When the compass breaks

published 7 July 2014It’s been a circus, hasn’t it, with the series of surrenders and accusations in relation to the supposed abuse of the people’s money through the Priority Development Assistance Fund?These very public events have led me to wonder: how are the main characters doing with regard to their private lives?We know them from what they say through their lawyers or through press conferences. But we also wonder what the mood must be like inside their homes, in their living rooms, around the dining table. How much disruption into the family routine has this mess created? The children, I imagine, would be most conflicted. They are used to their mothers or fathers being figures of authority in the house. It’s Dad’s rule that prevails; Mom’s guidance and wise counsel that help them make sense of the tribulations of growing up.We think about our parents as moral compasses, role models or indispensable allies as we find our place in the world. They are the ones who shower us with love and give us a figurative whack on the head when we need it.So what do children do when they find their mother’s or father’s names in the news, depicted in a most unflattering way? Forget about the ribbing or the awkward silence from friends or relatives. How do you deal with the disconcerting realization that your parent may have done an irreparable wrong, dragging all your notions of a regular family down the drain?* * *Think, for instance, of the children of alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. We’ve seen the YouTube clip of Jeane’s lavish birthday party in the US. We’ve fumed over her pricey shoe and bag collections. Two of her siblings, Jo Christine and James Christopher, have been included in the charge sheets for graft and have posted bail for P450,000 each.The Abad children offer a study in contrast. Visual artist Pio Abad reacted to the inclusion of his father, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, in the list of lawmakers who allegedly benefited from PDAF during his time in Congress. Also, Secretary Abad was supposedly named by Napoles as her mentor. Today he is again in hot water for supposedly being the architect of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional.Pio’s piece was a vehement defense of his father. According to him, he witnessed how his father, who had always encouraged him to pursue his passion, sacrificed so much for the country’s sake. Pio related taking in odd jobs just to survive abroad - something that would not have happened if he had millions stashed away somewhere. His sister Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff, said: “I am proud to tell you that Butch Abad is my father.”The three sons of former Enrile chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Gonzales Reyes, meanwhile, have been very quiet.Social media has been especially nasty to Reyes, invoking her personal life. Through it all, her sons have made it a point to never issue any statement about their mom. Last year, amid another controversy that made her resign her post, she acknowledged that her family had been suffering in silence.Some sleuthing on the Internet would reveal that yes, all three boys have Facebook accounts, and two of them have their mother as their profile or cover photo. They seemed close and affectionate. Other than that, though, there are no clues whatsoever.Meanwhile, Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, son of detained senator Bong Revilla, says his dad has warned him early on that politics could get ugly and that he should prepare himself for it. Despite everything that’s happened, he says continues to believe that justice will soon be served.And then you have the young Estradas Jolo and Julian, sons of the other detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who got into a Twitter war with Mo Twister this week. Jolo has been depicted as the male version of Jeane Napoles, posting his expensive things and activities on Instagram. Mo Twister traded ugly words with Julian and an older sister who also joined the fray.* * *Perhaps a thought to bear in mind for everybody faced with temptation is to think of what they wish to leave behind. Forget about the public or their constituents—it’s our kids, first and foremost, who would reap the consequences of our actions.It is they who would be placed in a difficult situation of defending us (whether or not we are guilty), or put up a show of supporting us even when they may be disgusted with what we have done, or suffer in silence.They may be conditioned to believe that it is okay to do the things we do because it has given them privileges they cannot anymore do without. Worse, that they are entitled to these “benefits” just because they are who they are.They will then have no choice but to live out their own lives patterned after our own, desensitized to right and wrong.