The President and the corridor of power

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It was Adrian Cristobal, who first wrote about the indispensable persons a leader must have around him when he sits at the center of the corridor of power. As BBM assumes primus inter pares I want to write about the archetypes of people he must have. They are the “sine qua nons” for him to effectively lead.

The Ant Worker Archetype

The ant worker is the lowest in the hierarchy of ants. He does not do any thinking. But the ant colony will collapse without him. His mission – bring food (and all other necessities) to the leader of the colony, the Queen. He makes sure the leader eats, drinks his medicines, and manages his time to have rest. BBM needs one.

In 1964, when Marcos Sr decided to run for President, he recruited into his confidence a young student leader working for then Senate Pres. Gil Puyat. His name is Lino Illera. He was in his early 20s. Since then, he was by the side of Pres. Marcos, his personal goffer. When the US Marines fetched Marcos Sr in 1986, Lino was at his study. Marcos Sr, told him “Lino, there were two of us when we started. Now, there is the two of us.”

Lino became my close friend since the 1990s. On many occasions, I was always surprised why Imelda waves at him, why Enrile would approach him, or even Pres elect BBM would call him Tito. Then I learned, Lino was the personal goffer of Marcos Sr from 1964 to 1986. It was him who made sure the President would have his food, his medicines and his rest. He was the ideal Ant Worker – anonymous, doesn’t catch attention, and no personal agenda. Everything, he did was for the leader.

Lino lives in a simple house in a Middleclass village. To some who walks in the corridors of power, Lino’s lifestyle is an unexplained middleclass. With his proximity to Marcos Sr, he should be living in a swanky exclusive village. But his happiness was serving Marcos Sr.

Every leader needs a Court Jester

At the end of the day, the pressures of leading the country requires that the leader has to relax and to laugh. He needs somebody who can make him laugh.

During the time of Pres Aquino, it was said that his relaxation was karaoke singing and practical shooting on weekends. The word was, you are not in the inner circle unless you have been invited to Karaoke nights or to practical shooting weekends.

For a leader, to relax and unwind is as serious as running the affairs of the country. The jester makes this happen. Without him, a leader makes wary and tired decisions. And weary and tired decisions are then reflected to the country.

The Sycophant Archetype

While most leaders hate a “yes sir” person, they actually need the sycophant to feed their ego. He is that person who says “yes sir” even if he does not understand the order he received. He will work his way into understanding it on his own. The “yes sir” was more important.

The other favorite lines of a sycophant are “Ang galing nyo talaga Boss” and “Tama kayo sir.” When the leader asks a sycophant to jump from a building, he always answers “From what floor sir?”

The Oracle Archetype

In the olden times, the oracle is e who divines the future and advises the leader what the future holds for him. BBM needs oracles to read for him where is leadership is heading.

I learned from sources that BBM listens to RVO  (Bobby Ongpin) and Cesar Virata, both Cabinet Secretaries of Marcos Sr. The Cabinet picks were said to be vetted by them. RVO used to own PhilWeb, the Lotto Contractor. Duterte pushed him out by hitting him publicly. PhilWeb went to another group led by Greggy Araneta – husband of BBM’s older sister, Irene. Curious huh?

The Devil’s Advocate Archetype

Among everyone around the leader, the devil’s advocate is the most important. He is the opposite of a sycophant. Instead of saying “yes sir,” the devil’s advocate says “But sir, isn’t it better to do this instead.” His contrarian views expand the perspective of every leader. His absence narrows a leader’s perspective. He may sound shrill and irritating, but his opposition always sifts the ideas under deliberation. He is the living anvil who makes decision making tougher and more effective. His “no sir” actually says, “you might be wrong sir. Please evaluate your decision some more.” Thus, saving his leadership from failure.

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When the leader asks a devil’s advocate to jump from a building, he will always question why, pleads for explanation, and will argue against it. After the leader explains, the devil’s advocate declares “Sir, I think you are wrong.” And he refuses to jump and turns around. (Roland T. Redoble)

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