I wouldn’t deny it. The results of the recent national elections in the Philippines left me stunned and broken-hearted. For a few days, I walked with a cloud hanging over my head. I feel better now so I am able to write about this matter.
I am not being self-righteous. Neither am I naive to think that I am the best judge of people’s capability in running a public office. But I just felt that in most positions, there were other candidates that deserved the honor and responsibility and are more capable of the job.
Things haven’t changed much in the selection of leaders in the country. The popular ones win, never mind if their track records do not show any notable qualifications for the job. Those with money and clout win, never mind if they were involved in some acts in the past reeking of corruption or violation of human rights.
So what happens now? For many people in classes B and C, the effects will be felt but somehow, they will still be able to continue with their lives, have a job, eat meals thrice a day, and afford some luxuries every now and then. The A will of course continue with their luxurious, comfortable lives. But the rest will feel most of the impact if the country will not be properly run.
Perhaps, I am being a pessimist. But no. This is a point of view I gained from my many personal experiences and from observing the society. I was a struggling professional for many years before I became a Foreign Service Officer. My experience as an educator for 14 years made me know personally how some institutions do not give importance to teachers. Before I got a good-paying job, I had experienced being part of schools or centers paying teachers 25 pesos, 40 pesos, 50 pesos and 70 pesos an hour, with no benefits whatsoever, and with no pay when classes are cancelled or suspended due to bad weather or other circumstances.
Before I was able able to afford to pay private hospitals that offer fast service and comfortable air-conditioned waiting areas for clients, I had to go or accompany kins to public hospitals. In one such hospital, two women and their newborn babies share a small bed just enough to fit a person with average size, and they had to lie down horizontally and bend their legs so they would fit. And this is not even the most piteous scenario in a hospital.
Also, in an elementary school where I did my observation many years ago when I was still working on my thesis for my Graduate degree, sacks of rice were repurposed as divisions between classrooms. Thus, the teachers’ voices and students’ noises collided.
As a college student then, I became part of organizations that gave me the opportunity to mingle with the common folks, talk to farmers, visit people in their shanties, go to orphanages. Many people are content with their simple lives, striving day by day to assuage their children’s hunger.
What was remarkable is that there are plenty of hardworking and simple folks who honestly earn a living. There are many who, despite their obvious difficulties in life still maintain that zeal to go on and to inspire other people to do the same.
I just have these wishes now: That the hate prevalent in the air (especially on social media) would dissipate as the days pass by; That the candidates chosen by majority of the populace would serve the people and not their personal interests; That the new administration which will run the country for six years will lead to a more progressive Philippines and a better life for all Filipino citizens. While it may be true that people control their destiny, those who are at the helm of the nation can make or break the future of the country.
Someone told me, just go with the flow; the people have selected their leaders so do not complain. I am aware, however, that while some are enjoying riding the waves, others are struggling to stay afloat. We can not just look and ignore them; we have to extend a helping hand.
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Thank you so much. I was also stunned by the results. I am reading this important essay.
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