In May of 2010, I voted for Noynoy Aquino, then a candidate for president. With that vote, I committed to support his presidency by contributing my share, and more if possible, as a private citizen.
Throughout the presidency of PNoy, there was a deliberate effort on my part to strive for that beautiful saying, “Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” I had, in the past fifteen years of writing weekly articles, done my share of hitting hard at people and their acts that I believed abused the fundamental values by which Filipino and universal lives should be anchored on. The way I do criticisms, however, surprises me with its tameness when I compare how other writers would usually express theirs.
Beyond the writing, though, is deep involvement in other activities beyond just the personal and familial. I have sustained a passionate interest in the history of our country, especially any forgotten past that impacts severely in our present lives. I have maintained a deep desire to understand poverty and participate actively in dismantling it – allowing me in the process of being more intimate with the suffering of the poor and marginalized. Hunger, too, both as a reality to millions and a threat to many millions more, has been a constant concern.
In the campaign and election of 2010, I was truly partisan. I manifested that partisanship in as refined and quiet manner as I could because I did not want partisanship to define my life even though it does seem unavoidable at times. Partisanship feeds and embeds all the more the historical conditioning of divisiveness that weakens us most of all as a people and a struggling nation state. Throughout a partisan period, from September of 2009 to election day in May of 2010, I muted my partisanship and struggled to maintain my productivity as an advocate against hunger and poverty.
Your victory six years ago, then, elated me no end and motivated me even to do more as a participative and contributory private citizen. It awed me when you declared. “No Wang-Wang” because that was so simple an instruction yet so radical. The sense of entitlement of the powerful, of those who held positions in government, and even the officers of the Church, developed privileges not mandated by their roles but naturally awarded to them by practice. Up to today, “No Wang-Wang” remains radical because it was a policy you began in 2010 and remains standing after six years.
I witnessed with pride how the rest of the world, and it is important how the rest of the world views and relates to us, began to look at the Philippines with growing respect and admiration. I believe it began just by you being an honest President, with most Filipinos and the international audience believing you were and still are. It is, of course, admirable how the Philippine economy performed, not just well, but outstanding in the face of a global economy that has grown soft, often troublesome for once stronger economies. And while population continued to grow, joblessness did not, thanks in no small way to OFWs, BPOs and the millions of jobs that TESDA triggered.
Classrooms, classrooms, classrooms, 65,000 more classrooms to serve 5 million more young students morning and afternoon. We are a young population that is getting younger, and more classrooms have to be built. However, following the pace with which DepEd constructed in the last six years, there could conceivably be a surplus in the next administration. What touches me most of all, though, is PhilHealth and its fantastic growth in coverage. I can still remember when almost 30% of Filipinos would live their whole lives without ever being treated by a doctor and unable to afford pharmaceutical medicines. Today, more than 90% of Filipinos are covered by PhilHealth and I anticipate the next administrations can massively increase the still limited health facilities of the country.
Many do not remember how it was a way of life when the military and the police were always being used to intervene and interfere in elections. Because many have forgotten, they cannot appreciate how the new professionalism of the AFP and the PNP has transformed the election climate from one of fear and apprehension to one where peace and order are generally taken for granted. The AFP modernization is unprecedented, and each policeman with a government assigned firearm breaks a long, sad history.
I am not blind and deaf, of course. I have seen and heard the many criticisms and accusations over the last six years. I have felt my own disappointments and wished otherwise in some situations. But because I remember where many have forgotten, I retain a good recall of the stream of criticisms and accusations from the 60’s towards all presidents. The past neither excuses or justifies the present when wrong decisions or wrong deeds are committed, but I personally and privately judge you always in a context. I think it will frustrate your most biased and partisan detractors to know that history has already made you the most popular president ever.
What was accomplished in your presidency can be powerful building blocks for the next, and I hope it will happen. Whatever the future holds for you, what has happened cannot be changed; and what has happened, the totality of it, will be more to your credit than otherwise. There will be lessons to be learned as well. I hope you learn it well, as much as I hope the future presidents will, too.
You will not be president anymore in a few weeks while I will still be a private citizen with hopes and aspirations for my family, my community, and my country. While you relinquish your special duties and responsibilities, mine goes on without a pause – except by my decision. I hope I can persist; I am confident I can. And in a good part, because of you. #salamatnoy
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