‘Magbuot mo?’: Rama version

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

“NGANONG magbuot man sila nako? Dili ko magpabuot.”

--Mayor Michael Rama, referring to City Council resolution on drug tests for all city officials and employees

SOME time during the term of Emilio “Lito” Osmeña as Cebu governor (1988-1992), he was quoted as saying “Magbuot mo?” when he rejected public outcry against a controversial decision of his.


Few remember now what it was that people resisted and Lito insisted on doing. What has stuck in the public mind was the quote, which Sun.Star listed in the most memorable statements of the nineties.

The quote caused public uproar and was repeatedly talked about long after it was said.

Last Jan. 23, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said what Lito had said, the same words more or less. He told the City Council that it couldn’t dictate him and he wouldn’t be dictated upon.

What’s the difference? Mike didn’t set off the same noise and fury that Lito did some two decades ago.

It could be a change of public mood: people have since been used to hubris by public officials.

Arrogance of those in power no longer quickly infuriates.


Context is also different. Mayor Mike had long been “bullied” by his predecessor. He began to punch back only after he won the elections on his own political strength.

And the Mike version varies a bit in meaning.

It’s don’t-tell-me-how-to-do-my-job “magbuot mo,” not I-don’t-give-a-heck-what-the-public-thinks “magbuot mo.”

The distinction is sharp but thin. The mayor could easily slide into the kind of haughtiness that voters abhorred in his political rival.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2014.


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