A couple of days ago, I discovered that Mar Roxas was being panned in social media for pronouncing the phrase “step by step” as “isteep bay isteep” at a university event in Cebu. Some netizens were offended: how dare Mar make fun of Visayans! Not long after, another post in social media, made fun of Mar’s photo lying atop a humongous block of ice made in an ice plant in Yolanda battered Bogo, Cebu. Again, Mar was pilloried.

As I read through the comments, a quote came to mind, one etched in porcelain that I used to walk by as a child when visiting my grandparents:

Great minds discuss ideas.

Average minds discuss events.

Small minds discuss people.

I have no problem with people who criticize Mar Roxas for his ideas, policy beliefs or his campaign platform. This is to be expected, even welcomed so the candidate can expound on these ideas. Getting to know what is in a candidate’s heart, their plans for the country, and their opinions should be the intent of anyone with plans of voting wisely in 2016. By all means, tear their ideas apart, question their plans. We should all be well informed voters.

Now, about those potshots. I’m happy that Mar Roxas doesn’t take himself too seriously. I don’t like people without a sense of humor. Mar Roxas was at a University of San Jose – Recoletos event (by the way, the only one to appear at a planned debate with other presidential candidates) in Cebu when he cracked the “isteep bay isteep” joke. Yes, it was meant to be a joke. It may help to know that Mar is from Capiz, in the Visayas. It may also be helpful to know, and I know since I am also Visayan (my mother is from beautiful Cebu), that we don’t always take ourselves too seriously. It would have been helpful if the person who posted the story provided the crowd’s response to Mar’s joke (did the audience laugh or boo?) but he conveniently left that out. Knowing Cebuanos, the crowd would have laughed. One phrase we enjoy batting around is about a Cebuano who orders a Coca-Cola: “usa ka kuks palihug, ‘bay!” Did the writer create the post to deflect attention from the fact that no other candidate but Mar Roxas made it to the debate?

Did you know that Bogo, Cebu, was one of the hardest hit areas during Typhoon Yolanda? Someone told me there were only two houses left standing in that seaside city. Mar visited Bogo and was game enough to pose atop that huge block of ice (used to keep fish frozen, I am told) made in a Bogo ice plant, not just for fun, but to probably show how things are getting better over there.

It was good to find out that Mar Roxas took the time to attend that USJ-R event. I would have appreciated hearing more about what was discussed. Had the other candidates been around, maybe we would have learned more about Binay’s views on charges of corruption, Santiago’s health, Poe’s citizenship and residency problems.

This article was originally published in the personal Facebook account of Leah Navarro.