I know I said I didn’t want to be political in this blog, but this is a thought that has been going round and round in my head this past couple of weeks when the air of dissent in Manila has been thick and ready to explode.
I can’t help but go back to this question when I hear of friends wanting to give up lives and career in the Philippines to throw their lot into the (perceived) greener pastures here in the US. Not that I can blame them — but I have strongly discouraged those who would venture to seek my counsel. (Not that I picture myself to be a Tiya Dely or an Ate Helen.)
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected into the presidency of the Philippines after I had left to live here in the US. (I do not wish to debate her legitimacy as the incumbent because we can discuss that to death without arriving at a solid conclusion — too many pros and cons, we might end up killing each other before the truth comes out in full.)
I do remember her as a Senator before I left — and I have always had a great respect for her intellectual prowess. The woman has brains, that much, we have to admit. (But so did Marcos..) She may not have the charisma or the simplicity of Cory Aquino, nor the eloquence and straight-shooting words of Fidel V. Ramos — but she talks sense. We may not agree with everything that she says, but you cannot just dismiss her with a grain of salt. Sadly, her presidency has been riddled with charges of corruption not very different from the ones that unseated her then President Joseph Estrada.
I have time and again heard people complaining against the corruption and the problems besetting my beloved Philippines. Yet everyone stops short with the declaration that there’s no one to replace the current leadership. Could that be so true in a Philippines that produced so many great minds and great leaders at one time or another? I’ll probably be pelted with comments and disparaging remarks if I say I have no one to recommend or endorse — but that is not a choice to make now. So do we just let things remain the same for want of an alternative?
I think that in the desperation and chaos, people have turned a blind eye to what has been happening in government for fear of further muddling the situation and seeing the country embroiled in more suffering and pain. Everybody just wants to get out of the country and find a better life outside. Little do they know that what they might find might even make them worse off than they were back home. But is leaving the country really the solution? I left Manila not out of economic consideration but as a personal choice to follow my heart. I would have chosen to stay but it was either that or be with the one I chose to grow old with.
Yet even in the greatness of this city I now call home, I yearn for the warmth and familiarity of Manila. So it pains me to see the government continuing to function as if the people owed them it’s allegiance, instead of the other way around. It is so sad to hear people say Gloria is so corrupt, but there’s no one better.
Are we going to wait another 20 years before we move for change again? I don’t think the Philippines can afford that long a wait, not after the way it had been raped and pillaged by leaders before her. The way we effect that change is a long and ardous process. How do we go about it? I will not pretend to be a genuis with some grand design to solve the problems back home. But I do believe that change can only truly take place if the Filipinos can make up their minds about whether or not they want GMA to remain in power. So stop saying you want her out but then you don’t want Noli de Castro to lead the country. If you would rather have her for want of a better alternative, then stop complaining because the turmoil and chaos is a result of your inaction and complacency.