How the mighty have fallen

THE results of the senatorial election confirm once more the truism that nobody stays at the top forever. The bigger they are, the ancients would say, the harder they fall.

The beauty in studying history is that we learn and become wise to the verity of what the Romans had advised all its generals who paraded along the streets of Rome after their conquest. A slave whispered to the general’s ear as often as possible with a reminder: “You are a man and not a god” to dissuade them from planning to become emperors and thus raise themselves to the pantheon of the gods.

In papal coronations, I have already written here but worth repeating, are the words uttered before the pope before he was crowned and the burning flax turned to ashes:  sic transit gloria mund i(thus passes the glory of this world).The words reminded the Supreme Pontiff of the temporality of even his power, the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. This ritual was abandoned after Vatican II when the ceremonies were simplified that even excluded his coronation.

The words bring to mind the vanity of worldly glory, the memento mori (remember, you shall die) or vanitasvanitatum (vanity of vanities) from the Book of Ecclesiastes.


I had been reading documentaries of the wars fought since the dawn of human civilization. They confirm the above truths about the transitory worldly glory and power. The study of history is not only interesting but more so enlightening in our understanding of the present flow of historic events. Indeed, has it been truly said that “those who do not learn from the lessons of history are bound to repeat their mistakes”.

We have been witness to the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos from power, a power no president before him had ever wielded. One of his conspirators in the declaration of martial law, Juan Ponce Enrile, had been miserably rejected in the 2019 polls, crashing down from the pinnacle of power when he should have had enough.

Scions of men of power and wealth, Senators Serge Osmeña, Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino have also been edged out of the top 12 slots and are now relegated to the pages of history if not oblivion.

The most devastated political power was that of the Estradas. Former President Erap lost the mayor’s seat in Manila while his two sons were also shut out from the Senate. The Erap magic has lost its power to mesmerize the millennials and their antics in their publicity stunts cancelled each other. They also lost their political base, the City of San Juan that they controlled for decades.

The Binays of Makati, unless they stop fighting each other as did the brothers Estrada might go the same way. Senator Nancy Binay held on but barely. Former Vice President Jejomar Binay lost even in his congressional bid. With charges of corruption facing the family, will the political axe eventually fall upon them?

Imee Marcos retained the drawing power of his father as did Bongbong to keep the Marcos name in the Senate. Their power base, the Ilocano voters, remain loyal but for how long? Who can predict? These two Marcoses have the opportunity to redeem the family name.

The failure of Bam Aquino to return to the Senate, is classic in the Philippine political scene. The Aquino basked in the memory of the slain Senator Ninoy Aquino, raising the inexperienced wife, Corazon, to the presidency and the family name into power.

Nonoy Aquino became senator and although his performance there was lackluster, he was elected president. The memory of his slain father was still too fresh. With a sister in one scandal after another, Nonoy kept the people’s faith until his lack of concern for the death of the victims of Mamasapano massacre projected an uncaring image. I am inclined to believe that the defeat of Bam in this election is an indication of loss of faith in the Aquinos.

These are only samples of the downfall of national politicians who had dominated the national scene, men of power, fame and wealth. They had apparently reached their limits but because they lived as if there is no end to their dominance, they will have to go, even “unmourn and unsung.”

They are not the first or the last of the mighty to fall.