Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

…these were the most important, symbolic words in the June 30 inaugural speech of President Noynoy Aquino or PNoy. It was an appropriate sound byte for a leader who received a substantial PCOS-assisted mandate in the recent elections. It was during Erap’s inauguration in 1998 when the common tao last heard a leader deliver a similar pledge of service in a seemingly unambiguous language. It was headline material too for media outfits which have chosen to be less critical in the post-Gloria milieu. For historians and linguists, they can compare and analyze the chosen words in the inaugural speeches of the last three presidents: Erap’s ‘pwersa ng masa’, Gloria’s ‘mamamayan muna’, and PNoy’s ‘kayo ang boss ko.’

The obvious intent was to assure the poor that PNoy will not abuse his power. He wanted to establish his credential as a pro-democracy and pro-poor icon. He also sought to distance himself from Gloria who is both unpopular and unloved because of the correct public perception that she behaved like a mafia boss in Malacanang. Thus, the use of the word ‘boss’ was persuasive as criticism in reference to the unmatched arrogance that characterized the administration of PNoy’s predecessor.

It can be argued as well that the ‘Kayo ang boss ko’ speech is a classic example of how a minority president can successfully rally his supporters and inspire others to believe in the fiction that the current situation has stabilized to a point when there is no more political option other than to trust and follow the marching orders of PNoy and his family. Here lies the danger. It is when political choices are almost clear that the real political situation is obscured from public view. Beware of obscurantists who try to invalidate the right of the people to struggle/to resist by obfuscating the truth about the political conditions of the present.

‘Kayo ang boss ko’ is riddled with contradictions; politically speaking, the term boss is problematic – but it was deployed in the inaugural speech as a rhetoric tactic to confuse the public, to make the fighting masses abandon the desire for a better and genuine new social order.

‘Boss’ is actually a proof that PNoy is not the legitimate heir of the People Power movement; another reminder that he is not a revolutionary leader. The word ‘boss’ connotes feudal and unequal relations; it is not the proper linguistic code that symbolizes the sincere yearning of a leader to serve his constituents. The binary opposite of boss is employee. By implication, PNoy presented himself as the principal devoted employee of the land. Does this mean that the boss-employee relationship will govern the interaction of the people (the glorified bosses), and PNoy (the supposedly clean employee) in the next six years?

If it is true that a People Power episode took place this year as claimed by PNoy apologists, shouldn’t it be reflected in the choice of key words in the inaugural speech? It is revealing that the word ‘boss’ was used since it means that the crusade to find the righteous path is not a movement participated by equals or comrades but by bosses and employees.

Was the ‘kayo ang boss ko’ line really directed to all Filipinos? We were easily impressed with the ‘boss’ speech that we forgot to ask if PNoy really meant to make us instant bosses in a land where landlords, druglords, jueteng lords and other dark bosses are almost untouchable kingpins. Perhaps PNoy’s real target was the middle forces: the urbanites who are always inconvenienced by the wangwangs, and the service personnel who understandably accept and obey the rules that dictate boss-employee relationships.

And in his speech he did specify the boss – those who elected him into office, his election supporters, partymates, sisters, relatives. We can only claim to be the boss if we were part of the election machinery that catapulted him into power. His apologists even questioned the right of the political left to demand a reform agenda in the PNoy administration since the left supported another candidate in the presidential race. Apparently, there are excluded bosses in the new government.

The ‘boss’ reference is somewhat hilarious too if we take note of the fact that PNoy is surrounded by doctrinaires and fundamentalists who no longer believe in the ‘public’ – those who advance the notion that the ‘people’ no longer exist; that there is no more ‘we’, collective, and community. Instead, there is only the all-powerful individual who absorbs and shares tiny bits of data everyday, the global citizen pinoy who is skilled but ignorant of history, the consumer who buys non-essential goods from oligopolies, and voters who supports the viagra-strong (thanks to lakas-kampi apostates) Liberal Party. PNoy, the son of Cory, may have genuine affections for the little people whom he fondly calls the ‘boss’, but I am certain that his underlings do not recognize the existence nor do they respect the political power of the collective ‘boss’.

It is essential that the ‘we’ should strive to be more visible, the ‘boss’ should assert its power, the ‘people’ should speak. We should declare ourselves as constituting the ‘boss.’ We should organize, we should be a collective so that PNoy will listen to the ‘boss.’ We should not surrender to PNoy and his partymates the right to decide which set of ‘bosses’ should be given more power in the new government. We should not allow the yellow media and the big business friends of PNoy to usurp the will of the collective in naming the ‘people’ in society. Bring back the people in People Power so that we can tap its radical potential. In the meantime, as long as the people are seduced by deceptive words like ‘boss’, no fundamental change will take place even if we are treading the daang matuwid.

There are worse consequences if we fail to organize ourselves into a powerful collective of bosses. Congress will continue to proclaim itself as the House of the People; and Danding will continue to be called the big boss of Philippine politics.

Part 1: PNoy and ‘impossible reformism’

2 Responses to “‘Kayo ang boss ko’”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Noemi L. Dado, mong palatino and hilway dato, BlogWatch.Ph. BlogWatch.Ph said: "We should declare ourselves as constituting the ‘boss.’ " @mongster #blogwatch […]

    Tweets that mention Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » ‘Kayo ang boss ko’ --

  2. […] Part 1: Noynoy and ‘impossible reformism’ Part 2: Noynoy and the ‘boss’ […]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Here come the commies*

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