The ubiquitous PNoy smile

PNoy has good reason to be smiling because the latest Pulse Asia survey shows that his approval rating has gone up from 55% to 59%.   But even when his approval rating was low, PNoy still looked very positive. That is because he has what looks like a permanent smile on his face.

Remember the day when he presided over that long meeting of the Risk Reduction and Management Council in preparation for Typhoon Ruby’s entry into Philippine territory? PNoy looked like he was making light of the havoc the strong winds were expected to wreak upon the country because he was smiling all the time.

Do you recall when Hong Kong officials made known their resentment at the video footage showing a grinning PNoy when he inspected the scene where a busload of tourists from Hong Kong was held hostage by a crazed ex-Manila policeman? While Hong Kong was weeping over the death of seven of those tourists, the President of the Philippines was seen smiling at the very scene of the tragedy. He explained that his facial expression was not one of satisfaction but one of frustration. It is just the way his face contorts when emotional, said he.

It is true that PNoy’s face twists unintentionally into a smile when emotional.   That is a physiological characteristic he inherited from his mother. President Cory broke into a smile every time she opened her mouth to speak, her face turning serious again just as soon as she finished speaking. She smiled when announcing her programs and policies, even if some of them were bitter pills to swallow. She smiled when giving instructions to her Cabinet members, even if they involved pressing matters of state.

At the height of the coup attempts, she listened grimly to the reporters’ questions but smiled when she gave her answers. She smiled even when extending her condolences to the families of departed friends and political allies.

PNoy’s sister Ballsy inherited the same characteristic. Like Tita Cory, Ate Ballsy breaks into a smile every time she speaks.   When Imee and Bongbong Marcos went to the wake of Tita Cory, only Ate Ballsy among the siblings was there to receive them. She was smiling as she talked animatedly with them, as if they had come to greet her on her birthday.

Sister Kris does not smile, she laughs, nay sniggers all the time, even when her heart is aching, even when it is breaking. That is because she knows that after every heartbreak, and there have been three, she would see the sun come shining through for her.

The reflex action is not characteristic of the Cory family alone. Many Pinoys and Pinays form a smile on their face when they speak. Prominent examples are BIR Commissioner Kim Henares and Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano.

Not only is Henares all smiles when announcing that tax evasion charges have been filed against big businessmen, show biz celebrities, and an 8-division boxing champion, she is all smiles even when watching UAAP and PBA basketball games. One can’t tell which team she is rooting for.

Lawyer Justiniano has a smile on his face when grilling witnesses be they for the prosecution, as in the impeachment trials of President Estrada and Chief Justice Renato Corona and in the plunder cases of Senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla, or for the defense as in the rape case against U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith.

Speaking of Department of Justice officials, Martial Law Minister of Justice Estelito Mendoza is another person who breaks into a smile whenever he speaks. Observers of the impeachment trial of Erap were confused as to who was scoring a point as both counsel for the defense (Mendoza) and counsel for the prosecution (Justiniano) were smiling all the time they were cross-examining witnesses.

Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s former spokesperson, Elena Bautista Horn also belongs to the Smiling Breed. She was smiling while she spewed caustic comments against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (when she defied the Supreme Court order to lift the Hold Departure Order on GMA) and against Health Secretary Enrique Ona (when he testified that GMA was recovering well from her surgery and therefore did not need medical treatment or consultation abroad).

In sharp contrast are the ever somber spokespersons of PNoy – Sonny Coloma and Edwin Lacierda – who look glum even when announcing the improved approval rating of PNoy. Could it be they are very wary of each other because they represent different factions? Just like Marcos’ publicists: Press Secretary Kit Tatad and National Media Production Center General Manager Greg Cendana.


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