(The following is my column today, September 6, 2006 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.)

I was conducting a training program Monday afternoon when one participant announced during a lull that Steve Irwin has just been killed by a stingray. Some participants looked up with question marks etched on their brows and someone hastened to add “the crocodile hunter on Discovery Channel” and most everyone’s faces lit up with recognition.

Perhaps I was simply in a room with fellow geeks who all had cable television at home, and who shared a common fascination with animal shows that show excruciating details of how a three-toed sloth climbs a tree. But it is also validation of the power of information technology today. Someone who lives and produces a television show Down Under and the tragic incident involving him is immediately known to many others across the globe within a couple of hours.

Discovery is my default television channel at home. When there is absolutely nothing interesting on (which is sad to say often), say at two in the morning on a weekend and one has just finished reading a book and the mind is still wide awake, one can pass time watching some frisky and audacious guy with tousled hair wrestling with crocodiles or taunting venomous snakes. Of course one also feels like screaming at the guy “what the heck are you doing, put that animal down!” But one can take comfort in the thought that there is some sensible reason for the guy’s audacity, compared to, say, the nonsensical rabble-rousing of the justice secretary or the senator-aspirant congressman.

I still do not know what to make of the statement of Steve Irwin’s friends that “he died doing what he liked best.” I have no doubt about the value of what guys like Steve Irwin or Jeff Corwin do towards furthering environmental and educational causes. (Kim Atienza is trying to project himself as their local counterpart, and tries to dress up for the part; sadly, he only succeeds in looking silly, which is probably why he has shifted to doing the weather report.)

At the same time, though, the cause of Irwin’s death also illustrates that we really are skating on very thin ice here. It is ironic that Irwin has come out unscathed from handling very dangerous and deadly creatures like huge crocodiles and venomous snakes but was killed by a stingray, which is supposed to be a gentle creature. Yeah, he died illustrating that some creatures truly deserve to be left alone even by environmentalists.

Those of us who grew up watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel will miss the frisky blonde guy who would shout “Crikey!” and speak with a very animated expression on his face. Farewell, Steve!

* * *

In the course of surfing TV channels to get some more information on Steve Irwin’s death, I came across the President’s televised press conference where she lambasted Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and challenged him “to be man enough to admit his mistake.” The President was referring to Cayetano’s accusations that the First Couple had a huge nest egg in a bank in Munich, Germany. If we are to believe Malacañang, Cayetano is the one who laid an egg and he should apologize. Fine with me. I think anyone who thinks he has been accused wrongly has the right to refute the accusation, or demand a retraction or apology. If all else fails, they can also file libel suits all over town if they wish to. It is their right. They can swap suits to their heart’s content for all I care.

But the President did not stop there. And this is when the excrement hit the ventilation, as far as I am concerned.

In making the statement today, I wish to share the indignation of honest, trustworthy and hardworking Filipinos who are smeared and libeled, and whose dignity is assaulted by gossip and intrigue,” the President intoned. Whoever wrote that little speech must have been living under a rock in the last two years or must be suffering from a severe case of amnesia. Hello!

This is a President that has just escaped a second impeachment. This is a President who is being hounded by accusations of cheating, corruption, etc., and who apologized on public television for a monumental “lapse in judgment.” The fact that she was able to deflect the charges does not mean total vindication or exculpation from the charges. It only means people are willing to cut her some slack for the moment. But as they say, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

The President and all her lackeys should spare us the sanctimonious speeches. They can expose Cayetano for the monumental foul-up if they want, gloat about the faux pas and accuse him of incompetence. But save the big lectures on indignation, honesty, trustworthiness, dignity, etc., please.

* * *

David Ulrich, the leading management guru in the world today, will be addressing the participants of the 2006 Annual Conference of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines scheduled Sept. 27-29 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas. He will be delivering his talk live from the United States through remote telecast. Other renowned speakers who will be sharing insights on how to create more value include a number of CEOs of top 100 companies, international human resource management professionals, and civic leaders. The conference coincides with PMAP’s golden anniversary celebration. All people managers are invited to attend the conference.


Taga - Iyam said…
Here I am again in agreement with the issue about PGMA and Cayetano. I am glad though that PGMA opened her mouth and said something to Cayetano. The phrase though should have not been what she said/issued......but could have been much better if she would have said that Germany is not the place to hide one's ill gotten money.....Cayetano has been sold by his shows " tuso man daw ang matsing napaglalalangan din....." If what I have read about Germany, are correct, napaglalangan din sila nang Arroyo, o nabula ang Cayetano. What a way to get back at someone you oppose.....
snglguy said…
Haha, that was the same thing I thought of Kim Atienza when he first appeared on tv wearing a jungle outfit. Silly boy...

As for congressman Cayetano, he got electrocuted... pfft. He shoulda done his homework.

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