I NEARLY fell out of my seat when I read Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ Lenten message. Villegas is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which posted his message in its website – dramatically titled “Meditation”.

What kind of Church leaders do we have now in someone like Villegas? Political partisans exploiting the name of God, and lusting to be the country’s second Cardinal Sin, who had a glorious crucial role in the EDSA revolt that toppled a dictator?

The title of Villegas’ meditation is shocking enough: “Edgar and Art and God’s Mercy.”

Who is Edgar? He’s Edgar Matobato, an admitted hit man, whom the Yellow Cult or probably just Senator Antonio Trillanes IV got to testify in the Senate last October not really to seek justice, but to portray in the most vivid way that President Duterte was a ruthless killer who organized the Davao Death Squad (DDS) that murdered innocent people in that city in the 1980s.

Who is Art? He is Arthur Lascañas, worse than Matobato as he was an officer of the law, a police sergeant. “Just our low-level killer we contracted at times,” Lascañas even denigrated Matobato. Lascañas in contrast was a middle-level DDS leader, who ordered men under him to kill, and who by his own admission, himself killed some 300 human beings.

That puts him in that very small group of serial killers in the modern world with that many people murdered. Matobato obviously is the Phase 2 of the Yellow Cult’s program to demonize Duterte.

How can Villegas be so naïve or gullible as to assume that these two killers repented for killing so many people? I watched so many of the TV interviews of these two killers, and endured so many hours of their testimony: Did they ever shed a tear, or become misty-eyed over their victims? Absolutely not.

Lascañas testified that he stopped killing people, not because he sympathized with his victims or their relatives, but because the Devil visited him in his dreams – which means he was simply afraid of some killer more powerful than he. (Villegas claims though that the Devil actually appeared to him.)

Killed two brothers

Why, even Lascañas had some respect for the truth that he didn’t even attempt to narrate that such a dramatic conversion happened to him: He simply said he had a “spiritual renewal,” a term that had obviously been fed to him to say.

Like a telenovela writer, Villegas wrote of Lascañas: “He did not give up. He returned to his knees and sobbed tears of shame and guilt. He heard a voice again ‘Do you love me? Feed my people. Feed them the food of truth. Set my people free. I will wait,’ the Lord assured Art.”

Villegas didn’t even consider the possibility, given the apparently good financial situation of the two killers, that the Liberal Party or just Trillanes may have paid them a fortune to blacken Duterte’s image, probably explaining to them that they could trigger an EDSA kind of revolution?

Villegas didn’t even consider that the institution with more expertise on worldly affairs—the Senate committee that heard the testimony of the two killers—concluded that they were liars.

The Lenten season commemorates Catholicism’s core teaching of Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, an event really more mind-boggling than the Big Bang, when God entered Human History. Therefore, Lenten messages are supposed to be about transcendental ideas—who we are, our mortality, our relationship with the Infinite.

Degrades the Infinite

Yet Villegas degrades this commemoration of the Infinite to the mud of politics, about how bad this very temporary President is. He thinks he is being cute, or hoped his message would land in the newspapers’ front pages by referring to the two killers’ boss as “Superman,” which they had said in the Senate hearings was their code for Duterte.

In the Lenten messages this year of Pope Francis, and those of other Church heads around the world such as the Singapore Archbishop Goh, Brisbane Archbishop Coleridge, Melbourne Archbishop Hart, and Glasgow Archbishop Tartaglia, there is not a single word referring to a current event.

Which is as it should be, as an event as transcendental and cosmic as Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, cannot be dragged down to the mud of ephemeral politics. Doesn’t Villegas know that clerics get involved in politics only in a few Islamic countries, with the term Ayatollah even now connoting something fearful?

Why, for God’s sake, did Villegas do this?

Villegas’ motive is not really to inspire the faithful to have faith in God, to believe that their sins will be forgiven, whatever they are. That is certainly not a problem for most Catholics: it is in fact what makes this religion attractive for them.

Villegas’ motive is to revive in the public mind the testimonies of the two killers and to believe their allegations against Duterte, which have all been dismissed and forgotten, with the prevailing view being that these two are merely Trillanes’ paid minions.

Jesus Christ himself, Villegas claims, have forgiven them: “On the charge sheet for the sins of Edgar and Art, Jesus had stamped in clear words “PAID”. Therefore, believe their testimonies.

To heaven

He even implies that these two murderers will go to heaven: “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” So, Villegas thinks that Matobato and Lascañas are better human beings than us who have never snuffed out a human life? Bullshit.

Why is Villegas doing this? The only reason I can think of: For vainglory. In his mind, he is the political heir of Jaime Cardinal Sin, since nobody was as close to the Hero of EDSA as he.

Villegas was for 25 years the personal secretary of Sin, who intervened actively in politics in the 1980s for the emergence and victory of the EDSA revolt that overthrew the dictator Marcos. Villegas was disheartened when instead of the prime post of Manila, Pope Francis assigned him instead in 2009 to the provinces, as Archbishop of Dagupan-Pangasinan, far from the center of politics in the country. His hopes of being the new Cardinal Sin were, however, revived when he was elected CBCP president in 2013, a post his mentor had occupied in the years leading up to the EDSA uprising.

In his egotism, Villegas believes he is the Sin of this period, which requires him though to lead such a glorious event similar to EDSA that his idol did—like the overthrow of Duterte through some People Power kind of revolt. Like the Liberal Party, Leni Robredo, and Trillanes, Villegas thinks that the controversy over extra-judicial killings and the supposedly explosive revelations of the two killers would trigger such an EDSA.

Truth—and Lenten messages—are the casualties in such ambition and in such plots.
Published in Commentaries
NAYPYITAW, Burma (Myanmar)—President Duterte has dismissed talk of destabilization as nothing but “politics.”

In an interview with reporters after his meeting with the Filipino community here on Sunday night, Mr. Duterte was dismissive when asked if he would prosecute those who were supposedly “destabilizing” his administration.

‘All politics’

“It’s all politics actually. In the matter of going after them, it has not reached that level of violence—destabilization. It’s more of publicity … . The talk about destabilization I think is a bit too, well, it is just an exponential word, actually. It has no limit,” he said.

The President clarified that for “destabilization” to occur, “you have to have the kind of situation where there is already violence committed and imposed on the population whether they are with you or against you.”

“If they create problems, just like what is happening in Mindanao, if it goes out of hand and children are already targeted for killings, that’s a different story,” he said.


Malacañang officials and allies in Congress have warned against destabilization threats against the President, pointing to, among other things, an impeachment complaint against him filed in Congress last week.

“For as long as it is really a peaceful exercise of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s guaranteed under the Constitution,” Mr. Duterte said.
Published in News
Saturday, 18 February 2017 10:20

Talking about CHANGE

The specter of the new millennium insidiously hovering above us does not inspire much confidence. Every political nook and cranny are abuzz with talks about change in governance style, social and economic reforms and bureaucratic over-haul as de rigueur of the hour. Yet, we falter. We dilly-dally. We escape into the nitty-gritty of inconsequential pursuits, dabbling on the frivolous, on anything to occupy our pettiness, but the gravest of concerns for the country. Notwithstanding how we try to cocoon ourselves though and persist on a stubborn preference for the dull and ordinary, the factuality of the inevitable is right here in front of us. No escape. We must face what we have to face--else, we perish.

Democratic deficits in all levels and corners are like giant worms consuming the country. Lack of transparency and accountability, prevalence of patronage politics, plunder by the oligarchy, trickle-down technocratic decision making, inadequate people participation, and worse, a political system that favors the moneyed and the influential few.

Almost every day, we witness a restive people joining protest rallies peppering the streets with big questions like why only small fries fry while those perceived to be corrupt are still scot-free. The grapevines are hot with talks about martial law making a comeback, with the dubious Marcos legacy close on its tail and the ‘Yellow’ forces funding and fanning dissent and unrest through its established loyal channels and followers.

A storm is brewing, not the kind triggered by a low pressure area with a tail end on cold front but a burn out citizenry impatient with results: the incarceration of “big fish” politicians, total dismantling of the drug menace, emancipation from abject poverty and deliverance from police ineptitude and corruptibility. But that’s about it, we just talk and talk about all these meaningless talks. And it’s about to blow up in our face.

Should we just live and let live? Should we persist in our apathy and indifference and live up to our name as the ‘sick man’ of Asia? Or are we just waiting to reach rock bottom and convince ourselves there would be no other way to go but up? If we are going nuts and bonkers of these social maladies besetting our country, we know we can’t go beyond our shores to look for the culprit.

Change or whatever it is we hold sacred to redeem us starts with us. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Change is indeed a much-prostituted word. Most if not all administrations have used such slogan. NOW, what is to be done? First, everybody must understand that there is a problem with the current system and form of government. And this reality calls for a major overhaul in politics and bureaucracy. Second, that there is poverty, and this has to be addressed before any meaningful reforms can be effected in our institutions.

Change is coming? I doubt if all we do is talk about it.

Filipinos deserve a First World Philippines.
Published in Commentaries
Saturday, 18 February 2017 11:11


It is a rare moment where observing American politics is actually more interesting than observing political developments at home. Watching Donald Trump negotiate his young presidency is like watching an acrobat crossing the high wire. We are all waiting for him to fall.

Three weeks into his presidency, Trump absorbed two major political defeats. That alone is unprecedented.

First, a federal judge in Washington stayed the implementation of Trump’s travel ban. The ban, issued by executive order, suspends travel from seven nations. Petitioners against the executive order say this is a thinly veiled anti-Muslim ban.

Trump’s travel ban infuriates Muslims everywhere. Analysts say this exposes US citizens abroad to retaliatory action. The ban, while politically costly for Trump, does little to reduce security threats to the US homeland.

Second, Trump was forced to ask his national security adviser to resign after evidence he discussed US sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador – while Obama was still president. The US Department of Justice warned the White House weeks ago that the national security adviser could be vulnerable to blackmail. At any rate, there is a standing law against private citizens conducting diplomacy.

Depending on what Trump knew of the liaison and when he knew about it, the American president is now himself vulnerable to a top-level inquiry. In the worst possible case, he could end up the shortest-serving US president in history.

Interspersed with the two major political defeats are a long series of gaffes and embarrassments.

Trumps senior adviser Kellyanne Conway browbeat media for under-reporting on acts of terror. She kept referring to a “massacre” that never happened. The very next day, she went on national television endorsing the clothing line of Trump daughter Ivanka. That provoked an ethics complaint against her.

Trump himself is walking scandal. On the very first day of his presidency, he warred with the “dishonest media” for understating the size of the crowd that turned up for the presidential inaugural. All the evidence point to a smaller crowd as reported. He claimed there was massive electoral fraud causing him to lose the popular vote. That claim remains fact-free to this day.

His nominee for education secretary so divided the US Senate Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote to get her confirmed. That is unprecedented in American political history. The vice president presides over the US Senate in a largely ceremonial role.

During the campaign, Trump promised to repeal “Obamacare” (the Affordable Health Care Act) on his first day in office. It turns out, he had no alternative health care plan worked out. When the Republican congressmen were sent to their districts to conduct town hall meetings on the matter, angry citizens shouted down the legislators.

Trump’s forays into foreign policy leave everybody flabbergasted.

During the campaign, he told voters he would build a high wall across the long southern border and will make Mexico pay for it. When he visited the Mexican president, he could not find the gall to ask his counterpart to pay for the wall. There was no mention of the wall at all.

Shortly after wining the elections, Trump took a call from the president of Taiwan. Beijing, as a matter of course, vigorously protested. Trump declared the One-China policy, a main feature of US foreign policy for decades, needs review. A couple of weeks ago, Trump took a call from the Chinese president and affirmed the One-China policy.

Trump, during the campaign, declared Japan should be made to pay for her own security. When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited last week, Trump announced full support for Japan. He made no mention about the cost of doing so.

Earlier this week, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Trump surprised everybody by appearing to drop the two-state solution to the Palestinian solution. The two-state solution (a state for Israel and another for Palestine) has been a main plank of US foreign policy for decades.

The stalemate dragged on for so many years because Israeli hardliners (like Netanyahu) reject the idea of recognizing full Palestinian statehood. Trump’s latest statement on the matter is nearly as jaw-dropping as his earlier proposal to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Nothing would rile the Palestinians, and the entire Muslim world, more.

During the campaign, several dozen national security veterans signed an open letter warning about Trump’s lack of intellectual stability to be trusted with the nuclear codes. Trump’s fanatical base paid no heed to the warning.

Last week, a group of psychiatrists signed another open letter basically questioning Trump’s mental stability. The mental health professionals felt they would be remiss in their duties if they did not issue such a statement. The statement did not say what sane people could do about it.

When Rodrigo Duterte was elected last year, there were those who feared constant instability because of his blunt and gung-ho style of leadership. In contrast with Trump, Duterte is a lot more sedate. Our President shocks with his language but leaves policy-making relatively stable.

Trump, of course, wields a thousand times more power than our president. He could upset geopolitics and his policies could drive the American economy into a tailspin. What he does, the mess he creates, will impact on all nations.

Donald Trump has now become the main item of risk other governments must now factor into their calculations. We all hope the high office he now occupies will grow on him. There has, so far, been little indication of that – even as his job approval rating sinks by the day.
Published in Commentaries
Thursday, 09 February 2017 09:06

Deegong’s controversial alter egos

Part 3

CULTURE in the political management context, is the personality of the collective. The Deegong is very clear on this promise of “pagbabago,” or change. All incoming administrations have their slogans related to this much-prostituted word. But the Deegong has a proven track record encompassing two decades of local governance backing up this slogan. His administration is perceived to have one of the lowest incidences of corruption in government and he intends to introduce this culture of anti-corruption applying the same methods in the national level for the desired outcome.

The alter egos’ task is to help him shape this culture, from one where the practice of corruption is pervasive, legitimized and a matter of course; to one where corruption is perceived to be a perversion of positive values and ethically unacceptable. These Cabinet men and women must internalize the task to do what the Deegong did at the outset in his city—to overhaul their own respective departments also. They can’t go for cosmetic changes in techniques and tactics but must go all out to stamp out this sordid practice. Initiating management controls, reeducation and training are just some of the facets of the process. The more important aspects are the firing of corrupt personnel and instituting other sanctions, including cases in court. There is now a critical need to change this culture within the departments yet the pace of change will depend upon the political management skills of the principals—the Cabinet heads. And all these changes and initiatives need to be communicated to the public, clearly and unequivocally. And this is not simply a job for the presidential spokespersons – this requires the all-out efforts of PRRD’s alter egos, the Cabinet members. They need to be the “talking heads” of their own departments.

To understand better the political culture of the Deegong regime, we look back at where he comes from. A city mayor who ran his city successfully, boasting a good steady economic growth over two decades and imposing “law and order” on a city that was perceived to be the CPP/NPA laboratory during the martial law regime. Except for one term as a congressman, the mayor was really—as he himself admitted—“…just a local city mayor who did good by his constituency”. His no-nonsense approach to political governance was effective locally and he is applying the formula on a large scale for the whole country. This is perhaps where his critics may have some argument, on the type of people the President chooses.

Those within the periphery of power (not necessarily Cabinet posts) are from his intimate circle of friends and local boys and girls; some from his alma mater. The profile of his Cabinet are basically local personalities who made good in executive capacities as Cabinet members in past administrations (Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, heads the list with Secretaries Bello, Dureza and Diokno); some have extensive experience as local government executives (Secretaries Piñol and Sueño); and some have international exposure (Yasay of Foreign Affairs and Lorenzana of Defense).

Some chosen personally by the Deegong are those recommended by his allies in Congress, those he relied upon during the presidential campaign and the coalition he hammered to catapult him to the presidency. No doubt these choices are qualified and may have the complete trust of the President. We don’t exactly know who these people are but we do understand their entitlements in relation to the realities of this new government, the dictates of the coalition that support it and the decisions dominated by political imperatives. The President must now pay the price for the coalition’s support, by allocating as evenly as possible, appointive positions at all levels of government to the coalition members. This is of course a logical offshoot of the politics of patronage and spoils system practiced over several generations.

To date PRRD has reportedly over 3,000 positions in the bureaucracy and government corporations still left unfilled with the holdovers of the old regime still in place. This is understandable as the PDP-Laban, the nominal party of the President, does not have enough qualified people to take over the sinecures. The old office-holders may also be protected by the large influx of the Liberal Party members into the PDP-Laban who now practically dominate Congress.

But now, these people must perform their jobs based on their discernment of the new set of values which the PRRD has brought with him. And in turn those with specific Cabinet positions will have to reshape the missions and goals of their departmental turf. To do this, each Cabinet head and his own team must remold the organization and re-inject the concepts of ethics and creating public value. Those key persons in the “old organization” who are unable to give way and submerge their personal values to the collective (new political culture) must be done away with.

The job of these appointed presidential alter egos are not really cut out for them. But they need to follow the lead of their principal, the President. And here is where it becomes complicated. PRRD is a self-directed public manager always setting his own goals, pushing the boundaries of discretion. He is a proven political organizer and coalition builder. It was instinctive for PRRD to build consensus for whatever endeavor he is occupied with at the moment; but the Deegong is perceived also to be cavalier in anchoring his actions on the rule of law – and even seemingly has shown contempt for it.

Which puts the alter egos in a quandary as to how their own personal values and those of the President are analogous. A case in point is the concession given by PRRD to the CPP-NDF where three Cabinet posts were assigned to the openly avowed leftists. In the light of the failure of the peace talks between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF, and the indictment by PRRD of these groups as terrorists; how will these alter egos now align their beliefs with that of their principal?

Another consideration for the managers recruited to populate the bureaucracy is a common belief that it is easy to transition from the private sector, where many of the Cabinet members and heads of GOCCs were recruited from. This is not exactly correct. Central to their careers as public entrepreneurs are their non-aversion to risk taking. While in the private sector, the gauge of the success or failure of entrepreneurship is in the pesos earned or lost, the bottom line for alter egos is the public good and value they create. Success of the alter egos’ work in government is reflected therefore in the eventual emancipation of the Filipino from the shackles of poverty and injustice – even perhaps at a great personal risk. This is the essence of public service.

Published in LML Polettiques

Part 2

PRESIDENT Deegong’s breakout from an image of a small-time but effective local city mayor to a national candidate of prominence and onto the presidency was single-handedly defined by the force of his personality. Looking back these past two years from his debut on the national stage, his image as a no-nonsense mayor was projected at first by the local media and captured by the national press but, as claimed by some locals, was distorted to some extent, such that at one point, the Deegong refused any further “press-cons”.

The original talking head, Secretary Pete Lavina, who was competent enough speaking for the Deegong locally was out of his element on the national stage. His demeanor and attempt at the “English language” was perceived to be a disaster; and he was unjustly disparaged for it. Blame too could be attributed to the Deegong who may not have understood the difficult role of his spokesperson. One cannot cage a whirlwind out to proclaim his message to the four corners.

Atty. Panelo’s stint was even more short-lived as the Deegong’s message was deflected by the flamboyant persona of the talking head himself; redirecting instead people’s attention to his sartorial tastes, a garish multi-hued combination and his forced attempt at explaining the presidency, also in colorful language uniquely the President’s. He was better off using his excellent legal mind in the service of the President away from the public glare.

The two that followed, Secretary Martin Andanar, the communications director, and Secretary Ernie Abella, the presidential spokesperson, have been recruited to do almost impossible jobs. Which brings us to the issue at hand.

These two Cabinet members who handle the Deegong’s image and disseminate his messages are his alter egos too, and aside from being his political heat shields and lightning rods, must understand the more specialized roles assigned to them. The current problem of “vigilantism and extra-judicial killing” has entered the lexicon of the political conversation. This issue needs to be expounded in a different light projecting a different image. Changing the face of the issue is one such tool in political management. The issue must emphasize the inevitable slow but deadly slide towards narco-political abyss. Why not capture a big fat drug lord and make an example of him? A Lim Seng of the Marcos regime but going through the justice system–-and doing it fast. Surely, the political capital of the Deegong can guarantee fast justice.

Or project real investigations of rogue policemen and generals whom the Deegong have already shamed, but not in the TV camera-centered congressional hearings that go nowhere. Why only poor dead addicts, why not dead rogue policemen and rich corrupt politicians? Why not sample congressmen in the presidential blue list (refer to the Manila Times, “Conversations with the Deegong” Dec 15, 22, 29 2016…www.cdpi.asia)

And this cannot be the job only of the “talking heads”. Make it an executive department-wide concern and expand the context by bringing it to the national consciousness. Field articulate Cabinet members to several national TV and radio networks where they can defend the government action on illegal drugs as a legitimate response to a threat, menace and danger. There are countless literature and horror stories in Columbia, Mexico and some other South American countries of drug cartels and narco-politicians capturing political and economic power and sipping the life-blood of the country dry. Bring these out as illustrations of weak states! This massive government response could succeed in changing the character of the debate from one focused on human rights violations to that of the legitimate right of the people with the help of government to defend themselves and their homes from the evils of illegal drugs. But this can’t be left alone for the President to champion. This requires a well-oiled team in the highest echelons of government. But do we have that team? (This will be discussed in the last part of this 3-part article).

Relating with external environment (Excerpts from the above-mentioned paper www.cdpi.asia) “A critical appreciation of a job of high officials in public service is the importance of relating with key elements of their external environment: interest groups and lobbyists who tend to see their issues as having preeminence over others (anti- and pro-capital punishment etc.); a majority of those who supported the winner’s candidacy may call upon the administration to extract their pound of political flesh for their perceived entitlements; the practitioners in the media who consider themselves the “fourth estate” and sometimes final arbiter of conflicts, and are prone to reporting controversial events and nothing else. The power of social media and the internet was also shown during the presidential campaign, which helped catapult the Deegong to the presidency, freeing him from dependence on the editorial boards. The political and legislative overseers who have a handle on the Cabinet departments’ resources (threat of budget cuts, tightening funds flow, restrictive laws and regulations); and the more important authorizing environment, Congress and more particularly the President, who, in the course of the transition from the PNoy regime also brought with him a new change in a set of dominant values

“It is in relation to the realities of this new seven-month old government, the dictates of the coalition of political parties that support it and the decisions dominated by political imperatives that will have to reshape the missions and goals of each department and of each Cabinet secretary. They who are themselves the President’s personal choices should be ready to accept Usecs and Asecs whose qualifications are offshoots of the politics of patronage and spoils system—not necessarily congruent with the demands and skills needed for the jobs.”

(Part 3 will appear on Feb 9.)

Published in LML Polettiques
Beneath the gorgeous smiles and grace, Miss Universe contestants assume a critical role in terms of broader global and international politics. In essence, pageants like these represent another form of diplomacy, one that is softer and more amicable. International beauty pageants fundamentally cover political agenda or try to assume a normalized relationship especially between countries in dispute. Just remember how the netizens reacted when Miss Philippines Maxine Medina got cozy with Miss China for a friendly photo-op. Even this simple picture can launch a thousand tweets and become a subject to several diplomatic interpretations because of the territorial sea disputes between Philippines and China.

Though organizers try to suppress any forms of political agenda surfacing, women joining this pageant cannot help but become more careful of their actions as they were seen by the world not just any other women, but as representations of their homeland. And this is where political flavor inevitably comes in.

For example, controversies surfaced when in 2002, Christina Sawaya skipped the Miss Universe because of border tensions between Lebanon and Israel. Even the much awaited display of national costume can be a source of controversy because of how it depicts situations and practices in the countries the contestants represent. Yamit Har-Noy, Israel's 2002 Miss Universe delegate, had been controversial when she wore a national costume embellished with the map of Israeli state depicting the disputed territories of West Bank and Gaza. (CNN.com, 2015)

Miss Universe candidates have no immunity to racism and other forms of discriminations. Just take for example our very own 2013 Miss World Megan Young, who was thrown with racial slurs for being a Filipina by a Singaporean Devina DeDiva. The latter said that Filipinos are uneducated, poor and smelly, and that Miss Young do not deserve the crown. A Filipino filed a case against her. She reportedly apologized for her racist comments but still a lot of Filipinos were angered by her remarks.

The “dreaded” Q&A portion is also critical as the candidates’ answers become subjects to public debates. They have to formulate answers not only relevant to the question but is also sensitive to the audience. I remember in 1994, the beautiful and intelligent Sushmita Sen who gave a profound answer to the question about the essence of a woman. According to Miss Sen, the essence of being a woman is the fact that she is a mother and that entails the responsibility to share love and care. She was met with contradictions from other feminist groups, particularly from the West, who pointed that to define the essence of a woman within the parameter of motherhood is fundamentally limiting. Answers to beauty pageants are essentially relevant to the values held by the individual which is brought about by the society she lives in. Apparently, in India, such values are woven in its social fabric.

Unstable political environment sometimes intercepts the essence of Miss Universe beauty pageant especially when beauty queens carry political baggage with them as they join the competition. This is the reason why Miss Universe pageant organizers not only look into the preparations of the actual event but also the geopolitical affairs that may affect the whole course of planning.

In any beauty pageant, a woman is transformed into another being in the entire course. She becomes an ambassadress of goodwill, a representative of her country and an amicable diplomat. Concurrently, beauty pageants like the annual Miss Universe is an avenue for celebrating and embodying cultural sensitivity, diversity, respect, and racial harmony among all the contestants and the nations joining the pageant.
Published in Commentaries


(First of the two-part series)

Published in Commentaries