2016: A vote for the future or a return to the past?
When you look up the meaning of nostalgia, you will learn that it has something to do with the past. When you are nostalgic, you reminisce happy memories of a place or time when you think things were better.
For most of us Filipino Gen X and millennials, we are reminded every now and then that our Inang Bayan had its share of the limelight back in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, the Philippines boasted of having the second fastest economic growth and the second most progressive economy in Asia after Japan. At that time, we even had the most modern airport in Southeast Asia, which now sadly ranks as one of the worst airports in the world. (At least no longer the worst, according to the latest survey.)
We were second to Japan back then, but decades-long corruption under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos plunged the Philippine economy into an abyss. Its social, political, and economic repercussions still haunt us to this day. Disappointingly, many Filipinos seem to forget this or simply turn a blind eye on how the Marcoses bled this country dry, as the Marcoses still hold important elected positions in this country.
The Marcoses should be forever held accountable for ingraining corruption in all levels of Philippine society and instilling political apathy in the minds of millions of Filipinos. The word or name Marcos should be forever etched in the annals of history and immortalized in dictionaries as anything pertaining to a dynastic form of corruption characterized by political dictatorship, excessive cronyism, economic mismanagement, and social injustice – just as Imelda Marcos’ ostentatious lifestyle ended up as "imeldific" in the English dictionary.
The Philippines suffered so much under the Marcoses, and every Filipino for generations to come must not forget this. We must never again suffer under a Marcos regime.
Back to second, roaring like a tiger
Twenty-nine years after the EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, the Philippines is back to being second in Asia but this time behind a different shadow – China’s.
Every now and then, the Internet is abuzz with how the Philippines has shed its infamous title as the perennial “Sick Man of Asia” to become the next Asian tiger. Aside from having an annual growth rate one and a half times higher than the world average and a declining foreign debt-to-GDP ratio, other macro-economic indicators point to a strong and stable economy.
In fact, for the first time in its history, the Philippines was given investment grade status by the Big Three credit rating agencies. The IMF now even classifies it as a creditor. True enough, the BSP has loaned $1 billion to the failing Eurozone.
Some of us are already looking too far ahead. Based on similar projections by Goldman-Sachs, HSBC, and the IMF, the Philippines will belong to the top 20 largest economies in the world by 2050, with a per capita income of more than $10,000 – more than twice as now. But will these predictions ever come to fruition and benefit the entire nation in the future? In 2016, we shall know.
2016, the turning point
The same way that 1964 proved to be a pivotal year for the economic and political history of the country, next year will be another turning point. We, as a nation, will decide whether to rise up from being second in Asia or to go back to being one of the poorest in the world. The road to the future is going to depend on who the next leader will be.
One reason why the Philippines could not progress is because our nation is still ingrained in a political cycle centered on personal vengeance. One belligerent political family replaces another and takes the reins of government to undermine the achievements of its political foes.
Instead of building on any political or economic gains of his predecessor, the new leader of the land would, without any hesitation, scrap any proven policies and programs instituted by his predecessor because he believes continuing them could compromise his own political mandate and personal economic agenda. In effect, every change in leadership becomes not a step up but more of a step back to zero.
Our political history has been nothing more than a vast collection of political agendas and personal crusades of vindictive political families interrupted by countless revolts and revolutions that fail time and time again to change the status quo.
We pride ourselves with toppling a dictator through a bloodless revolution in 1986. We gave each other a pat on the back once more after EDSA II in 2001 overthrew a corrupt and incompetent leader. Every time we launch a massive demonstration attacking our government on the streets, we feel empowered and believe that the world is looking at us with admiration. Sadly, we are left fooling ourselves. For in the eyes of the world, the democracy that we cherish and fight for is nothing but a flawed concept. Our flawed democracy is nothing more than a government ruled by powerful oligarchs that use us as pawns in their political games.
Throughout the archipelago, political families and dynasties extend their clout to all aspects of Philippine society, from public administration to private enterprises. They even strive to earn the blessing of the still influential Catholic Church to give the masses an illusion that their political aspirations rest on a solid moral and spiritual bedrock.
The 5Gs: The pillars of Philippine politics
In these modern times, using the name of God and aiming for Glory has been universally proven to be a potent combination that could lead to disastrous results in the hands of unscrupulous and corrupt political forces. Add Gold to the equation and you will surely have a fool-proof recipe for a major economic catastrophe. And if the politician wants to rule indefinitely by repressing the rights of the citizenry and gagging his political dissenters, it does not need a lot of intellect to realize that he will definitely use Guns and Goons as well. Unfortunately, “Gold, God, Glory, Guns and Goons” still remain as the 5 pillars of Philippine politics.
Actions have consequences. History has taught us that Marcos’ election in 1964 had dire consequences that we still wallow in to this day.
When we vote next year :
We must NOT ALLOW any form of political intimidation (Guns and Goons) to prevent us from safeguarding the future of our children and their children.
We must STAY AWAY from politicians who are obviously running for the sole purpose of clearing up their family names for any blunder they or their predecessors have done in the past. These politicians are not going to shy away from exalting their family name, let alone their dead (Glory).
We must NOT EVEN CONSIDER politicians who use religion and God to sway the votes of millions in their favor.
We must NOT VOTE for politicians who have tarnished the reputation of their public offices for their personal aggrandizement (Gold).
Above all, we must be mindful of the past, so we can vote for a better future. – Rappler.com
Aside from being an OFW for the past 8 years, Bertrand is also an OFP, a proud Overseas Filipino Patriot, who remains true to his Filipino roots and identity, no matter where he goes and resides. He is an educator by profession and an aspiring writer and businessman. He hopes to retire as a philanthropist someday.
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
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