor Ortega's practice of leadership results from a confluence of the traditional and the
managerial. She is a member of a political dynasty, but her stay in power is also due to her performance as
a public manager. Although her family plays a big role as it provides the needed political machinery and
security, her firm decision to give primacy to capacity-building of the managers of SFC partly explains her
The importance given by Mayor Ortega to capacity-building and learning shows that the practice
of leadership need not be leader-centered. In SFC, players are given their appropriate roles—the legislative
to make appropriate laws and ordinances and the executive to implement them with strong political will.
The city government strives to be team-oriented and performance-based.
Mayor Ortega reaches out to all -kinds of people, but not at all times is she nice and friendly to
the person she talks to. She speaks her mind and displeases some people, but she can afford to do so
because she has the political security provided by her family. Critical political decisions are made at the
family level, but planning in the City Government remains participatory, at least institutionally, given the
presence of the LGC-mandated institutional mechanisms for participation.
Mayor Ortega has tried and tested skills in marketing, and therefore has the knack of
convincing people. Her exercise of leadership emphasizes communication and education. It wins
support through the sharing of ideas and information.
When the traditional and the managerial meet and merge, a hybrid is produced. Mayor Ortega's
practice of leadership exhibits or strives to exhibit the qualities of managerial or transformational
leadership while at the same time possesses or is perceived to possess characteristics of traditional
leadership. Her brand of politics is not new or alternative, but neither can it be considered purely
traditional. If traditional and new politics is conceptualized as a continuum, her politics lies or strives to lie
somewhere in between.
The synthesis is always better than the thesis and the anti-thesis. Although Mary Jane Ortega's
hybrid leadership cannot be compared to a product of a dialectical process, one thing is certain—this way
of leadership is politically more formidable than mere traditional leadership in the Philippine sociopolitical
context. Whether or not this way can bring forth equitable and sustainable development in the country is
a critical question.
The Gift of Grace: Her Persona Rhetoric Leadership
by Celia Hernando Tobia-Bulan and Augustus Ceasar Destura Latosa
(Quezon City: Claretian Publications)

Bombo Grace became the people's script that read:

Grace Padaca will fight the most powerful member of the dynasty. We, the masses who have
silently admired her courage and integrity all of 14 years, will now support her bid for
governorship of Isabela.

The stage is the gubernatorial drama, 2004; the setting and place, the province of Isabela,
northeastern Philippines.
The gubernatorial stage thus beckoned the young and brave polio-stricken broadcaster just
when Congressman Faustino Dy, Jr. was ending his term.
The script is ready, the stage set, there is only a thing left—the performer.
But there is no performer if there is no audience. For it is the audience, it is the people
watching and listening to the performer who determine the beauty and the power of a
performance. It is they and only they who can act upon, be moved or not by a performance.
A performer becomes a rhetor when she persuades her audience through the words
she speaks. Words fashioned in elegance and beauty are the surface text. The person who
embodies her message is what convinces, attracts, and impacts an audience. A rhetor thus seeks
listeners to her messages, purposively and deliberately, communicating them to specific
audiences during specific times in specific places. This was Grace Padaca's strategy in convincing
the Isabelinos to give her the electoral mandate. She tailor-made her speeches to touch her
But it was not always easy for her. There was the wave of support from the masses
evidenced as early as the congressiona race of 2001. Not proclaimed despite her edge in vote
count over her opponent in majority of the voting municipalities, she retreated to privacy. But
radio audiences from the Cagayan Vallej to the eastern Cordilleras had known her as a fighter.
Earlier defeated oppositionists of the dynasty finally threw their hats into the ring for contender
Padaca. The Isabelinos seemed to have had enough of the Dys. From a woman named Noemi, a
note to Grace bore this message: "In votes you were number one. Only, you were cheated, so were
we. So let us defend our rights..." 2
Grace the vacillating contender recalled the taunts hurled at her person in 2001: "I
became the butt of jokes and ridicule. I couldn't blame them though. Who is Grace anyway—a
polio-stricken girl? She can't even walk, and, look she's running against a rock-solid wall!"3
Grace was alluding to many people's doubts on how she would fare as a political
contestant. However, when thousands of Isabela voters witnessed her performance in the 2001
congressional polls, they would not, in their hearts, concede Grace's defeat. Some supporters
claimed, "We knew Grace really won."4
Grace mused quietly, "I had the support of the majority in 2001. The election tribunal
proclaimed my opponent winner—by only 48 votes!"5
Fight or flight. The Padaca supporters came to a decision.
The masses had spoken out against the poll fraud, incidences of intimidation, threats, and
harassments. The town of Angadanan was in the spotlight as a "victim of vote-padding" to favour
Readings on Japan 46

the incumbent candidate for Congress. A mass action was held where then Bishop Sergio Utleg
delivered a message decrying the election irregularities demeaning the sacred ballot. 6
The people's mass action of protest had arisen from (to put it simply) the glaring
inconsistency of the count results with original on-site precinct tallies. Pro-Padaca voters did not
and could not find credence in the total tally when Election Day voting hours ended. If Padaca led
by big margins in 5 out of 8 voting towns,7 why did she still lose in the overall?
If the sitting dynast can be said to have used non-rhetorical tools to attract voters, then
Grace can be said to have used tools of persuasion through the word. Was it not the ancient,
great rhetorician and orator Cicero who affirmed that "the power of eloquence is what gathers
scattered humanity and leads them out of their brutish existence...?" 8
The campaign rhetoric of Grace was unusual for not checklisting election promises as
traditional politicians are wont to do. Instead, her initial rhetoric was her vision: liberate habela,
liberate the people? She belonged to no political party that would have required a party platform.
She belonged instead to the masses. Her vision to empower them would only be realized if
they supported her bid for governor.
Thus, the big issue poised against her was: Does candidate Padaca have a platform?
So, in that ensuing radio debate prior to Election Day, she was hounded by the same question. To
the broadcaster-moderator she answered: "Allan, how much does a 30-minute spot on radio cost?"1[
"Tens of thousands,"" replied the broadcaster.
"There! So since I can't aff ord thirty minutes on radio, I briefly tell the people in the
15 seconds of air time that I can afford,
'Palayain ang Isabela upang mabigyan ang lahat ng Isabelino ng pagkakataon na mapaunlad
ang kani-kanilang kabuhayan at malinang nang ganap ang kanilang mga katangian'"12(Trans.:
Let us free Isabela so that every Isabelino will have a fair chance to improve his life and
achieve his fullest potential.) This was Grace Padaca's answer.

Then time came for the listeners to hear the two contenders' response to "What qualities
do you possess that would make you good leaders of the province of Isabela?"13
Since Grace had drawn the first lot and Faustino Dy, Jr. the second lot, she answered first:
Ang aking katapatan sa aking ipinaglalabang kalayaan ng Isabela ang alam kong
magpapanalo sa akin dito sa labang ito. Dahil ako ay isang maliit lang na bahagi ng
labanang ito. Ang alam kong magpapanalo sa akin ay ang katotohanan na kapareho kong
kaisipan at kagustuhan ng mas maraming Isabelino na gusto nang lumaya...™

Trans.: What I strongly believe is that my sincerity and truthfulness as a person

will make me and the Isabelinos win. I am but a tiny part of the whole. But the
good thing is that the masses and I share the same dream—liberation from so
many oppressive structures...

From the opponent Dy, Jr. came the answer qualifying him to be the leader of the province:
Ang magpapanalo sa akin ay yung performance ko na ipinakita ko kung ano ang aking
nagawang serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan. Yung pagbigay ng zero backlog in
classrooms at yung pagbigay ng magandang serbisyo sa ospital natin. At yung
pagtulong sa mga livelihood at napakaraming proyektong nagawa. Sa madaling salita,
performance ang pinagbabatayan ko.15

Trans.: Performance is what will make me win. My 3-year term pushed so many
projects off the ground, in livelihood, and especially my zero-backlog
accomplishment in classrooms. We have built hospitals where everybody can
seek treatment at no cost. People can see what my administration has done and
its effects are felt by the populace.

The sting of the word "performance" did not seem to faze Padaca because in the allotted
two minutes for rebuttal, she extemporized: "Mr. Junior Dy truly erected a lot of infrastructure, yes,
but his performance is only edifice-oriented, not service-oriented. For instance, there are new
schools for children in the public system of education. But who will enter these classrooms if the
children are poor, sick, weak from scarcity of food on their table? How can families without enough
or decent livelihood even send their children of school age to your schools?""
The quick refutation from the opponent Dy came in the query, "You apparently do not
know your facts and statistics about these schools—that since my administration constructed
these school buildings, there has been a 20% increase in enrolment rate! And why do you say these
children cannot enter these elementary and high schools when everything is free from tuition to
"I do, I have the facts, Mr. Junior Dy. I know, for instance, and Isabelinos know that the
Dys have had a lot of construction projects way back to the rule of the late Faustino Dy, Sr., your
father. Like the huge sports complex that serves as the venue of a once-a-year sports activity, the
Palarong Pambansa, and thereafter, no longer used. Plus the huge capital building you built. My point
is: any mayor or governor or congressman can carry out all these projects because there is a
budget appropriation approved by the national government. But where are your priorities
anyway? And more importantiy, how do you prioritize projects?" 18
In the verbal tussle between the two, listeners from Isabela to Nueva Vizcaya to Ifugao
trained,their ears to the "fight" that would win the voters' hearts and minds. What the incumbent
refuted, Grace had a ready rejoinder. It seemed she sounded once again the Bombo Grace who had
a full grasp of the facts. She arrived ready for the debate.
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The incumbent Dy would not yield that easily. He stood pat on the air that his performance
had been sound and solidly grounded on basic social services like hospitals, health, and
schools."There was no mention of agriculture or food production in the rice and corn basket—for
which Isabela is well-known.
Padaca, however, allowed her listeners among the broad masses to see the contrast between
the Dy administration's treatment of poor, sick people as they sought medical help in the big
hospitals and the manner in which well-off and well-connected patients were treated. There was a
big disparity, she claimed, in favour of the well-to-do. While influential patients received quick and
generous sendee in the form of medical health payments, the poor had to keep going back to
secure health benefits. Two documented cases were presented by Padaca. One beneficiary of health
benefits was a person of means who had high blood pressure while the other was an indigent who
needed immediate post-accident surgery.20
At this criticism coming from Padaca, Dy announced that he needed formal complaints
with specific, concrete facts from patients as to how they were helped or not by hospital doctors and
personnel staff. That Padaca could not simply generalize was the latter's point.21
Grace Padaca apparently did not plan to be trapped by the opponent's strategy of placing
her in a controversial light. When Dy threw an innuendo that his opponent was an amicus-NPA,
meaning a friend of the New People's Army, she thought she would be wasting precious air time
during the debate if she became defensive. So she stuck to her plan of apprising the Isabelinos of
what she would do for them if they supported her. She spoke of people empowerment of all sectors
—not just of a few. She spoke of leading Isabela society towards a level playing field for all. She
told them she had the integrity and sincerity and competence to raise them to a higher quality of
life. But first she offered herself as the better alternative to the current leadership. And she did
not mince words when she faced her opponent with "The Dys are ruling our province
everywhere, and it seems they have no intention of relenting. See how they have multiplied their
With the able moderation by the Bombo Radyo broadcaster, Allan, the Isabelinos' most critical
concerns like the coal mining project, the transport ship project for coastal Isabela, and the
issues on the incumbent's financial management of the province all surfaced. While Dy
trumpeted his performance indicators, Padaca trumped them down with logic, facts, and
innuendo. It must have been hot in the air lanes.
The debate had ended with the two being civil to each other. A modey group of listeners
but voter-listeners especially had been afforded a chance to be critical or reflective of the
opponents' messages. Soon it would be countdown to Election Day. At that point, who had the
Reminiscent, it seemed, of Grace's campaign speeches when she would prefer to be the last, the
debate's closing statement had her delivering a final salvo:
Ako po ay isang taong may kapansanan. Nung 3 taong gulang pa lang ako ay
nagkasakit ako ng sakit na polio. Hindi ko ho yon kasalanan, pero mas magiging kasalanan
sa Diyos kung aking binalewala ang aking buhay. Kaya po ginamit koang mga talinong
binigay niya sa akin Hindi lamang po para bigyan ng kahulugan ang aking buhay kundi ang
iba pang mga tao. Lagi kong sinasabi sa lahat ng aking mapuntahan, huwag kayong
maaawa sa akin. Hindi ako nagpapaawa. Hindi ko kailangan ng awa. I have become a
successful person without the pity of other people. Ang sinasabi ko po, huwag ako ang
kaawaan n'yo Isabela, kaawaan n'yo ang inyong sarili. Kung ano man po itong aking
sinasabi, kayo ang magsasabi kung ako'y tapat. Ngayon lamang po nangyari sa
kasaysayan ng ating lalawigan na lahat tayong mga mamamayan ay mayroon tayong lakas
at pagkakaisa para labanan silang sobrang tagal na sa kapangyarihan. Walang sinabi sa
kanila ang diktaduryang Marcos na 20 years lang naghari samantalang sila ay doble na, 40
years na. Wala na po tayong panahon para sayangin para iligtas ang ating sarili sa
panghabampanahon na yatang pagnanais na sakupin tayo... Ang sinasabi ko pong lagi
kung sana ang dinastiyang nandiyan ay maganda ang pamamalakad at hindi nang-aabuso,
hindi na ako lalaban... Mahirap nahong mangyari muli mga kaibigan ang pagkakataong
ito na puwede nating palayain ang ating lalawigan ng Isabela. At sana po yan ang
inyong isipin. Kahit ganito po ako, isang simpleng tao, hindi mayaman, hindi
makapangyarihan, buong tap ang ng loob kong iniaalay ang sarili dahil alam kong tama ang
aking ipinaglalaban, at alam kong ito rin ang gusto n'yong ipaglaban, aking mga

Trans.: I am a handicapped person. Since I turned 3, I have been afflicted with polio. That
is not my fault. But it would be a greater sin against God had I not utilized the talents He
gave me not only for myself but also for others. 1 do not need your pity. I have become
a successful person without the pity of people. Isabela—do not pity me; pity yourself.
What I utter now is something you can judge to be true or not. Our province is
experiencing a historic first. It has never happened before that Isabelinos gathered
enough strength, conviction, and unity to fight the powers that have reigned for so long.
So long that the Marcos dictatorship of only 20 years pales in comparison. This one is 40
years! There's no more time to waste, fellow Isabelinos. Let us save ourselves from the
dynasty that desires to rule forever... I always tell myself that if this dynasty were of
another kind—with a good governance, without abuses—there would be no need for me
to oppose them... My fellow provincemates, what we have together reached and
accomplished at this point may never come again. Today, united as we are, we can
liberate Isabela. I am Grace Padaca—a simple soul, neither rich nor powerful—but I offer
you my whole self, my will to continue fighting, [as I have fought for 14 years], and my
Readings on Japan 48

personal courage for I know I am fighting for the right even as I very well know that you
and I share this dream.

To talk of who was the better debater would be out of context. To gauge who was more
persuasive—that would be the listeners' concern. One thing stood out though among the
audiences who heard both contenders for the governorship. A segment kept its silence while
another expressed vocally whom to support. A longstanding climate of fear had crouched at
people's doors. Election Day would be judgment day.
In fine, Grace Padaca the rhetor had brought to radio the ethos of her persona. And it
was like it had always been. Issue- oriented, critical of status quo, critical of governance within
and by a dynasty. Through the points of contention raised by the broadcaster-moderator,
Grace's personal qualities of forthrightness, intelligence, candor, sincerity, and humility shone
through. Her environmental consciousness and concern became highlighted when she knew salient
points as to the dangers of coal mining, especially to human beings. Moreover, there was indication of
her planning and managerial ability as she cited her opponent's lack of goal-orientedness and
program sustainability, even while she noted his administration's lack of prioritization.2* The opponent
Dy stressed only one thing: his outcome-oriented performance indicated by big and numerous
Visioning in governance was needed, claimed Padaca; no visioning, but performance results
came from Dy, Jr.
A paradox was noted in the debate: the woman Grace spoke thus "in just a few hours, you will
be free, Isabela!"26 The other contender—the man—defended himself thus "if there's no democracy
here, then no one would run."2'
Could it be that Padaca's being allowed or tolerated to run against the Dy dynasty was in fact,
by all intents and appearances, a calculated showcase of electoral freedom or democracy? Or that now
there finally emerged a serious contender and challenger to the established dynasty?
Thus, the performer as debater leaves the radio scene. The performer as campaigner walks the
countryside. The performer as Grace Padaca arrives.
Through forty-five days come sun come rain, audiences come to see her perform in the remote
barrios and villages—many of them farmers of rice and corn. The people wait till midnight. They keep
vigil. Grace finally alights from a vehicle in crutches. She has been combing the farthest, remotest
barrios relendessly.
They listen and study her face for the first time. The people make her sit on a pile of rice grain
sacks. She is now encircled by farmers and their wives, by sons and daughters who look at her face
intently, waiting for her voice. She greets them "Naimbag a rabiiyo amin apo!" (Good evening to you
all!) and says her piece:
Kung talagang magaling ang ating mga pinuno, bakit ang marami pa ring naghihirap at
nagdurusa? Ang ating mga magsasaka, bakit kahit anong pagod nila, baon pa rin sila sa
utang? Lumaban naman tayo... Kung nakikita n'yo akong ganito, pilay, nahihirapang lumakad o
kumilos, huwag kayong maaawa sa akin. Kaya ko ang aking sarili. Nakapag-aral naman ako,
nakatapos naman ako. Bagkus ay maawa kayo sa inyong mga sarili. Bakit pagkaraan ng
apatnapung taon ng dinastiya, ganyan pa rin ang buhay niyo? Kung sama-sama tayong lalaban,
mapapalaya natin ang ating mga sarili, makakamtan natin ang isang Isabela na para sa lahat at
hindi para sa iilan lamang.28
Trans.: If our present leaders are really good, why are we still suffering and not
prospering? Our farmers, no matter how hard they toil, are still neck-deep in debt. If you
see me like this, limping and weak, don't pity me. I can take care of myself. I am blessed to
have been to school and gotten a degree. Instead, think of yourselves, why after 40 years, you
are still dirt poor. If we unite and fight together, we can free ourselves. We can have a province
of Isabela that empowers everyone and not only the chosen few.

Having heard Grace speak, the people nodded and observed silence—perhaps a silence that
they imposed on themselves. The rural folks who by all indications were what one may categorize or
stereotype as the powerless and marginalized sector were the intent listeners of her messages. It
cannot be ascertained, however, if their engagement as listeners has had a prior formation through
many years of habitual listening and patronage of Bombo Radyo programs, especially those of Bombo
Thus, when Grace was queried why she decided to run against a powerful incumbent, she said:

...I just knew that if somebody had to fight the dynasty in Isabela, I think it would
have to be me, modesty aside. We know elections to be contests between and
among people who are known to the voters. I was waiting for the known
opposition leaders of Isabela to make the move, but, perhaps, they got fed
up running in the elections because they would just be clobbered or cheated
anyway... I think I had an edge already because of my stint for 14 years as a
Bombo Radyo broadcaster. So, perhaps, it would be a chance. If somebody had
to do it, it had to be me because I was known by many people, and I think they
liked me too... I was popular because the issues I presented on radio were
people issues, issues linked to governance... it was not just popularity but
integrity, it was sincerity in the things I said, that when I said 'Let us work for a
better government for Isabela, let us fight for a better future,' then they knew I
meant what I said...29
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In the campaign sorties as well as in Grace's flyers and written letters to the people, her
messages were synchronized by her constantly, if not blissfully, repeating her mantra "PALAYAIN
NATIN ANG ISABELA! Sama-sama tayo sa mithiing iyan." 30
The message visualized for its listeners an imprisoned, incarcerated, and caged province
and people. So, it fired a more eloquent point when it reached one's consciousness: Why does
Isabela need to be liberated? It needed thought. It needed answers without prodding from the
performer Grace Padaca. It only needed looking inside oneself—his life, his experience. It is well-
known to many that rural folks possess a wisdom that city folks or urbanites do not possess. The
cycles of hardship that transform them into crusty people of character and tenacity are their
wealth. Pliant and resilient they are, yielding to nature's force or fury.
So, it was that after 45 days of speaking face-to-face with the Isabelinos, Grace the
challenger returned home to make way for the voters to pause. To listen.To decide.

Two critics and well-known scholars in the field of rhetoric, Campbell and Burkholder, suggest the
most appropriate standards for evaluating a speaker's messages or performances, namely: artistic
and ethical.1
On the first criterion, the artistry of a rhetorical performance can be gauged, thus: does a
message appeal to or influence its audience? Does its language move and persuade its audience? How
about its argument, is it cogent and logical?2 To a layman, this wouldbe described as a message or speech
that is appealing, persuasive, and logical. In the teacher and philosopher Aristode's thinking, die
credible speaker is one who by her character or integrity influences audiences over and above her
reasoning and emotional appeals, elements that are to be present, too.
To find out how Padaca's audiences apprehended and appreciated her performance as
rhetor, we need to borrow the ideas of our aforecited scholars: two artistic strategies, namely: the
"powerful embodiment of a persona" and the other "a wedding of language and thought."3
Was Grace Padaca the powerful embodiment of a, persona?
A word first about what persona is. The term takes its origin from persons of stature, of
acceptableness, of character, and of greatness.4
First, one has to see the trajectory that her life took. What were the influences that shaped
her? There was the polio that afflicted her at age 3 and the burdensome therapy and intervention,
followed by early schooling. Though mobility was limited, Grace's intellectual development was not.
Family nurtured her formative years in utmost affection with an underlying discipline. Whatever
strength came in her youth came mainly from a father's solicitous devotion. Classes absorbed her
fertile, creative, and unstoppable mind. Home provided a wealth of reading material that matched a
child's boundless energy. The mystique of radio started to bud a child's prodigious imagination.
Grace Padaca's emerging identity of strength in her adolescence hinged on a preemptive
will to fight the things she had no power over—like her disability, her imagined self-image due to
physical constraints, and the normal preoccupations of her teenaged life.
From a sheltered, protected, and perhaps insulated environment, Grace exited to
experience the real world where she met other young people from varying family backgrounds
and social status. Further on in college, the higher education atmosphere challenged her even more
to achieve scholarship and excellence as a student to include imbibing love for country. Part of her
college life, in fact, central to it, was her learning the state of her country and the conditions of
Filipino citizens as this learning was integral to the Lyceum curricula. From a high school girl steeped in
traditions of an exclusive Catholic school, Grace came to see at the Lyceum a wider, bigger, and more
challenging horizon. Academic scholarship she continued to show, however, being a self-motivated
learner, Grace wanted more. She could set her analytic mind to figure out the growing dissatisfaction
and resdessness of her elders and fellow countrymen trapped in the dictatorial leadership of the early
seventies to mid-eighties. She along with her fellow students saw signs of injustice and wanton abuse
in government despite her still budding sensibilities.
In her young adulthood, Grace's awakening to her connectedness to a Supreme Being
healed her unconscious which began her own person's liberation. The chronic self-doubt of tenuous
adolescence disappeared. A whole and no longer fragmented self loomed.
Grace's later path had led her to stretch her limits even more. With the lofty goals she set for herself,
after graduating at the Lyceum, she "bumped into" an opportunity in radio broadcasting to aim high,
to reach for the stars—to pursue a meaningful life. The local radio station proved to be the right place
for her to grow up in and get training in. In that chrysaline cocoon she woke up to the hard knocks
and harsh realities of Philippine society and its politics. In the end, her qualities of truthful and fair
reporting, passion for justice, and sense of public mission caught national and international
attention. Once Grace walked the tightrope of missionary journalism and defied comfort or the easy
way out, her audiences especially the youth came quick to the rescue!
Where several and better-known media luminaries in the country allowed themselves to
join lesser-known politicians to attract voters, Grace the broadcaster considered politics only after
ending a 14-year stint in broadcast journalism and a brief state-auditor desk job. In hindsight, she
attracted the populace's attention because she embodied what it is to be a good broadcaster.
Rising from the ranks, she had proven her competence and leadership in that radio station of
Cauayan, Isabela. "Hindi pelikula, hindi kanta, hindi basketball.""
The Isabelino populace came to know her as Bombo Grace on radio. She was the "voice"
thousands came to recognize as a fighting voice opposing government abuses, a challenging voice
calling attention to numerous problems that beset the province, and a gentle, pleasing voice trailing
through air waves. Grace was also the mysterious voice to the innumerable listeners who had not as
yet seen her.
Grace represented the mission and goals of DZNC Bombo Radyo Cauayan; as a main
anchorperson, she easily glided into the role of the poor man's mouthpiece. The little powerless
and unmoneyed people saw Bombo Grace as a figure to seek refuge in. Like a lighthouse, she
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beckoned "sailors and voyagers lost at sea." They assumed her fighting stance and courage would
alleviate or rescue them from their plight. Whether or not this was true, ii il id not seem
important. Call it fan-dom or a cult or a following M ! iiiniional proportions, what they saw in
Grace mattered to them. Messages on air that transmitted hope were suffi cient in their
insuffi cient, materially-deprived situations. With the persona Grace, there was tomorrow.
A n d if G ra ce' s expo ses and off - t he- cu ff sta t em e nt s o n air were not enough to
convince the incredulous, her arrest and imprisonment for the causes of media became the most
powerful embodiment of her persona. Here was a polio-stricken female broadcast journalist willing
to take all the punches—for acause The libel case against her was resolved, acquitting her after six
long, grinding years.
One cannot possibly write of Grace's rhetorical acts or messages as discrete, separate
messages. For as in a helix vhere the spires of communication are never ending, speakers or rhetors are
continually performing their lives or scripts through their words And their words and discourse
move onwards irreversibly m time and space even as they recede into yesterday's messages and
utterances. It was the message the listeners had drawn, refi ned and reinterpreted individually and
collectively that produced ^ distillate of hope in human dignity. It was what eventually brou&ht Grace
home. Home to their hearts.
Now, then, how about the second criterion: "a wedding of language and thought"?
Where thought precedes a word, a word an act, a rhetor who "walks her talk'"5 is credible.
Where previous thoughts precede visible actions in a continuum, a rhetor who exhibits such becomes
highly credible, especially when good thoughts give way to good words or messages, and good words
to good deeds. When Grace Padaca launched her battlecry "Free Isabela, free the Isabelinos " 7it was
not a far-fetched idea, concept or slogan of campaign. Rather it was a freedom cry articulated in
common with the bro ad masses who could not speak out; it was a reality shared by the people and
her beneath an albatross of forty years of dynastic rul e. Where rhetoric becomes empty when it carries no
substance, meaningful rhetoric is the opposite. In explaining the language of liberation she showed
her listeners and audiences how "freeing Isabela from the dynasty"8 would free the Isabelinos from
abuses, corrupt governance, and injustices. Inductively, she highlighted all sectors of society who stood
to be empowered, who stood to reclaim their rights and dignity as citizens—no longer to be dictated
upon, coerced, or intimidated. But she needed the people to act in concert with her to achieve the
The only alternative for the Isabelinos to free themselves from the dynasty was to make a
choice on Election Day. In Grace Padaca's reflections, she said, "I never wanted to run or oppose the
dynasty for myself. I did want to tell people especially the Isabela electorate that they had a choice.
The fire must be kept burning— at all costs."9
The thought of liberating Isabela and liberating the Isabelinos was given form in this language:
Grace Padaca., kalayaan ng Isabela ito'y hangad niya
Samahan natin sa kanyang mithiin
Grace Padaca tayo'y lalaya.™

Trans.: Grace Padaca's goal is to free Isabela;

Let us join her in her aspiration.
Grace Pa-daca—together we will become free.

The complementarity of thought and form (symbol) is seen through the simplicity and
unambiguity of connected words and lines above. The notion of kalayaan or freedom is abstract.
So is the concept of mithiin or aspiration. What then becomes meaningful and concretized to
Padaca's audiences? It is the collective experience of the Isabelinos that emerges as a ray of sunlight
on a cloudless day. It is the shared realities of the masses— the "poor oppressed farmers, the
unrecognized professionals and educated, the intimidated entrepreneurs and businessmen, the law
enforcers" at the dynasty's beck and call—this is where thought weds language. The meanings and
images that resonate with the populace's experience stir up in them a shared decision: to liberate
Isabela, to go along with Padaca's dream—Padaca's dream for her people. The Isabelinos' present
spirals into the past—a collective memory is retrieved of things and experiences past. Then the past
regurgitates the present. Where are they now? Can they think of a better future?
With the masses clamouring for her, the persona of Grace Padaca was transformed into the
Script where people wanted her to be the main character or protagonist in the 2004 Gubernatorial
Drama and they her supporting cast. The background was a sociopolitical setting where the
electorate's rights and liberties had been denied systematically during the forty years of dynastic
rule. In her early predicament of youth, she had dreamed to become a voice penetrating through
the airlanes. If she could not be seen, at least she could be heard. Padaca recalled "Hindi nakikita
pero naririnig."" And slowly, gradually through time, her competence, courage, and integrity of
broadcasting started drawing thousands of listeners and fans to her radio programs. Her aired
messages and broadcasts had won her and the station award, acclaim, and applause. DZNC Bombo
Radyo Cauayan emerged to become the most credible, most heard media broadcast station in
the Cagayan Valley.
Unknown to her then, Grace Padaca the broadcaster had in reality started wooing "future
supporters" by entering their ordinary world and the humdrum of simple lives—of hardship and
struggle to survive, of experiencing injustice when pitted against the powerful, of helplessness to
defend their rights. But lo the broad masses of Isabelinos who had neither voice nor clout, the "voice"
had become their champion and defender. While a dynasty clanked on with its iron wheels and cogs of
wile .ind clever patronage, the "voice" sent calm, gentle messages toIsabelinos who had been
longing to appropriate for themselves the right to suffrage.
`Meanwhile, the audiences of Grace the challenger minded their seats patiently, quietly, but
hopefully—waiting for the ripening moment to face the Spotlight—to make their choice.
Readings on Japan 51

Like the hero Cyrano de Bergerac in Edmond Rostand's novel, Grace as anchorwoman had
set the people's hearts on fire. Like the maiden Roxanne whose heart throbbed to an unseen
poet's inner beauty and strength, the heart of the masses had at long last surged with hope, for at
the sight of their visible heroine, a new day dawned.
The fury of forty years of silence became unleashed. The people cast their vote.
If the broad masses apprehended and appreciated Padaca's rhetorical messages, how did it
impact their lives? Who did they say Grace Padaca was? Who was she to the people?
In the minds of her innumerable listeners, Bombo Grace was a champion and defender of
die disadvantaged, weak, oppressed, and fearful. Her credibility as a fighter has been evidenced
by her performance in radio journalism for 14 years. This is well-known. Thus, when Grace took the
challenge in 2001 and 2004 as political contender against the dynasty, it was her ethos or
character— finally visible in action. Within her, she had resolved at long last that there was
nothing left do in radio. But she had planned another course of involvement with people. There
was more that she could do,12 she thought.
Though she experienced a temporary setback in 2001 and vacillated when urged to run
again in 2004, it was her moral persona that sealed her decision to fight.
Grace Padaca may be described by Rushworth Kidder's notion of a person exhibiting moral
courage}"" Such individual is said to possess a commitment to moral and ethical principles, an
awareness of the risks and dangers of such a commitment, and willingness to endure the risks and
dangers and consequences of such commitment.14 In the context of the gubernatorial drama of
2004, Grace's central aim was to right the wrong. What appeared to be wrong? Righting the wrong
meant dislodging the dynast because she believed the governance or leadership of this dynast was
the talisman of most of Isabela's troubles. Grace, however, did not fully subscribe to the
intractability of the Dys and their cohort; there was a more serious intractability among the
people. Making the electorate aware was Grace's main task. By constitutional standards,
sovereignty had ceased to "reside in the people."
It was a "first-things-first" rhetorical strategy of campaign. If the dynast is not removed
from his entrenched power, there can be no chance at real change in the province. But if the
dynast is supplanted by a moral and ethical leader, then there is hope for genuine reform. This was
Padaca's frame of thinking whose logic translated into her campaign slogan "Palayain na natin ang
That uppermost in her mind, Grace Padaca the contender proceeded to educate the
poor, the disenfranchised, the passive, and even the educated of Isabelino society. She was
aware as a journalist that a meeting of minds was the key to a deep, empowering awareness of
the people and of their plight. Through her radio debate with the incumbent, she proclaimed
to her live audiences her slogan of liberation. Through her succinctly written letters to Isabela (a
female symbol for the collective) and through her radio spots and "commando campaign
speeches," she challenged the people to march, get up on their feet, and fight alongside her to
liberate Isabela from dynasty rule.
The masses' point of intersection with their female champion may be analogous to Burke's
theory of identification" which simply says that when Grace Padaca the aspirant saw and felt the
yearnings of the masses and articulated it in her discourse or rhetoric, the masses began to identify
with her. Somehow their own personal truths of living had resonated with Padaca's messages.
Anyone who gathers does not scatter.Padaca's language united rather than divided the people.
All sectors of Isabelino society came to such a moment. Even the militants with their political and
social agenda came to join the cause. Political parties heretofore each to his own coalesced. The
majority recognized the time had come to be one. Burke claims that when language is utilized to
bring people to a common way of understanding, such use of language or rhetoric promotes
identification.17"A, iyan, ipagtatanggol niya talaga ang mga maralita, lalo na ang masa,"ls(Trans.: Ah, she
really fights for the poor, especially the masses.) remarked a long-time radio listener. Listeners of 14
years saw that Padaca the broadcaster was speaking for the people—the voiceless and powerless.
Moreover, she was an educating broadcaster. She knew as broadcast journalist she had the
mission to inform, transmit knowledge, and foster awareness in the listening public.
It was an exciting sequel to her Bombo Radyo script for the masses to learn she had
decided to run against a political giant in the 2004 Electoral Contest. The sequel was the final,
decisive action of the persona, Grace.
Padaca's rallying rhetoric to free Isabela became a highly charged message in its emotional
tone. "PALAYAIN NA NATIN ANG ISABELA!"19This theme of liberation was not understood initially by
the common folks, but when Padaca made it clear and vivid by using metaphor, i.e., "the thieves
who break into a house do not enter to beautify it but to carry out their evil motives; let's not
allow them a chance," 2" many understood. To the broad masses Padaca announced this
overarching mission not hers alone but theirs. When queried about her platform of governance,
she merely replied, "Kung itatanong ninyo po ang plataporma ni Grace Padaca, isasagot ko po ito:
Gawin nyo akong daan para lumaya ang ating lalawigan. "21(Trans.: If you ask Grace Padaca's platform, this
is my answer: Make me your instrument to liberate our province.)
When she made her campaign sorties combing the barangays, she explained to them what
was wrong in provincial governance and what ills had arisen out of dynastic rule. If the masses
shared her dream of liberating the province from dynastic power, she and they would attain this
freedom for the Isabelinos, and ultimate freedom to be themselves, freedom to realize their own
potentials, freedom to tap their talents and skills. Freedom with dignity for all Isabelinos. This was
Padaca's underlying message to all.
Finally, what ethical judgments can be drawn from Padaca's rhetorical performances?
Again we look to critics of rhetoric Campbell and Burkholder who recommend the core question
"What are the social implications and long-term eff ects of a rhetor's discourse?" 2
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Thus, one may begin by assessing the "values and the images of human beings and of
society that are upheld as ideal" 23 Looking into Padaca's rhetoric during the campaign of 2004, the
rhetor said:
Mahalaga ang kalayaan para sa mga negosyante o businessman, para mapagbuti nila ang
kanilang diskarte. Kalayaan para sa mga professionals para magamit nila ang kanilang
galing para sa mabilis na pag-unlad ng bayan. Kalayaan para sa mga guro at empleyado ng
gobyerno para mapagbuti ang kanilang serbisyo.24

Trans.: Freedom is important for the businessmen so they can be enterprising. Freedom for
the professionals so they can use their minds and skills to help the province prosper.Freedom
for the teachers and government employees so they can improve their services as public

The foregoing excerpt names specifi c sectors of the population that would benefit from the
liberation of Isabela from the imposed dynastic structure, namely: entrepreneurs and merchants,
professionals or the highly educated, and teachers and employees in public service. The
paragraph denotes society as a whole—a unit composed of diverse and unique individuals endowed
with qualities, equipped with training, knowledge, and skills, acumen and capacities necessary for the
province's growth and progress. The use of the possessive pronoun "kanilang" if translated to
the English their brings to the surface a sense of individually being equipped with certain knowledge,
skills, and aptitudes which they can tap not only for self-growth but also for the greatest good. But the
implicit stage on which it could only be acted out is the stage of freedom. Also noted in the excerpt are
the English equivalents "strategy," "speedy progress," and "efficient public service." Aside from
these three articulated goals, the words of Padaca the rhetor show her visualization or images of
empowered constituency and citizenry. Reading into the lines may bring listeners (audiences) to grasp
the connectedness and synergy arising from the potential of collective effort. In the context of
Padaca's campaign battlecry, the human resources of a province must be tapped within a liberating
environment. Moreover, the simple language used in parallel syntax readily visualizes for the voters the
image and thought "In such a society I am a person with dignity and capacity—for this I am
Such environment is the rubric of democracy in free societies.
Further on, Padaca seems to drive the point that freedom is necessary for the farmers (the
agricultural sector and providers of staples like rice and corn) to improve their lot and fully attain
economic sufficiency; moreover, freedom is a condition to the lifting of burdens of ordinary labourers;
freedom for the youth and women is likewise crucial if they be counted on as contributors. The
following rhetorical segment of a radio speech attests to her imaging of other sectors (often marginal)
of society:
(Ilocano tongue) Masapul nga mawaya-wayaan daguiti mannalon tapno maaramid da ti
pudno a pagsayaatan da.Waya-waya para cadaguiti trabahador tapno lumag-an met ti casasaad
da. Waya-waya para cadaguiti agtutubo ken babbai tapno macatulongda ti panag-dur-as ti

Trans.: Liberate the farmers from their yoke so they can be free to prosper. Liberate the
workers from their burdens so their lot can improve. Liberate the youth and the women if
they must be counted upon to contribute to the province's progress.

The rhetor Grace implies that freedom exercised by such groups is a necessary condition to growth
and prosperity of the entire province.
In all the above passages, the rhetor Padaca cites freedom to be an imperative. Freedom is
her avowed premise to liberating her provincemates. Thus, she declares that her platform of
governance is simply for the people to make her the instrument to Isabela's liberation.
Grace Padaca, kalayaan ng Isabela ito 'y hangad niya;
Samahan natin sa kanyang mithiin,
Grace Padaca tayo'y lalaya.21
In the above campaign jingle the vernacular "kalayaan ng Isabela," (Isabela's freedom), "hangad niya,"
(her aim) "kanyang mithiin," (her dream) and "samahan natin" (let's join her) communicate
meanings not only about a desirable state called freedom but also a call to the people to share the
rhetor's dream of a free Isabela. The rhetor's campaign jingle that people heard from her vehicle
was stark in its simplicity of words but implicit in its seeming indictment of the political scenery
obtaining, "...tayo'y lalaya" (...we will become free) is a phrase with a futuristic meaning and tone;
thus, the present points to a condition without freedom.
Albeit the abstraction "freedom" seems too encompassing to grasp, the visualized
examples of human beings exercising freedom as citizens or members of the body politic appear
clear enough to Padaca's commonfolk audiences. Farmers, plain rural housewives, and the youth
upon hearing the word that Padaca would speak in their villages stayed up "till the dead of
night waiting to see and listen to her."28 Such anticipation was described by Padaca's mother, thus:
"Ang upuan namin yung cavans of rice. Hinintay nila si Grace hanggang alas dose. Pinapalibutan nila
si Grace habangnakikinig sa sinasabi niya."29(Trans.: We sat on rice sacks. The rural people waited
for Grace until midnight. Wanting to get near, they slowly surrounded Grace as they listened.)
The images coming forth to the reader are rice sacks piled one upon the other, neatly
placed on hard ground or a village grain-drying concrete, along with darkness for it is midnight,
then the image of people, simple folks mostly farmers, waiting for the Voice to be embodied in
the person of Grace. If still another image would be drawn, there is the pull or force of the
woman's charisma drawing the people to listen and listen more until performer and audience
become one in feeling and thought. The shared experience becomes the shared dream.
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The value of freedom as emphasized by Padaca the rhetor appears to have resonated
with the voting audiences as shown by their responses like patience to wait for the person of
Grace, listening to her messages in the dead and stillness of night, building for her makeshift
canopies fashioned with coconut and nipa fronds, putting up her posters, contributing in kind,
and a host of others.
Noteworthy is the exemplar of courage that one pastor, the Rev. Jojo Tuazon, embodied
through little gestures of support and encouragement. The gentleman's actuations may even
raise eyebrows on the issue of the Church's nonpartisanship, however, the person of Padaca
during those momentous days of Isabela was in a very real sense symbolic of the deep yearning
of the people to witness the triumph of democracy so that their actions sprang from the heart.
When human liberties are endangered and upon the scene emerges a perceived champion to
defend such rights, the bandwagon phenomenon that ensues is like a strongly-knit
neighbourhood whose members rush to help a neighbour in urgent need, moreover, to be in
solidarity with him. Throughout Philippine history, our farms, our villages, our barangays, and
poblaciones have exhibited a social life marked and governed by kinship and bayanihan
structures that transcend political structures. The bayanihan "soul" of the Filipino seems to
have been at work in the supporters' response to Padaca's candidacy. Kinship, in the literal sense
of consanguinity, no; but in the "kin" dimension, voters who began to believe they had at last a
defender somehow felt a "kin" in her. The individual person Grace through the gradual realization
by the people of someone who possessed courage to fight for them now became blurred—the
masses had meshed their dreams and hopes in her and her dream of a free Isabela in them.^'They
became one.
Grace Padaca—the symbol embodying the people, became the most striking, captivating
interpretation by her audiences. She became the message.
If the reader backtracks to Isabela's social setting of four decades, he would fi nd the
politics of patronage, clientilism, and predatory politics. Voters' free exercise of choice had been
systematically stifled in exchange for money, material, and other favors, a practice that had become
the norm in a dynastic structure. If a barangay captain (village leader), for instance, had
ascended to his stature of power through a dynasty's support, this person would very well know
the many strings attached to the position and what favors needed to be returned come elections.
Such power structure boasts of a quaint way of "if you deliver the votes for a certain candidate
for re-election or for another elective position, your position is secure for as long as the law
permits." Thus, the barangay captain who is strategically situated among the populous lower strata
(villages and hamlets) is required, not expected, to make the favoured candidate the winner—not by
persuasive messages or rhetorical acts but by trickling down money or gifts to those below him. In a
curious way, one may call such a person the powerful politician's "steward of sorts." His continued
prominence is dependent upon his power to deliver to his bosses, the wealthy and powerful. Once
this mechanism is in place by a dynast, assisted by a cohort of local government proteges and
sycophants, campaign speeches or rhetoric is rendered inutile. There are no audiences and there
are no messages—only "runners" who at midnight knock on doors to distribute money envelopes to
willing takers.
A last word about the artistic strategies made eff ective by Padaca. The strategy of
deliberate avoidance of campaign promises of which the Filipino nation is a victim of ad
nauseam was fruitful. She had planned an altogether innovative and divergent motto, a slogan
to identify her with the disenfranchised Isabelinos. There were no promises of more schoolhouses
for the barrios, of hospitals in far-flung areas, of barangay halls and health centers, or other kinds
which in the end were cost centers builtwithout consultation with the people. Padaca's
rhetorical strategy was one of visualization: if people united with her, the people would be free
to be themselves as they exercised their rights as citizens. Padaca with the people, the people
with Padaca in one aspiration of freedom, so to speak.
The rhetor's thought of "liberation" or "freedom" to be set in place first before
anything beneficial can arise was made explicit in her campaign messages that articulated the
same. It was a thought transformed into verbal symbols of language faithful to the thought.
Once the concept of freedom or liberation seemed ungraspable by the masses, Padaca began
translating it into the recognition needs of the broad sectors and marginalized members of
society—again implicitly driving home her point of human rights fi rst and foremost. Then, it
seemed at that point the commonplace people understood what she meant. The Bombo
Radyo broadcaster had become more than ever credible to the voters now than while she was
still the unseen courageous journalist. It seems Padaca had opened the people's eyes with
"Wake up, Isabelinos, freedom is your birthright."
The ethical criterion bearing on Padaca's campaign speeches or rhetorical performances
has to do with the question: What social implications or effects upon society does Padaca's
rhetoric have? First, we have already established its consistency to the universal code that
invests the right to liberty of human beings in a free society.31 Not only was Padaca emphatic in
pushing the people's electoral liberty and right but also the people's right to self-development and
self-actualization. From Padaca's forthright, critical radio rhetoric while in debate with opponent to her
rallying cry for the liberation of Isabela, the value of freedom superseding lesser values rang out
loud and clear.
Second, what palpable eff ects were observed as a result of her campaign
messages? If a coalition of militant, radical, and church sectors gravitated to her side, it pointed
to Padaca's messages gathering if not uniting groups which heretofore tended to "mind their own
business" or causes or advocacies. If the Christian Church and its groups became pulpit-active to
describe the ideal attributes of would-be leaders, short of pinpointing who that candidate was, it also
meant that the normally tight-lipped and cautious Church sector spoke up. Many voices were heard.
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Many more voices wanted to be heard. The plurality of voices seemed to affirm the existence of a
democracy at work.
Third, the fl ow and chronology of events starting with Padaca's audacious will to run against
the dynasty up till the coalescing of the sectors, including the ideologically opposed, reached what
might be called a synchronicity of the people's will and purpose. The majority was silent no
longer. This synchronic time was reached by Padaca's persuasive rhetoric of liberation "Let us
free the Isabelinos; let us free Isabela" and by the listeners persuaded by her messages.
As to the long-term effects of Padaca's words of persuasion or rhetoric, only time can tell.
Suffice then to present to you, dear readers, what we think to be an anatomy of moral and ethical
and leadership (Grace Padaca style).

An anatomy of ethical and moral leadership, Leaders by choice

First, ethical leaders become leaders by choice, not by force, not by a lust for power, or by a
negative desire to oppose others. 32 According to theorist Rushworth Kidder, an ethical and moral
leader is someone who leads despite being aware of the risks, dangers, and adversities
imminent; who chooses to lead while willing to face and endure the risks, dangers, and
adversities; and one who is committed to moral principles, adhering to them."Padaca did not run
for governor or congresswoman on orders; she was an emergent leader chosen by the people,
acceding to their wishes meanwhile accepting the challenge to oppose the political dynasty.
Because of her choice she faced ridicule, alienation, pressures untold, intimidation and threats,
and resistance from public servants mandated to work with her. Furthermore, this choice when
sealed by an electoral mandate had to be lived out through her commitment to lead and serve.

Leaders' view of their constituencies is inclusive.

Second, leaders in democratic societies tend to be more popular and effective when they
draw or gather more people, more groups, and more sectors into their circle, rather than denounce,
splinter, or exclude people, groups, or sectors of the population. 34 With certain exceptions, of
course, this type of leadership is termed inclusive or inclusionary. Inclusionary leadership
enlarges the primary human group that it addresses 35 thus shares with the people a vision, a
dream, an aspiration attainable through positive collaboration. Such leaders are often motivated by
a desire to effect change, and often they believe they possess a vision for such change. When the
broader masses have reason to believe that leaders who are inclusionary tend to be sincere and
honest, they show support for such leaders. 36 For 14 years Padacca as broadcaster witnessed the
virtual exclusion of a major portion of the Isabela populace through dynastic control of politics and
the local economy, Padaca sought to reverse that by her dream and vision: to effect change by a
freedom that would include all segments of the population. A shared dream and a common vision
to "liberate Isabela" from dynastic rule was Padaca's campaign message from start to finish.
On her first term (2004-2007) the lady-governor signed a memorandum of agreement
with PhilHealth to benefit more than 600,000 Isabelinos under a universal coverage scheme. The
health benefits program covers the father, mother, children, and parents up to 60 years old and
up. Isabela became the second province in the whole country to provide more than half of the
population with PhilHealth benefits. At the time, the provincial population was 1.3 million. This
and other inclusionary programs of Padaca's administration took off the ground.37 Democratic and
socialized access to health services became a reality under her people-oriented leadership.
Such a sense of inclusionary leadership in Padaca had perhaps its early origins in a childhood
that saw opportunity for constructive action despite the physical challenge. It is said "one cannot
communicate what one does not have."

Leaders' stories cultivate a sense of community.

Third, leaders communicate stories or messages that educate, inspire, and draw cooperation from
their audiences; audiences craft and send messages in collaboration with their leaders.38 Gardner
underscores the necessity of followers, supporters, and audiences to come to the assistance of
their leaders and to "share their burdens, rather than try to exploit or undermine their
authority."38* Initially, aspiring leaders may have difficulty telling their stories or messages to
intended audiences but when these stories are interpreted by the audiences as being significant,
meaningful, and close to their needs as human beings, a commonness is achieved. Padaca needed
no extra techniques to build a sense of community. She had for more than a decade "invested"
heavily with a broadcaster's goodwill and integrity of persona in the audiences of Bombo Radyo
Cauayan that it seemed natural and forthcoming for people to accept her as one with them.
In her governorship, she strove to be in constant touch with the governed. She had a
regular radio broadcast to "constantly report to people" about her programs and goals of
governance. She initiated a weekly People's Day at the provincial capitol. This was another avenue
for close communication with constituents or citizens.. When several town leaders (mayors)
refused to support her leadership during her first term, she wasted no time, instead she trooped
to the villages or barangays to know firsthand from the rural folks what their problems were. This
practice was regularized to become the Ugnayang Barangay.V)

Leaders who embody what they say are credible.

Fourth, "walking the talk"4"enhances leaders' ethos—people's perception of their character. A
leader may be able to formulate or construct a clear and persuasive story but unless and until
she has shown the story through her actions, the audiences will not "buy the talk." Of what use
would good logic be or emotional appeals if one fell short of convincing audiences who perceive
inconsistencies between the story or message and the storyteller? Persuasive rhetoric is
embodied rhetoric. Padaca's profile of courage in the provincial prison earned her the people's
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admiration as they witnessed that she was willing to endure hardship for broadcasting the truth.
She pressed on, no matter what.
Quintilian, the ancient rhetorician of Rome, taught that a rhetor or persuasive speaker is
"the good man speaking."41 Padaca was considered a person true to her ideals of truth and
fairness in reporting and integrity and competence in public service. Furthermore, the masses
perceived her singularity of purpose to serve even in the face of great odds.

Leaders empower rather than manipulate.

Fifth, empowering a broad citizenry is a consequence of inclusionary leadership.42 Leaders who can
perceive the big picture or a vast landscape of the societies in which they lead attempt to ensure
recognition of the needs, desires, and aspirations of theii members across all sectors.43 How? By
"learning from the people" or through reciprocal means of communication or dialogue. How else?
By creating democratic structures and mechanisms that enable individuals and groups to utilize
their knowledge and training, skills, and qualities for self-empowerment and self-reliance leading to a
progressive society. Thirdly, by using a bottom-up approach or strategy of problem-solving and
planning. Leadership by empowerment is devolving responsibility to broad masses, to the grassroots
even, rather than centralizing power at the helm. Structures that ensure justice and fairness are
deemed empowering. Institutions and agencies whether public or private that allow equitable access
by all are empowering. Empowerment considers the sharing of power among all sectors of society.
Padaca challenged the distorted electoral structure that had been the norm for forty years. Instead of
"joining," she tried "licking" the voter's payola by giving the masses the alternative to choose better
leaders and consequently empowering themselves.44
In Padaca's governance a strategy to rescue the majority of the population (60% are
farmers) was put in operation. The National Food Administration (NFA) in 2005 procured corn for
seven (7) pesos plus two (2), amounting to nine (9) pesos. For palay, it was ten (10) pesos plus one
(1), amounting to eleven (11) pesos, The additional two and one came from the price stabilization
program introduced by then Governor Grace Padaca in collaboration with the government agency
NFA. This move eventually influenced market prices to rise, benefitting 87,500 rice farmers and 85,086
corn farmers. The program also earned a net profit of 450,000 pesos for the provincial government.
At the time when Padaca became governor, one kilo of corn was being bought by the middlemen or
financiers at only 4 pesos. Such a strategy worked to the farmers' benefit because middlemen had to
match the subsidized farmers' price. Buyers of rice and corn knew the farmers could very well sell
their products to the National Food Administration, the partner of the provincial government.45
Furthermore, her leadership brought integrity and honesty into standard operating
procedures of cyclical activities such as bidding for government projects alongside strict adherence
to bidding guidelines. She formed a Project Team to cross-check prices of materials, supplies, and
equipment46—something the length and breadth and width of Philippine bureaucracy had forgotten
or simply paid lip-service to. In the words of a former executive assistant of Grace Padaca, "Things
like overpricing, padding the rolls of government employees, and many other anomalies had become
normal to people in government." 4
It was known by the Isabelinos she was kept busy during the first three years of her
governorship—to pay all government debts to contractors and suppliers and, being an accountant
and a former government auditor, saw to the books of accounts and put them in order.48
Finally, Grace restored the business landscape to a freer and more levelled playing field. This
was warmly welcomed by the entrepreneurs and merchants of the province as this sector had
received the flak of power and manipulation, intimidation, and coercion.49

Leaders innovate through a sense of judgment.

Sixth, in a particular milieu or setting, in a particular time and place, leaders know how to innovate in
tune with the needs and times of a people.5" An innovative leader is a leader who listens. Such a
leader listens with the mind and heart to assess the leadings of the people. In order that the
people's imagination may be aroused or captured, a leader innovates a story, message, or theme
that resonates with the people's strongest need at a time when they are "poised to respond."51
The theme "freedom" is classic yet recurring among peoples of the modern world. But innovative
leaders like the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi worked around this theme to
rally their people with distinct, resounding messages such as "We shall overcome!" 52 and Gandhi's
call to "passive resistance and civil disobedience." 53 Padaca, using the Filipino language, adroitly
synthesized her vision of a free Isabela with the cry "Isabela, Malaya ka na!" 54 (Isabela, you are
free at last!") Then she elevated liberation to transformation with another message "Bagong
Kultura, Kaunlaran ng Bawat Isa" where she as leader set the example of a new ethics in public
service. In 2007 during her second term, she offered the message "Bravo, Isabelino!" and further
elevated transformation to celebration, restoring pride and dignity unto the Isabelinos. 54"

Leaders possess spiritual intelligence.

Finally, leaders possess spiritual intelligence. 55 Spiritual intelligence is not a monopoly of religious
leaders; rather, it can be found among morally strong and ethical persons such as leaders of
nations, institutions, organizations, and movements. 56In world history, one famous exemplar was
the woman-commander and warrior, Joan of Arc, who was saaid to have been inspired by
messages of a Spiritual Being to defend her nation, France, during the Hundred Years' War.
Spiritually intelligent leaders show obedience and sensitivity to messages they believe to be
coursed to or meant for them, or in very rare cases directly communicated to them, i.e.,
documented accounts of inner locution, in that they perceive such messages to be providential
and thus to be respected. Beyond these few manifestations of spiritual "life," spiritual intelligence
is described as the "God Spot in the brain, the temporal lobe that lights up when monks and nuns are
in deep contemplation, and when people ponder the deep meaning of human existence." 1 In
Readings on Japan 56

addition, Zohar defines spiritual intelligence as "being creative, insightful, rule-making, rule-breaking,
being transformative in one's thinking"58 and according to Emmons a "capacity to transcend the
physical and material"... "and an ability to invest everyday events and relationships with a sense of
the sacred." 5'
In Padaca's life, what started to be a light banter about opposing the long-sitting Dys
became serious, deliberate, and sacrosanct because she fully believed that as she prayed
on the evening of the last day of filing one's candidacy, Scripture contained a resounding,
unmistakable message she "could not resist or defy."60 The passages of Scripture "jumped at her"
with such a compelling force, pressing her to make the decision to run. Thereupon, she instructed
her brother to file her candidacy at the eleventh hour, so to speak. (2001).
Padaca summed up her leadership in the years 2004-2007 and 2007-2010, thus:
I have shown the Isabelinos the difference between my governance and the dynasties... I
have no more new message to tell our people. In media as well as in governance, I know how
important communication is not only in informing but educating our people... So, I think I have
done everything to save our freedom, to save our victory [in Isabela]... Whenever I talk in fora
on good governance, I always say that electoral reforms are my main advocacy, my main
concern, not agriculture, not women, not the handicapped... It's electoral reform because I
have proven that if you just elect the right leaders in government,61 there's the speed of trust.61"

Howard Gardner, the author of Multiple Intelligences, cites six constants of effective
leadership, namely: the story, the audience, the organization, the embodiment, direct and indirect
leadership, and the issue of expertise. 62
First, a leader communicates a message or a central story, articulated the theme before a
large and heterogenous group, and taking care to address the sense of individual and group
identity. Even more striking to an audience if the message or story is novel or transformational. 63
Second, Gardner says "even the most eloquent story is stillborn in the absence of an
audience ready to hear it."64 A leader communicating her story has a complex and interactive
relationship with her audience, often with the desires, aspirations, and needs of the audience
interplaying with the leader's story. In addition, a leader's story if presented constantly as the core
message becomes highly effective at different levels of understanding and sophistication. 65
Third, a leader if her message is to endure needs an organization of base supporters
and possible future advocates. 66 When she leaves leadership upon finishing a term or terms of
office, the original story that moved, touched, and mobilized supporters to action must be kept
alive until it reaches a point of irrelevance or waning significance. The bond created by the leader
with her supporters and followers is maintained only with some kind of organization or
networking. Coming together to share a dream, vision, or goal is an act of reinforcement which
deepens into commitment.
In fine the message, the script, the performance—these transformed into the persona of
Grace Padaca. Her own personal journey of self-empowerment had inspired her dream, goal, and
vision to free Isabela, a story of her own struggles within a story of the Isabelinos' fi ght for
their rights. In only two terms of 6 years Padaca had performed as a leader who exhibited
moral and ethical qualities, moving in counterpoint to mainstream traditional politics and prevailing
norms of accustomed behavior among the citizenry. It has been a long journey from dusk to

Breaking New Ground

A Profile of Mayor Jesse M. Robredo
([2007], Frontline Leadership. Quezon City: Ateneo School of Government and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
It is Monday morning and Mayor Robredo, Naga City’s chief executive on his sixth term, is ready to
begin his day. He is up by 5:30 to perform his morning rituals before heading to the Basilica of Our Lady
of Penafranciato pay his respects to the Virgin. From there, he proceeds to cityHall to preside over a
weekly Management Committee meeting with his department heads.
Together, they tackle the issues and concerns of his constituency. Today, a dispute internal to a
people's organization predominates the discussion. Absurdly enough, they must also discuss a request
to reimburse the transportation costs of a Rizal resident visiting Naga City.
`While subordinates admit to being slightly intimidated at these meetings, Mayor Robredo moves
without the swagger of most provincial caciques or the reckless flamboyance of your typical politician.
Instead, in a plain shirt and equally simple pair of pants, Robredo works like a middle class professional
with a meticulous eye for detail and a commitment to hard work-qualities that seem to suit the demands
of his post in his beloved city.

Bicol's Paradox Box .Located in a region long mired in poverty and burdened by a three-decade
communist insurgency, the city of Naga is regarded by many as a dynamo of activity and a generator of
prosperity. Even with onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when many parts of the country
experienced tepid growth or economic decline, Naga achieved a growth rate of 6.5%. It was still surging
forward in 2004, when it enjoyed a gross city product 115% higher than the national average. Such an
increase in the economic pie meant greater income security for the average Nagauefio, with the city
recording average household incomes 42% higher than the national average and 126% higher than the
Blcol average.
Without direct access to the sea, Naga has nonetheless been able to overcome its geographical
limitations and transform itself into the business hub of Bicolandia. Compared to its long-time rival,
Legaspi City, which has more than 2,000 business establishments, Naga has approximately 5,000.
Construction is on the rise and the city government has benefited much from the permit fees that it has
collected. Telecommunications is also a thriving industry in Naga with a telephone per household ratio
of 1:1, higher even than Metro Manila's current record of 1:3.
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Naga continues to attract more investors through its policy of "fiscal prudence" and
bureaucratic efficiency-prompting the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to cite it as
the Most Business-Friendly City for 2002, 2003 and 2005, thus becoming part of its Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, Naga's good fortune has yet to benefit the rest of the Bicol ·Region. In
2003, regional poverty incidence was pegged at 40.6%, making it the fourth poorest region in the entire
Philippines. According to the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB), this affected approximately
3,625 families or about 9.5% of the country's total poor.
Moreover, while Naga's local economy is largely animated by its various commercial ventures,
Bicol remains highly dependent on agriculture. The national economy may even be characterized as
feudal, with land ownership concentrated in the hands of a few elite families that also control local
politics. This then engenders an undercurrent of resentment among the populace, making them more
susceptible to the allure of armed resistance.

Enter Robredo. Naga was not always known as Bicolandia's premiere city. In fact, when Robredo took
over as mayor in 1987, Naga was a typical third-class city with a budget deficit of PI million.
A number of Robredo's supporters impute the City's near-overnight transformation to the
singular efforts of the Mayor. Although to attribute everything to Robredo is an exaggeration, the Mayor's
managerial skills and fiscal acumen indeed have been pivotal to Naga's economic boom.
Ironically, during his college years, Robredo did not exhibit any interest in politics and shied
away from organizations; the only group he opted to become part of was the De La Salle Engineering
basketball team.
Nobody expected that he would one day run for public office and be elected mayor of his
hometown, where he was born to an ethnic Chinese family in 1958. Most were surprised by his decision
to enter politics. A cousin described him as "a late bloomer" who did not particularly excel in college in
high school.
Robredo remained largely non-partisan until August of 1983, when opposition leader Benigno
"Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. was assassinated. The event would create a groundswell of protest action leading to
the 1986 ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos; it would draw in those like Robredo who, though not
totally indifferent to political issues,had until then remained on the sidelines of the protest movement.
Like Saul on his way to Damascus, Robredo was transformed, and two days after the assassination, he
joined thousands of others in a queue towards the Aquino residence at Times Street, Quezon City, to
pay his last respects to a fallen hero.
Politicized almost overnight, Robredo began joining the "movement's noise barrages and
marches down Ayala Avenue in Makati."However, he found himself in an uncomfortable position,
working at that time for Magnolia Dairy Products-a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which
was controlled by Marcos crony Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco.
In Magnolia's distribution department, Robredo interacted with people of quite diverse
backgrounds. He worked closely with the managers of the company and mingled with ordinary
employees at the same time.
"In my work with San Miguel, I got to meet different kinds of people. When I was with the staff, I
was talking with Spanish mestizos," Robredo remarks in Filipino. "When I was assigned to line duty, I was
interacting with warehouse keepers."
In April 1986, two months after the People Power Uprising that ousted Marcos and brought
Corazon Aquino to the presidency, Robredo returned to Naga to head the Bicol River Basin
Development Program (BRBDP), a project funded by the World Bank. Robredo obtained the position
through the efforts of Luis Robredo Villafuerte, his uncle who was a Trade Minister under Marcos but who
switched to the opposition and became Chairman of a presidential commission under Aquino. Robredo
brought a new dynamism to the BRBDP by infusing management principles and techniques that he had
learned from the corporate world and from his masteral studies in business administration (MBA) from
the University of the Philippines in 1985.
In 1988, with much urging from his uncle, Robredo ran for the post of mayor of Naga City and
won over his closest rival with a slim margin of 947 votes. Garnering a mere 24% of the votes, Robredo
became a minority mayor, with only four allies in the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
Undeterred, he again introduced his practice of corporate management to cityHall. As mayor, he
proceeded to dismantle the existing system of political patronage by requiring an aptitude exam for all
City Hall employees, and introducing a merit-based system for hiring and promotion.
Prior to his mayoralty victory, Robredo had run for the post of president of the Ateneo de Naga
Alumni Association. This, according to his vice mayor, was meant as a litmus test to determine his
viability as a possible political candidate, Seeing him win the alumni presidency, his supporters finally
felt that he was ready to enter and eventually succeed in the rough-and-tumble world of Philippine

Electoral Juggernaut.Within the first year of his term, Robredo had a falling out with his uncle and
political mentor. Villafuerte began to issue statements disowning him and calling him an ingrate or one
who has no utang na loob (a deep sense of gratitude), Not surprisingly, the Villafuertes refused to
support Robredo's reelection bid in 1992 and instead fielded another candidate-Robredo's aunt, Pura
Luisa Villafuerte Magtuto.
With Robredo's performance and well-organized political machine, he had generated much
support from his constituents to win reelection with a clear majority, beating his aunt by more than
33,000 votes. His entire slate also won in the polls, as voters heeded his electoral battle cry, "Uhas
kung Uhas, Gabas kung Gabas" (nothing if nothing, all if all, i.e. vote for a straight slate sweep).
Robredo has since become so influential in Naga politics that his choices for team members
inevitably emerge victorious in any election. To date, his team holds a record of six consecutive sweeps
from mayor to the 12th councilor.
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Such a straight ticket victory, Robredo maintains, is partly due to their strategy of fielding a
slate that adequately reflects a cross-section of Naga City. In one election for instance, the Mayor
recalls having a tricycle driver run as City Councilor against a doctor who was obviously more
intellectually capable. But the former still won in the end, because all of the City's tricycle drivers
decided to vote for him.
Robredo has succeeded not only because of his performance but also because of his political
machine that comprises formal organizations that his administration initiated. A researcher on
Philippine politics, Takeshi Kawanaka, wrote:
Robredo set up his network among grassroots leaders and residents more systematically than
had his predecessors .... Robredo established formal long-term organizations made up of these
grassroots leaders and urban poor residents. He then kept up the management of these
organizations through specific offices he set up in the city government.

Anti-Political Dynasty.After Robredo's third term, Sulpicio "Cho" Roco, a brother of the late Senator
Raul Roco, took on the mayoralty post. At this point, some of his supporters began urging him to run for
Congress; he declined, saying that he did not have enough resources to launch a successful campaign.
Initially, his wife Leni was also encouraged to run as city mayor, but she refused out of disdain for political
“Non-negotiable na ako ang pumalit kay Jess na mayor,” Leni says. 'Hindi ko talaga nagustuhan ang mga
family dynasties na feature ng PCIJ. Grabe naman kung gagaya ako.(The idea that I replace Jess as
mayor is non-negotiable. I really didn't like the political dynasties that were featured in PCIJ. It
would not be good if I followed in their footsteps.) Robredo agrees, adding that their family's
decisions embody a stance against political dynasties.
“Gusto naming isabuhay 'yung paniwala na ayaw sa dynasty. Walang kamag-anak sa pulitika
maliban sa mga kalaban”(We wanted to remain true to our principled stance against political
dynasties. We have no relatives in politics besides our rivals - the Villafuertes)," Robredo

His stance on political dynasties is partly brought about by his belief that its ultimate aim is "to preserve
the interests of the family, instead of ensuring sustainability and preserving the gains for the community."
But more importantly, Robredo asserts that ordinary people who deserve to be empowered should be
given the opportunity to serve the community, for "the right to serve does not belong to one family
At the end of his third term in 1998, Robredo decided to return to private life and subsequently
completed a master's degree in public administration, at the '"John F. Kennedy School of Government at
Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After completing his studies, he ran for mayor and was
elected for a fourth term in 2001. He is currently serving his sixth term in Naga City.
Since his successful foray into politics in 1987, Robredo has modified his Administration's
theme from “Uswag Nagal”(Be Progressive Naga) to “An Maogmang Lugar” (The Happy Place), to “Proud
Akong Maging Nagaueno.” Such modifications are also reflective of Naga’s economic transformation as a
third class city achieving first class status in a span of just two years.
Robredo contends that this accomplishment was due to the people of Naga’s collective efforts.
In an interview with Newsbreak, Robredo claims that his role as city mayor is to "come up with a good idea
then make his constituents realize that they have stakes in whatever issues he wants to address, services
he wants to improve, and sectors he wants to reform. This management approach is also reflected in his
concept of leadership, which according to him, is collective in nature.
This, moreover, requires a certain degree of people skills on the part of the leader-outlining the
direction that the team should pursue, motivating his subordinates to make full use of their potentials,
and encouraging everyone to participate in an ongoing dialogue to further improve their work.
Robredo, however, admits that there are leaders who are able to get many things done despite
their lack of or refusal to have people skills. But such leaders, he believes, create organizations that are so
leader-dependent that the sustainability of projects becomes problematic once the leader leaves the
His wife Leni, for her part, believes that his formative years were crucial in shaping him as a
leader. In his youth, Robredo lived in the family compound situated near an urban poor community. He
made friends with children from the slums asweII as his better off neighbors. It was this experience that
opened his eyes to the sharp division between the rich and the poor.
"It started when he was still young," so says Leni. "He grew up seeing the divide between the rich
and the poor. Sa likod ng bahay nila ay squatters area. Mga kalaro niya ay mga squatters." (The back
of their house is a squatters' area. His playmates were also squatters:)
Lumaki ako na ang mga kaibigan ko ay mga iskwater sa likod ng bahay namin. Ang kasama ko
sa basketball team mahihirap. Nag-aaral na ako sa La Salle, ang mga kalaro ko ng basketball, hindi nga
nag-college. Parang na-balance yung pananaw ko na may mga taong mahihirap na kailangang
(I grew up with my friends who were squatters living at the back of our house. My basketball
teammates were all poor. When I was already in La Salle, those that I got to play basketball with
didn't even go to college. Somehow, it gave me a more balanced view that there are poor people
that needed to be helped.)

The 1986 People Power event, however, would prompt Robredo to entertain thoughts of joining politics.
Marcos' removal from office generated so much hope from the people, especially the young, that they
began asking how they could contribute to the country. Robredo was equally inspired.
Indeed, as one journalist narrates, Robredo was swept along by this tidal wave of optimism. In
the first few months after People Power, he had already resolved to "heed President Corazon AqUino's
call to service."
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Robredo in the Saddle .Once in the City Hall, Robredo cultivated the image of being an assiduous, no-
nonsense (though sometimes boring) public servant. Departing for City Hall by seven in the morning, he
would be seen working hard in his office until five in the afternoon. Beyond his apparent diligence, the
mayor would soon put his managerial training and administrative skills to good use in City Hall, earning
him the image of being a "born problem-solver."
"He takes problems as part of his daily activity," a cousin recalls. "For him, it’s not a struggle."
Leni, for her part, also notes Robredo's uncanny ability touse logic to convince people: "Sa mga
problema, mabilis siya mag-isip (He can think quickly when confronted by a problem).
Everything has a solution.

The city vice mayor claims that Robredo's ability for finding solutions is due to his result-oriented
attitude and his "scientific way of approaching problems." The mayor's cousin, on the other hand,
attributes this to Robredo’s intuition in handling the "human element of governance" and his natural
predisposition for finding solutions.
"It is so easy for him to address a situation," the cousin adds. "I don't know if it’s a skill born to
him or he developed it in time. The Mayor's personal qualities are further complemented by his
"high energy levels" and his hands-on approach to city management. As the city administrator
readily admits:
'Totoong mataas ang energy level niya (Robredo). Nauuna pa siya sa bombero kung may
sunog, baha oaksidente. Pag may bagyo, nasa labas siya, naglilinis, nagpapala. Masaya siyang gawin
ang mga mundane tasks. (It is true that his energy level is very high. He always arrives earlier
than the firefighters every time there is a fire, a flood or an accident. If there is a typhoon, he is
out in the streets cleaning and digging. He is quite happy doing mundane tasks.)

Characterizing his approach as "leadership by example," the vice mayor narrates how Robredo and the
entire City Council dealt with the destruction brought by Typhoon Monang to Naga:
All the councilors and (the) top official were cleaning the darkest parts of the city. The people
loved him because of that...People had to be ashamed; the mayor himself was cleaning the
streets. So the people also worked. Even during fires, cleaning up of the river, he's always at
the forefront. The people can see that.

This image has become so iconic that one columnist was moved to portray Robredo's efforts as that of a
"solitary figure shoveling the muck of the City.
Leni simply attributes it to her husband's innate passion; she says he would readily "forget food
and sleep for work ... Wala pa akong nakitang tao naas passionate as him" (I haven't seen anyone as
passionate as him).
Robredo's wife adds: Wala siyang tamad moments," (He has no lazy moments,) "One time," Leni
recalls, "during the Palarong Pambansa, he had to go abroad for a meeting. Balik kaagad siya.Pagbalik
niya, he realized na pw'ede rin palang iwanan sa City ang work." (He returned immediately. After he
came back, he realized that the work could be left to the City.)

Living Traditions .Attending wakes is part of Robredo's everyday rituals which he confesses in jest, is
also meant to ensure his visibility and further endear him to the voting public.
Lahat ng patay pinupuntahan namin. Paglabas ko sa office, may Iistahan na ng mga patay na
pupuntahan. Ito 'yung traditional part ng politics.(We go to all the wakes. Once I leave the office,
they hand me a list ill" all the deceased whose families I would have to visit. That's the
traditional part of politics.)

The city urban poor coordinator affirms this, claiming that his boss attends five wakes a day onaverage,
as if "every day is campaign day.” Even holidays like New Year's Day, according to the vice mayor, are
no exception: the Mayor makes his usual rounds as if he’s on the electoral trail, but he never hands
outmoney or gifts to anybody at the wake, wedding or baptism he attends.
Robredo claims that his attendance in family and community celebrations and rituals is of great
political significance, for these rituals form part of Filipino culture, His supporters are quick to
emphasize that there is nothing bogus or contrived in his expressions of sympathy, solicitude, or
support. On the contrary, they arise from his easy nature and his ability to connect with people.
“He handles people well," says the urban poor coordinator. The city planning and development
coordinator states that such connection is due to Robredo’s sincerity for the welfare of his constituents.
One journalist made a similar observation, noting the Mayor's "sensitivity to people's needs."
Even those critical of Robredo agree with such remarks, arguing that his ability to deal with all
sorts of people makes him a formidable political force, An estranged city councilor for instance, easily
acknowledges Robredo’s conversational skills, stating that he is a "smooth-talker and can easily
remember a person's name."

Straight Edge.But while ordinary people see the Mayor as easy to deal with, his supporters see him
as a stickler for processes, somebody unbending in his principles, and an "idealist" who remains
"always above suspicion."
A city councilor who has been known to disagree at times with Robredo's management approach
and decisions sees him as an extraordinary government leader with a clear vision for the City. She
admires the fact that he can think beyond his term.
Some people initially viewed Robredo with suspicion, thinking him a Villafuerte clone and
therefore just another dyed-in-the-wool politico. The urban poor coordinator recalls: "At first, I didn't like
him. He was backed up by Villafuerte. Ateneans hate Villafuerte. I started to like him when he acted
independently of Villafuerte."
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It is unclear whether Robredo's break with Villafuerte was premeditated or unintentional - his
uncle was after all the one who convinced him to run for mayor in the first place. But according to one
source, Robredo really "wanted to be on his own" after he got the mayoralty post.
Leni disagrees and states that, while her husband wanted to create an image of his own, a split
with the Villafuertes was a difficult option since "Gov. Villafuerte used to stay in Jess' father's house"
and that "Tsong Peping was Villafuerte's No.1 supporter."
The falling-out took place after the new mayor began efforts to fulfill his campaign promise of
ridding the city of all juetengoperations. Villafuerte, however, wanted Robredo to appoint as Chief of Police a
former classmate who was perceived to be wishy-washy on jueteng. Robredo refused to appointthe
Governor's friend, but the Governor nonetheless got his way after lobbying for support from Malacanang.
Robredo refused to back down and approached the Archbishop of Nueva Caceres, Monsignor Leonardo
Z. Legaspi, who in turn appealed to President Aquino to revoke her decision. Two weeks later, the Chief
of Police was transferred to another post.
The Governor was indignant; from then on, the Villafuertes have been callingRobredo an ingrate.
The estrangement was not easy for Robredo. As the Vice Mayor narrates:
It was a very difficult decision. But if we would just follow the Governor, what would happen to
us? What would happen to our ideals? He would lose the chance to change Naga. He will be

But It turned out to be a resounding moral victory for the neophyte mayor. Not only did the incident prove
that he was an independent politician, but it also became a clear statement of his intent to change the face
of Naga's politics for the better. Indeed, as one columnist wrote:
Robredo has proven that he was his own man and that he meant to stay that way. But the same
willfulness boosted his stock among his constituents who realized he really meant business.

The Villafuertes, however, with their wide network and resources, were not easily beaten; they served as
a formidable challenge to Robredo and his team in the 1992 elections.
"It was the blackest propaganda in the history of Naga," Vice Mayor IInrdado recalls. "Mayor, out
of respect for the family, did not fight back. Our group was crying for blood. He only allowed passages
from the Bible as a response. When one response directed against his auntie-- Tinimbang Ka
Nguunit Kulang--was released, the mayor was so furious. Nobody claimed it."
Despite some reports that massive cheating and vote-buying would be conducted by rival
parties at that time, Robredo refused to take that path. He chose, instead, to take the high moral ground,
giving out cards with the words: Huwag ninyong ipalit sa pansit at sardinas ang boto ninyo. Kunin ninyo ang
pera, iboto ninyo ang nasa konsensya ninyo. (Don't exchange you vote for noodles and sardines. Get the
money, but vote according to your conscience. )
The Villafuertes, in turn, raised Robredo's alleged Chinese citizenship an issue against him.
They filed a case before the Bureau of Immigratiqn and moved for the deportation of the incumbent
Mayor. Hecklers disrupted Robredo's campaign sorties by chanting "Chinese! Chinesel"
Robredo, however, was vindicated in the end, winning over his opponent by a wide margin of
80%. Those closest to him say that he was so confident that the people knew the truth and would still
vote for him. "Out of respect for his aunt, he did not engage in the propaganda war," they add.
On hindsight, Robredo claims that his resounding second-term victory was, due to the fact that
his team was able to present a clear message to his constituency-defining in unequivocal terms what he
wanted to do for the people of Naga. He says, "voters should not only know whom they are voting for,
they should also know what they are voting for."
In his campaign sorties, he spoke against corruption and revealed how this would be aggravated
through jueteng. And people believed him, not only because he was able to rid Naga City of the illegal
game, but also because ever since his first mayoralty bid he refused to accept money from jueteng lords.
This, Robredo claims, gave him the moral ascendancy to fight gambling in the city.
Robredo is extremely careful with money. He and the rest of the City government strictly
adhere to procedures; there is a receipt for every conceivable financial transaction that they engage in.
"Everything that is work-related that the people ask from us is charged to the office," Robredo
explains. "Everything - medicine, funeral expenses, etc. as long as they can be legally explained. We
will not pay for these expenses [without proper accounting]; because in our line of work, once we
paywithout accounting, we will begin to get money which doesn't belong to us."
The Mayor of Naga does not make donations to the families of the deceased, despite the fact
that visiting wakes is part of his daily routine.
'Yung patay, ang standard niyan, pupunta 'yan sa office, pipirma lang, may P500 sa DSWD. 'Pag pumunta
ako sa patay, oras lang talaga.(When it comes to the deceased, the standard is, a relative comes
to the office, signs a receipt, and gets PSOO from the Department of Sodal Welfare and
Development. When I go to a wake, I only spend time.)

The city administrator narrates a story which, in his view, sums up Mayor Robredo's character as a
public servant:
Minsan nagkasal siya. Binigyan siya ng P200, OOO sa isang envelope. Wala namang nakakaalam n'un.
Pagbalik niya sa City Hall pinaresibuhan niya yung pera. Sabi niya, gagamitin natin para sa
pagpapagawa ng paaralan at ipapakita natin dun sa mag-asawa para makahingi pa tayo ng donation.
Bumilib ako.Hindi niya kinuha kahit wala namang nakakaalam nun.(He officiated at a wedding once.
He was then given P200, OOO in an envelope. Nobody knew about it. When he got back to City
Hall, he ordered that a receipt be prepared. He said that we will use it to construct a school and
he will show it to the couple so that we can ask for more donations. I admired him. He didn't
get the money even though nobody knew about it.)
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Transparency has become so ingrained in Robredo' s style ofleadersh ip that despite having no
opposition in the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the Mayo facilitated the establishment of a federation of all
Naga-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dubbed as the Naga City People's Council; to act
as a check to the local government. Currently chaired by a priest, the People's Council has repeatedly
been cited as a fine example of participatory governance.
They have also uploaded all their systems, business licensing procedures and other possible
transactions in the City government's official website along with the average time for the processing of
papers, so that resident~ can have a clear idea of what to expect once they transact business in City
Robredo's practice of minimizing donations or dole-outs and channeling government resources
in a transparent way through formal organizations and agencies helps keep his political machine strong
and shows his great skill as a politician and a public manager. Kawanaka wrote:
Minimizing dole-outs helps to maximize the utilization of limited resources. Here lies an
important reason for Robredo's effective political machine. It has maintained a balance of
sound finances in city government and the continuation of machine management. Usually a
political machine leads to financial breakdown because of the huge amount of financial
resources needed to maintain its power and influence, and the power holder ends up in a very
unstable situation once the crisis becomes unmanageable. However, on this point, Robredo
has demonstrated his uniquely capable administrative abilities. He has been able to manage
two seemingly contradictory tasks: keeping the city government on a sound financial footing
and maintaining his strong political machine.

Thrifty or Stingy.Robredo’s daily attire of simple, clothes gives the impression that fashion is not
among his priorities.This has prompted the Vice Mayor to exclaim that his superior doesn’t knowhow
to dress properly. Robredo's admirers comes defense by pointing out that what matters most in the
mayor is substance and not "form."
Leni attests to his detachment from material objects and his lack of interest in anything
expensive or luxurious. Once, Leni reminisces, she bought her husband a Lacoste shirt as a present.
Knowing perhaps how much it cost, he never bothered to use it.
But for Robredo's part, he claims that he got his simple taste from his parents. Growing up in a
family that did not put a premium on material goods or riches, he and his siblings were taught by their
parents to refrain from seeking any favor or special privileges, and instead to measure the degree of
their success based on the amount of labor that they have exerted.
This notion of hard work seems to have been inherited by his children, Robredo proudly points
out. One of his children informed him one day that they had a school project which involved collecting
and recycling empty Zesto juice bags.
To make things easy for his child, he suggested that they buy several boxes of Zesto juice drinks
instead; but his child insisted on collecting the empty containers. In the end, his child had his way, and
even his younger sibling assisted in the collection.
But such frugality has led some of Robredo's friends and detractors to label him as either
"kuripot" or "super-kuripot. " He never gives gifts during weddings and baptisms. "Super-tipid siya sa pera ng
gobyerno" (He's super thrifty when it comes to government money), the city administrator adds. "Sa
workshops namin, ni walang snacks. 'Pag may meeting ang lahat ng taga-City Hall, wala ring snacks." (In our
workshops, there are no snacks. I there'sa meeting of an City Hall employees, there are still no snacks.)
"One time," according to the City Project Development Officer, "he (Robredo) reduced the
gasoline allocation in City Hall. He tried a 15% reduction at first. When he was told that the vehicles
were still running, he slashed it to 25%. The vehicles were still running, but sometimes they would just
suddenly stop. Now, the problem of the drivers is to find the proper timing for buying gasoline."
Such belt-tightening measures have had negative consequences. Robredo has often opted to
buy cheap and second hand equipment, which may have turned out to be less sturdy, and in the long
run, more expensive.
The Mayor's thrift, however, has definitely generated savings for the city government. The city
administrator, for example, recalls an incident when they bought a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for
P5 million, for which other cities paid PI0 million.
Even in the middle of an election campaign, Robredo remained thrifty, and often to the extreme.
One councilor, for instance, narrates that:
Sa election, 'di binibigyan 'yung mga kandidato ng tulong nafinandal para sa kampanya. Kung mabigyan
ka niya ng P500 masaya ka na. Kung Pl,OOO sobrang swerte ka na.(During elections, candidates are
not given financial assistance. If you receive P500, you should be happy. If he gives you PI,OOO
you're already exceedingly fortunate.)

Robredo's deliberate policy of fiscal discipline has also taken its toU on City IInl! which, despite Naga's
status as a first class urban center, is one of the ~tnallest and most dilapidated government buildings in
the Bicol region. Indeed, as the urban poor coordinator laments:
Maraming nagsasabi na ang pangit ng City Hall. Maglibot kayo sa mga municipality, pinakapangit na ang
City Hall namin. Pero sabi niya, "Bakit aka gagasta ng maraming pera para sa City Hall? Ipapagawa ko na lang ng
kalsada. Anong returns sa pagpapaganda ng City Hall? (A lot of people are saying that the City Hall is ugly.
Go around the municipalities and you'U see that our City HaU is the ugliest. But he says, "Why should I
spend a lot of money for City Hall? I'll just use it to construct a road. What returns shall we get in
remodeling City Hall?")
A councilor shares this observation, and claims that "the CR in the City Ii aU has to be fixed." But
she also says that Robredo may be "kuripot, but rightfully so."
The city administrator further adds that Nagauenos have long accepted their Mayor for what he
is, declaring that, "the people are already accustomed to him that way. They know him as a person who is
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stingy." Robredo's parsimony has become "legendary" that he is often jokingly referred to asthe president
of the Guyom na Palad (Tight Fist) Foundation.
The opposition, however, contends that, despite his image of thrift, Robredo has enriched
himself during his 15 years in office. One critic, for example, asserts that "among all those who became
mayor of Naga, he was the only one who became rich."
He further claims that Robredo actually owns a lot of dummy corporations and that he was able to
buy certain parcels of land in an urban poor area for a measly sum of P45 per square meter.
Naga's Mayor dismisses these allegations 'as pure harassment. "Parati kaming hina-harass sa pulitika"
(We are always being harassed in politics), Robredo remarks. "Masama yung loob na hindi sila nagtatagumpay
kava namemerwisyo, (They are bitter since they do not win so they resort to mudslinging)," 50 he further
The vice mayor, for his part, thinks that the Villafuertes have a "group of lawyers who look into our
faults." He, however, is quite thankful because "if it were not for them, we wouldn't learn things about
legalities and technicalities.”

So Close, Yet So Far. Interestingly, what makes Robredo's style of leadership unconventional is his
tendency "to prioritize those outside of his circle." This is confirmed by the city administrator who
succinctly remarks: "The closer you are to him, the least you are in his priorities."
"Kahit kaibigan, hindi niya pinagbibigyan" (He doesn'teven give special considerations to his friends),
remarked a city councilor who has kn~wn Robredo since childhood. "Parating interes ng publiko ang
sinasabi niya" (He' would always invoke the interest of the public).
Another councilor, however, considers this as "part of his political strategy" to get more
supporters and further expand his area of power.

The urban poor coordinator concurs with this opinion and sees such a move as part of the "politics of
addition." He, however, believes that, by being part of the Mayor's team, they are obliged to be more
understanding since they (more than anyone else) are better informed of the realities of politics und the
needs of the City.
A councilor adds that Robredo has the ability to make you feel that you are part of a family, and this
somehow prevents their supporters from beIlIg resentful and discourages them from shifting their
political loyalties to someone else.
The city administrator explains that the core members of Robredo's team are willing to make
sacrifices since they see their Chief making sacrifices as well by living a simple life. As the vice mayor
ironically remarks: The problem with most politicians is they have unexplained wealth. My problem, on the
other hand, is that I have unexplained poverty.
And this paradox holds true for probably all the members of Robredo's inner circle.

Bordado nevertheless admits that that there are still a number of supporters who feel disappointed over
what they believe is the inadequate attention I hat they receive from the Mayor.
In Robredo's case, therefore, we cart say that the closer you are to power, I he less attention you
will receive, and whoever is closest to the Mayor is I he least of his priorities.
In fact, as the vice mayor narrates, this was used by the Villafuertes during the 1992 campaign when they
pointed out that the Mayor _was unable to repair the drainage near his house. Robredo replied: "Tama,
dahil inuunako yung drainage ng iba. (That's true, because I'm fixing other people's drainage first!)

Consulting and Deciding. When confronted with a dilemma, the Mayor seeks the advice of his priest
confessor. In one incident, for instance, the city government bought a piece of land to be handed over
to Naga City's urban poor residents. But after the people were informed that the land was already theirs,
a mall operator came and claimed ownership over the said property.
The Mayor wanted the issue to be settled in court but the man operator offered an out-of-court
deal, promising to allocate a piece of land for the would-be-beneficiaries of City Han for free. The
operator further pledged to assist in providing water for the urban poor residents, if the offer was
After consulting his priest-confessor, the Mayor opted for what he believed· was the best deal
and accepted the offer of the mall operator. Not surprisingly, the people felt betrayed, but the issue
was eventually resolved peacefully.
Despite the resolution of the issue, Robredo and the rest of his team still felt uncomfortable
over the deal. For over and beyond the issue of what was the greater good, they felt that they had
broken their word, and Robredo personally puts a high premium on his word.

Power, Management and Style of Leadership.Power, Andrew Heywood tells us, is "the ability to
achieve a desired outcome." This is very much related to Max Weber's description of power as "the
probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will
despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests.
Management, on the other hand, may be defined as "the process by which a cooperative group
directs actions toward common goals, while leadershipis characterized as the "influence exerted over a
larger group or body, or personal qualities that foster willing obedience in others." Heywood further
contends that the latter has the capacity to: (a) mobilize and inspire people who would otherwise be
inert and directionless; (b) promote unity and encourage members of a group to pull the group in the
same direction; (c) strengthen organizations by establishing a hierarchy of responsibilities and roles.
Using these definitions to assess his performance, it appears that Jesse Robredo has been
effective in discharging his role as Mayor and exercising leadership in Naga City.
Utilizing power to gain the mayoralty, post and neutralize all major opposition, he
simultaneously exercised his knowledge of management by turning his team into an organization whose
members share a common objective, narnely, the rapid transformation of Naga from a third class
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provincial city toa first class urban community. He was able to do so through his superb leadership,
which persuades people from diverse backgrounds to follow his command.
Under his watch, Naga has become a "rags-to-riches" story in itself, earning!! more than 140
regional, national and international awards for governmental efficiency and people's participation.
It has since become a leading center of local governance innovations", both in the Philippines and
abroad. As the vice mayorjokingly remarks: "Kulang na lang URIAN at FAMAS sa listng mga awards."

Mayor of Dolores, Abra

Use the appended transcript of the interview with the mayor in
Dela Cruz and Edano’s undergraduate thesis at the CAS office
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