Ever since my husband and I came to Canada about 13 years ago, we have always heard the sad comment from fellow Filipinos, “Wala nang mangyayari sa Pilipinas, wala nang pag-asa yan.” Ito na ang bukambibig ng mga OFWs at mga Filipino immigrants na umalis na sa ating bansa para mamuhay dito sa Canada. Out of curiosity, I would ask them why they think and feel that way and almost always they would cite these three common threads of sentiment—the deepening poverty, the chaos in civic life, and the corruption in government. I realized I was not alone. I needed no further explanation from them. I wondered if ever things would get better in our motherland and if ever we could go back home and live in peace and prosperity.
Back in 1986, the Filipinos were on top of the world. Naging mabango tayo sa buong mundo. Riding on the cusp of the victorious People Power revolution, we all thought we were in for a “New Philippines”. Sadly, the exhilaration was short-lived and the Cory magic soon faded.
It has been exactly 30 years since the ouster of the Marcos’ dictatorship; we’ve seen five presidents come and go. And yet? Millions of Filipinos are still languishing miserably in abject poverty, people still feel unsafe in the streets where rampant crime and violence have become the new normal, where we’ve seen the mass exodus of Philippine labor and talent to work abroad and the “Filipino maid” has become our international trademark, where unbridled corruption in government remains unabated with hoodlums in uniform going scot-free, and criminals in Barong Tagalog are back in power… How can you solve a problem like the Philippines, I asked?
Someone once said that we get the government we deserve, and we deserve the government we choose. I guess we Filipinos have never learned. Nowhere has it been truer than in the Philippines that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. The “damaged culture” with which James Fallows described our culture has brought on a new twisted meaning since he wrote about it almost 30 years ago. Something indeed is grotesquely wrong with our society.
In less than two months, we have again in our hands a chance to choose our government. And again as usual, politicians are wooing the electorate with their promises, promises. In a culture of patronage “padrino” system propagated by a bizarre mix of mainstream media bias, the Filipinos’ obsession with showbiz glitter and telenovelas, and a proclivity for a surreally short-lived memory, we have reduced what is supposed to be an exercise of our sacred right to suffrage into a zarzuela of cult personality politics.
It is indeed quite a challenge for Juan de la Cruz to go through the process of political decision-making and choose the right government leaders. Yet, if we throw away this opportunity and we elected the wrong leaders, simply because we did not take the time to do our own diligence, ferret out the truth from the lies, sift through the propaganda, then we can only blame ourselves.
But how do we sift through the campaign cacophony and get to the meat of the matter? How do we sort through the mayhem of misinformation? Should we allow ourselves again to fall into the same trap of electing the same old trapos? Can the Filipinos live through another six damned years?
I believe the answer lies in our ability to answer three basic questions:
- What are the core problems besetting the country?
- What is the purpose of government?
- Which candidates fit the mandate for government and can lead the country to solve its problems?
Remember when we were in grade school? We were taught the good ‘ole problem-solving method, that is, to solve a problem, we first need to identify and define the problem. So when Filipinos ask themselves, “Who among the candidates can effectively address our major problems?” we need to ask ourselves, what are the country’s problems?
Let’s look at the top 5 long-standing problems that the Philippines is beset with …. For rest of the story, please go to: