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HONORING MY MOTHER | Who do you know?




THERE was an old joke I heard in the 90s which in its prime might have qualified as a meme as well. Although not anymore sure how the whole joke went (as it was quite long), let’s just say that its main catch revolved around “Noah”, as in I know-a guy.

Of course, cronyism, or “the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications”(as defined by Oxford), had been around for quite a very long time. That however, does not mean that it is good and a natural thing.

Quite popular in political slogans for many decades, one would think that it was limited to government alone. That is why I empathize with the so-dubbed noobs, not necessarily nerds, of today who encounter the phenom for the first time in the outside world and the workplace.

For a start, I have just recently read a disappointing account of someone’s son who wrote that despite of his “countless hours of attending seminars on corporate governance, developing good business governance and then being a true advocate of abolishing cronyism in both the gov’t and private sector, it is sad to finally concede and conclude that here in the Philippines, it will always be ‘who’ you know and not ‘what’ you know.” Sad indeed.

On a personal note, I’m not ashamed to admit that my first job as a copy writer (at an advertising company) in 1980 had been through the strong recommendations of someone who had personally known the owner of the said firm. I had only learned of that after a few weeks on the job, when the general manager revealed it to me in a general staff meeting, at that. (I thought that, that had been intended to put me on the spot to humiliate me, as in, we own you, b.)

Ashamed at first, but feeling more greatly disappointed in believing that it had been my tests and credentials that convinced them into taking me in, I offered to resign right away, but they would have none of it. (Thinking back, he might have thought that would only get the attention of the owner. So, we were stalemate-stuck, and in the end, I just resolved to prove my worth from then on.)

Apparently, the Noah practice breathes naturally in all daily human interactions. It’s ever present in varying degrees and intensity, as common as house bugs. Most minute example can be found in the common queue at banks or supermarkets. There will always be someone who knows someone, who’ll allow that person to skip the line ahead of the rest. And I’m not thinking about senior citizens here.

Last, it gets me thinking, I know I have always warned my son on countless occasions, “never be surprised of what people can be capable of, anak, just be focused lang.” That may be in the context of his driving, but the focus I mean here might just as well be in trudging on, and just proving himself. As in golf, never think of the opponent’s score.

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