“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I don’t usually discuss or write about politics or politicians or their platforms and what they’ve promise to a nation who is in dire need of change. I don’t, because I see myself unfit to tackle these issues or not knowledgeable enough on the matter. But what I know is, my country has long been a victim of personal and political interest of so many people—the same breed of trapos whose rise to fame skyrockets in the same degree when it loses its political luster and plunges down in mud.
I myself deem it necessary for the nation to go on a complete overhaul—yes, and the people being the catalyst for change.
Everyone wants change. And everyone knew, there is no better time to do it but now. But the sad truth is, in reality, we still do not know what exactly we want to change. Or what we want to achieve for this nation, for ourselves.
With all this hullabaloo about the coming Presidential elections, may we all take to heart what a priest friend once said.
“One of the probable and possible reasons why our country cannot progress steadily is that we tend to defend and love our political bets more than we love our country.”
Love of country—the denominator… too complex to fathom by those whose eyes are blinded by the lust for power, of the opportune moment laid before them to advance personal interest and gain, those whose hearts have become numb to the roaring cries of our people begging for help, continuously silenced by the deafening accolades by supporters who have become apathetic and indifferent to the plight of the suffering Filipino, as the elected officials themselves.
No one wants to listen, so the problem went on… Until someone came out of the open and expose the corrupt practices of government officials— in the military, in the Senate, in the Congress, in the Executive and the Judiciary levels.
People go on frenzy defending their elected officials, others accusing, bad-mouthing, even mocking officials on a personal level. The same people who catapulted them to the pedestal will wish for their downfall, if things will not turn out well for him while in the office. People will ask several questions thereafter—some will have answers, most will be left to forgetfulness. We take our sentiments and disappointments to the streets, in social and mass media in the hope that our unified cry will awaken the remaining blinded Filipinos to join our fight. The process is unarguably a pain in the neck, trials after trials of officials being accused of something that didn’t seem to make any headway. Justice delayed is justice denied. And dear Philippines became an arena for politicians to showcase their shameful incompetency over and again not just to the Filipino citizenry but to the prying eyes of the international community. Trial and error governance, they say.
So the typical Juan with his diminishing hope and a broken spirit continue to live on. However at the back of his mind, he prays for something—a drastic change, so to speak. Perhaps a change in the political system, in the culture, in the quality of life—a change that will enforce better security, peace and order, a change that will uphold the value and worth of the Filipino people.
Now, here’s the gist for why I share with you my personal thoughts on the matter, however unsolicited.
Everyone wants change to happen. That’s one truth, and the other? Only a small fraction of the one hundred million population would commit themselves to adhere onto what’s needed to be changed. Not in a societal but on a personal level— a change of inefficient ways, a change of mindset to advance what we aspire to attain for dear Philippines. The fight for the kind of change that we want is not just political; it is personal, rooted within ourselves.
The problem with the Philippines is not that we can’t find a good leader to address our issues… and subsequently curb our nation’s current problems. I believe, we still have decent people in this country whose ideals are worth defending and fighting for. That is certain.
As we are faced with varying issues daily which resulted either from poor governance and law enforcement or poor self- intuition to know which is right, we clamor for a radical change to effect. Yes, drugs and corruption among others, is a very serious problem of this nation plaguing us since time immemorial. We have been so long waging war with foes whose network of alliances and finances do not seem to go down the drain anytime soon. We often wonder if it is indeed too complex of a problem for the government to still fail in its attempt after so many years. We have jailed thousands, maybe even millions of drug users permanently or otherwise. But where do the multi-million financiers go? Where are the drug lords hiding and why do they seem to be so mystical creatures to not be tracked and pinned down for these crimes? Should we now summon the aswangs and tikbalangs? As the government fails, the people lose hope. We point fingers. We blame, and always we take it against the government. Always the government. We let those we had placed our trust knew our utter disappointment, those who made us dream of a drug and corruption-free Philippines… but ended up doing less than we expected. However, did it occur to you how much you contributed to this country’s illness? Did you mind asking yourselves?
When people lose hope, desperation sets in. Desperation becomes too rampant and sadly it becomes contagious. “Nothing seems to happen”, we say. Every effort is not enough. Policies become futile. Laws are nothing less than a myriad of technical terms found in books, drafted for a cause that eventually did so little to ease our troubled minds amidst increasing crime rates—a set of texts that do not already excite the common tao.
When people are desperate and the nation is broken, we beg to the heavens to grant us what we’ve all been waiting—a strong man with a titanium fist. Someone who would enforce laws like no president has ever done before(?), someone who will make drug syndicates held accountable for the damages and loss of precious lives and dreams that never got to materialize, someone that could make the culprit’s knees shake and quiver as tried and held at gunpoint. We celebrated the rise of the strong man. “At long last, heaven did hear our pleas”, we say.
We laugh at the remaining candidates as they seem too unfit or inexperienced to run a broken nation: the brown and proud rags-to-riches incumbent Vice President who still cannot exactly provide solid evidence for the source of his current fortunes, a comic superhero economist mocked for failing short of his superhero duties especially during natural disasters, a newbie Senator who has only just reacquired its Filipino citizenship and a cancer-stricken feisty ex-UN lawyer known for her wild temper and hilarious memes.
But what do we know, really?
As I said, change is personal. We decide whether to embrace or repel it. Everyone, every single Filipino is responsible for why we are what we are today. We make Philippines what she is in the eyes of the world. She is not just a landmass inhabited by millions of dependent people, folks. She is a culmination of millions of ideas and ideals, of efforts that are turned into actions, dreams that became truths. A result of millions of students making decision daily if they are to throw garbage in the sidewalk or in the designated trash bin, the same students who are torn between accepting a failing grade or devise a way to cheat; a result of CEOs deciding whether to employ a newly-graduate engineer but who has so much promise in the field or take the son of the Kumpadre; analysts developing ideas how to lure foreign investors to invest in the country or legislators aiming at how to increase tax from farmers, from the typical back-breaking Filipino labourers while granting millions of pesos on bonuses and incentives to high-ranking government officials; of yuppies committing to change their morning habit of smiling at a random stranger in the street; of traffic officers, drivers, commuters who decide to obey and never to bend traffic rules. Of millions of people civilly discussing abut politics without spreading hate.
Most often, we point fingers at officials for failing to do their job without realizing, we’ve been doing and practicing corruption ourselves for a long time. When we are tasked to do a project and even under normal circumstances, we intentionally waste our time and prolong the timeline, we are doing corruption. That instead of working on to finish the task, we update Facebook and YouTube endlessly because, the heck, I have work-can-wait-and-besides-I-am-not-appropriately-compensated-so-I-better-not-function-as-expected mentality. This and all other ordinary practices we are so fond of doing are what would slowly kill the nation. When we are used to doing simple corrupt practices, at home or at work, we wire our minds that such practices are normal and acceptable since this does not entail a major consequence, that it would pale in comparison to the multi-million peso fertilizer scam. You think, “no one gets killed because I intentionally did not mean to hit the deadline”. You are wrong. You are killing the organization employing you. You are killing resources. You are killing opportunities. And you murder your own virtues and principles.
Remember, you are the catalyst we need for this country’s overhaul. Without your dedication, without your love for our country, we will not win. And your littlest effort means as much as everyone else’s.
As the rise of the strong man continues, I can’t help but wonder. I wonder if the people who call for the installation of an iron-fisted federal government are not the same people who bypass procedures when applying for a driver’s license, getting an NBI clearance or skip the end of the line in the bus terminal. I do hope not. I hope the people I ushered towards the end of the line one scorching March afternoon in the bus terminal after they seem to not recognize that obviously everyone was already falling in line, are not those who pound fist in the air during conversations because they are too (overwhelmed) eager to demand “the change” to come so soon. I wonder if people do walk their talk… or if they are honest about the kind of change they want for this generation to embrace.
Surely, we still have a long way… quite a long way to go and put our hypocrisy to rest.
To tell you frankly, I still have not made up my mind who to vote for in the presidential election. I have trust issues, you see. It’s evident that I don’t celebrate political bets as most people—friends and acquaintances do. I don’t, because I only admire people. What I celebrate and uphold of are ideals and visions, so even when a candidate loses its luster to any reason, never would I lose my identity as a Filipino. Nonetheless, whoever gets to the presidential office this time, a truth will always remain—I love my dear Philippines and I still have so much hope for her.
And you know, I take delight in casting stones across still waters, even if nothing really seems to happen.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”~Bl. Teresa of Calcutta