It is one of the most common denominators among the world’s greatest achievers when asked what really made them succeed. Maybe not exactly in these words, but the gist is the same – 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
The message is clear. There must be inspiration, a vision, a gem of an idea or a great cause. That is the 1 %. It triggers the impetus and drives the first momentum. Then, it is 99% inspiration, a relentless, determined effort characterized by another saying – never give up. These are the twin principles of most success stories, the 1% inspiration – 99% perspiration and the courage to never give up.
The most successful in life, in different fields and endeavors, are the most questioned, of course. In that list are personalities in business, politics, science, philosophy, the arts, sports, and entertainment. These personalities hug the limelight, not only of their local domain, but even globally. In the major social media platforms, these are the people who trend, so to speak. In mainstream media, in the academe, in books and literary works, these personalities are the most sought after, read or listened to, and quoted.
Did I mention politics? Yes, I did, though I had serious doubts. The unfortunate thing about politics is that it often competes with another field I did not mention above – crime and horror. Not only good men and women become people who achieve because the worst among evildoers also make history. A prime example would be Adolf Hitler. He rose from being a political phenomenon to a global monster who exterminated human beings as though they were less than animals. In history books and documentaries are also the world’s most vicious or perverted serial killers, many of them with above average intelligence.
There is also the International Transparency list of great thieves and plunderers. Strange as it may seem, I have seen at least two Filipinos who have been in their top ten lists. It does seem strange that a poor and underdeveloped country could produce such greedy people, presidents at that. But when you look at the list, you will see that many come from their countries’ highest positions as well. We can never just believe that a rich man has less temptation to steal than a poor man. What is easier to believe is that rich persons who ascend to positions of authority can also steal, and have, then steal much more than a poor man can.
When a country is preoccupied with politics, the chances are that politics has become a good source of money. In the Philippines, the money to be made in politics is not from wages and salaries except at the lower positions. The higher one goes, all the way to the President of the Republic, the monetary compensation becomes less attractive. How many high officials have we heard complain about what they earn, then adding that they are serving at a personal sacrifice. In other words, the officers near and at the top claim it is not the money that motivates them.
In fact, records do show that it is money and power in a symbiotic relationship. Money buys power and power creates money. The corruption track of the Philippines has been a sad one that, shamefully, foreign agencies have been the ones monitoring and trying to measure. It is not aimed at just the Philippines; it seems all countries are assessed and evaluated. However, producing two presidents from the Philippines in 15 years making it to the top ten offenders in terms of how much they plundered is like a sick joke on Filipinos where only 20% say they are not poor.
International agencies have been monitoring what has been recovered from hidden or plundered wealth. There are public information and documents detailing these. But there are also now serious efforts to erase or revise that history. The global audience may still believe what they have seen or heard from 40 years ago, but some developments are alarming.
There are the younger generations who have little or no recall of the dictatorship who now are led to believe differently. Truly, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook seem more relevant than history books. Attention, Department of Education, the gullibility of your more recent products reflects your effectiveness in teaching history, or even the truth. One day, the national heroes can be traitors to the country, or even K-Pop singers – just because someone spends money to make it so through mind conditioning in social media.
Again, may I repeat. If Marcos was a hero, an unquestionable one in his lifetime and beyond, then history must teach that. If Marcos raped and plundered the country, caused the death, torture, and disappearance of thousands, then that, too, must be properly taught. Because history defines much of our identity. We are Filipinos. We are not Chinese. That is history and identity. If we allow our history to be revised, we allow our identity to be changed. And one day we are a people with no name, no past, and no country.
The presidential elections in May 2022 may be most partisan. That is par for the course. We all try to live with that, much as we do not like the low moral bar and dirty tricks that some employ. But elections as a political exercise to retain or change leaderships cannot justify changing our history and our identity. Try changing your identity from the one you used to deposit money in a bank and see if you can withdraw your money using another identity. If business can be destroyed with fake histories, so can politics, so can culture, so can identity.
Revere history as we revere your identity. If some ancestor has shamed the family name, change the trajectory of our future history by achieving a proud legacy. With 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Not by faking history.
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