Making up for the broken heart of PNoy

Leonora Aquino-Gonzales - The Philippine Star

It has been almost 40 days since PNoy’s passing and I’ve been wondering why I’ve felt so devastated since the shocking news of his sudden death. Later, I realized I was not just feeling sad. Maybe remorse was the more accurate word. Yes, I have been remorseful and for a while I could not muster enough courage to even admit that.

I still remember the words of former Ateneo president, Fr. Jett Villarin – PNoy died a “broken-hearted” man. I am one of those who broke his heart. And for this, I am deeply sorry.  Perhaps, there are many more like me who feel the same regret.

Sorry, PNoy. Although I did not believe the lies told about you, I conveniently chose the path of least resistance. It is easier to be quiet when the opposing voices are louder. After all, you also chose to exercise the “silence of dignity” after your presidential term, as Archbishop Soc Villegas aptly describes it. I thought that your good deeds should be enough to quash the lies. I was wrong.

PNoy, I know you sincerely believed that we, the Filipino people, are worth fighting for. You fought for us at the cost of your personal happiness. You fought so hard to bring back the Philippines on the map and made me proud once more as a Filipino – taking the leap as a booming economy and living up to the mantra,“kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” (where there is no corruption, there is no poverty).

But even with a flourishing economy, you were not contented. You directed your economic and social welfare teams to collaborate and ensure that growth would benefit the poor. My former boss, the World Bank’s former country director for the Philippines, Motoo Konishi, acknowledged that your administration “nearly tripled the budget for the Departments of Education, Health, and Social Welfare and Development, an increase that has been unheard of globally.” According to Konishi, you expanded the universal coverage of health insurance and the Pantawid Pamilya Program, the government’s conditional cash transfer program, that lifted 7.7 million Filipinos out of poverty. Indeed, the Philippines was in a better position when you ended your term in 2016.

You have fought well for me – for us. You have kept the faith. But the race is not yet finished. More reforms need to be made. It is true that six years is too short for a good president. The baton has to be passed to someone who can rebuild this broken nation – one who can be a uniting force rather than a divisive one. One who has the vision and concrete agenda for post-COVID recovery – to bring back the country on the stable path of prosperity while preparing the country for future generations. A servant-leader who can run this country with no wang-wang and treat the Filipino citizens as her boss.

To make it up to you PNoy, I will actively engage. I will remember your optimism amid your heartaches. You were initially reluctant but you responded to the call of your people and faithfully embraced your duties.  And so amid the thunderous voices of the high and mighty, I will no longer take silence as an option.

Elections 2022 – I am ready.

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Leonora Aquino-Gonzales teaches at the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines.

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