Philosopher gg

Jul 12, 2012

by Fr. Leo Pabayo

THAT we celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of Mayor Justiniano Borja tells us something about the kind of man that he was. I knew him from a distance when I was still a student. It is only recently that I got to know him up close by reading some of his speeches, thanks to Manny Valdehueza who lent me a copy. As I read them the thought came to my mind that Tinying was a politician with a spirituality or a kind of a philosopher king who was also a bit of theologian.

A philosopher king was a leader that was dreamed of by the philosophers of ancient times. He is one who combines a deep understanding of the meaning of human life with the practical skill of managing a community according to this understanding. He is one who leads the people not only to achieve material prosperity but also to attain the intangible things of the spirit.

Reading Tinying’s speeches I was struck by his reference to these “the intangible things of the spirit” as the ones that should matter most in a person’s life. In his address to some graduates, he said, “Some of you… will come to play outstanding roles in the quiet drama of our nation’s development… You will take your places in the great adventure of building a nation, of attaining fulfillment of a promise… In the process you will be buffeted by the winds of cynicism and despair, but if you build upon courage and truth, bravery, honor and decency, you will survive the fiercest storms.
For nothing, nothing can prevail against the most durable foundation of all––the intangibles of the spirit.”

On democracy he wrote, “It has been said that the highest condition of man is freedom of the spirit… It is the presence of this condition, or lack of it, that portends the success or failure of democracy in government.”  We can draw some lessons from these words from Tinying for us today. One quality of a candidate in the coming election that we should look for is the respect he accords the freedom of the people to express their views on how they should be governed as well as the space given them to freely participate in governance according to their capabilities. When people are given freedom they take the initiative to develop themselves and spontaneously reach out to the needs of others. When people’s freedom is curtailed they lapse into indolence that Rizal bemoaned. Manny Valdehueza who is chief convenor of the  Gising Barangay Movement says that this spirit of participation is so lacking in the barangay level of governance.

On corruption Tinying had this to say, “When men in public office succumb to the blandishments of corruption, they do so… because by some deficiency in training and orientation they lack a perception of the truth.” We get here a hint on the kind of education that is most needed by our leaders, namely, moral education. Tinying was sometimes criticized for talking a lot about morality in his governance. It was evident, however, that the flaw was not in his moralizing but in the faulty perception of his critics. “By the fruits you shall know them,” the saying goes. No one can question the integrity and efficiency that characterized the way that his administration served the people of Cagayan de Oro City.


Speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of Southeast Asian rural and Social Leadership Institute (Searsolin) of Xavier University in which a freedom fighter from  Vietnam, Fr. Augustin NguyenLoc Hoa and Ambassador Stechow of the German Federal Republic were guests of honor, he said, “Out of Fr. Hoa’s visit was born the idea of inviting deserving Vietnamese to undergo specialized training in rural leadership, under the sponsorship of the people of Cagayan de Oro, at the institute established here with funds provided by the people of West Germany. How then can you account for this unity of purpose, unless one is willing to accept the truth that there is, running through the fabric of mankind, a single thread that by itself becomes the warp and woof of our irrevocable brotherhood?”
Tinying did not fail to draw wisdom from the Bible. In a speech he delivered when conferred by Xavier University the degree of Public Administration in the 1963 Commencement Exercise, he said, “Perhaps it is fitting that parents should be accorded the honors now being extended to their children. The Holy Bible, which documents man’s progress in the long and chaotic pilgrimage from the bondage of original sin to his redemption, abounds with dramatic proof of this significant relationship (between father and offspring)…


This then is the thread that runs through the warp and the woof of the great human fabric: that a king is father to his subjects; the a priest is father to his flock; that the president is father to his nation; that the general is father to his soldiers, the mayor is father to his constituents; that man is father to his family.”


The wisdom that we can draw from this is that the meaning of relationship between authority and subject should be like that of the way God relates with us humans as revealed to us by Jesus Christ. “When the Son of Man taught his disciples to pray did he not teach them to say: “Our Father, who art in heaven…?”

This way of relating that Tinying talked about is reflected in our human nature that makes us the image and likeness of God. It is evident in the way we relate in the family. Tinying said, “There is in the progenitor a love for his progeny, so intense and so unreasoning that it defies explanation and which, in its mildest expression may take the form of self-effacement and in its highest, noblest conception may constitute a sacrifice of life itself.”

What Tinying has said here actually helps us to understand Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He would spell it out. “God as eternal and loving father of creation sent his only begotten Son to redeem the world, in a ministry that culminated in the greatest of sacrifice… in Golgotha.”

Tinying believed that it is in man’s unceasing search for the truth that he will come to a better tomorrow.

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