HONORABLE HAS leaped out of its honorific confines to virtually become the generic forename of any elected official in this country.
From being a sign of respect exclusive to the heading of official letters – as in “The Honorable Brigido Biglangyaman, House of Representatives” – or in introductions in public functions – as in “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Honorable Mayor Simplicio Singatsinghot”” – Honorable has been used, misused and abused to meaninglessness.
See how every memo pad of a public official bears the distinctive but not distinguished “From the Desk of The Honorable…” Read how every letter – from pro-forma inter-governmental communications to cordial seasonal greetings – carried, below the complimentary close, “The Honorable…” above which the signature is scribbled.
Look at those namestands at every government executive’s desk: “The Hon. …” never absent even when the sitter is rarely present.
Moreso, those epal tarpaulins announcing local government projects or those of senators and congressmen:
Honorable before the names, else the tarps will never see the light of day. Epal. The expression of self-importance, the aggrandizement of the self, that’s how the once lofty Honorable has descended to dishonour.
Pompous ass-ness though is not exclusive to elected officials but runs the gamut of all fields. Media, included.
And I mean – mea maxima culpa – not just those with in-character propensity for big words and even bigger phrases. There is pomposity too – I call it peacockry, referencing the showiness of the exotic bird – mostly in the misappropriation of titles.
As in the position Editor-in-Chief. This has been one recurring clarification in my invitations for press functions since I took the helm of this paper: I am the editor of Punto!. Plain editor. The paper has no E-I-C. As it should, having no other editors.
For a paper to have an E-I-C, it must have a requisite complement of section editors such as news editor, opinion page editor, business page editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, photo editor, etcetera. Not to mention managing and associate editors.
The E-I-C serves as the top honcho of the editorial desk, the conductor orchestrating the different section editors in the make-up of the paper up to its publication. If not utter stupidity, it is supreme pomposity then for practically all newspapers in Pampanga to sport the title E-I-C in their staff boxes, absent section editors, and managing and associate editors non-existing.
An E-I-C, a reporter or two, a photographer, and a lay-out artist comprising all of the editorial desk make the grandest delusion in the local media.
But come to think of it, ain’t pomposity really a matter of delusion? I remember a math professor in college who gave an automatic +5 to his students’ grades in every examination so long as his title of “Engineer” preceded his name in their test papers.
I went way overboard by writing “Engineer, Professor, Sir” before his name in my final exams paper. Mistaking my sarcasm for respect and awe, the fellow gave me a grade of over 100. The extra points retrievable in the next semester.
Yeah, backhanded flattery can get one somewhere, where pomposity presents itself. And then there is photographer par excellence Borj Meneses, the guru of glamorous portraiture, taken to addressing me “Maestro.”
Having long ago stopped teaching at the university, I asked him to stop honouring me with that noble title.
“Then, how do you want me to call you? Boss? Sir? Or Master?” Borj inquired. I told him he could just call me god. Yeah, pomposity has no limits.