Pinoys urged: Get out of comfort zones

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday encouraged Filipinos to get out of their comfort zones and “be a man for others” to help achieve reforms.

In his speech during the Ignatian Festival at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Aquino cited the life of St. Ignatius de Loyola, who selflessly dedicated himself to others.

“As true Ateneans, this is one very important lesson we have from St. Ignatius: Get out of your comfort zones; choose to be with people. Never be afraid to take the complicated path of reason and avoid the easy but wrong road,” he said.

Aquino urged Ateneans to help find solutions to the nation’s problems and not just complain on social media.

“Responding to problems cannot be done through marketing study or reflection paper, Facebook or mere re-tweeting. It’s not enough that you know the problem – it’s your obligation to contribute to the solutions; it’s your obligation to correct what is wrong,” he said.

“And isn’t it that if you don’t act, you also become part of the problem? You did not just fail others, you also failed yourself and the institution that cared for and supported you,” he added.

Aquino said people should not confine themselves within the walls of their schools and offices, living for themselves but go out and serve their fellowmen.

Aquino said he, like the rest of the Ateneans, was molded by Ateneo to become better and to realize that they would have to experience a lot of things to understand that they were in the position to help other people.

He said this was better than training students to become wealthy and famous as fast as they could.

Aquino said he owed a debt of gratitude to Ateneo, including his mentors who taught him to be patient but also once tested his patience.

He said Ateneo president Jose Ramon Villarin once told him that what he got himself into was really difficult.

“Maybe you will go straight to heaven,” Aquino quoted Villarin as saying, and he asked him why.

Villarin replied: “Because this is your purgatory,” the President said.

At the Ateneo, Aquino did not drop any hints about the contents of his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) tomorrow.

Instead, Aquino focused on how his education in Ateneo molded his character.

While the contents of the SONA are a tightly guarded secret, Aquino is expected to highlight the country’s achievements under his watch.

Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he was anticipating the SONA to get an idea of the legislative priorities of Aquino in the last three years of his administration.

“One of the primary considerations that I would have, provided that I’m elected again (as Speaker), is to really give backing to the President’s second half. I want it to be as productive as the first half and I hope my own leadership of the House will be in that direction,” Belmonte said.

“Aside from the usual SONA, I hope he will give us some indications of where his policy will be leading to,” he said.

Some Catholic bishops said they are hoping to hear the President talk about his measures to combat corruption and how the poor and the unemployed Filipinos would feel the improved economy.

“The benefits of a good economy should trickle down to the poor and unemployed. As of now, the poor and many people do not feel the good economy,” said Cubao Bishop Honesto Ontioco.

Emeritus Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, who chairs the CBCP-Public Affairs Committee, said Aquino should announce solutions to the corruption problem in the country.

Former CBCP president Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo suggested Aquino should speak out on the pork barrel issue.

“I reiterate the suggestion that the pork barrel be better used for the common good. That there be honesty and transparency in reporting its use. Those who misuse pork barrel must either be deprived of it or be dealt with justly,” Lagdameo said.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, for her part, said Aquino’s SONA should show the issues of high prices of fuel and other basic commodities, rising unemployment, and glaring poverty across the nation.

“There will never be enough spin to conceal the glaring reality of the people’s growing poverty and glowing statistics of economic growth will remain meaningless,” Ilagan said.

The US-based Human Rights Watch suggested Aquino should outline in his SONA the concrete steps taken by his administration to provide justice for victims of human rights.

“President Aquino should use this State of the Nation speech to put meat on the bones of his human rights commitments by outlining specific measures to tackle ongoing human rights problems,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

On the other hand, Sen. Cynthia Villar expressed support for Sen. Franklin Drilon over his statements focusing on economic measures rather than Charter change initiatives.

She said there are more practical ways of creating laws to spur the economy than amending the Constitution.

Villar admitted she is in favor of changing the system of government from presidential to parliamentary.

Since the issue is not a priority of the Aquino administration, Villar said she would support measures that will boost the business environment. – Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Pia Lee-Brago, Evelyn Macairan, Christina Mendez

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