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A nation in search of utterance (updated)

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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.