Sunday, April 20, 2008

Humpty Dumpty Gloria?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a big fall
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again

If you think I will bash our president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, you may get disappointed.

I'm writing about the present state of the Philippines under her term. It is a personal opinion and should not be taken as a view by the people of the Philippines. I've been prodded by some friends to give an opinion after I chided them on the text messages that have been circulating on how difficult life has become because of the economic crunch in the country.

Gloria has been blamed for all the travails we are currently experiencing. The rice shortage, the appreciation of the peso, the increased cost of food and gas and electricity and water, transportation, increased inflation... and the joke is that everything rises except her excellency's height.

But is Gloria actually to blame for all these?

Well, with the way Philippines politics goes, it's bound to be the president's head that we ask for on a silver platter. I am no expert in political science and will not venture to be an "expert" as others would claim to be (and no, I don't believe their savvy political science background simply because Philippines politics is one for the Guinness Record and has no formal background. With that said, these "experts" should just shove the diplomas up their...)

I will simply state the obvious. In 2001, we overthrew a sitting president on allegations of skimming off money from jueteng (a gambling game). Imagine that! It's not even legal money tendered to the government which should be accounted for and we overthrew that president. What a pathetic crowd. Let's just say that those who wanted Joseph Estrada out were the country's supposed "elite" who definitely did not like the lifestyle that Erap led - women, gambling, poor governance. But Erap was loved by the masses because he gave when it came to the poor. In plain language, he was just a simpleton. Didn't have enough brains, probably, to decide on issues central to running a country. He probably thought that the country was a "little San Juan". So a couple of people from Metro Manila (which did not even represent the voting majority of this country) decided to go to EDSA for an uprising, decided to throw him out of office and swear in his vice-president. The rest is history.

Eight years later into a second term as president and 2 years to go as sitting president, Gloria is plagued by corruption from human rights advocates, shady deals of her husband and political appointees, favoring military appointments into the cabinet, alleged rise in graft and corruption, an increasing inflation rate in the country, an exodus of skilled workers in massive proportions, and several coup attempts.

But all the president's men have parried her from being booted out of office. Even whistle blower Jun Lozada lost steam in attempting to discredit her. Why? What has happened?

The Filipinos are tired of the same drama and telenovela that's unfolding in the political scenario. Majority of those that remain working in our country are poor and uneducated. They wouldn't care less, except for a morsel of bread. Something Gloria has taken cared of by providing them P500 worth of ATM allowance monthly. It will buy a few basic food on the table, and time for the next president to worry about the situation of the country.

Many of the professional workers - nurses, doctors, pharmacists, ITs, engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers - are moving out of the country, in search for more verdant pastures. Never mind the hardship of starting over again. To them, this country is a lost cause. No future in the land where only the moguls gain more and the poor become poorer. If you don't believe me, why do you think that the nursing course is such a lucrative field nowadays? I ask my patients on what their kids are taking or will be, and they say - NURSING! To earn dollars, to be OFWs, to make a life in the country of milk and honey. They have nothing good to talk about the Philippines. They dream that one day, some day, their kids will extricate them from the hell of this country and bring them to purgatory in London or New York and eventually, find heaven in the land where dollars and pounds are legal tender.

I have many friends that have taken this road. It is not the road less traveled.

Is it Gloria?

No. And even if I did not vote for her as president of the Republic of the Philippines, I respect the position of the president. I may not like her, but the blame should not be shouldered by the president alone. We are equally to blame for the condition the country is in. The pathetic people who have made politics, graft, corruption, envy and greed the by-word for survival are to blame. It starts with the one-letter word "I". Each time we give in to the sins of the world, we are to blame for the destruction of the economy of the country.

This country has as many mobile phones as there are people residing here. I make my rounds in the charity section of the hospital and I see kids sick and needing medical assistance. I turn my head around and see the mom with a cellphone N72! I tell her that her son needs medications because he is very ill. She says she has no money. I tell her to sell her mobile phone. She looks at me with fiery eyes and says "NO". It's all she has. And she is not alone in that attitude!

What was the kid? A display item? With this kind of attitude, we have raised the bar of materialistic sustenance. I've simply said it over and over again to parents, if you don't have the dough, don't try to live like a prince off someone else's money. It's bad role modeling. But look at the poor. Their shanties have a flat screen TV, DVD, iPod, computer, refrigerator, electric fan, and some have even airconditioners!

This example is a microcosm of the bigger evil. Parents who flaunt what they DON'T HAVE make their children believe they have money. They max out their credit cards, they buy cars and laptops and iPod touches (even the illegal iPod phones), go on vacations skimmed off from company accounts... you know the story. One day some sheriff goes to their house to sequester everything they have (or did not have in the first place). Shameful and pathetic.

It's basically greed. Inner greed. Inner evil. Something we simply can't help ourselves with.

I am not absolving the government from blame. Everyone is part to blame. Media included. Someone once said that the most powerful change can be achieved, if only it starts with "I". But love for country is something that is wanting. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and that in itself is a monumental task. Daunting and hopefully, possible.

When all the other countries around us have gone through so much crisis as well, they have well risen above them for love of country. The self was willing to take up much more sacrifice for others than simply being onlookers at watching how the country would evolve.

Good governance is a far cry in this country, but Gloria will never achieve it until it becomes her political will to weed out her greedy men. The only payback a president owes is to its people. At present, Gloria's problem is not emanating solely from a local problem. The compounding factors of worldwide depression and rising fuel costs, including lack of food supply in the changing climate environment contributes to her problems. She was caught flat-footed so to speak. But it was bound to happen to any president who had no foresight on the problem of the country. And the problem just escalates disproportionately.

Gloria will weather her political storm. She needs to. And whether we like it or not, we need to help her by starting with "I". Moral and ethical responsibility begins with us. And must be demanded by us of our government officials. We need more than just text messages aimed at destroying the country to make this country weather the problems of the world. While they are funny, they are also crude and show our non-caring attitude about what is going on in this country.

But the only way Gloria will weather the political climate is to weed out the bad, even if it means sacrificing family. There is a generation of Filipinos that will benefit from good leadership. And if she is willing to make that her legacy, it is not too late to lead the way. Your generals and cabinet ministers cannot help you. Time to clean up before leaving the house Madam President. There's a country waiting for you.

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