Stepping Down

For lack of anything better to say – I have re-posted here Mar Roxas’ concession speech delivered yesterday at Balay (LP Headquarters in Cubao):

Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Sinulat ko po ang nais kong sabihin para wala akong makalimutan:

Gusto ko pong magsimula sa isang taos-pusong pasasalamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na kumaway, nakipagkamay, at kumopkop sa amin ni Leni nang bumisita kami sa inyong mga lugar. Marmaming salamat sa inyo.

Sa mga nagtiwala hindi lang sa akin, pero pati na rin sa mga prinsipyo na ipinaglalaban natin. Maraming-maraming salamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na habang kinakamayan ako, tiningnan ako nang mata sa mata at sinabihang ako ng “God bless you. Ipaglaban mo kami. Huwag mo kaming pababayaan.” Maraming salamat.

Salamat kay Pangulong Noynoy Aquino at sa kanyang pamilya. Sa ating partido, Partido Liberal, at sa kanyang mga kaalyadong partido. Salamat sa mga CSOs, mga NGOs, sa Silent Majority, sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan. Sa lahat sa inyo ng mga volunteers, sa aking pamilya—nandito ang aking misis, si Korina—sa ating mga kaibigan. Sa lahat pong tumayo, to all of you who took up the cudgels, who shared in our aspirations, na nakasama kong tumayo, maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

Araw-araw, kasama ko kayo na humarap sa lahat ng hamon. Alam ko na marami sa inyo, stuck your necks out sa laban na ito. Pero sa kabila ng lahat, hindi kayo bumitaw. Nanindigan kayo. Sinamahan n’yo ako hanggang sa dulo. For that, I am very grateful.

Ngayon, hindi pa tapos ang laban ni Leni. Angat siya, lumalaban siya. Patuloy tayong magbantay, manalig, at sumuporta. Siguraduhin nating mabibilang nang tama ang kanyang boto.

At habang ginagawa natin ito para kay Leni, simulan na natin ang pagbuo sa minamahal nating bansa. Galangin at tanggapin natin ang pasya ng ating mga kababayan. Ayon sa unofficial count ng COMELEC, malinaw na si Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ang magiging susunod na pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas.

Digong, I wish you success. Ang iyong tagumpay ay tagumpay ng ating sambayanan at ng ating bansa.

Mga kababayan, higit pa sa pagiging supporter o kapartido ng kahit sinong kandidato – Pilipino tayo. Maka-Diyos, may pakikitungo, may malasakit sa kapwa, at naniniwalang lahat ng mahahalaga sa buhay ay pinaghihirapan.

Patuloy nating ipaglaban ang mga prinsipyong ito. Ibigay natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para makamit ang ating kolektibong mithiin. Ipakita natin – sa bawat salita, sa bawat gawa, sa bawat kilos natin – ang tunay na diwa ng pagiging Pilipino.

I read somewhere that it is not the battle or the conquest that we remember. But the soldier who stood beside us, na tumutoo sa atin, who we treasure the most. Sa inyong lahat, maraming-maraming salamat. Hindi ko po kayo makakalimutan.

Mga kababayan, isang walang kapantay na karangalan na maging tagapagwagayway ng ating bandila. To have carried our flag. To have fought the good fight. To have kept the faith. To have finished the race.

Maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

I love you all!

There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you: this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful successful transfer of power. It’s not about me. It’s not about anyone. It’s about how we love our country and how we’ll do all that we can can for her. She’s the only one.

Maraming salamat po.

MAR ROXAS

We have stood and fought hard for him amid the criticisms of friends. We distributed campaign materials. We prayed. We believed.

Well, the country has chosen its leader and I support the winner. I sure hope he turns out the man his supporters believe him to be.

mar-she's the only one

Have We Lost Hope As A Nation?

With the Presidential elections just around the corner, everyone seems to have made up their mind who to vote. I have declared my choice of Mar Roxas as President and I am a known supporter of Leni Robredo since the beginning so my choice is clear.

But there are still undecideds among our midst that I try to campaign (convince) with my choice. Not that I want to impose my choice on them but that I want them to also go through the same process of rationalization I did for their choice.

The same rationalization process I push with those who’ve made up their mind also.

I simply begin by asking the innocent question of Why him (or her)? and follow up the answers with supplementary questions.

While some have been accommodating in answering my thought provoking questions even if it leads them to dead ends they can’t answer, others simply gave up at the first instance. But the saddest – and for me the worst answer I’ve received – is a declaration of hopelessness for the country.

I was dismayed when I heard that even with the elections coming up, nothing changes. It’s all just the same. The powerful stay in power, the rich becomes richer, the poor gets poorer, etc. Better go to another country. There’s no hope for change here.

I cringe at the lack of ownership. The lack of nationalistic spirit. We may all agree to disagree on our choice for president but to claim that whatever happens, whoever we vote for, nothing will change is tantamount to saying our democracy has failed us.

This lack of hope will be the downfall of our nation for we have resigned ourselves to the perceived lie that nothing can be done about the woes of our country.

But there is hope. Change is already happening. Let us not be blind to it. Let us not wash our hands of it. Change is happening – and we are part of that change.

My Choice for President

As I promised myself, when 2016 kicks in, I will finally make up my mind who to vote for in May 2016.

Some may argue that I have known who to vote for and that I’ve been a vocal supporter of Mar Roxas even when he hadn’t officially stated his bid for Presidency but the truth is I have considered, seriously, voting for Duterte after I saw the personal accounts of friends who have experienced his leadership and after I saw the horror of Mar’s PR and his shortcomings.

Let’s be honest. Mar isn’t the perfect candidate. He has his faults – and they are many. It doesn’t help that the media glorifies such faults. But for all his faults, he also has his strengths and it’s sad that his strengths are not spectacular enough for the media to feature. As I read in Facebook, Mar is like your quiet and boring suitor. You know he’s right for he can deliver but there’s just no excitement with him.

When Duterte was rumored to be running for Presidency, I gave him no thought. I am aware of his tendency for violence and for me, it was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going to vote for a violent man. But as the months passed by and as the drama unfolded of his eventual consent to run for president, I began to consider that perhaps this guy was really the solution our country needed. As I read in a blog, Mar is an excellent driver – of a brand new automatic car. Duterte is a great driver of a pugak pugak second-hand car. And right now, the Philippines is that pugak pugak second-hand car.

I began to believe that our country is alright investment wise. PNoy’s administration has done a pretty good job getting investors into the country and with all the increase in credit ratings and the success of the APEC summit, investors are more likely to come knocking at our doors. What our country needs now is an iron-hand who can forge the security we badly need. Someone who can eliminate crime (or reduce it drastically) and who can make everyone feel safe and secure.

I believed that the solution was Duterte. All the personal anecdotes of friends from Davao and the rational posts they shared convinced me of such. It didn’t help that Mar started a series of bad PR stunts which seriously called his credibility into question.

However, I was hesitant to make my change of heart known publicly. Having a lot of friends part and campaigning for the Liberal Party made me hesitant to declare that I’ve had a change of affiliation. I’ve always been Liberal in my political views. In my opinion, our country needs to have the same party system as the US – one wherein we only vote between two parties: the Republicans (deemed conservatives) and the Democrats (deemed liberals).

So I went to Davao. I experienced the city first hand and observed what everyone was raving about. While it’s true that everyone there loved Duterte and that the man did live in a very simple abode, I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t what I expected. Well, I did expect a lot – all those stories made me think of a city like Singapore. Well, it wasn’t. There’s traffic – bad traffic. My friend said traffic lights have auto sensors so they can detect if there are really cars passing along and can adjust as necessary. I went out in the dead of the night and tried to observe it and what happened was I got confused when I can actually legally cross the street. Perhaps the lights worked as claimed, I just didn’t see it. But the city was deadly serious about their No Smoking rule. The warning signs were everywhere. My friend had to smoke – in secret – lest he run the risk of paying a hefty P10k fine.

The biggest issue was security. The city did felt secure. And in fact was very clean – no trash anywhere. The street sweepers were doing a good job. People were friendly – the taxi driver was fair and was very hospitable knowing we were newbies in the area.

It was a good city – something I even considered living in for perhaps a month or two. And I left with the distinct feeling that I’ll be voting for Duterte.

But experiencing Davao was not just the deciding factor for me. As the days passed, I got to know Rody Duterte better.

While I find his accomplishments amazing as well as his reputation untainted with corruption admirable, I still had qualms about his character. The recent brawls with Mar over Mar’s Wharton degree, his cursing the pope even in jest and his overall lack of diplomatic skills  (in my opinion) evidenced by his foul language makes me rethink if I do want him as my president.

The presidency is a serious post. It is way different than running a city, no matter how big that city may be. I have come to respect the position and to understand that no matter how hard you try there will always be compromise along the way. I have come to accept that no president can be perfect. He or she simply cannot please everybody.

What we need is a president who can deliver. Someone who can weigh his options and choose the one that’s best for the country, even if others criticize him or don’t agree. We need someone who’ll not be afraid to make unpopular and even boring decisions.

I like what President Obama said in this video when he was asked what question he would like to ask his successor.

Just as Obama said that the US is not a country ran in fear or cynicism, I would like to think of the Philippines as the same. Duterte supporters argue that he wouldn’t re-instate Martial Law but this post made me think otherwise. I began to feel that much as we want  the kind of iron leadership Duterte implemented in Davao, it is not the kind of leadership that the country needs. His brand of leadership may indeed work for Davao but I highly doubt it will work for the entire country – not with dire consequences.

I have no doubt that Duterte is not going after the presidency for the glitz and glamour of it. Just as I have no doubt that Mar is after the position because he really wants to serve his country and carry on the legacy of his father and grandfather. I have no doubt that both have clean intentions for wanting to run for the position (unlike Binay whose sincerity of serving the people I highly contest).

My question now becomes: who of the two do I see is fit to represent our country better?

In my opinion, Mar remains the better choice. In the end, I still chose him. (First lover never dies :D).

Why Mar? Simply because despite his shortcomings, I still believe that of all the presidential aspirants, he is the most qualified on the basis of what he can do in the diplomatic arena. For me, the number one job of the president – among his many jobs – is to make sure our country looks good in front of investors. That our country remains a viable choice for investments. Mar, being the economist he is, and having that advantage of being from the current administration (whose performance I am clearly satisfied) is the best option there is.

I am not saying Rody Duterte couldn’t do what Mar can do. It’s just that I believe Mar can do it better.

I don’t doubt that Duterte or Mar can deliver. They both can. Both are also flawed. They’re not perfect. For me, it’s just a question of whose flaws I can accept better.

I know Mar is not perfect. Just as PNoy was not perfect. But I know he can deliver. People may not understand what he is delivering – just as the masses didn’t understood what PNoy delivered but for those of us who can see it, or who can understand, we can’t deny that PNoy did something right. And that Mar is the best one who can continue it.

Like when I voted for PNoy last 2010, I also had doubts if he’ll make a good president. There were counts against him like how he was just riding the fame of his mother and how he really haven’t accomplished much in his stint in the Congress. But then I had to trust my own instinct that of all the candidates presented, PNoy had the better potential. This time, it’s Mar who have the better potential.

What about Duterte? He’ll make a good DOJ Secretary. I hope he considers joining Mar’s administration should Mar win and Mar reconsider him for the post. If only they could work together, for the good of this country, then I believe we are in better hands than the previous administrations combined.

But with all this talk and thinking of whether I’ll go for Mar or Duterte, I fear that in the end Binay would win. He tops the surveys – even after all the allegations of corruption and his tainted name. Let’s admit. A vast majority of voters are the CDE and for them, Binay is a hero. He probably goes around the countryside telling them he can turn their little towns into a replica of Makati.

I don’t know what 2016 Presidential Elections hold for our country. Surveys say that the race is getting tight. But one thing I won’t do is NOT vote. I won’t give up this right and responsibility. Even if Mar doesn’t win, I will still rest easy that at least I did my part in making my country a little bit better.

presidentials
Top Presidentiables 2016 | Source: Boom San Agustin FB Page

Oras Na! Roxas Na!

Since he became Mr. Palengke up until he stepped down to be PNoy’s running mate instead of LP’s Presidential Standard Bearer, I have supported Mar Roxas. To me, he is the logical choice to run the country. He came from a decent political family where all his relatives have served the country well without a hint of doubt to their integrity. He has worked diligently under the administrations who assigned him government posts and he has delivered what he’s supposed to do.

I know he is not perfect. There are times when he bungled up. Every time his PR team would come up with some cheesy campaign that will make him a laughing stock in social media I will cringe internally. I agree with them that the gimmicks are cheap but I disagree with the purported notion that Mar is not a viable choice for leadership.

When he was running for President during the 2010 Presidential Race, I was all out to support him. But when LP decided suddenly to switch to PNoy as their standard bearer, my heart went out to Mar when he decided to step down. I cannot forget what he said that day:

“Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na,”

Mar Roxas, Aug. 1, 2009, Club Filipino

Now, we come full circle. After 6 successful years where Noynoy Aquino has successfully started the fight against corruption and began the positive change in our country, he is now announcing his successor. And this time, it is Mar.

Whereas in 2010, Mar began campaigning early, this 2016 he announced his Presidential ambitions last. He worked patiently, diligently and quietly with every responsibility assigned to him. Most of them even put him into bad light with the public who cannot comprehend how hard a position he holds. But he moved on, never once complaining.

This article summarizes beautifully why Mar Roxas is a game-changer; why he is the most rational choice for President after PNoy.

Grace Poe is a nice candidate. She’s a breath of fresh air since she’s not from a traditional political family. However, her experiences and capability to run the country is something debatable. Presidency is not just any ordinary position as I can see now. It involves a lot of other factors and winning it is certainly not as simple as it may seem.

Duterte is a popular choice because of his notorious reforms in Davao City but running a local unit is different from running a national unit. Besides, it would take more than social media to win the elections.

Who else? I totally agree with anyone who says Binay should not be President. Anyone who acts the way he does is someone who doesn’t deserve our vote. His pre-campaigns and his recent antics clearly smells of someone who is up to no good once he assumes office. Someone who tries really hard to secure his victory – to the extent of even leaving his Cabinet pose – is someone I will never trust in a million lifetimes.

Mar Roxas is the logical and most viable option we have. I hope Filipinos will start thinking rationally and strategically. Other candidates may be good but they need to have political allies, enough connections here and abroad, enough resources, and enough experience to be able to implement the changes that our country needs.

Roxas may have had his blunders but at the end of the day, he’s still the best option we got.

I am not ashamed to campaign for him for I believe in what he can do. And I believe we have no better alternative.

With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.
With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.

Related:

Mar Roxas: The Long Road to Endorsement by Rappler

Mar Roxas posts in this blog – because I’ve discovered that I’ve consistently written about him

The Unlikely Ascent to Presidency

Whenever I tell people I want to become President of the Philippines someday, they ask me – then why are you not in politics or any politically related career right now? They think that I ought to be running for barangay chairman at the very least or if not working as part of someone’s cabinet.

But despite my ever nagging desire since childhood to serve at the topmost position in the country, I have also this predisposition that it won’t happen in a conventional way.

It won’t be because I am born of a political family. It won’t be because I have demonstrated aptitude in political office for X number of years. It won’t be because I am a veteran at politics and all the traps that come with it.

No. Rather, it will be because God says so.

Pretty far fetch for the most pragmatic mind right? Many would argue to leave God out of it. That roots, connections and lots of money are what is needed to win a presidency. But I disagree.

In fact, I wouldn’t want the position if I know for certain that God is not with me. For without Him, I would be walking into a death trap. I would probably be swallowed alive by a system so corrupt many have lost faith in it already.

But I haven’t. I believe that the Philippines can be turned for good. That like her ASEAN neighbors she can also rise from the ashes and ascend to a glorified spot at the top. Already, we know we have one of the fastest rising GDP in the region. Shocking if we take a look at the seemingly non-improvement of the lives around us but economics tells us that we are on the rise.

As I mull over how in 4 election cycles I will be qualified to vie for Presidency, I am struck at how the current Presidential 2016 elections is fanning out.

A year ago many dreaded that the only vocal – and most likely to win candidate – was Binay. Those who opposed him dug up so much dirt to mar his image to the doting public  that many were disillusioned with him. The impact was made regardless of the many counter measures the Binay camp attempted. After carefully placing his pawns in place during the previous elections, he now threads on precarious waters.

And yet, majority concur that his chances of winning remain high. The other candidates are equally marred and the public are also disillusioned of what they can do.

However from this seemingly lose-lose situation comes a beacon of hope – Grace Poe. A quiet politician who ran for Senate and emerged at the top. She did her job well serving as MTRCB Chief and many recognized her silent fortitude. The fact that she was also fighting to clear the name of her deceased father, Fernando Poe aided to her cause. Despite the reservations if she will make a good lawmaker, she proved herself time and time again to be a brilliant and humble public servant.

Now, as someone who has captured the public’s heart, she is eyed to be one of the contender for Presidency. And not just some contender but someone with the seal of trust of the current President as someone who can continue his projects. That endorsement would go a long way to securing Poe a seat in the Palace for despite criticisms against PNoy, many still contend that he has done more good than harm for the country.

This is in stark contrast to her possible opponents – Binay and Mar Roxas to name a few. Both Binay and Roxas through years of political career and strategic planning have planted in various places people who will aid them to their cause of being president. They are your traditional politicians. Note: I am not using trapo here to mean a negative thing. It’s just that they are your typical politicians who slowly but surely rose up the ranks. They played by the book. And now they are eyeing the top spot.

Grace Poe didn’t play by the book. She didn’t rise up the ranks of a political career. She has no people in strategic positions. She does not come from a political family. She’s not someone with an arsen of resources she can use to ensure she wins at all cost. She’s a wildcard entry. Yet being one, she is a welcome breath of fresh air.

In the Bible, there are many stories of unlikely ascent to power.

There’s Joseph from Genesis who despite being a slave and prisoner found himself to be the second most powerful man in Egypt second only to Pharaoh. There’s Saul, Israel’s first king who was simply looking for his father’s lost donkeys when Samuel saw him and made him king by the Lord’s prompting. And there was David who was a shepherd, faithfully guarding his flock from wild animals and showing bravery to fight the giant Goliath. He was soon selected as king by the Lord.

As the Bible said, God doesn’t look at outward appearances. He doesn’t measure the same way we measure. God looks at the heart. He sees what is inside. He sees the desire. And if we take delight in Him then surely He gives us the desires of our heart.

–Update as of July 31, 2015: PNoy has announced that he’s endorsing Mar Roxas to be his successor. Grace Poe’s political plans for 2016 – if she agrees to be a VP to Mar or any other presidential candidates or if she will run for Presidency herselft are not yet known.