As the nation remembers our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, on his 152nd birthday anniversary tomorrow, June 19, our column today dedicates this issue in thanksgiving for the birth of one of the greatest Filipinos in history. This column likewise chose this title of "Tal Pueblo, Tal Gobierno" for two reasons: first, it is our view that this historic statement of Jose Rizal is one of the most significant perceptions by our hero who is also a historian and who, having seen the past of his country, with that perspective, has also foreseen the future of his nation. Today the indisputable widespread observation is that the people are generally a reflection of the kind of government that they have been and are living under. To borrow the phrase of the editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Friday, June 14, entitled "Historic Revisionism," only the most biased observer of history can dare revise this deeply rooted reality of Philippine history. Negative as it maybe, the Filipino people today must confront the historic evils which have brought about this sad reality that our people have yet to substantially overcome or rise above their dismal socio-economic condition and which has been aggravated by the past governmental mis-management characterized by widespread corruption and deep rooted poverty and grossly inefficient governance in both national and local government levels.
Tomorrow June 12, the Filipino people commemorates the 115th Anniversary of our Independence Day. As history tells us, the fledgling Philippine Republic declared its hard earned freedom from the Spanish colonial regime after more than 350 years of colonial rule on June 12, 1898. With all the controversies among the Filipino leaders, Emilio Aguinaldo emerged as the overall leader of the newly free Filipino nation, one of the first such Republics in Asia. All things considered, and including the 115 years after that fateful June 12, 1898 revolt our country does have substantial reasons to commemorate June 12, 1898.
While the present administration, according to past tradition, has yet to announce as we go to print this year’s Independence Day theme, it is nevertheless relevant to ask our people to pause awhile from their day-to-day concerns and join in prayer and hope that the hard won efforts of June 12, 1898 will continue to strengthen our citizenry in their endeavors to build a better life for themselves and their country.
In our May 28 column, we further discussed the challenges for the principle of the "Matuwid na Daan" in the coming years. Here we emphasized the major goals of historic political and other socio economic changes expected to be led by the government and which can only succeed with deeply rooted structural societal and sustainable changes in the total culture of our people before the country can grow faster and overcome its major obstacles of widespread poverty, corruption and insatiable greed from the fortunate few in the society. History, in fact, has repeatedly shown that the non-attainment of these essential changes for a more humane life of the people have unfortunately brought about the unwanted state of an apathetic society or a chaotic situation leading to violent upheavals. On the positive side, we also shared last week the role models in the world today like Bill and Melinda Gates who inspiringly showed what materially fortunate human beings can do in their brief lifetime. We ended our column last week by promising to share more specific cases or suggestions to help in the PNoy administration policy of "Matuwid na Daan".
In our May 21 column, we posed the question on the "Matuwid na Daan" guiding principle of the present administration in its pledges for the welfare of the Filipino people in its 6-year term. This column added the phrase, "and beyond the next 3 years" to emphasize that the needed socio-economic and political reforms realistically requires time and the utmost efforts for the government and all other sectors to bring about the historic changes which imply that these changes must be not only superficial but internal, not only procedural but structural, not only partial but societal, and finally must be deeply rooted in the total culture and should involve all citizens to participate in the socio-economic and political reforms to be sustainable in the long term future.
We reiterated this topic because in our view, the coming years for the Filipino people crucially hangs on how the present administration is able to effectively and transformationally lead the people to the "promised land" of good governance, anti corruption, poverty alleviation and inclusive economic growth. These pledges are undoubtedly life changing and historic. The demanding challenges include cultural changes of honesty and dedication in government offices, especially with politicians from the highest levels down to the barangays, the social responsibility of business leaders big and small, the relentless anti graft campaign in all sectors involving the entire citizenry including parents, teachers and religious leaders giving the consistent message of individual and societal morality. Lastly, the very difficult nationwide poverty alleviation efforts through inclusive economic growth. In a column of this writer about ten years ago, he coined the definition of the term "development as economic growth plus equitable sharing or distribution." Unless this equation is achieved, and substantial structural and societal economic improvements reach all Filipinos, especially the low income groups, the economic benefits will not be inclusive and the country will continue to be mired in the old historic problem of the rich getting richer and the masses of Filipino poor remaining in their miserable poverty. This is the context seen by many people with the 2010 Aquino campaign of "Kung walang korap, walang mahirap". Corruption in this column includes the insatiable greed of many political and business leaders from the barangays up to the national levels.
Philippine elections, after World War II, have given the nation some historic messages which our older generations can still remember. Shortly after liberation from Japanese occupation, one Senator has left the disturbing question of: "What are we in power for?" After 63 years, it seems there has been no clear and positive responses in answer practice to this daring question. Nevertheless, the nation has received a more positive message with the historic victory of President Ramon Magsaysay who answered this question for several years of his term but unfortunately lost his life in a plane crash in Cebu. Magsaysay gave the Filipinos hope that Philippine politicians could indeed change for the better and would truly use power for the people. Thus, Magsaysay left the famous statement: "Those who have less in life should have more in law." It took another 27 years before Filipinos were given another historic hope to answer the question of the true purpose of political power. This came about in February 1986, when Corazon Aquino, inspired by the martyrdom of her husband Ninoy, led a historic people power dismantling of a dictatorship.
In May 2010, the Filipino people again went to the polls in the election which again raised much hope with the landslide victory of Benigno S. Aquino, III. One of the most notable challenges of PNoy was: "Matuwid na Daan." Since his assumption to office, President Aquino’s guiding principle has echoed widely throughout the nation and repeated by countless politicians, raised high hopes that the PNoy administration is indeed leading the country along the straight path to a better life for Filipinos with priority programs on good governance, fight against graft and corruption and poverty alleviation.
By today, the May 13 Philippine midterm election will have been held and partial voting results started to be announced on the national and local contests. In the national level, the focus of course is on the Senatorial positions where some 33 candidates competed for 12 positions in the Senate. The two main political groups were the Aquino Administration coalition of 12 candidates from 6 different parties and the UNA coalition identified with the Vice President Binay group. These coalitions of national political groups have happened in past Philippine elections, but for this election the final results remain to be known until the official proclamation of the winning candidates. One interesting historical aspect of these national level coalitions is not only their having been done in past elections, but also their similarity with parliamentary elections in other countries, especially originating mostly in European countries. These parliaments for many times had to work out coalitions among the political parties with winning candidates in order to form a majority in the parliament so that this majority could officially manage the government. This system is, however, different from the coalitions organized by the two main political groups during this Philippine election. The similarities or variations of the results of the May elections with parliamentary governments in other countries will be interesting to see in the coming years.
This column today pauses briefly from its current mini-series on 2013 expectations to join the nation in remembering the significance of the historic Edsa People Power Revolution on its 27th anniversary. In the midst of the continuing socio economic and political problems of our country today, this commemoration is a timely opportunity to serve as an inspiration to sustain the continuing struggle of our people to build a better life.
Looking back on the condition of our country 27 years ago, we recall the virtual miracle of a people who courageously united to overthrow an oppressive regime which had brought the nation on the brink of a socio-economic disaster and the almost total loss of hope for our citizenry to gain a better life. Especially following the treacherous assassination of Ninoy Aquino on August 31 1983, at the Manila International Airport tarmac, there seemed little hope to prevent a disastrous direction for the country at that point.
As our Christmas 2012 message, we are reprinting the following inspirational article from internet (Google), which this column has shared in several past Christmas celebrations. This essay was adaptedfrom a sermon by Dr. James Allan Francis in "The Real Jesus and Other Sermons" (1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled "Arise Sir Knight!").
"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
Our column today shares another special view on anniversaries and other historic events of August 2012. It is indeed noteworthy for Filipinos today that August 2012 offers a confluence of historic events which have given our country many notable experiences as fitting contributions to our August 26 National Heroes Day celebration this year. On this auspicious day, Filipinos fittingly remember and give thanks to our many heroes who have given their lives over the past centuries for the welfare of our beloved country.
Our column today diverts again following last week’s remembrance of the late Bishop Antono Y. Fortich whose life and works contributed much to the welfare and history of Negros Occidental and the Philippines. Today, we remember again another outstanding Filipino whose life and works have greatly influenced Philippine politics and history. We are referring of course to the late Ninoy Aquino who, on that fateful afternoon of August 21, 1983 was treacherously assassinated at the Manila International Airport tarmac as he was being escorted by Metrocom soldiers down the China Airlines plane. One of the most memorable of Ninoy Aquino’s last statements as he prepared to come home from the USA to the Philippines is our column title "The Filipino is worth dying for."