DELICADEZA (Dureza's Bold Act)

DELICADEZA (Dureza's Bold Act) Featured

IN our culture, one feature that puts citizens on equal footing whether they are of the upper class or part of the “mayukmok” is an appreciation of “pagmumukha”or ‘face.’ There is no exact English translation but roughly, this is mostly an Asian trait that puts top premium on comportment, particularly on one’s sense of worth.

In most Filipino families, “walanghiya” in Tagalog, or “way uwaw” in Bisaya, is an all-encompassing personal rebuke that speaks volumes — from criticizing a display of bad manners, a demonstration of a flawed character to an indictment of shoddy parental upbringing. The latter is usually accompanied by “walang pinag-aralan” or “wala tudlu-i sa mga ginikanan,” condemning in the process one’s progeny. We have permutations on this theme rooted in Spanish: palabra de honor and amor propio. All play around with the notion of “shame” — which could be the appropriate synonym in the English language.

Within government and public service and in the corporate domain, with positions of responsibility, a more sophisticated concept is often used; that of delicadeza. Handed down by the Spanish colonialists and married to our Asian concept of “mukha” or “face,” this is a strong Filipino value that permeates private behavior in the light of one’s public actuations and responsibilities. It is an ingrained mechanism that uses self-worth as a guide to one’s acts.

In our society, delicadeza is a highly regarded attribute, and one who applies this appropriately is deemed refined and praised for good upbringing. One does honor not only to oneself but to one’s family as well. And the opposite “walang delicadeza” connotes all the negatives attached to a person that deserves society’s contempt. One is therefore scorned by neighbors and community — and maybe even by family. But Filipino culture is much more forgiving.

Not in other cultures, like the Japanese, whose sense of self-worth is equivalent to honor. And honor above all holds the top tier in their set of values — even above life itself. Thus, in their history, any transgressions that impact negatively on one’s honor must restore it to oneself and one’s family by paying with one’s life. This is the ultimate act of restoration.

In this culture, seppuku is the preferred method. A ritual suicide in a centuries-old, tradition-laden ceremony of using a dagger to disembowel oneself. This was originally the samurai’s ultimate method to attenuate shame but only upon the express permission of his daimyo or feudal master.

In the modern context, the Japanese’s equivalent sense of delicadeza demands public humiliation and apology. Several years ago, the grandson of the president Akio Toyoda, the Toyota Corp. founder, offered a public apology on TV for some transgressions that impacted negatively the quality and reliability of their cars. For bad corporate performance, Japanese electronics company Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga cried publicly and offered an apology.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama apologized and resigned after just eight months in office for failure to honor critical election promises. In April of this year, Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. And in a scandalous bribery case in September 2018, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, a powerful bureaucrat, resigned when several executives under him were accused of taking bribes. Mitsuzuka, although not implicated, assumed responsibility.

Public apology is embedded in Japanese corporate and government bureaucratic culture, and resignation in extreme cases is warranted. And Japanese society expects and accepts such acts as public contrition. Seppuku is no longer allowed as atonement in modern Japanese society, but there are still reports of old-time traditionalists paying the ultimate to restore their honor.

Which brings us to the Philippine context. In the Philippines, those who are themselves involved in transgressions cling to their positions like leeches with nary an apology. And the bigger anomaly is that they pass on the onus to the appointing power. “I serve at the pleasure of the President…” is often the shameless default statement. No accountability is taken and what’s worse is that blame is imputed to others, mostly to the lower ranks. And depending on the mood of the Deegong and his tolerance for pain over firing longtime close associates, the miscreant will have to suffer the bigoted DU30 policy on “whiff of corruption,” just waiting to be fired. These shameless acts by the bureaucrats fall under “walang delicadeza,” with all the negatives attached to the phrase; no sense of self-worth and no honor.

Thus, the resignation of Secretary Jesus “Jess” Dureza as head of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is a whiff of fresh air from the recent fetid atmosphere of overstaying bureaucrats in the Bureau of Customs, whose corrupt practices cry to high heavens. And this is a study in contrast to the questionable actuations of a high government official who entered into a security agency contract with his own department.

As gleaned from Dureza’s resignation letter, the President terminated two OPAPP high officials for some alleged anomalies. At no point was Secretary Jess involved in any of the anomalies that caused the termination of his two top men.

Last week, Secretary Jess posted in his Facebook page his letter of resignation to DU30 with a lead statement in bold letters. I quote:


“I am sad because despite my efforts to be compliant with your strong advocacy against corruption, I failed…I truly am sad that OPAPP, as an institution which I head, had to suffer publicly due to the acts of a few.

“Nonetheless, I take full responsibility and apologize for all this.

“I am voluntarily tendering my resignation to pave the way for the needed reorganization that Your Excellency may wish to undertake at OPAPP. “

Secretary Jess need not perform seppuku, but he did a brave Filipino equivalent. He resigned to take responsibility. And this is delicadeza at its best. His acts and statement were reflections of how a better man and a better bureaucrat needs to behave. He will be judged wonderfully by our citizenry. It was therefore unnecessary for Jess to post an addendum:

“Although I have voluntarily relinquished my assigned task at OPAPP, I call on everyone to continue supporting our President. I will continue to do so in my private capacity. I believe in him and in his sincere intentions for our country. He cannot do this alone.”

This somewhat blunted the edge of a pointed laudable declaration.000
Read 1534 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 13:48
Rate this item
(0 votes)