A badge of honor

In a nation obsessed with credentials, the resume is a very important document. Use the wrong title, you might not get the job you want. But, if you went to a school that has “Harvard” anywhere in the name (and, somehow, plenty of schools in the Philippines have found a way to insert the word “Harvard” into their names) — and you’ve got the job!

So when I found some fascinating resumes on the Philippine Senate Web site this morning I was not at all surprised by one resume that boasted “educational training” at Georgetown University, Harvard and the University of the Philippines (among others).

But when I started to browse through more of the resumes and biographies of the country’s senators, I found a few more telling items.

I first checked Miriam Defenosor Santiago’s biography. She’s always entertaining — my coworkers’ favorite mantra about Miriam is that “she’s always good for a sound bite!” — and her biography did not disappoint. One section titled “Youth Idol” describes Senator Santiago in language usually reserved for television commercials for American Idol.

Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago is a charismatic Philippine icon, idolized by all young people throughout the country for her intellectual brilliance, fiery eloquence, and moral courage. Millions of Filipinos believe that she won as president but was cheated in 1992, when she ran as a wildly popular independent candidate. She has triumphed against attempts on her life, political persecution, electoral fraud, and black propaganda, to become a role model for her millions of fans.

Of course, the section “Miriam Magic” is the icing on the cake: “She has been called the incorruptible lady, the platinum lady, the tiger lady, the dragon lady, the iron lady of Asia, the queen of popularity polls, and the undisputed campus heroine. But to her millions of fans, she is best known for the unique brand of charismatic leadership that media likes to call ‘Miriam magic.'”

Someone should tell her that when she’s called “the dragon lady,” it’s not necessarily a good thing.

More interesting — or perhaps revealing — are the headings on Sen. Aquilino Pimintel’s resume. After listing his work experience and political experience, Pimintel lists his other “accomplishments” with the resume headings “Ousters from Public Office” and “Martial Law Arrests and Detentions.” (These are actually headings from his resume — where people like me would use “Awards” or “Skills.”)

While I can stretch my imagination enough to understand why a senator might choose to list his arrests during martial law — to show his courage against a ruthless dictator! — I’m still not convinced that drawing attention to the times he was ousted from public office is a good idea. Of course, in a place where coups are attempted approximately every three and a half months, it’s no surprise that being ousted from office is a badge of honor.


  1. Jojo says:

    Second try: ahh, but you have not seen the CVs of Indonesian politicos yet. Governors have their “diplomas” from Harvard hammered on their office walls, while parliament members claim they graduated from top Indonesian schools, which a causal check in the directories or via google will reveal to not exist.

  2. Jojo says:

    My student thinks they read or heard about Harvard, and learned it was a “Great American” university, checked out how its diplomas looked like, went to ask the fellow who is good at crafting copycats, and ordered them to make the diploma. So you go visit them in their offices and lo and behold, straddling alongside their photos with Suharto, etc., is a conspicious Harvard diploma! Bests Miriam anytime.

    You are, of course, familiar with the ruckus over whether Maid Miriam did get a degree from Harvard no? The late Haydee Yorac (one of a couple of Filipinos with a real Phd in Law from Yale) used to poke fun at Maid Miriam’s claims. For the real story is that she went there on one of those dime-a-dozen 2 year MA programs which no one takes seriously at Harvard or in any other Ivy League school. But in Congress and the Senate, you can display the alma mater seal!

    All the best, Christina…

  3. jojo says:

    Hi Christina: ask your friend to take you to Avenida. There are people there who can produce a Harvard diploma for you. Re Miriam, don’t ever remind her about her “graduate degree”: she might have you deported. Enjoy the cockfighting.

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