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MANDATE OF HEAVEN

One of my favorite subjects in college was Kasaysayan 158 or Modern


Southeast Asian History. The course tackles about the events that happened in
Southeast Asia before the era of Colonization up to the present. A interesting
lecture in that class was about the politics and governance In Vietnam. According to
my professor, the present and (would be) leaders of Vietnamese communities were
based on a principle called the “Mandate of Heaven.” This concept was brought by
the Chinese during the Sinicization of Vietnam.
In this principle, a ruler was chosen based on his character. A just and
responsible citizen is a good candidate to be a leader. This candidate need not be of
noble birth. It is also noteworthy that the “mandate” was not bounded by a certain
term. A ruler’s reign depends on how the “heaven” or the god’s respond to his or
her performance as a leader. If a calamity (storm, drought, famine) strikes in his
territory; this becomes a clear message that the heaven was displeased by the
ruler’s governance. Thus, he should no longer be in power and another “legitimate”
ruler should be chosen from the citizens. During this period, Vietnam (and China),
incompetent and authoritarian rulers could not stay long in power. As a result,
rulers became more cautious to bring justice, peace, and good governance to his
territory.
It’s been two weeks since our country have been devastated by typhoons
Ondoy and Pepeng. This two calamities ha set the records for the number of deaths
and damage it brought to the country. Up to this day, there are still flooded areas in
Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, Central Luzon, and Northern Luzon provinces. Food
and other basic necessities are in shortage in these areas. We are still in crisis
amidst the outpour of international aids. And PAGASA said that there would likely be
five to six more typhoons that will enter the country until the end of the year.
The saddening news in the newspapers, radio, and television make me
wonder if these calamities were messages sent by the heaven for our government.
The government have been thru years of scandals, election frauds, and corruptions
issues that remained to be unsolved. Maybe these are clear signs that the heaven
was displeased by how President Arroyo had governed the country in nine years.
And if it is such, I hope the government should not be deaf about this call. Or else,
I’m afraid more Filipinos will suffer the wrath of heaven. I hope not.
I should see my Kas 158 professor soon. I should thank him for the interesting
topics we had discussed in class and the good grade he gave me. Maybe, I should
also ask him who among the presidentiables should be given the “Mandate of
Heaven.” What you think?