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What’s the Deal with Delicadeza?

OCT 22 2008 WED


11:37 AM PHT

https://www.vaes9.com/posts/the_deal_with_delicadeza

What is delicadeza? If you’re a Filipino holding a position of trust, power or responsibility, you
should already know the answer. But otherwise, let me remind you. The term delicadeza is one
of those Spanish loan words that has entered the Filipino vocabulary with a very specialized
sense of meaning. In its original Spanish definition, it literally means gentleness, softness,
delicacy (as in being delicate, not exotic food), and tactfulness. But in the Filipino culture, the
term delicadeza means something else very specific and has no direct English translation; the
closest would probably be “sense of propriety”. Essentially, it is the virtue of knowing and acting
on what is proper when you are in a position of authority and trust, such as in public service.
There are two general situations where delicadeza is often invoked. The first situation is
having the grace to give up one’s position of authority when becoming involved in a matter of
impropriety. This is often phrased as “resigning out of delicadeza”. (An example is Nixon’s
resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal.) The second situation is inhibiting oneself from
positions, roles, or situations involving conflict of interest.
For the rest of this post, I will talk about applying delicadeza in the second situation, i.e.,
delicadeza as it applies to conflicts of interest. There are plenty of situations wherein we apply
delicadeza by inhibiting ourselves in a process where we are faced with a conflict of interest.
This is to avoid our personal biases that may taint our objectivity in the process—we might
possibly not give our best output in that process or become unfair because something competes
within us. And even if we are capable of being objective despite our conflicts, inhibition is often
a good course of action in order to avoid the perception of possibly not being objective, the
appearance of which may erode our position of authority, decrease our credibility, and taint our
integrity.
It is delicadeza why we see judges inhibit themselves from judicial cases where they are
friends or enemies with either the plaintiff or defendant side of a case. It is delicadeza why we
see in the mechanics of a commercial promo: “All employees of [the organizing corporation], its
subsidiaries, its advertising agencies and their relatives up to second degree of consanguinity or
affinity are disqualified from joining the promotion”. It is delicadeza why we ought not to
receive gifts from contractors and bidders for projects we outsource. And it is delicadeza why
boss-subordinate and teacher-student relationships are frowned upon.

WHY A POST ABOUT DELICADEZA?

The reason why I was compelled to write this post was because I participated in an online
discussion regarding the issues raised by concerned people in a not-so-recent event. I disagreed
with some of the issues pointed out and I insisted in particular that one issue of delicadeza (of the
second kind) two people were harping about was not necessarily wrong or malicious. And
because of my insistence, one of those two people said to me, “you are one big candidates [sic]
for a corrupt government official.”
I really don’t know what I did to deserve this insult. And I got this after I tried my best to
stick to the issue especially when these two people kept on saying, “it’s the issue, stupid!” and
lamenting the fact that other people involved kept “[shooting] the writer not the issues.”
Well, thank you. I didn’t realize that by sticking to the issue one gets ad hominem arguments in
return.
So I did what any logical person would do: I backed out of the argument. I see no point in
continuing a discussion with these two people—one who completely missed my points, and the
other who did get my points but resorted to insulting me (despite subsequent flattery) instead of
“sticking to the issue.”
I will not name these two people because it does not matter. (If you’re familiar with the
issue, well and good. But if you’re not, you won’t know who they are here from me.) As they
have said, personalities do not matter and so in this post I am sticking to the issue and discussing
the concept of delicadeza itself.

DELICADEZA IS MEANS TO AN END, NOT AN END IN ITSELF

I agree that delicadeza is a good thing—it’s one thing that many in the government sector seem
to lack. What I don’t agree with is blindly applying delicadeza without considering all the
options and considerations surrounding a particular issue. I won’t give any sympathy to people
who say, “OMG! He did not apply delicadeza! So he must be corrupt!” And I certainly dislike it
when people then take to their self-proclaimed moral high ground after making such
pronouncements.
The central point of my thesis is this: just because a person did not apply delicadeza in one
situation does not mean that he is already in the wrong or that he is already corrupt or
corruptible. Why? Because delicadeza is simply a means to an end and not an end in itself. I will
now proceed to explain the reasoning behind this.
Delicadeza is a concept that evolved as a means to counteract actual and/or perceived
conflicts of interest. And it does it absolutely: by inhibiting oneself from certain activities or
situations, there is no longer any conflict of interest.
As I mentioned in my post’s lead, conflicts of interest may lead to the actual diminished
quality of the process one is involved in. The possibility of diminished quality is the reason why
some sectors, notably the financial services industry, have institutionalized delicadeza: if you
have a conflict of interest, you must inhibit yourself or risk facing penalties or getting fired.
The real reason why conflicts of interest might be a bad thing is because it gives
the possibility that the process won’t be fair to the stakeholders. Due to conflicts of interest, it
is possible that some people will get what they don’t deserve (e.g., a judge acquitting his guilty
but defendant friend) and it is possible that other people won’t get what they deserve (e.g., the
plaintiff not getting justice).
But, take note that the key word in the previous paragraph is “possibility”. A conflict of
interest only enables one possibility of being unfair. The actual act of being unfair is definitely
wrong, but the existence of conflicts of interest is not necessarily wrong. (In fact, you can be
unfair even without conflicts of interest, and you could still be fair despite having conflicts of
interest.) Since conflicts of interest are not wrong per se, the act of not inhibiting oneself (i.e., not
applying delicadeza) is therefore not necessarily wrong as well.
Delicadeza is simply a means to an end, and not an end in itself. And there are actually a
few other means at hand to mitigate conflicts of interest.

WAYS OF MITIGATING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

There are situations where inhibition from conflicts of interest is the only way to be fair to
everyone involved. But in some other situations, inhibition is sometimes a rather drastic measure
(though it is the easiest thing to do) and there are times when delicadeza won’t actually be fair to
the one inhibited. As an off-the-top-of-my-head example of the latter idea, should a student
refrain from enrolling in the class of a professor, recognized in the industry as being the best in
his field and loved by his students for being a great teacher, just because the professor is his
beloved uncle? Blind application of delicadeza implies that the professor and the student should
refrain from such a situation but it’s not as clear-cut as that.
In times when delicadeza might not be appropriate or too drastic to apply in a particular
situation, there are a few other means, listed below, that can be used to help reduce the negative
effects of conflicts of interest.

 Disclosure. Disclosure is probably the most popular means of mitigating conflicts of


interest. By self-disclosing that you have a conflict on interest in a process you participate in,
you submit yourself to the court of public opinion (or at least the stakeholders) to judge
whether your actions were fair or not.

 Transparency. This is related to disclosure in that you are revealing to the public
something but instead of, or in addition to, revealing to the public your conflicts of interest,
you make the whole process transparent so that the public can judge for themselves whether
it was conducted fairly or not.

 Third-party audit or oversight. In certain processes where expertise is needed such as


in finances, conducting an audit by a third party or having an oversight committee would be a
good, though expensive, way to mitigate the effects of conflicts of interest. In this method,
you subject the process to independent expertise to provide an objective or authoritative
proof that, despite your conflict of interest, the process was fair. You might say that this
method is a very specialized case of transparency.
As you can see, while conflicts of interest are not wrong per se, social conventions say that
conflicts of interest should be treated with caution and thus there are many means available to
deal with it, delicadeza being just one of them.

With this piece, I hope to have at least opened the discussion regarding the highly-prized Filipino
value of delicadeza. Some might find it shocking to question the value of delicadeza (which
some seem to view as an inviolable virtue), but objectively looking at the concept should actually
help us further understand it and to really value how it holds society together.
Delicadeza
https://palawan-news.com/delicadeza/
What is delicadeza? If you’re an elected leader or an individual holding a position of trust, responsibility
or accountability you should know already the meaning of this word.

The term delicadeza is a Spanish word that has specialized sense of meaning. It literally means
gentleness, softness, delicacy and tactfulness.

Delicadeza has no direct English translation but almost all Filipinos understand its meaning. The closest
meaning would “sense of propriety.” It is the virtue of knowing and acting on what is proper when you
are in a position of authority and trust, such as in public service.

According to the blog of Alvin Eugene Villar, there are two general situations where delicadeza is often
invoked. The first situation is having the grace to give up one’s position of authority when becoming
involved in a matter of impropriety. This is often phrased as “resigning out of delicadeza”.

In the many reports unfolding before us every day, it is puking to know that some if not many of our
elected government officials are not applying “delicadeza” in their functions.

If you are an elected official, a mayor for example, you should not engage into business with any
company operating in your area. How can you check the behavior or compliances of that company when
you have vested interest? As the saying goes, “you cannot eat the hand that feeds you.”

Another example of “delicadeza” is when an elected official is benefitting from the various infrastructure
projects by receiving what they call “institutionalized” SOP (Standard Operating Procedure?)
How can we expect them to check if a project is within standard when in fact, from the very start the fund
is not enough because of the 5 percent to 7 percent
SOP?

In various organizations, big or small, there are leaders or managers who chose to save himself from the
accountability by pointing fingers to his staff when the truth is, he is part of the mess.

‘There are plenty of situations wherein we apply delicadeza by inhibiting ourselves in a process where we
are faced with a conflict of interest. This is to avoid our personal biases that may taint our objectivity in
the process—we might possibly not give our best output in that process or become unfair because
something competes within us.

And even if we are capable of being objective despite our conflicts, inhibition is often a good course of
action in order to avoid the perception of possibly not being objective, the appearance of which may erode
our position of authority, decrease our credibility, and taint our integrity, according to Villar
It is delicadeza why we see judges inhibit themselves from judicial cases where they are friends or
enemies with either the plaintiff or defendant side of a case. It is delicadeza why we see in the mechanics
of a commercial promo: “All employees of (the organizing corporation), its subsidiaries, its advertising
agencies and their relatives up to second degree of consanguinity or affinity are disqualified from joining
the promotion”. It is delicadeza why we ought not to receive gifts from contractors and bidders for
projects we outsource.
Unless our leaders do not possess this virtue instead chose to be calloused (makapal ang mukha) it is
impossible to achieve change in our society.

In the coming elections, let us choose leaders who has delicadeza.


God bless Palawan!
Delikadeza
https://www.pinoyexchange.com/discussion/423502/delikadeza

redhakaw PExer

January 2010 in BUHAY PINOY


If you haven't heard of this word then let me explain to you what it is:

Delicadeza is a Spanish term which when translated in English means daintiness. It is defined as
an act of being refined or delicate in tastes or manners. But in simple terms, its commonly
referred to as a sense of propriety or how to behave rightly in all circumstances. It is in essence
an etiquette that was passed on to us as a legacy of the Spanish culture.

It is a Spanish trait we filipinos inherited, that has greatly defined our culture, our hospitable
nature might have originated from this trait.

let's talk about it. Is "delikadeza" incompatible with modernity? do you still adhere to it? or do
you think it's a form of weakness or illness the filipinos acquired.
Delicadeza

https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2012/05/21/808825/delicadeza

In the recent business forum of the Joint Alumni Clubs of the different U.S. universities, PNoy
once more articulated his vision that “when he steps down as President in a little over four years,
he will leave a government unshackled from corruption and dishonesty”. Certainly such
statement lifts up the spirit of most Filipinos who have been sick and tired of these maladies
plaguing our country for so many years. He should be warned however that this is easier said
than done. Indeed such rosy statement only create the impression that it is just another public
image building gimmick with more words than real action. He would be more credible if he and
his people would talk less and just work quietly towards his goal. As they say, he should “walk
his talk”.

Undoubtedly, attaining that vision in a little over four years seems to be quixotic especially
because of the many obstacles blurring his vision and blocking his quest as shown by the lack of
significant progress in campaign to eliminate or even lessen graft and corruption in the
government. PNoy’s task really looks daunting but most Filipinos are hoping and praying that he
succeeds, or that his crusade will not be a total failure. While he has only made a slight dent on
ridding the government of this chronic plague, this is understandable because the hindrances look
formidable or even insurmountable. Therefore, he should at least be aware and recognize these
hindrances.

Most menacing among them is something that our current crop of public officials, from the
highest to the lowest level seem to have lost, or completely forgotten, or have unfortunately
discarded simply because they do not comprehend, or do not believe that “public office is a
public trust”. This can be described by a single Spanish term that has been given a more noble
meaning by our forefathers, called delicadeza. Gone are the days indeed when public officials
still had that sense of delicadeza while holding office.

Literally, this Spanish word means “delicateness, fineness or tact, or showing regard for the
feelings of others, or sensitive in action or operation”. But in our Filipino culture, it has been
given a nobler meaning associated with holding a public office or position of authority and trust.
It is actually a virtue possessed in the olden days by those in position of trust and authority which
tells them that when mere impropriety or irregularity has been perceived in their actions while in
office, it is more honorable to resign and relinquish their position than to hold on to it; or when
doubts arise about their objectiveness and impartiality on certain matters they are called upon to
decide, affirm or deny, they should inhibit themselves from doing so.

Before World War II, our parents used to tell us that most officials and employees of the
government had the keen sense of delicadeza while performing their jobs. Any slightest hint or
taint of irregularity or conduct unbecoming their position was enough to compel them to
irrevocably resign. They never put conditions to their resignations with words like “only the
President can tell me to resign because I serve at the pleasure of the President”. They knew very
well that their boss was the people and not the President.
But after the war when we gained independence, this virtue gradually faded from the
consciousness of our officials until it has been almost completely forgotten nowadays. Even the
highest officials of our land have lost it or have chosen to ignore it. In 2001, when past president
Erap Estrada was impeached, he could have averted EDSA II by voluntary stepping down when
damning evidence about his “Jose Velarde” accounts were exposed. In 2004, past president
Gloria Arroyo should have resigned after admitting her “hello Garci” telephone conversation
regarding the rigging of the presidential elections that year.

To be sure, this on-going impeachment drama unfolding before us now should not have
happened if CJ Corona only had the delicadeza not to accept his highly controversial and
questionable appointment by former president Arroyo because of the Constitutional provision
banning appointments within two months immediately before the presidential elections “except
appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public
service or endanger public safety” (Section 15, Article VII). Then he should have been more
sensitive to the current public perception about his moral unfitness to hold the position in the
midst of the apparently damning evidence on dollar deposits not reflected in his SALN. A strong
sense of delicadeza should have forced him to resign or at least go on leave.

In fact even Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales seemingly displayed lack of delicadeza when
she willingly and readily testified in the Senate Impeachment Court on the alleged multi-million
dollar deposits of Corona knowing full well that she was also vying and a more senior contender
to the position of CJ at the time Corona was appointed. Delicadeza should have dictated her to at
least express some reservations against testifying because her motives will be suspect especially
when the data she obtained are still raw and unverified. Indeed even her performance as a
Supreme Court (SC) Justice was not completely free of any impropriety and irregularity. In one
case, (Citibank, N.A. vs Rosita Tan Paragas, G.R. No. 159302), the Citibank’s petition was
already dismissed by the SC on September 24, 2003. Then its first and second motions for
reconsideration were likewise denied with finality on January 14, 2004. But after 2 years, 6
months and 19 days or on February 6, 2008, the Court’s second division not only reinstated the
petition of this corporate giant against a lowly employee, but also granted it. And Justice Carpio
Morales penned that ruling. Obviously, there was some irregularity here. But after retiring, she
was even appointed as our Ombudsman empowered “to investigate on its own, any act or
omission of any public official when such act or omission appears to be…unjust, improper or
inefficient” (Section 13, (1) Article XI).

Then there are PNoy’s own kabarkada, kaibigan and kabarilan. His DILG Usec Puno was found
to be negligent in the performance of his duty in the Luneta hostage taking and was
recommended to be sanctioned. Pagcor Chairman Naguiat was found to have enjoyed lavish
amenities provided by a corporation having some business with the agency. While his
Presidential Political Adviser Llamas was caught buying smuggled tapes after a previous
incident when an M-16 rifle was found in his vehicle. These are certainly acts of improprieties
enough to prompt them to resign for delicadeza. But they chose to cling on to their positions.

PNoy must recognize these few incidents showing lack of delicadeza in our public officials. He
must do something about this if he wants to succeed.

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