New and old

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - June 10, 2010 - 12:00am

It is oddly appropriate that the proclamation of President-elect Benigno Aquino III and Vice-President-elect Jejomar Binay comes just a few days before our 112th Independence Day. Now that the National Board of Canvassers has formally tallied the votes and declared the selections of the Filipino people, President-elect Aquino and Vice-President-elect Binay can begin the next phase of their lives. The question is if they will just be a continuation of the politics as usual post-Martial Law, or will they actually try and encourage transparency and accountability in government?

We say it is appropriate that they are proclaimed a few days before Independence Day because we hope the incoming administration will reflect on what has come before. Each generation since the declaration of independence has hoped, prayed and worked for a new Philippines. Sadly, more often than not the government has been a hindrance to progress, not a partner; or even a leader.

Today it seems, with the myriad problems facing the country, the words and hopes of our Founding Fathers still resonate and remain relevant. One of the more famous of Jose Rizal’s critiques is: “What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?” That criticism is as applicable then as it is today. That is a cautionary word to all of the newly elected and appointed members of government. An even more pointed quote comes from Apolinario Mabini: “Freedom is the right to only do good, not evil.”

Honoring the Founding Fathers and every Filipino patriot who has come since is not mindlessly praising their platitudes, while at every stolen opportunity undermining their vision of the Philippines. The importance of Emilio Jacinto’s Kartilya is well expressed by Felice Sta. Maria in her book on the Revolution, Visions of the Possible: “Believing in the equality of all, leaders were expected to have internalized the Kartilya.” One of the passages in the document says: “The value of a person is not in being sovereign…nor is it in the high station one has in life…[it is one] who does not oppress others or allow one’s self to be oppressed; who knows how to be sensitive and knows how to cherish the land of his birth.”

Justice for all Filipinos and equality as well were one of the driving forces behind the Propaganda and the Revolution. They instead were concerned with how one led his life, what he did with the opportunities presented. Apolinario Mabini addressed this directly in his Decalogue: “Secure the happiness of thy country before thy own, making therefrom the kingdom of right, of justice, and of work; for if she is happy, happy shall thou and thy family be.”

The ideas of our Founding Fathers are still important today. The reason is only in certain ways have we achieved what they envisioned for the Philippines. There still remains gross injustice and inequality in the country. And in certain ways, we have been colonized by our own countrymen.

The UNESCO Philippines, in their policy recommendations, urged the next administration to anchor their national development policies in Filipino culture. It has been proven that doing so improves their effectiveness. Specifically, they state: “Anchor your action on the promotion of a Philippine culture that is a lasting legacy of excellence and nobleness in all we make and in all we do.”       

This is a challenge not only for those who hold the two highest posts in the land, but to every member of the incoming administration; elected or appointed alike. Live up to the hopes and ideals of Filipinos past and present. In doing so we believe that the Philippines will progress, more rapidly than any of us expect. Be the leaders that the country needs, not the politicians that self-interest and greed dictate.

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