Three Short Stories

Since I shamelessly (albeit a bit hesitantly) shared my blog URL for the first time ever with office mates today… I feel a little bit ashamed that I’ve allowed this blog to take a dive into the “deprioritized” list hence the absence of new, quality content.

Hence, this new post about random nothings. Well, not really nothings.

Call this little quickie stories to paint a picture of life as it unfolds these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story # 1: In the Grip of Chaos.

New Year started with an explosive announcement. My boss resigned, and made me inherit most of what he left behind — the responsibilities, the problems, the aches and pains… and occasionally the joy, the fulfillment and pride. And best of all, his MacBook.

It’s been a crazy ride. As if last year wasn’t crazy enough, the world seems to deem me fit and able to withstand all manners of chaos. From my domestic life, to my career, my personal time, my time with my family, and all the other responsibilities, chores and errands in between.

I have a secret nightmare. In it, I fear that my seemingly healthy pallor and constitution will gradually and sneakily take its toll on me someday… and I will suddenly find myself terminally ill.

Lately, my head feels like a mass of nerves. A series of interconnected neurons that have all gone astray, all tangled up and jarred, laid out in a messy heap with no more rhyme or reason. This drives me crazy – the sense of having absolutely no sense of control over anything, and worse —  the head-pounding misery of wondering how this all just came to be. I didn’t see it all coming.

But my story is far from over. So I never lose out on the fervent wish that some day soon, my happiness and peace-of-mind meter decides to take an upward spiral — and hopefully stays there for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story # 2. Changing Tides.

I know many in the Philippines don’t think much about what’s been happening around the world as a result of the Revolution in Egypt that finally unseated long-time tyrant Hosni Mobarak.

I was watching CNN that day and saw the very first broadcast made by Vice President Omar Suleiman that changed the world. I was washing the dishes in the kitchen; the TV in the living room was slightly muted but intelligible enough that I could figure out the major developments while cleaning out the kitchen. Like many Egyptians, my heart skipped a beat when the Vice President made the proclamation.

A few weeks later, we watch in abject horror as more and more lives are brutally taken in Libya.

In Yemen, the public is calling for the President’s resignation, even though his official rule still ends in 2013.

In Bahrain, police set-off tear gas and fire rubber pellets at protestors who are clamoring for better jobs and political equity.

Even quiet little Oman stages a mini protest — though for what motivation, I can’t be sure.

I don’t know what to make of these events… and what the future holds for the rest of the world. With people marching on the streets, putting their lives at risk to rally for their rights — on one hand the call for positive change while electrifying in different ways, is nonetheless a good change. On the other, where do we draw the line on anarchy? Is this how the world will eventually fall apart at the seams?

Story # 3. The Fight for Democracy Forgotten.

And speaking of revolutions, a hot news item recently emerged in which debates are ongoing whether former President Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

It’s astounding how the polls at ABS-CBN shows that 59% of Pinoys are in favor of having him buried right there. The deposed, unseated Dictator that caused the People Power Revolution in 1986 — buried in a cemetery intended for the nation’s heroes??!?

How quickly people forget. Or is it just because the new generation of Pinoys grew up not really understanding the painful realities that characterized his reign?

It doesn’t help that you’ve got the late ex-President’s son ranting about how if he had stayed in power, the Philippines would be a Singapore by now. Who are we kidding? Take a lesson from History: we were poised to become an economic superpower when Marcos’ Presidency began. By the time he was deposed, the value of the Philippine Peso had declined massively. How’s that for becoming a Singapore if he had stayed on?

Funnily enough, our President now is the son of two freedom fighters who spurred the Revolution that changed the course of the Philippines’ history. To coincide with the 25th Anniversary of that Revolution and not accord it the proper deference by celebrating it as an official holiday — makes me feel that we’re allowing everyone and everything to ignore the significance of that day 25 years ago, and the lives given for the cause of Democracy.

How truly, truly sad.

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An Open Letter to the President Elect

Dear President Noynoy,

I know I’m only one of thousands of people sending you messages, well wishes and suggestions.

But in the off-chance that you, or one of your trusted supporters or administration staff do get to read this, I sincerely hope that you would heed what I am writing because I believe many share my sentiments.

For the sake of national unity & healing, I implore you to please cease all this crap about snubbing the Chief Justice. I implore you to please stop politicking and doing whatever you can to snub decisions made by the administration of PGMA. Whether she truly and genuinely has an agenda of her own past her Presidential term is no longer the relevant matter, nor should she even be the focus of your political agenda. You will be declared the President of this country. When the time comes, we believe that you and your administration will do what needs to be done regarding this matter.

But in the meantime, please do not start your term and your office (you have not even been proclaimed yet!) betraying the trust of those who voted for you. Many voted for you because they all believed you would be the instrument of change. And for change to take place where and when it should, there’s no room for traditional politicians. But since the appointment of Chief Justice Corona, your actions and reactions have been painfully reminiscent of a trapo.

What’s saddening by this, is that this makes you no better than those you accuse of using their position of power to advance their own agenda. While this may not be your intention, it still feels like you’re putting your own agenda ahead of the needs of the country.

I just wish for once that people in power would lessen their bickering, and just act more. Words are nothing without action. Promises are nothing until we see steps being taken to meet them.

So much time is spent bickering and arguing like schoolyard bullies resorting to childish name-calling. It’s getting old and tiring. It’s so painfully familiar. Is this the change you promised?

Before the 2010 Elections Campaign period began, many people (like me) were cynical and skeptical that anything good will happen in this country. For my part, I’d lost hope that I could build a good and comfortable life for myself and my family here. I’d lost hope that hard work, diligence and responsibility will amount to anything here. I compare our country to our Asian counterparts who have far far surpassed us already in progress and development, and I wonder why in spite of our talent and wealth of promise, we’re lagging seriously far behind.

And I realized it’s largely because of our culture of governance. So much time is wasted arguing and bickering. Picking on each other. Finding loopholes and shortcomings.

If people in the administration could argue objectively setting aside personal agenda and governing with only the best interests of the nation at heart – I believe so much more can be accomplished.

During your campaign, you promised change. While snubbing the Chief Justice is certainly a change (it’s never been done and will probably be cause for yet another major catastrophe in governance) — will this even accomplish anything positive for the country?

For you, perhaps it makes a point and makes your stand pretty clear.

But what value does it have  for ordinary decent, hardworking, taxpaying citizens like me?  What about for the millions of starving families baking under the intense heat of the El Nino sun whose homes can’t even protect them from nature’s forces?

In the greater scheme of things, where you take your oath is actually a small, trivial matter. While it’s a much awaited and much anticipated event, it’s much like a wedding. A one day, one-off affair that in reality, has absolutely no bearing, nor an impact to the marriage. Unlike many women, I don’t put much value in weddings. Ultimately, what does matter is the marriage.

And the same is true for governance. Does it really, truly matter where you take your oath of office?

I hate opening the morning papers reading about the politics of the President Elect snubbing the newly appointed Chief Justice.

Why can’t I read instead about you appointing the right people for the right job in your cabinet?

Why can’t I read about policies you will enforce in your administration that will serve the citizens of this country rather than the interests of those who serve?

Why can’t I read about a team looking into an in-depth analysis of our economic structure in the attempts of pinpointing the best strategy to reduce our debts without burdening the taxpapers any further and adding the burden of economic progress on the growth of OFWs?

Why can’t I read about educational programs intended to uplift the standards of our public education system?

And what exactly can be done with the situation in Mindanao?

So much work to do, yet all I see in the papers are more politics.

So please, live up to your promises in your campaign and please start the change that we need. It has to begin with you, you see. We will take your lead.

And please, don’t start your term with vengeance and vindication in your heart. For once, we need a President who will think about our welfare first for a change.

2010 Philippine Elections: A Summary

President/ Vice President NoyBi.

It seems we have a clear winner for President, and an almost clear winner for Vice President.

The Noy Aquino-Jejomar Binay tandem so far wins the race (unless Mar catches up in the next few hours from the remaining municipalities). Unofficial results, of course. And still a partial count… but the numbers are quite clear.

Villar, Gibo, Gordon and de los Reyes have already conceded defeat.

Now… I did not vote for either of the 2 winners.

But I love my country.

And so, for her sake, I will embrace this new administration with open arms and give them all my support and loyalty. I, like many Filipinos, genuinely hope for the best.

I want to be a good citizen. Aside from paying my taxes religiously, and helping my husband month on month fix his rigorous taxes too… aside from exercising my right to suffrage, I will be a good citizen by giving this new administration a chance and simply stop… complaining and just letting them do their jobs.

President Elect Noy, please take care of this country and do what you have to do to start finding solutions to our country’s problems. For now, this is all the message I have for you.

I am a proud voter. Along with almost 50M other Filipinos.

Never in the history of my voting life have I ever felt so much pride for the indelibe ink on my finger. And never had the turnout of the voting public been higher than it was on May 10. More than 50M registered voters… at a 75% turnout. That means around 40M voters, more than half of the Filipino population.

And the 75% doesn’t include the votes that did not go through the PCOS machines yet.

All this, in spite of most of us having to brave the smoldering and torturous heat and humidity, lining up for hours just to get our votes in. It’s truly amazing.

Yesterday, a passing thought entered my head.

For those who could’ve voted, but chose not to… and especially for those who were simply too lazy, apathetic or cynical to cast their votes… I have no kind words to say to them.

Human nature leads all of us to spend more time complaining about what the government is doing (or not doing) for its constituencies. But frankly, those who have the least right to complain are those who can’t even go out of their way to do what little they can for their country. They complain about the ineptitude of the administration when they themselves were indifferent enough to have done nothing, when they had the chance to be heard.

Like I always say… kung sinadya mong hindi bumoto, wala ka ng karapatang magreklamo. (If you deliberately chose not to vote for whatever reason, you have no more right to complain.)

Democracy Truly At Work?

Hope has sprung forth on the 10th of May. Maybe it’s also thanks to the automated elections… but from what we see, these elections have been smooth-sailing and peaceful.

Election returns were fast, quick and clean. They seemed untampered with, and thus, legit.

Presidentials and Vice Presidentials conceded defeat even before results were finalized (well, most of them). And all of them truly did give way and make way for the new President Elect, pledging their support and allegiance as soon as they knew that results were unquestioned.

It gave me goosebumps when all those who conceded plainly, simply and humbly said that “the people have chosen, and what the people have chosen, I will support” (not in those words).

Have we truly started on our journey towards true democracy?

What Happens After?

Well, I’m quite excited to see what happens next. But also perhaps, somewhat afraid.

I keep my fingers crossed that when the results are truly final, the number 2s (Erap for Pres/ Mar or Binay for VP) will peacefully concede and just let the results be.

I hope and pray that the ongoing conflicts and violence in Mindanao will start coming to a peaceful resolution. It’s a long way to go yet, but I continue to fervently hope that a resolution happens within my lifetime.

I am a bit anxious about PGMA as a whole. I worry a bit if there’s any validity to her plans of installing herself as Speaker of the House (since she’s already been proclaimed this morning in Pampanga) to help her supposed climb as the Prime Minister. I hope it’s not true. We don’t need this right now. In the midst of a more hopeful future, we need a united country all headed towards a common, peaceful goal.

On the side, I worry about her too, and the charges she will have to answer the day her Presidential term expires. I still think some the accusations against her are overrated and are an overreaction arising from fear and insecurity. And I think her biggest downfall was her relations and the people she surrounds herself with.

I’m hopeful too about Noy. Still apprehensive to some degree, but hopeful too. I hope he’s truly ready to take on the role of the most powerful person in the country. Because with it comes 6 long ,painful years of public scrutiny. Many see him now as the Messiah. The one who will change Philippine politics and turn it all around. The one who can solve all our problems. But no one can do that overnight. And alone. It takes an entire citizenry to enact changes. And it takes a long, long time to right the wrongs done through decades of a warped and corrupt political system. And with a body of Senators who are still the same senators of decades… the old traditional politicians acting as the chief legislators of our country… I wonder how much change can we really expect.

Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I just hope that we as a Filipino citizen, are also ready and willing to embrace a promising era that speaks of change and reformation. And I hope we all do our part in whatever way big or small, to turning this country around.

Erap Ties Villar for 2nd Place!

Yegadz!!!!

Unbelievable!

This latest piece of news just might actually push me to vote for Noy. *groan* Funny how one’s perspective can shift so drastically, so quickly.

Before I saw this on the news last night, voting for Noy was not even close to being an option. It was either Dick or Gibo. Or, if I had allowed pragmatism to more heavily influence my decision-making process, perhaps Manny Villar as a ‘lesser evil’.

Come to think of it, I think vacillating and delaying the inevitable final decision on who to vote signifies many things. The fact that there’s no perfect candidate. The fact that all of them have things that work for and against them. The fact that it really entails a long-drawn-out decision-making process to arrive at a satisfying choice.

Beyond those obvious things, what is remarkable is that before this new piece of news, vacillating was actually still an option. When the Presidential seat seemed to be unmistakably waiting for just either Noy or Villar, while it inspired heated debates and rising tempers – we all knew (I think) at the back of our minds that either way, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Or to be more succinct about it – Noy or Villar as President wouldn’t be unacceptable.

With Erap back in the race with a strong fighting chance, therein lies the most unacceptable event of all: that he wins back the Presidential seat. It’s no different from the 2004 Elections when it was clearly just a race between GMA and FPJ.

Yegadz!!! And to think there were rumors a few weeks ago that a few days before the Elections, Erap will suddenly pull out of the race and endorse all his supporters to vote for Villar instead.

Well… that’s not an impossibility yet at this point, of course. Our political arena is as we already know, very much akin to an arena filled with circus freaks.

So here we are, 2 weeks before the elections and it seems like much is changing. If Erap continues his climb up the Presidential race, it’s a no brainer that Noy is without a doubt, the better choice.

So much for voting without  compromising.

Which Presidentiable Gets My Vote?

The National Elections is less than 15 days away, and I still haven’t decided on which Presidentiable I’m supporting.

According to the latest surveys, Noy leads the race with a close to 10-point gap to the 2nd placer, Manny Villar. Erap (not included in the photo for fairly obvious reasons) is a far number 3; Gibo not far behind Erap at #4; and Dick Gordon a far far number 5. Statistically, Gordon is tied with Nick Perlas and (I think) Jamby Madrigal at only 2% each.

Over the past few months, I’ve come across people who like me, think that the best Presidential candidate is actually Dick Gordon. Track record alone speaks about the capabilities of this man – from Subic, Red Cross and the DOT – he has undoubtedly shown results. However, most of us choose not to vote for him only because we all believe he has no chance of winning. In many ways, it feels like voting for Dick would be a wasted vote – if only we could reallocate that vote for the lesser evil of the top 2 candidates. I remember remarking on this in one of my past blogs early on in the Presidential campaigning period too.

It’s a bit sad though how collective minds think this way. Consider the alternative. If everyone who actually thinks and believes that Dick Gordon is the best Presidential candidate… actually went ahead and rallied for him – then maybe he could actually win. Or at least have a fighting chance.

So the question remains to many ‘undecideds’ like me:

Will I vote according to the dictates of my conscience, in which case that would be Dick?

Or should I just vote pragmatically, and help the “lesser evil” have a better fighting chance (in which case, I am still undecided who is actually the ‘lesser evil’)?

This year’s Election period started out with a very positive and hopeful collective spirit.

Except for the few apathetic, indifferent citizens of this country who don’t really care one way or the other about the Elections or anything related to governing this country — most others I spoke to about this year’s elections really seemed to genuinely care. People have actually gone out of their way to educate themselves and go through lengths to really understand the issues, get to know the candidates and scrutinize the situation from every angle. It has made for a lot of interesting discussions and friendly-but-somewhat-heated debates over coffee and alcohol here and there.

But it was genuinely nice seeing people rise up and have their say on how they think this country should be run. Whether or not we were all of a shared belief didn’t matter. What mattered was that people started to care. And that everyone seemed hell-bent on making the right and the best decisions for the country. (For the first time ever, it’s no longer a guarantee that a celebrity wins in the Elections! A huge leap for the Filipino voting population.)

While it’s still true today, what is frustrating is how now, at the 11th hour, most of us are left with no choice but to somehow make yet another compromise on something that should be worth keeping our conviction for. Why is it that we’re ultimately always left with the question of who is the lesser evil?

We actually have a very well qualified Presidentiable who unfortunately lacks machinery and funding support, hence he lags far, far behind in the polls.

Instead, the top candidates we have are found wanting on many levels.

Noynoy

I’ve made my thoughts about Noynoy clear in a previous blog entry. Earlier today I read an article written by a Gordon-believer-but-Noynoy-supporter (again because of the assumption that Dick won’t win), and in it, she says that she will just vote for Noynoy because he is the only one who can be trusted. That his “quietness” as a Senator is because he doesn’t seek the limelight. Personally, that feels like a stretch at rationalizing and excusing inaction.

‘Not seeking the limelight’ is a description that doesn’t apply to a Senator. By default, and by simple job description alone – a public official will always be in the limelight. What’s glaring under ‘this limelight of his’ is that the years he’s spent in the Senate hasn’t amounted to anything significant in his list of accomplishments. And really now, what does exactly does ‘proper enforcement of the law’ mean? If this was his thrust all these years, laws today are still not properly enforced.

And what exactly does he also mean when he says ‘we have more than enough laws’? We don’t even have laws yet that protect the general public from medical malpractices. Here’s something I picked up recently: no doctor in the Philippines has ever been disbarred nor had his/her medical license revoked in spite of proven medical malpractices. At most, they only get suspended. That’s because there are no governing laws that mandate juridical actions by the country’s governing bodies for the medical community.

See…. Trustworthiness is an admirable quality. But we don’t need just an administration whose strengths are solely hinged on their trustwortiness. We need an administration who can act, rise out of complacency and not be content with just ‘what we already have’.

Villar

Now this guy, his rags-to-riches story and how today he is one of the richest men in the country… for someone like me, stubbornly self-driven to achieve all my goals all on my own regardless of what it takes…it is an admirable, inspiring story.

I can turn a blind eye on the misleading details of his past and how everyone now questions whether his claims in his commercials are anywhere near true. He is dishonest and untrustworthy, many will say and have said. The exact opposite of Noynoy.

But man, can he act and make a tangible difference. His platform and policies are a tad bit more aggressive. Controversial too, if you push the thinking even more.

He has a strong propensity for tolerating corruption. Not just tolerating it, but actually being one of the forerunners of a corrupt administration.

Yes. These are our Top 2 Presidentiables. Who is the lesser evil? Beyond personality alone, will you choose an administration who will champion the fight against corruption? Or the administration who is launching an all-out war against poverty? Both are noble aspirations. But which one… which one will really make a difference for the Filipino people?

And also, at the end of it all, will you vote according to the dictates of your conscience? Or vote while turning a blind eye and only half a heart?

The Aquino Legacy

There are only very few Filipinos whose spirits do not feel a lift when the subject of Ninoy and Cory Aquino comes into discussion. If there was ever a couple most loved in Philippine History, it would be this yellow-bearing, unassuming yet very charismatic couple.

The Aquino legacy began with Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, most visible and influential at the peak of ex-President Ferdinand Marcos’ era of dictatorship and tyranny.

I was too young to remember what life in the Philippines was like at this time. My brother and I are children born in the peak of Martial Law. Apart from witnessing (although never really comprehending) heated discussions over the dinner table as our parents (who were pro-Aquino) would launch into verbal combat with my Grandfather (a die-hard Marcos loyalist), my concept of Martial Law and living under a dictator’s rule was much like a baby trying to comprehend the funny sounds adults make when ooooh-ing and aaaaahh-ing over the crib.

What I do clearly remember is that fateful day on the 21st of August, 1983. The day when Ninoy Aquino, after being exiled from the Philippines for many years, finally returned home to continue challenging the tyrannical rule of President Marcos.

We already know what happens on this day. As he alights from the plane, he gets shot and dies on the spot — there, on the tarmac of what is now known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Several days later, millions of Filipinos gather on the streets to mourn and bury their hero. I remember this – mom was watching this on TV. She was very sad. If I recall correctly, she was on the phone with my maternal grandmother and they were together mourning the death of Ninoy Aquino.

The next big Chapter of the Aquino saga came a few years later. I was 10 years old — still ignorant and clueless about the ongoings of a country slowly dying under the weight of a relentless dictator. And yet, my memories of this time are just a little bit clearer.

The events that led up to the final toppling of the Dictator on February 25, 1986 paralleled some little events here and there that were happening in our own household. I remember mom and dad suddenly shuffling me and kuya home on the night of February 22 (that was a Sunday… we usually spent weekends with my maternal Grandparents in Paranaque).

You see, my childhood home (and my paternal grandparents’ ancestral home) is located in San Juan. It’s 5 minutes away from EDSA-Ortigas, 10 minutes away from Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. I still wonder to this day why instead of leaving us safely tucked away far from where all the happenings were, mom and dad brought us closer to the center of action.

But I digress. That night, after seeing us safely tucked away in our beds, mom and dad (with my uncle) left the house and didn’t return til the following day. They came home just to get bathed, dress up, eat, and then they left again. This went on for the next two days.

And on the third day, mom and dad went home, exhausted but happy and jubilant. They dressed my brother and I in yellow clothes, and took us to EDSA where millions of yellow-bearing Filipinos were singing, dancing and crying with joy. Marcos was gone. Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino was finally the rightful President of the Philippines, and she has just given us back the freedom that Marcos took from everyone years ago. Democracy was back.

Two years ago (August 2008) we commemorated the 25th Death Anniversary of Ninoy. And a year later (August 2009), we mourned the Death of his widow, Cory.

Apart from being such strong historical figures in our country, these 2 are also special to me on a personal level. On his 25th Death Anniversary, I worked on a youth-driven advocacy program to help advocate the values that Ninoy lived by among the youth of today. His values of courage, integrity, honesty and resilience.

Through this campaign, I had been able to get close to some members of the family. We would be invited to watch plays, read scripts, and meet with other interest groups who wanted to sign in to this advocacy. We even had long discussions about the current political scenario. About GMA. Sometimes we would share opposing views. But of course, since they were still my Clients, I couldn’t stray too far and reveal some of my more intense points of view.

I take pride in fact in being able to say that at one point of my life, I met Cory Aquino face to face. I didn’t get to shake her hands – since she was battling Cancer, she needed to exercise caution when meeting with people who’ve been outdoors. But we did take a picture with  her for posterity’s sake. I’ve got it safely stored among my most valued possessions.

On her death on August 2nd, 2009, I had the privilege of attending one of her funeral masses.

I will never forget too the sentiments I had when I met Cory face to face. She is an awe-inspiring woman. She is… was… a very strong woman. Not loud, not abrasive, not rough. But strong, in her own quiet, resilient way. She could speak volumes in spite of her mild-mannered bearing. She was firm, decisive and authoritative…. and yet, infinitely gentle.  How one woman could possess that contrast of qualities is amazing.

That’s my memory of Cory: a strong, capable, intelligent and trustworthy woman with unparalleled integrity. The world lost a great woman upon her death. But it was time for her to rejoin her love, the man whose ideals she did not allow to die along with him.

In their respective time frames, Ninoy and Cory were heroes in their own right.

Ninoy’s persistent fight from Senate, to his squalid prison cell, to his hospital bed and his brief sojourn into family life as an exile in Boston – he never stopped speaking up against the ills of the Marcos regime. All this at the cost of his own life. He fought til his last breath, and spurred a people starving for a hero into action.

And to continue his fight, his widow. The one who united a people into a peaceful revolution that would once and for all overthrow a dictatorship and restore democracy to a nation down on its knees.

The freedom that we enjoy today we can attribute largely to the Ninoy and Cory Aquino legacy. And while there’s so much more progress to achieve and societal ills to battle, at their time, they did what they needed to do, and did it well.

With the death of this enigmatic, charismatic couple comes the new generation of Aquinos to leave their mark in Philippine History.

My generation of Aquinos.

Where do we begin?

Let me see… should I start with the controversial showbiz sensation that is Kris Aquino? TV host, actress, daughter of Ninoy and Cory, wife of basketball star James Yap, sister of Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. Well, that’s not even worth writing a long paragraph about.

So I’ll move on to current Presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino. Leader of the Liberal Party. Senator for several terms, but not clearly associated with the formulation or revision of any bills or legislatures. Known by many of his supporters as the only guy in the current Presidential roster who has a squeaky clean record.

I wager that his popularity now is brought about in many ways by the legacy left behind by his parents. Sure, he’s pretty well known, but truthfully his past record is unremarkable. Especially if you compare it against the history-forming efforts of his parents.

And it makes one wonder.

One would hope that the offspring of the famous couple would likewise carry the torch of his parents and truly make a difference.

But what does making a difference in this day and age really mean?

If it means speaking up against corruption and making a stand in cleaning the government of corrupt officials… and an economic policy that’s hinged on an idealistic and conservative belief system that’s more suited for times past… frankly, it feels to me no different from the outdated ideals preached by the Catholic Church that fail to contextualize religious edicts and sermons against real and present day scenarios and all the things that people face on a regular basis.

There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with forcing moral ascendancy. Who doesn’t admire people with values and morals?

But how much of a change will that create? The Philippines has continuously been sinking deeper and deeper in poverty year on year. Peace in Mindanao continues to be elusive. Literacy rate drops as the years go by. Health conditions and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate. How many more Administrations can we survive before we’re driven to the brink of desperation?

Many say they’re choosing to support and vote Noynoy in this coming Elections because among the candidates, he’s the only one who’s “clean”.

The trouble with people with a squeaky clean image is sometimes you wonder how far they’re willing to go to get their hands dirty. And do note: “dirty” doesn’t mean immoral or unlawful. Simply — making unpopular (sometimes controversial) decisions that often spell the difference between progress and regression.

Sure, I’d love to have a President who’s got his values screwed on right. But if it’s at the expense of the (potentially) controversial but necessary acts for the greater good of the country’s citizens, maybe I’ll just choose the candidate whose reputation may be questionable, but who will get the results we desperately need to rise above our problems.

At the end of this long monologue, I have no conclusions to draw. I have more questions than ever. As for Noynoy – if he becomes President, I wonder. What kind of legacy will this new Aquino leave behind?

Random Election Thoughts, ver. 2

So after the holidays, the election fever is back.

On hindsight I don’t think it ever died though.

Over the holidays, we were bombarded with ads of Manny Villar, Gibo Teodoro and the Gordon-Bayani tandem. It evokes mixed feelings, I would say.

Manny Villar‘s self-promotion, clearly with the intent of discrediting Erap’s long-held claim of being “the people for the masses”, now highlights the fact that he’s the true champion of the poor, owing to the fact that he himself, was poor and worked himself out of poverty to become the person he is today. “Manny Villar…ang magtatapos ng ating kahirapan.” What a noble thought. One wonders – can he really pull this off? Changing the landscape of the Philippines today seriously needs a miracle. At least, it’s not something that  one administration and one term can achieve. Just take a look at history to see that it takes decades to turn the tide of a country riddled with problems.

As another thought, his ads of late are starting to feel a little bit like political brainwashing. As an advertising practitioner myself, I must admit that his campaign is gradually becoming more and more convincing… if you didn’t know any better, you could actually believe that this lone man can change the course of our history.

Now, on the side of Gibo Teodoro, unconfirmed rumors have reached me that his latest TV ad that uses a popular song composed and written by one of the country’s famous musicians – did not receive the proper licenses. Hmmm. I have no thoughts about this.

Needless to say though, over the past few weeks, I know he has been rising on the polls. From his position as a faltering number 4 or 5, he’s now climbed up in various polls and is battling head-on with Noynoy and Villar for the number one position.

And then, now there’s the country’s supposed Transforming Duo, Dick Gordon and Bayani Fernando. Incidentally, I got to watch an ABS show hosted by Boy Abunda. In this episode, he interviews Bayani Fernando.

This duo… especially Bayani Fernando, is one who inspires either extreme like, or extreme dislike. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Watching that Boy Abunda special, I realized why. Bayani Fernando is a man of action. He spends little time in puffing up his image with the press, the media and the Filipino population as a whole. I think to some extent, Dick Gordon is the same way. Yet if you think about it, this tandem represents action and results. Sure, their decisions and actions sometimes veer towards the unpopular choices.. but sometimes, admit it. Someone has to make and enforce the unpopular decisions.

Part of me actually wishes they had decided not to run for the President and Vice President positions. We all know that though they are extremely qualified, they won’t win. Which is truthfully, a loss for the country. People like these are people we need to become a part of the decision-making body that dictates how this country progresses. I wish they had just run for Congress or Senate instead.

Frankly, I think the same goes for other equally qualified Presidentiables.

Many good things are being said about people like Nicanor Perlas and JC delos Reyes. But come on, these guys are not gonna win. Lacking the machinery they need to mount a big campaign; lacking the reputation and the big, solid fan base – it’s a huge contest enough as it is with 4 powerful names in the election roster.

The truth is, just as we need a good, competent and trustworthy President, we need equally good, intelligent and competent legislators. Many of those competent people are currently running for the top 2 positions in the country. But voters can only choose one. Therein lies the dilemma of discerning people.

On the other hand, this year’s elections feels somewhat different than the other Elections I’ve voted in. In the past, somehow we always somehow knew who would win.

In the 1998 elections, we all knew (even if we fought tooth and nail against it), we knew Erap would win.

In 2004, we also somehow knew that it would only be either GMA or FPJ.

This year’s elections is a wide open field. The polls today could drastically change tomorrow. The great thing about this is that maybe a hopeful part of me believes that the voting population of the country is indeed becoming more intelligent and discerning. I think it began in the 2004 elections, when showbiz personalities were no longer a sure-win. It’s very heartening, and it fills me with a more hopeful spirit.

Catch up on the Presidentiables’ plans, platforms and paraphernalia. Their websites are live!

Noynoy Aquino, Dick Gordon, Gibo Teodoro, Nicanor PerlasManny Villar, JC delos Reyes