On leadership and machismo: Is Man-Rule Absolute?
By Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes
News across the globe around the deadline time for this edition circled on political and economic developments back home, in the US, in India, and here in the UAE. In the Philippines, the Supreme Court ruled against a petition to block the proposal to bury the remains of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos at our Libingan ng mga Bayani or our Heroes Cemetery. The US saw the closure of one of their most contested Presidential elections with the victory of an unlikely politician, Donald Trump. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped its highest denomination notes in an effort to curb money laundering and arrest a culture of corruption and tax evasion. The UAE, on the other hand, churned jaw dropping news with the launch of the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Hyperloop One, a project that would cut the 2-hour travel time between UAE largest city and socio-economic center, Dubai, and its capital, Abu Dhabi to a mere 12 minutes.
Truly it was quite a week, and in the midst of these divisive, perplexing, and inspiring news, a few souls came up to me and asked me what I thought of all these. It made me wonder whether or not it really mattered to people in the community what I thought or at the very least what my office could offer as viewpoints on current issues. In addition, day in, day out, I receive tons of messages from either my personal FB account or the official page: inquiries, requests for assistance, some legitimate, others ludicrous and preposterous. My WhatsApp threads are deluged with pleas. The monthly town hall meetings we hold at the Consulate are packed with leaders and members of the community eager to understand and internalize the goings on in Philippine and international politics, the machinations of global economics and how these bewildering puzzles make their way to the plight of overseas Filipinos, and the social dynamics that rattle Pinoy’s back home and abroad. Clearly, as far as I’m concerned, my role as stepfather to the community here demands much on my part and obliges me to ensure that our constituency in this part of the world is aware not only what is due them but is likewise armed with ammunitions that make them more informed and thus, empowered citizens of the world.
Earlier on, arriving in Dubai some 17 months ago, I mapped out for myself what I believed was expected of me as Consul General in Dubai. Woven into all intricacies of this map was the underlying role to act as father to the community, looking after their welfare and offering that seemingly elusive ray of hope to Pinoy’s. Perhaps I put too much weight on my shoulders, and that acting out such a role wasn’t really necessary. However, I felt that to deny the urgency and necessity of this role would be tantamount to cowardice and pusillanimity. And with the newfound swagger our leadership possess, a parallel vigor in the manner I conducted this office would not be as misplaced as I would have thought before.
On leadership and machismo: Is Man-Rule Absolute?
Maybe what happened in those four parts of the world weren’t as serendipitous or as independent as I deemed it were. Those four news events dovetailed into a moment of clarity of purpose that defined my view on this office, on my posting in Dubai, on why I was even promoted to Chief of Mission, on why the stars aligned for me to take on the path of diplomacy 20 years ago. Somehow, answers hit us when we least expect them to. And in this case, purpose had never been so much clearer and transparent to me as it is now – for each and every step I take, much more is asked of me, all in the manner of stepping up to be a leader to others. Spiderman, in the movie, said “with great power comes great responsibility” and in the course of my life as a son, husband, father, and stepfather to the rest of the Filipinos in Dubai, I embrace this expectation with confident and open arms albeit with a little trepidation and worry that I may fall short.
Society had always been about who led everyone else and under what circumstance have made that society move forward, stagnate, or retrogress. And traditionally, it was the men who led their respective homes, their communities, their states, and even other states. Today’s era has seen women take on the leadership roles once reserved for men – the Philippines has had two, Britain has the Queen, India, the world’s largest democracy, had one, Israel, Sri Lanka, and many others. Part of this week’s denouement included the epiphany that beyond me, it is the office of the Consul General that is laced with the obligation to lead, the task to be the father or mother of the community in Dubai. Leadership was never about machismo. It was about who took the on the mission to thread the path for everyone else to follow. Being that person who everyone seeks their opinion of, who serves as the hope for all, and who is the answer to their supplications, is defined not by gender but by strength of heart and steely resolve. And in these times, men seemingly do not have that monopoly anymore.