A different Yellow Ribbon on Times St.

President-elect Aquino a no-show on Times St. as labor leaders on Friday aired their demands just outside his home.

For workers who have yet to hear from President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino about his plans for labor, it’s quite disappointing that Aquino has already talked to a number of business leaders — and has even offered some of them Cabinet posts. And it is perhaps more disappointing that Aquino has turned down the requested dialogue of labor leaders who wished to present sincere demands even as he granted visits of foreign envoys.

But the labor leaders aired their demands outside Aquino’s home nevertheless — using the same yellow ribbon which Aquino used as campaign icon and which, for the most part, is associated with the Aquinos. Bearing urgent calls for wage increase, Arroyo’s prosecution and junking of contractualization policies, these huge ribbons stood out from all other ribbons on Times St.

These ribbons could have been similar to the yellow ribbons plastered on vehicles, doors and profile pictures which semantically point to Noynoy Aquino and his popular appeal. But by simply attaching the usual placards, workers have used the political value and impact of Aquino’s pervasive campaign icon as springboard in forwarding concrete demands. It was powder keg made extra explosive.

What materialized on Times St. today – when a different set of yellow ribbons graced the middle-class neighborhood – hints at how Aquino will be “haunted” by his campaign icon in the coming days. Yellow ribbons are here to stay not to remind him of his electoral victory or of his parents, but to constantly remind him of the promises he dished out to the people.

Why Noynoy won’t leave Times St.

It used to be a calm middle class neighborhood spared from jeepneys and other modes of public transport. On a normal day, private vehicles would come and go very rarely. The sign of the times, however, indicate that it is also home to the press, politics, people, and later on, protests.

President-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has repeatedly expressed that he wants to stay in his one-story home on No. 25 Times St., Quezon City while working as the President of the Republic of the Philippines. It’s for his “spiritual and psychological well-being,” he said in a recent press conference. As to what he really meant by that, the news didn’t elaborate.

Such statement could trigger the imagination of a playful, albeit wicked mind (like mine). Is there a customized mini-clinic for Noynoy on Times St.? An isolation room? Perhaps a cabinet full of drugs, syringes, plus cigarettes. Or his set of favorite DVDs and CDs which he can play whenever he wants instant escapism from nagging political affairs.

Or simply because he would be delirious and run amok in Malacañang because he would feel uncomfortable. He probably does not want to give the Palace a worse reputation and make it a bedlam after being the playground of little devil.

Whatever his reasons are, Noynoy obviously wants to keep it private.

Home to secret talks?

Just as how he kept talks with foreign dignitaries, including US ambassador Harry Thomas, private. As owner of the house, Noynoy definitely has the command on how and when media can cover him and his activities on Times St. The media can just rely on the visitor’s description of what went on inside after ambushing them as the gate opens.

Of course there are also closed door meetings in Malacañang, wherein members of the media are barred from covering the actual meet. But hosting talks on Times St. further complicates the public’s access to information and to President. Simply closing the gate would perfectly lead to a “closed gate meeting.” The private and the public becomes entangled in an orgy. Whatever happened to his often-uttered “transparency”?

It would appear that Noynoy becomes more accessible to the media and to the people in his home. But it’s actually not. It’s his private place.  If he really wants to “touch base” with the people and show transparency, he must live in Payatas, not in his middle class crib.

So will Times St. be also home to sweetheart privatization deals, planning of counter-insurgency measures, and pleasant talks with US envoys? Yes, it will.

Near Big Brothers’s house


Just as Malacañang has Kalayaan Hall (which holds the Office of the Press Secretary), Noynoy’s residence is a few meters away from media giant ABS-CBN’s main building. He can drive in just a breeze to the station’s news center whenever he has interviews or official declarations.

So does this mean that the state-run National Broadcasting Network should say goodbye to the airwaves? Let’s just wait and see.

If ever Noynoy wants to have guest appearances in Pinoy Big Brother (maybe to lecture housemates about “Daang Matuwid” or to simply take a dip at the pool to calm his nerves), then he can also do as he wish. But it would really be too much if he announces that he wants to make Big Brother’s house his second home.