THE VOICE: Masculinity Crisis in Government

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (MindaNews/20 March) — First and foremost, this piece is about Rodrigo Duterte and Women’s Month. About Duterte because I see him as a sign that the masculinity crisis in government would be over once he takes his oath as President. About Women’s Month because – well, some women don’t like him but a lot more, do.

I’d like to tell you in advance that what you will read is just some light Sunday banter kasi mahina ako sa debate haha. Halaka debate na man diay karong hapon sa Cebu.

If my words don’t make history, just call it Hard Core Poetry


The question is like: Why have women’s groups mushroomed? My street person answer is simple: It’s because the men in government did not take good care of the women!

You know the issues: early marriage, rape, trafficking, unfair labor practices, poor health services, lack of education, having to work abroad leaving the family behind – name it. The men in government just did not give a damn about the security and protection of women. Pasensya na, men. Nagkataon lang talaga that you held powerful positions in this country for the longest time and things just went from bad to worse for us women.

Let me share with you my favorite quote from Dr Philip J Mango, President of St Michael’s Institute for Psychological Sciences (  “There is a masculinity crisis in society today.  Men are not doing what they are supposed to do, because we are not training boys to be the men they are supposed to be.  Men have to be heroes, persons who transcend their egos, fears and selfishness, and make sacrifices of themselves as a gift for those they have been called to protect.” (Why We Need Heroes, Faith & Family Magazine, Spring 2003).

While Dr Mango talks about the masculinity crisis in society, let us just focus on the masculinity crisis in the Philippine context; and narrow it down further to the masculinity crisis in Philippine government. We can’t really tackle everything in five pages, you think so? And while it is true some women possess these traits attributed to men, for now let’s just zero in on men in government. Mamaya may mag-a-out of topic na naman dyan J.

How did the men in government fare in the way they ran the country’s affairs? If Dr Mango illustrates masculine men as persons who “transcend their egos, fears and selfishness, and make sacrifices of themselves as a gift for those they have been called to protect” – surely we have a masculinity crisis! What then do you call men who cannot transcend their egos, make sacrifices as a gift for those they have been called to protect? Bayot noh?! (Bayot in bisayȃ means either of two things: a) a male who is attracted to another male; or b) sissy, coward, wimp, indecisive)

This article is about the second definition. If you think you belong to the first definition, take heart: the second definition actually spells global doom than the first.

If those men in government where what Dr Mango described, would there have been a proliferation of women’s advocacy groups? Advocacy groups for Children’s Rights? Human Rights? Workers’ Rights? Indigenous Peoples’ Rights? Etc Rights? Were these men in government listening to the countless cries these groups dished out on paper and on the streets? Were they even able to listen to those who could not cry? Maybe they heard but refused to listen? Bayot gyud.

When no one was man enough to take over the place of Ferdinand Marcos (yeah, that prominent egocentric government man who made a new batch of elites happy and old elites green with envy while the rest of us suffered immensely), the men tossed an elite housewife to do a government man’s job.

Then these men all around her continued to secure their haciendas, their cartels, and their monopolies while (hold your breath) being in government at the same time! They even squeezed themselves into coming up with a constitution that will cloak favors unto the usual elite and big business. Talk about corporate greed and sense of entitlement nga naman.

When one elite government man did not have the guts to handle the peace process, he sent women to the frontlines. While many expressed exuberant hopes that these women will deliver, having men to decide under so many layers in the communication channel still proved to be disastrous.

While men bickered in congress and senate, they didn’t realize how many men, women and old people waited for them to decide and not just sit on their balls. When laws were indeed drafted (and sometimes with insertions) where were the men who were supposed to implement it?

How can there be transcendence of the ego when all you see around you are faces of politicians plastered everywhere announcing to all and sundry what they think they have accomplished? There’s so many of these faces ( all around no one could really tell what they were there for other than pollution. Bayots can only raise their eyebrows toward a fellow government man who does not want to have his name and face splashed in every government project and property. (EPAL – a person who strongly believes his face and name is loved by everyone else except others)

Funny that while I’m in the middle of writing this article, a survey (na naman???) comes up showing Duterte to have a macho vote. (

Labeling it as a macho vote is I think a sneaky way of an elite-controlled TV network to divide public opinion once more in another angle. Macho ha. Makita na nato karon kinsa tong mga bayot.

The analyst in the news says that maybe people no longer wanted a woman president, among other reasons. She also says that it could also mean that Duterte is the embodiment of willfulness and decisiveness.

Oh, so men deeply identify themselves with willfulness and decisiveness. Thing is, they are not in government. Or if they are, those who have lost their masculinity are in the decision-making positions. Or – did they lose their masculinity when they joined the ranks of the decision makers?

Of course Duterte is macho: he smoked, drank, rode bikes, drove inexpensive (sometimes badass vehicles like a taxi, yes?), flew light aircraft, loved guns, shot lawbreakers, read tons of books, knew the law, taught the law, didn’t mince words – maginoo pero medyo bastos. (In Bisaya, bastos can either mean lewd or foul-mouthed. Duterte fits into the second definition)

He is also masculine. He did not need any imaging stylist to be groomed and photographed, to be made to reply to media questions like a movie actor. He was not lured to the trappings of power (houses, cars, businesses, high-society functions, travels) and had that character strong enough to live within his means. Many bayots in government transacted businesses from their own budgets to provide shopping money to their wives, send their progeny to expensive schools here and abroad, and bask in money that could have fed and educated countless other children.

Beneath Duterte’s Binisayȃ is his good command of the English language that nobody would really want to make the mistake of lashing incomprehensible adjectives towards him.

While the macho traits must have made him attractive to men, the masculine traits, I’d like to believe, made him very attractive to women which makes him a contradiction in more ways than one. What woman indeed, cannot love a man who takes good care of women? What woman indeed, would not love a man na walang arte? Be it known that yeah, women honor this type of man, also known as the honorary woman.

Those who can’t stand his personality perceive his having had women in his life as womanizing. I remember a conversation between two women where one woman despised Duterte for having had many relationships with women. The other one quipped, “You are looking for a president, not a husband! Cmon…”

Whatever his flaws, he put to good use. When he saw how smoking affected one’s health by getting sick himself, he banned smoking in public. As a night owl he saw how the underground world operated so he set curfews. He made parents responsible for their own children (ang ginikanan ang presohon kung madakpan sa gawas sa balay ang ilang mga anak inig ka gabii). By imposing a curfew on alcoholic drinks he actually looked after the welfare of ordinary people who have to work nights. Really now, how can one yuppie be productive at work during the day after drinking till dawn? If this can’t be called taking collective care of families and human resources I wonder what it is.

Duterte used his love for guns (if that is indeed a flaw) for eradicating criminals and the public felt safer. Who now, among the presidential candidates actually knows police operations, procedures, rules of engagement and face criminals in a running gun battle? Some people mouth extrajudicial killings and due process like they can melt druglords and kidnappers with their intellectual sophistication.

Without him going around listening about the prospects of Federalism do you really think there wouldn’t be another bloody confrontation in Mindanao with the collapse of the BBL?

His marital life was far from ideal but his collective concern over women is proven by passing the country’s first gender code among others, free legal support for victims of domestic violence, free day-care services for children of working single moms, dignified facilities for women prisoners, to name a few. (At this point I am trying to figure out why some women’s rights advocates still abhor him when his programs on women and children are actual translations of their advocacies).

His track record on both in legislation and actual implementation is accessible with communications technology for those who are really bent on finding out.

He keeps his spirituality to himself but can you really miss it when he mentions that his bid for the Presidency is only by God’s will whether he makes it or not? Can you really miss out the fact that he is the only presidential candidate who mentions love of God and Country in his speeches? And without squirming? Can you really miss how deeply respected he is among religious organizations but never renounced his own? Can you really miss out the tears he shed after seeing the human toll on Yolanda? He refused to be interviewed providing relief services saying “Mahibal-an ra ninyo na unya (You will know about it later).”

I remember one Sunday sermon saying: A man shall be judged by the results of his work; not his work. [I also remember Bianca Gonzalez tweeting: Talk about the Eiffel Tower after you’ve been there (something like that)]

Any government man of lesser masculine stuff would grab at the opportunity to be interviewed on TV even without having accomplished anything; and worse, when they do, they look blah. Papogi lang bisag wa pa’y agi. Actually, di na na papogi. Binayot na na. Sige na la’g paporma. In English, those things are only for wimps.

It takes a man with strong masculine characteristics to bring out the masculinity in other men. Duterte’s strategy of providing decent salaries to the police and the armed forces is not picked out of thin air. It is putting back the dignity of a security force that had to resort all these years to sidelines just to keep body and soul together. Decent salaries would already free them from worrying where to look for the means to feed their family as their main mandate is to protect a bigger community of people.

Why are some people afraid of giving decent salaries to police and soldiers? Shouldn’t we all be happy for each other’s blessings knowing that it’s just a matter of time that our turn will come?

It takes a man with strong masculine characteristics to bring the men out of boys and pull them out of virtual war rooms. How indeed can you have a defense system without real men to man them with?

I gotta stop now. There’s more to discuss in a Duterte presidency.

In parting, let me leave with you this quote from a movie. We owe the next generation the protection they need by ending the masculinity crisis.

Happy Palm Sunday!

* * * *

“There are three types of people in this world. Sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Now, some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world. And if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep.

“And then you got predators. They use violence to prey on the weak. They are the wolves.

“And then there are those who have been blessed with the gift of aggression; and the overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are a rare breed that live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.

“We’re not raising any sheep in this family. I will whip your ass if you turn into a wolf. But we protect our own. If someone tries to fight you, or tries to bully your little brother, you have my permission to finish it.”

-Wayne Kyle to son Cris, The American Sniper.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Aveen Acuña-Gulo posts herself on Facebook as a Monumental Operations Manager (MOM).  She is a Bukidnon-born Cebuano mother of three (3) Maguindanao-Ilonggo-Cotabateño children; who will always be a child at heart even if she is a hundred years old. She wrote a column “The Voice” for the Mindanao Cross from 1991-2006.  She likes to challenge stereotypes.  “Don’t worry about my opinions.  It won’t make a dent to the conventional,” she says).