Street Talk – The blind men and the elephant and a Pacquiao presidency


I may have stirred a hornet’s nest with my last piece that naively asked the question: “Pacquiao for President…Why not?”

That elicited a lot of reactions, as expected, some in favor and others against the idea. All the comments are well-taken (except for one by a certain Luisito Catindig, who I virtually slapped down). However, I have no intentions of being Pacquiao’s apologist and would rather leave it to him or Aling Dionisia or Boboy to respond to the comments, pro or con.

Me? I’m like one of six men from Indostan, to learning much inclined, who went to see the elephant – though all of them were blind – that each by observation might satisfy his mind.

Each blind man happened to touch a part of the beast and, on the basis of that superficial impression, drew an instant conclusion.

The first blind man happened to fall on the elephant’s broad side and declared that the beast was a wall. The second got hold of the elephant’s tusk and concluded that the animal was like a spear.

The third felt the elephant’s trunk and insisted that the beast was like a snake. The fourth reached out and touched the elephant’s knee and swore it was a tree.

The fifth blind man touched the flapping ear and was sure the beast was like a fan. And the sixth grabbed hold of the swinging tail and was positive that the elephant was like a rope.

The poem concluded:

“And so these men from Indostan,

Disputed loud and long;

Each, in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong;

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong.”

Nevertheless, I believe that a friendly exchange of views, such as the one I precipitated on Presidential wannabe Pacquiao, serves a good purpose. One must not always be carried away by so-called conventional wisdom, even if spouted by great men.

In college, I was once crucified by our professor in Logic when I pointed out an illogical line in William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.”

The phrase stated: “All that glitters is not gold.”

Said I: “Applying the syllogism, all that glitters is not gold: gold glitters. Ergo: Gold is not gold?”

The professor justified it as “poetic license.” Being young and impertinent, I suggested what I thought was a “logical and still poetically correct” version: “Not all that glitters is gold!”

Mercifully, the bell signaled the end of the class and I was spared the ignominy of being banished from the room. Imagine, me daring to “correct” The Bard himself???!!!

I think, though, that a questioning mind is healthy, both for one’s intellect as well as for a democracy. Like Pacquiao attempting to respond in broken English to a reporter’s questions, after beating Marco Antonio Barreira, I have even questioned the logic of the lyrics of the Spanish classic, “Besame mucho” (although I flunked Spanish One in college).

All the famous singers, from Julio Iglesias to Trio Los Panchos, use the line:

“Besame, besame mucho;

Como se fuera esta noche la ultima vez;

Besame mucho –

Que tengo miedo perderte y perderte despues!”

What little Spanish I could understand told me that the last line did not make sense. It literally means,

“That I fear losing you and losing you afterwards!”

With due respect to the song writer, Consuelo Velasquez, I dug into Wikipedia and found what I believed was a more logical version: “Que tengo miedo a tenerte y perderte despues!”

It means: “That I fear having you (tenerte) and losing you (perderte) afterwards!”

Of course, I engage in things like this as mental exercise. Indeed, the question, “Why?” and the follow-up question, “Why not?” may have resulted in the great technological advances of mankind since the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel.

At any rate, with due respect to the poet, John Godfrey Saxe, I wrote my own version of The Blind Men and the Elephant to spice up the subject of presidential politics:

“There were six fine newspapermen,

To politics inclined,

Who look at presidentiables

(Not one of them is blind);

That each by analysing

Might satisfy his mind.

“The first looks at Duterte

The current president;

Who wants to serve another term

As Palace resident;

It seems that Cha-cha could allow

That lousy incident.

“The second thinks that Sara D

Should be the candidate.

Her dad then runs for VP

In the official slate;

In truth the old man would remain

The real Chief of State!

“The third believes that Bongbong

Should be allowed to run;

It seems Duterte promised him

That he would be the one

To make the name of Marcos

Refurbished through the son.

“The fourth insists that Leni heads

The opposition slate;

As current VP she should be

Official candidate;

But there are other wannabes

Crammed at the starting gate

“The fifth believes that Carpio,

Or Lacson yet again

Will win with ample campaign funds

And proper media spin.

Duterte could be hoping

That no one will give in;

The more the opposition

The surer he will win!

“The sixth is sure that Pacquiao,

Who is from Mindanao,

Is in the best position

To overturn Davao;

While spokening gud English,

Pacquiao may not know how,

He earned his millions honestly

Not kickback or nakaw.

“And so these six newspapermen

They bluster loud and long;

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong;

Though each is partly in the right

And all are in the wrong!”

Here’s to 2022. I’m sure the Filipino people will survive whoever becomes President.’’