Whatever happens, Russia remains a great nation. But its greatness cannot be the fruit of conquest, no matter the underlying history.
This time, arriving in Yangon, I arrived at an airport that is spacious, modern and bright, with the immigration desks manned by professional-looking officials.
Indonesia’s campaign season is approaching. A word of advice to all presidential aspirants: observe and learn from the Philippines.
Neurodiplomacy is the application of what science knows about the human brain to the art of shaping relations between nations. After all, nations are made up of human beings. Led by human beings. In everything they do the brain is involved.
I’ve just watched “Her,” the Oscar-nominated film about a love affair between a man in the middle of a divorce and an operating system with a female voice, set at a time when the line between what’s real and what’s virtual is increasingly blurred.
The controversy has ironically opened a window for Tri Rismaharini to become a national figure. It’s unsurprising therefore that other political parties are said to be eyeing her as a possible vice presidential candidate come July. One hopes that the PDI-P—whose main strength is its human capital—realizes how valuable Risma will be in the political battles ahead.
At Malacanang, the Philippine presidential palace, talk easily turns to ghosts. When President Benigno Aquino arrives for our interview, we’re seated in the Music Room, right next to the old office of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator Aquino’s father was assassinated trying to unseat. A giant portrait of Aquino’s mother, Corazon, who succeeded Marcos, hangs in a nearby ballroom. The same walls feature paintings of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, Aquino’s two predecessors, who both ended up in jail and whose combined 12-year legacy of corruption and neglect haunts Filipinos still.
For as long as the Cirilos of the world are writing, we need not despair about the antics of our politicians. The corrupt official, the officious bureaucrat will soon bite the dust of history. But the words of the poet will continue to feed the roots of his people’s culture, and to make each of us more sensitive to the ways of the human heart. And thus make us better human beings.
One of the perks of my job as an interviewer is I get to meet and talk to a lot of people, particularly people who have done something in their lives and made a difference, be it to their community, society, their country or even the world. It’s a perk because listening to their life stories, their achievements, experiences, passions, philosophies and basically what makes them tick, is for me a great way of plugging my own deficiencies in those very things.