A temporary power 

By Alex P. Vidal 

“There is nothing permanent except change.” —Heraclitus

I HAVE met so many characters or “leaders” who, when given the opportunity to hold power, mistook that temporary glory for an everlasting crown.

The reason why it is called “temporary”, to begin with, is because it has inflexible timeline or no permanence. Like an elective or appointive position both in government and in private companies.

They have it today, they lose it tomorrow. Glorious today, defrocked tomorrow. Laughter today, tears tomorrow. And so on and so forth.

While on top, some of them mistreated subordinates and ignored “unimportant” people—or those “not in their level” so to speak—and reigned like self-proclaimed deities.

They wouldn’t be given advice; they detested criticism; they hated “more intelligent” or feeling intelligent lackeys (of course, no on loves a feelingero).

Temperamental and annoyed by unfavorable opinions, some of them lacked the ability to modulate and control their emotions and actions in age-appropriate ways; and they sometimes practically lost their sense of inner control.


Some of them felt insecure in the company of smart alecks and outspoken rivals (who wouldn’t feel that way, in the first place?). They seldom smiled. Their eyebrows were like fighting cocks, always in the mood to spit venom.

Brassiness and impertinence have shattered their pretty faces.

Despite their awesome reputation and influence, they had no peace of mind.

They casted doubts on anything their subalterns had played a part in. They were suspicious to the point of slumping into a state of incredulity and paranoia.

Unhappy is the man or woman who wears a crown, as they say. Or “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

As in Shakespeare’s King Henry IV would have it, a person who has great responsibilities, such as a king, is constantly worried and therefore doesn’t sleep soundly.

Let us be reminded that nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles as counseled by Charlie Chaplin. The moment we feed our mind with this thought, a ray of light would appear directing us towards the solution.


Back to those characters I met who once held what they thought to be a permanent championship.

They were mostly former elected government officials and police bigwigs we bumped into while making surprised “cameo” appearances with big Santacruzan smiles on their faces in public coffee shops frequented by the hoi polloi.   

When they lost power or when they exited from their once exalted pedestal, they also yielded altogether their privileges, pelfs, influence, wherewithals—including the fear and respect of the people they once governed with utmost haughtiness and untold insolence.

Suffice it to say they went down with a thud.

Because they weren’t nice to some people on their way up, their faces crumpled like deck of cards when they met the same people on their way down.

Moral of the story: Be humble and cool; keep your feet planted on the ground and be sincere while in power. After the fame is gone, we’re all friends and humans.


The infamous father and daughter Duterte shouldn’t be faulted for expressing a canine loyalty and sympathy for the wanted religious cult leader Apollo Quiboloy and for their indifference to the plight of the Philippine Coast Guard and Armed Force of the Philippines bullied by the Chinese Coast Guard in the West China Sea.

Quiboloy is a long-time family friend of the Dutertes; the Duterte father is also the administrator (and even partner?) of “Quib’s” property.

“Quib’s” and the father Duterte have been engaged in a blood compact-type of loyalty even before he became President.

This phenomenon is particularly associated with cult of personality regimes, which focus on one authoritarian leader as opposed to ideology.

In a cult of personality, the leader may push more and more fantastical propaganda as a way of weeding out disloyal subordinates. This may also have the effect, of course, of driving out more scrupulous and competent subordinates.

The daughter, of course, will go where the father goes; speak the same patriarchal language.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo. – Ed)