“I’ve taken the righteous path.”
–Abu Hattab, 13-year old boy explaining why he joined ISIS and why
Americans should be beheaded, as reported in a BBC news clip.
President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid will go down in our history as the most wacko and hypocritical slogan—and non-program of government—of any administration.
The term embodies though his and his Yellow Gang’s self-righteous and moralistic worldview, that they are God’s anointed messiahs who could save the Philippines from an age of corruption—no one else. You’d be surprised though where the term came from. Read on.
Like a mantra, Aquino intoned “Daang Matuwid” 15 times in his last State of the Nation address: “kuwento ng ating paglalakbay sa Daang Matuwid,” “reporma sa Daang Matuwid,” “mga kasama sa Daang Matuwid,” ad nauseam. The official transcript of his speech capitalizes Daang Matuwid—as an ideology or a religion would be. (To get an idea of how ridiculous this is, imagine how US President Obama would be laughed out of office if he had used a similar term, e.g., “The Righteous Path” as his political slogan and intoned the term in his State of the Union addresses.)
It is almost comical when his sidekick Mar Roxas, scion of two of the country’s hacendero clans, intonates the Pilipino term as he speaks English, as if it were an esoteric religion of which he is the next Messenger, after Aquino.
If only for us Filipinos to be forever spared from hearing this ridiculous term again, we have to vote for whoever Aquino’s anointed will run against.
I suspect though that Aquino’s SONA will be the last time we will be hearing somebody say “Daang Matuwid” before a crowd.
No one in the Liberal Party likes it, and most of them have been wondering now how it got to be this administration’s and the party’s slogan. Most of them even seem embarrassed to use the slogan. The Liberal Party however adopted the term in 2012 as its official slogan too, changing its old logo (with the “Liberal Marangal” motto) it had used since 1946 with one having the slogan , “Sa Daang Matuwid, Asensong Walang Patid.”
Reflecting the absence of a sense of nation among Liberals today especially Aquino, the new Liberal Party logo has little reference to the Philippine flag. Instead, Aquino’s “yellow ribbon” is its dominant symbol.
Eugenio Romerica’s idea?
Only small minds like Aquino’s would embrace that moralistic term as a slogan for a program of government. I was told that it was his and his sister Kris’ bosom friend, publicist, Atenean Eugenio Romerica “Boy” Abunda who recommended the slogan, who claimed that it will strike a chord among graft-tired Filipinos even as it alludes to some fairy tale.
You just have to remember other past Philippine presidents’ slogans to realize how wacky “Daang Matuwid” as a program of government is.
Carlos P. Garcia, the first President under the Second Republic, had his “Filipino First” slogan. Ramon Magsaysay had his “Those who have less in life should have more in law.” Marcos had “This nation will be great again” in his first elected term, and for martial-law “Towards the New Society.” Ramos had his “Philippines 2000” that envisioned a modern nation in the new millennium.
Erap had his “Erap para sa Mahirap” although it turned to be really be “Erap para kay Erap.” Gloria Macaapgal-Arroyo had her “Towards a Strong Republic,” a call to strengthen our nation-state.
So what exactly is Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid,” and where’d it come from?
I had thought it was from the Jewish-Christian Old Testament’s Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that grows brighter until the full light of day.”
Indeed, the term “The Righteous Path” creates that image of a crazed Christian, self-righteous minister in America’s Deep South holding aloft a Bible and shouting, “Repent, for the end is near” and spewing fire and brimstone on nonbelievers — and on the corrupt.
That image jibes with the holier-than-thou yet hypocritical attitude of Aquino, his officials and his supporters.
They condemn the alleged corruption of the past administration, yet refuse to condemn the blatant corruption in the MRT-3, the military-procurement contracts, and their new, masked pork-barrel schemes. They had the Chief Justice booted for not reporting his dollar account earned years when he was a corporate lawyer, yet they bribe legislators with hundreds of millions of pesos — from taxpayers’ money — in order to do so. His fans say he is incorruptible, yet he has not released the deeds of sale of his P15-million Porsche he got early in his term. A big fan of Aquino, Jim Paredes, pretends to be concerned about the nation, when in his middle-aged years, he chooses to be an Australian.
Aquino mentions the “NBN-ZTE” scandal in his SONA, yet hasn’t explained why the Czech ambassador himself accused his high ranking officials of trying to extort money from the firm that would supply MRT-3 additional and replacement coaches. That’s the first time in modern history an ambassador has accused his host government’s officials of such corruption.
However, “Daang Matuwid” doesn’t really translate to the “Righteous Path.” The official Malacañang translation of the term when Aquino uses it (as in the last SONA) is “The Straight Path.”
On the surface, it could have been borrowed from the term “straight and narrow path,” an allusion to Matthew 7:14: “straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.’’
But Aquino has never used “Daang Matuwid and Makitid,” has he?
So where was the term “Straight Path” — “Daang Matuwid’s” official translation to English — been prominently used before?
The Straight Path
After some research, I was surprised. It has been used to refer to Islam, which its adherents say is the “Straight Path to Allah.” The very first verses of that religion’s holy book in fact reads:
“You do we call on for help; guide us on the Straight Path, the path of those whom You have blessed, not of those who earn your anger nor those who go astray. (Quran 1:1-7)”
I was told there are several places in the Quran where that the term is used, although I could find only two:
“God said: This will be a straight path to me. You shall have no authority except over those who are perverse and follow you. Hell shall be their promised place”( Quran 15:41)
“God speaks to no human except through revelation why or from behind a veil or He sends a messenger [angel] and reveals whatever he wills … a straight path, the path of God.” (Quran 42:51-53)
In fact a best-seller published in 1988 considered to be the most comprehensive and accurate presenation of Islam to the West was entitled “Islam: The Straight Path.” The Quranic verses above were lifted from this book, although I verified them as indeed being in the Quran in my copy of its English translation, published by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran in Madinah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
If I were a devout Muslim, I’d be offended that the very description of Islam — the Straight Path — has been hijacked by Aquino and used to fool the nation. Aquino has made a term for Islam one of ridicule and even revulsion.
However, with due respect to Muslims, it was a kind of aha! moment for me to find out that Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid” was plagiarized from Islam.
While there are undoubtedly moderate, modern branches of the Muslim religion, it has been known, more than modern Christianity, to see the world in black-and-white terms, with Muslims, like the medieveal Christians, thinking that every other religion in the world is wrong. After all, rationality had been forced-fed to Christianity when its bastion, Europe, underwent the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century, and after Martin Luther’s Reformation rid it of a lot of its superstitious aspects.
In contrast, Islam had its “Age of Enlightenment” — known as its Golden Age — much earlier, starting in the 8th century when it was centuries ahead of Europe in the sciences, culture, and philosophy. After that, however, it mostly became a rigid military and state religion, so that Islam today has hardly changed from its medieval world-views.
Aquino’s Daang Matuwid is in essence as neurotically messianic as the Taliban and now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are. It captured the imagination only of the feeble-minded wishing to escape their little selves.
It has served only to ignore other imperatives for our country to be prosperous and equitable, mainly strengthening the state and its institutions.
We’re lucky Aquino is stepping down, and I’m sure no President in the future will be stupid enough to adopt such a batty, pirated slogan.
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