Opportunists in Our Midst

Watching the biggest job fair in the country unfolding in Davao City after our mayor won the presidency in the recently held elections brought to mind this quote I read somewhere: “Dear Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist: Thank you. While you guys were arguing about the glass of water, I drank it. Love, Opportunist.”

I assume the argument among the optimists, pessimists, and realists is about whether a Duterte presidency is a glass half full or a glass half empty thing for our country. Well, to the opportunists, it’s a new administration and a new opportunity to drink the water.

And so I watch with equal parts horror and amusement lobbyists of all colors and politicians from all sides of the balimbing fruit in hotel lobbies and coffee shops here in the city carrying envelopes of documents that most likely contain their CVs and proposals for the new administration.

Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte is probably using up all his remaining energy after that grueling campaign to bring out all his hidden diplomatic skills (he does have those skills, contrary to what his critics say) to respectfully deal with the opportunists who have come to pay their respects.

First, let us have a definition of terms. I use opportunism here as “the conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles or with what the consequences are for others.” And an opportunist is “a seeker of opportunity who maximizes his/her benefit in every action he/she takes.”

Opportunists don’t see people, they see opportunities. And in order for the opportunist to see you as an opportunity they must first dehumanize you in some way to justify using you as a tool for their selfish goals. This is the same reason why opportunists could easily dispose of people who have outlived their usefulness. The same justification for stabbing people in the back when they can no longer be used as leverage, collateral, insurance, or slaves.

Of course, opportunists don’t just take; they also give. But once an opportunist does you a “favor,” you will forever be in his or her debt and he or she will milk that favor for all it is worth. Opportunists look at giving favors as investments. Most electoral campaign contributors fall in this category.

Sadly, opportunists are a fact of life. They exist everywhere and we have to deal with them. They are in our families, schools, workplaces, churches, social clubs, businesses, and in governments.

I would like to think Davaoeños generally can smell bullshit 30 kilometers away. It is the same Davaoeño trait that is allergic to hubris and hypocrisy. So I have faith that our presumptive president would know how to spot opportunists and handle them as he sees fit.

Meanwhile, let us enjoy the brisk sales in our hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops as well as the increase in passengers bound for Davao. Change is really here. The center of power has shifted to the South.

First appeared on Mindanao Times, May 19, 2016