A Penchant for 'Tawad'

(published 06 October 2014, MST)

Filipinos have several distinct qualities and quirks. One of them is the penchant for ‘tawad’.
In one sense, it can be translated as “haggle”—as in when you’re in a flea market and you try to negotiate a price lower than what has been given by the vendor. Because of ‘tawad’, sellers start from a steep price while buyers try to set a low one. They usually seal the deal somewhere halfway.
‘Tawad’ is when we deny the reality of the alarm sounding off in the morning. We set our phones to go off at, say, 6am, but when it does and we are woken up, we have the option to hit the “snooze” button instead and sleep for another five or ten or 20 minutes.
And then there are deadlines. In school, for instance, when a paper is due Friday, some students may try to ask the professor to accept submissions until Saturday,or even Monday. They may cite various reasons—a death in the family, an illness, ‘brownout’, poor Internet, too many assignments in other subjects, a disaster—for not being able to do their work within the given time period. It matters little that the reason is legitimate or not. A deadline is a deadline is a deadline.
It is up to the teacher to give in to the request. Some may say no outright, and simply refuse to accept the papers of those who submit beyond the give date and time. Some may yield, but with a reasonable trade-off. Papers may be accepted but every late submission will be marked down however brilliant the arguments are and however flawlessly the paper was written.
A synonym for ‘tawad’ would be ‘hirit pa’.
These things come to mind when we consider the probabilty of the President seeking a second term. He has not been forthright with his plans. In fact, Mr.Aquino gives the impression that he is playing a guessing game with the public. Sometimes he says he can’t wait for his term to end so he could go back to his “regular” life—see, the presidency has been a huge imposition on him and if it were not for the legacy of his parents, he would not have agreed to take on the burden of running this country.
On other days, however, he gives the impression that he is seriously considering another run for the presidency if only to ensure that the reforms he ha set in motion would be continued. If his bosses want him to run again, he would. This is the general message.
As if on cue, a full-page advertisement came out last week in another newspaper.  It cited the reasons Mr. Aquino deserves a second term, and how nobody else can bring about the changes the country needs except him.
According to the ad,the President needs to make the sacrifice again for his country, and because he enjoys the support of both Houses of Congress anyway, it should be easy for him to convene a Constituent Assembly that would lift the  prohibitions set by the Constitution.
The group behind the ad, More2Come, encourages the people to come up with a signature campaign, targeting 8 million people to join the clamor for the President to try running for a second term.
The Palace has distanced itself from the group but hinted that we should let the people express their spontaneous sentiments. It was also revealed that one of the people behind More2Come is a Liberal Party member who ran for mayor (and lost) in Caloocan City. He is the son of another LP member who now sits at the House of Representatives.
And then just a few days after, a survey revealed that 62 percent of Filipinos do not want a second term for the President. How’s that for listening to the voice of the bosses?
It’s not even an issue of whether a president has done a good job or not. The provision that limits a presidency to one six-year term is there for a reason.
A good leader should cover everything, at least in the areas he wants to be remembered by, in his first go. After`all, he already enjoys awesome powers and tremendous political capital to do what needs to be done.
One only asks for ‘tawad’ when time and energy that should have been spent issues that matter were instead spent on distractions that resulted in little or no change at all.
A good leader does what he can given limited resources and time, crosses his fingers that he has done the best he could, and then honorably steps back to make way for the next fellow.
 There is no snooze button for this.