A nation in search of utterance (updated)

Makati Skyline
The Philippines: How can we contribute towards its progress?


It was a year ago that it all began. An Aquino returned to her maker, and her son took the first tentative step into the presidency, helped by an army of volunteers determined to right wrongs and build a tomorrow. It was not that long ago that this nation trooped to brave the scorching heat and the long lines to ensure that the yellow sun would rise up. And a nation elected another Aquino to the Presidency. So began a tryst with destiny. So began the rise of hope.

When one candidate after another conceded, for a brief moment the critics were silenced. Aquino received the highest trust rating and a nation seemed to awaken with silenced sirens to brightest day from a long blackest night.

Critics in force

The critics are back and it was as if their slumber lasted for decades. If you read many of them, if you listen to many of them, it was as if ineptitude was born the day Mendoza murdered those tourists. It was as if they had slept decades, forgetting that the state of the police had fallen predates even Arroyo’s bungling. It was as if the state of our public service had somehow gotten worst, never mind that it remained bad long before and made worst in the past decade. Never mind that the media too is partly to blame, as it refuses an act of contrition. Never mind too the glaring daunting task of nation building. Forgetting that the house is not in any shape to do much.

The Germans have a word for some of these people— schadenfreude.

There is a touch of irresponsibility in that, taking only a piece and running with it. Everything must be taken into context, and everything must be taken as a whole. Some have failed to look at the bigger picture. It is those factors that the critics have misjudged the state of the nation. At the deep end of it, nothing much has changed and there is a word that best describe the present state of our nation. ‘Incapacity,’ is that word.

Incapacity isn’t the inability to think outside the box, but it is the inability to execute, often citing limitations, more likely looking at the glass half empty, instead of half full. This incapacity is a by product of years of corruption. It eats at the soul of the nation. It tells us that we cannot dream. This incapacity drives mediocre public policy, that in the native tongue is best described as the “pupuwede na” attitude.

Not entirely inept

The critics are not entirely inept. Their understanding maybe flawed, but the spirit of their complaint has merit.

Much merit.

The President has accepted his shortcoming. Undersecretary Puno has done the same. The media must do the same.

A nation is broken, not because of Arroyo. Our spirits shattered. Our will is broken.

Mister President, it would seem that the government had taken a break. The euphoria of the electoral victory, the sheer daunting task of nation building, the mountainous challenges that your government is determining everyday is exhausting. I would imagine it would be like looking down at the abyss and having the abyss stare back at you at the sheer amount of the things that need to get done. Everything is a priority and everyone demands that their’s is the bigger priority and everyone demands that theirs is the bigger priority. How can people triage?

These are the days when the night seem to have no stars, and it would seem we can’t take another step. As the rest of that Weepies song goes, walk on, walk on because we can’t go back now.

Act of contrition

It doesn’t matter whether or not your Cabinet is “inexperienced,” as some of your critics may argue. It was the so called experts who brought us this far in the state of the nation.

Mister President, it is well and good you accepted your shortcoming

Real boats rock and the nation has beaten ourselves over this enough!

Have we forgotten that an Aquino won the presidency because a nation was broken to begin with? Are we simply to believe that it would be smooth sailing forever?

Send out the call mister president. Rally your troops! Wake yourself up, get the cabinet into shape! It is time to get up. That, Mister President is your act of contrition.

And Media’s is to find a mechanism, a higher code of conduct that each practitioner agrees to take part.

And ours? What of We the People? What is our act of contrition? It is time to remember the mission is no different today than it was when Aquino ran for the presidency. It is no more different today the morning of President Aquino’s oath taking, when it seemed nothing could stop us, that there was this sense of a new beginning; that the air was so much cleaner.

We need all hands on deck!

This is our act of contrition.

Each Filipino, young and old, rich or poor must ask themselves what can I do for my country? The time for bickering is at an end, but only you mister president can call for its demise! The time for shallow discourse, is over. We can no longer afford a national discourse hellbent on who was wrong, ‘i told you so’ and less about looking forward and overcome adversity. We need serious people working to solve serious problems both in government and in the private sector.

We can no longer afford playing games. The nation can no longer afford to chop our right hand every time something bad happens. The nation can no longer afford we wallow in our own fears and our darkness. We understand our shortcomings, we pick ourselves up and start again.

This dear friends is just the beginning.

(update) Randy David offered a few thoughts on leadership in a transitional society:

Tragic events like Storm “Ondoy,” the Maguindanao massacre, and the hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand have one thing in common: they all lay bare the dysfunctionality of our existing social system. They underscore the need to review and strengthen our institutions, or, at the very least, free them from the grip of traditional patrons and authority figures. The structural solutions will increasingly become clear to us in time, if we can resist the tendency to moralize and personalize everything.

Perhaps it is a good thing that despite the uniquely personal circumstances that thrust him to the presidency, President Aquino has kept a very low profile. He speaks plainly and almost diffidently, and, instead of projecting an aura of charismatic confidence, is quick to admit lapses. Given the existing political culture, this may not be the most astute demeanor for a new President to project. But it is the best setting in which to strengthen institutions.

It is a daunting task. Dig deep.

Much is riding on the Aquino government to succeed. Failure is simply not an option. We can no longer afford a nation stepped back from tomorrow when Aquino leaves office in six years. The overriding need for Aquino to succeed is our people’s responsibility. Should Aquino fail, it isn’t his failure alone, it is ours as a people. To fail translates to putting our nation back by at least another two generations.

Remember in six years, the world will be fundamentally changed. What we do know, what we can expect— the challenges of the environment would put much pressure on the world. The rapid expansion of technology would continue to give nation-states willing to embrace it, a double edge. More and more people will have diplomas, making tomorrow’s Filipino doubly challenged to find jobs that isn’t labeled “domestic help.”

A failed Aquino government would set Hope back and would it be a heartbreak that our nation could afford? Would heartbreak of failure be a road that leads deeper into the abyss?

No more games– not just government, but every Filipino from across the planet. For the lives lost that Mendoza took, to that street child hungry for love and sustenance. For the unborn children to come, for generations of Filipino who have long suffered at the selfish hands of their own kind. No more games is our act of contrition.

For our nation to be great, we must unshackle our narrow-mindedness in thought and in action.

Mister President, you need to rally your people.  That too is your act of contrition.   We need you to lead us, with strength guided by a moral compass.

Of great expectations

The expectations are great. We need to clear it.

Break’s over.

Aquino brought great hope and great tribulation. Mendoza did not change that. The mission remains the same. Mister President, we need you to lead with a strength of authority that only you can command, and to guide a nation with a moral compass which was the reason you were voted into office for.

Our nation began a tryst with destiny when they chose Benigno S. Aquino III for its 15th president.   At the stroke of noon on June 30, 2016 the nation must awaken to new life unshackled from corruption and incapacity.   To give our people opportunity.  This is the dream, the mission— unchanged by one man’s selfish attempt, a manifestation of everything that is wrong in our nation.   As someone far wiser than I have spoken, “a moment comes rarely in history when we step out of the old and into the new, when an age ends, and the soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance.”

The future beckons.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Mike H

    Cocoy: With your blogpost having included …it all began. An Aquino returned to her maker”, “…brave the scorching heat and the long lines..”, along with “a failed Aquino government would set Hope back and would it be a heartbreak that our nation could afford” plus “Mendoza”, “Puno”, but Robredo not mentioned and “…More and more people will have diplomas, making tomorrow’s Filipino doubly challenged to find jobs that isn’t labeled “domestic help”, pushing into charter change seemed a natural.

    Different folks, different strokes.

  • The student unrest is issues-based, which is different than a protest against the government, as a government. In that context, it is constructive.

    I rather think that the protests are representative of any grinding that takes place to resist progress. The notion that some must “give” so that others can “get” is not popular, obviously, among students, whose ox is being gored so that others may eat . . .

    I favor higher fees for higher education. The present circumstance of giving low-cost college degrees to the masses, degrees that don’t stack up internationally, is (in my opinion) folly. The focus should be to migrate aggressively toward quality and give up some of the quantity.

    • I don’t disagree with you on the principle that higher education needs to be of higher quality, Joe.

      Your comment reminded me of Ken Robinson’s tedtalk on “do schools kill creativity?

      We also have to recognize that all over the world— a bachelor’s degree is increasingly becoming useless. The bachelor’s degree is now roughly the equivalent of a high school diploma.

      To really get anywhere in the next 10 years, the master’s degree is what is needed. To really go far— the doctorate is what’s important.

  • Mike H

    Anakbayan-Online reports student unrest against Noynoy administration.


    The Anakbayan blogpost also reports Noynoy approval rating:

    The latest survey by the Pulse Asia firm shows that only four out of every ten Filipinos believes Aquino can improve their lives in 2010, a huge drop from his 88% approval rating in a survey released in the eve of his first State of the Nation Address last July.

    “The administration wants to project an image of the youth continuing to cheer wildly for Noynoy, but the truth was out there (of the campus): the youth are fast becoming tired of his broken promises and the anti-youth policies” said Anakbayan youth leader (Charisse Banez).

    Students led by Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students held a picket last Thursday in front of the Rizal Technological University to protest the proposed budget cuts to state colleges and universities next year. Aquino was scheduled to grace the inauguration of a new building in the said campus.

    Members of the Mandaluyong police mauled the protesters and arrested four. The four reported that they were literally dragged to a police van where the cops slapped their heads. They also confiscated Gonzales’ cellphone, whose camera was used to videotape the dispersal. When the phone was returned, footage of the police attack was deleted.

    “Aquino’s campus visit is nothing but a desperate and show-managed attempt to prop up his fast-sinking popularity” said Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez.

    But Anakbayan would hold the protest rally even if it were Gordon or Manny Villar or even Binay sitting in Malacanang. Noynoy should not be too concerned that Anakbayan isn’t pleased with him —- Rome isn’t burning yet.

  • Mike H

    I hope the Quirino-grandstand events does not slow down the march towards charter change for Pilipinas. Discussions should be encouraged about about 60/40-equity for power-, water- and similar utilities and other industries along with discussions about parliamentary-form or return to 4-plus-4 (two terms, 8 years max).

    Return to 4-plus-4 (8-years max) will be good for Noynoy so he can be president for 8 years, not six.

    • eerr, Mike re: charter change… i think we’ve gone down this road and what has charter change got to do with the grand stand?

      Let’s stick to the issue at hand: the grandstand and not muddle it with irrelevance. I will do a piece on Charter Change should the time be right.

  • Bert

    “Open your eyes and you’ll see extremely angry Filipinos.”-Mike H

    Yes, Mike H, I can see the anger in your eyes, in yours and your kinds eyes…and that was there even before and during the election…and after.

    “..things they do not want anymore to “donate” to Noynoy’s cause.”-Mike H

    And, yes, Mike H, they don’t want to donate anything to Noynoy’s cause…not even their votes during the election, :).

  • Mike, at least in this round of deliberations, access to all the officials involved has not been withheld by this government. I wouldn’t equate that to “silence and compliance” since they are being held to account for their actions and inactions. Remember that this is what the survivors want as well.

    That is not to say that public debate over the incident should be suppressed. No, not at all, but the debate should also be informed by what the panel uncovers. My problem lies with the exploitation for political purposes by elected officials in calling for the resignation of the DILG secretary and even the president over this. This is not helpful, nor is it responsible. That is the distinction I wish to draw here.

    You are right in saying that as engaged citizens we have every right to voice our anger and outrage, and we should. This will ensure that the administration takes the appropriate action at the end of the day.

  • Mike H

    You seem to have a unanimity in believing that your way of reacting to August 23 is the superior way. Open your eyes and you’ll see extremely angry Filipinos. They want the same thing you do — progress for Pilipinas. To them, though, your call for deliberativeness they equate to “silence and compliance”, things they do not want anymore to “donate” to Noynoy’s cause.

    Different folks, different strokes. Remember that “… my way is the superior way” is to stoke divisiveness. [My opinion…]

  • Mike, I believe the use of the tragedy as a means for scoring political points is just as appalling as the travesty we witnessed during the bungled negotiations and rescue operations.

    When the shoe was on the other foot, the opposition pleaded with the public to remain calm and wait for proper investigative procedures to take their due course when their leader was under fire. They would do well to demonstrate how a responsible opposition behaves, just as they claim they behaved responsibly during the last dispensation.

    This ought not to be about yellow vs green vs orange vs red. This ought to be about upholding our national colors, about demonstrating to the world our capacity for correcting the defects that exist within our system, by seeking the truth and acting on it without fear or favor.

    • Felicity

      Totally agree. When the investigation is over (including China’s ha) then that is when I think it is prudent to demand things of our government — be it the axing of those accountable or a sincere apology from the chief executive (or both). But for now, I think we should let the dust settle so that politics and public opinion/approval ratings do not get in the way of a proper reckoning.

  • Mike H

    Cocoy: Of course, that is also what they say about Felicity and a few folks of Yellow Army —- blinded because of putting lots of faith in and being heavily invested in Noynoy. But there is hope if one were to observe cusp (and actually, many “Tordesillas”-blogsite commenters) — that some loyal to Yellow can question loyalty to Yellow when faced with loyalty to country and good governance.

    My opinion —- different folks, different strokes.

    • Felicity

      Hi Mike,

      I don’t think I’m blinded by the whole “loyalty” thing. I am not loyal to Noynoy, I am loyal to what he stands for, and what I believe he continue to stands for, although a few issues have arisen that, if I were a close-in of Noynoy, would raise the red flag in front of him. You should hear me with other “Yellow Army” talking about Noynoy’s faux pas thus far, especially with some of the people in his cabinet, and in his lack of insisting on his authority over some people. We’re also very disappointed in their behavior and the way they have handled things. But just because one is disappointed does not mean one has to go all-out; there’s always on the one hand on the other hand and there are ways to move forward, not only for us but for him. Besides, one must not assume that all my opinions are out on the internet; I save the best for deliberation with friends and colleagues. I normally write here on request and per topic.

      I just don’t want to write about some of those more tricky areas at this point because I don’t want to commit libel, and I don’t like talking about specific people/issues unless I have the whole story straight (it is dangerous to work on presumption). but rest assured I am beginning to put the pieces together to write comprehensively and more importantly, factually, about some pressing issues. I have, however, spoken quite clearly about my sour opinion on Noynoy’s handling of the hostage situation. it took me a while to put that up because i had to confirm with some sources about specific circumstances.

      We also have to be careful about what we say, as Boom had said in a previous post; suddenly we are all experts, even if we have no prior experience in so-and-so matters. It is also much easier to say “shoulda woulda coulda” than to actually do it; therefore we have to exercise prudence in criticism otherwise we are all talk and no walk — then we are no better than the politicians we criticize, perhaps worse for our hypocrisy.

      We should also remember that just because you are upset at something, our gut reaction might not be the most productive solution. We have to learn how to rise above whiny criticism to analytical reasoning in order to move forward. That is what Pro-Pinoy is about: not simply to react but to DELIBERATE. That is what has been sorely lacking in a lot of political discourse.

  • Mike H

    President Noynoy is extremely lucky he has you who put your fate and the fate of many Filipinos into his hands. But different folks, different strokes. And many (who have been livid in their anger at the GMA administration) are expressing incredulity at the Noynoy administration’s first days.


    • Mike,

      my problem with that is a lot of those people were angry at GMA, but they sided with different presidents. Now they’re turning into “i told you so,” brigade. They’d rather have someone else to begin with. A few haven’t accepted that their guy lost in the last election.

      That said, as I wrote— the critics are wrong but their sentiment is not entirely misplaced. There was bungling and there was complacency.

      Joe put it right— and I also know a number of those who voted for a different candidate say so— the extreme case, like resignation is entirely counter productive.

      As Doy said, now we get to see the adults at work. It is about time.

  • Yes, it is fascinating to see how events shape the presidency and the presidency shapes events. As this plays out, I rather suspect it is worth keeping two things in mind:

    One. It is best to place the STABILITY of the Philippines front and center and recognize that there is a lot to gain from ending the calls from the fringe of “failure” or “resignation”, or at least recognizing these voices for what they are: reactionary extremes. That said, criticism of specific incidents is constructive, especially if accompanied with ideas as to how to build going forward. It is through the collective voice that a nation is molded.

    Two. The internet era allows events to get blown out of proportion easily, witness the witless response of many Hong Kong people to the bus tragedy. It also gives hatchetmen a big sharp ax and a forum in which to swing it. Call it the Palin phenomenon, where fundamentally flawed people can wield real power because we are suckers for the intrigue of “incidents” and accusations.

    Seems to me the mantra ought to be: Keep it calm. Keep it rational. Build.

    • Joe,

      Some of those calling for resignations– well you have to look at their motivations. In the first place quite a few of them have been looking for a moment such as this to say, ‘i told you so.’ one needs to question their credibility.

      I admire a number of people who didn’t vote for Aquino, who are voices of reason.

      As for hong kong people, I just chalk it up to their right to free speech. It is blown out of proportion. Some of those with the loudest voices seem to be the ones full of hysterics. Chan was a voice of reason and his is getting drowned in a sea of hysterics.

      I agree with you we need to be calm, rational. Let the investigation determine what happened and we move forward from there.

  • The hostage-taking incident resulting in 8 deaths of foreign nationals seems to mark the end of the spell that the nation fell under a year ago. Less than 60 days into his presidency, it appears the shine has come off Aquino’s aura. Perhaps it was inevitable, but for it to unwind as it did, does lead to national catharsis and soul-searching as indeed so many pinned their hopes on him.

    In a way, the end to romanticism is good. The “adults” can now get down to business without the fawning admiration of the children inflating their egos, nor the naive sense of rookie complacency that marred their first days in office.

    Many good things are actually in the works. The budget statement that was just announced heralds “a new beginning” in terms of evidence-based policy and rational allocation of resources. The exports boom figures saw the country lead the region in growth for once. The strong investment figures and business confidence does herald improvements in job creation.

    The country and PNoy will recover from this tragedy. It just won’t be as before, nor should it.

    • Doy,

      yep. A lot of good things are coming out of the admin.