Where next, Philippines?

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

Have you tried to take a land trip from Cebu to Antique?

Travel has become so convenient, now that there are more ships available to take travelers from one province to another. There are also better roads along the coast, up the mountains to choose from.

With enough preparation, one can minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of travel like time use, beautiful places to visit or pass through, learning more about our people and our well-endowed country.

The month of May may be well into summer, however, one is treated to a variety of fruits and flowers during this land trip.

Siniguelas and camachile were the special summer fruits displayed in stalls along the roads leading to San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. Pineapple and avocados, aside from various plants, herbs, and flowers were offered through the mountain route from Bacolod to San Carlos via the Don Salvador Benedicto Highway.

Gratefully, still so much of our beautiful nature remains --the proud Mt. Kanlaon, the neighboring mountains and hills, the varied shades of green trees, grass, and crops. Then, our pride as well, the beautiful, wide seas.

Of course, in this part of the Visayas, the ubiquitous sugarcane plantations were all over-tended by the hardworking tenants. Harvested sugarcane was loaded onto vintage American trucks to the nearest milling area. In a number of areas, harvested palay was still being dried along the road. Occasionally, a crowd of farmers, with their palay, surrounded the highly-demanded ambulant rice mill.

Then there were the children, one barefooted boy hurriedly trying to catch up with his lola up the concrete road, girls in rubber slippers playfully going up the mountain road. The smiles and joy in the faces of the children swimming or picking shells --precious faces of children of the sea and the mountains. Thank God, so much of our natural beauty and warm smiling Filipinos remain.

Despite the attempts to colonize us in the past, our people have preserved their natural environment. Now, how far can our people resist the forcible entry of business that will flatten or mine their mountains, abuse the seas and our marine resources? How far will leaders allow or prevent foreigners from abusing and controlling our Philippine resources and territories?

How long will our people remain divided in terms of class? Social inequality continues to divide our people - huge tracts of land owned by a few leaving thousands of families in poverty through centuries and decades, small fisherfolks pushed away by big commercial vessels, including those owned by non-Filipinos.

How long can our people remain in their land, in our seas, in our mountains and hills? Will our people wake up one day to find our country already owned and controlled by foreigners?

Our country will be taken for an electoral journey this Monday, the 13th of May. Will our people choose leaders who will take our nation along the road to freedom, along the way to better equality for all, towards the preservation of our resources for our own people, especially our food producers, our poor?

Will the next election find our people with genuine servant leaders along the road to truth, freedom, justice, and equality? Will the next election bring our people and our country to a higher, prouder level of genuine independence?

Or will our people elect the abusive, the corrupt, the thieves who care only for themselves, never mind our sovereignty and better lives for all?

Mama Mary of Fatima, on your May 13th Feast Day, please guide our people along God’s path for us!

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