As I write this, I am holding back tears. It is not because I don't like Noynoy Aquino, nor because I think Erap being allowed to run again and now come second in this race is a joke, but because about 90% of my voting countrymen allowed a good thing slip through their fingers... yet again.
I read a comment someone posted on the GT fan page that said the Philippines will never cease to be a third world country, because the Filipinos keep thinking like one. It's a tragedy that we repeatedly refuse to acknowledge our islands' limitless potential. By electing the same kind of people over and over again to lead our nation, we are consciously closing our minds and hearts to a new era in politics; where mudslinging and dirty tactics can become obsolete. It really is a shame.
Sour graping is the easiest thing in the world. I could whine, complain and write angry hate notes and messages about how stupid, inane and terrifically idiotic we've now made ourselves out to be. I could congratulate the 12 million Filipinos for damning us to 6 years of shame, blame and online games. There are so many delightfully snarky things I could say that would probably make me feel better. But this time, I won't. Why? Because this time, I've learned how to.
Throughout his campaign, Gilbert Teodoro was often praised by many, both in the public and private sectors, for his brilliance, integrity, capability and positivity. It was due to these qualities that he received support from me and over 3 million Filipinos across the country. Though we did not soar as high as we wanted to, it was in the few feet above the ground that I, and I'm sure my fellow "Gibonians" will concur, learned valuable lessons in politics, leadership and more importantly, in life.
Of these lessons, here are 10 that I will always remember... and treasure.
1. Stop the negativity! Take responsibility! One of the things Gibo was most commended for was his commitment to maintain a positive campaign throughout the period. Not once did he stoop down to sling the mud back, he would only wipe it off his shoes. His focus was on bringing his voice and platform to all areas of the country, to give us the chance to discern and make the decision based on that knowledge. No matter how dirty the arena had become, everyone still wanted to shake his hand.
2. The world keeps spinning and so should we. "Society does change." Gibo said this in one of his sorties, when he talked about addressing the material needs of people today. In an ideal society, people should be content to live within their means and capabilities. But unfortunately, reality begs to differ. The times, they are a changing, Bob Dylan once sang, and it will continue to do so whether we like it or not. The ability to adapt and adjust can no longer be considered an option, for it is fast becoming a necessity.
3. It's not the what. It's the how. Another thing Gibo was often praised for was his practical take on traditional and modern day issues. His platform attracted many because his proposed policies and solutions seemed "doable". In fact, there were no promises made to put an end to the problems that have been haunting our country for decades, if not centuries. After all, an idea is one thing, but its execution is another entirely.
4. Not all bad grass come from the same seed. We civilians have this idea that all government officials are the same: corrupt, self-serving and power hungry. But after listening to Gibo speak in one of his sorties about how corruption can be eased through incentives and rewards for good behavior, I realized that there still are public servants who actually WANT to serve the public.
5. Shit happens. But you can always clean it up. Throughout his stint as Secretary of National Defense happened two tragedies: the Typhoon Ketsana and Maguindanao massacre. His response to these disasters, while not perfect, was still commended by those who actually knew what the heck was going on. Even during the campaign, when many a time was he frowned upon for these unfortunate events, not once did I hear him point the finger at other people. What I admire is that he took responsibility for his actions and did what was best at the time to appease each situation.
6. There are many things we can compromise. Integrity is not one of them. Being a member of one of the most powerful political machineries in the country, it would have been easy to engage in the crossfire that happened between several of the candidates. Everyone wondered why he refused to denounce his ties to PGMA, even though people were saying they would vote for him if he would. Why not compromise, I, like many other Filipinos thought? Then, during one of his sorties, I heard him say that there is nothing on earth that is worth ruining his father's name, and his son's future. Right then and there, I understood.
7. Freedom, contrary to its root word, is not always free. So don't waste it. We are the only fully democratic country in our region, yet, we are one of the least progressive. This is something I've heard him stress over in many talks and forums. We actually have the right to say when we want change and when we've had enough. Sometimes, we don't appreciate how lucky we are, that we have the freedom of speech, the freedom to choose our religion and elect our leaders. It's up to us to make decisions for our future and the betterment of country. And luckily, it will ALWAYS be up to us.
8. Peace, on the other hand, is always free. So please make use of it. One of the main points of Gibo's platform was, and always will be, peace and unity among our 7,000++ islands. We are a diverse archipelago, rich in culture and heritage, and that is something we should be proud of, not hate. We often hear of the problems in other poor countries when in fact, we have the very same problems right next door. Though it is a very popular answer among aspiring beauty queens, that doesn't make it any less crucial. Peace should always be a priority in this, and any country.
9. The importance of a legacy. Of all the times I've heard him address the people's fear of him playing a puppet to PGMA, Gibo always says one thing: that he is still young. What he meant by this was that if he had been given the chance to lead, after his 6 years in office, he would still have many years to show face for; which he would not jeopardize for his sake, and more importantly, for his family's sake. After all, we can think of many ways to gain money and power, but we only have ONE life to live and ONE legacy to leave.
10. Love our country. This may be the simplest lesson, but nonetheless, it was something I deeply needed to relearn. In this day and age, we are more exposed to the outside world than ever. I'm not scared to admit that there have been a number of times when I felt ashamed of being a Filipino, in a country so afraid of change and innovation. Ashamed of our penchant for favoring people for who they know over who they are. Ashamed of our blatant backwardness, especially when compared to our neighboring countries. But the moment I heard Gibo speak about his vision for the country stirred in me a feeling of patriotism that I never thought I had. In the few months that I displayed my belief in his candidacy; I had also, willingly, displayed my belief in my country.
Despite the grief I feel for the outcome of this year's elections, strangely, I cannot escape the feeling of hope and pride that continues to swell inside me. Looking through the facebook pages of fellow "Gibonians", it's easy to see that there was something new, exciting and inspiring that was born out of all this. And I know that whatever was awakened in all of us is something that cannot be easily abandoned, or forgotten.
Though he's said before that this is the last time he expects to run for public office, I sincerely hope that for once, he said something he didn't mean. I hope, no, I insist that he runs again in 2016, because he owes all of us the opportunity to see his platform, ideas and vision become our reality. Throughout his campaign, we were introduced to a new breed of politics. The Green Team volunteers were NEVER paid.
So Mr. Teodoro, if you ever get to read this, please consider giving us the chance to vote for you again. That is the only payment I seek.
Oh yeah, and thanks for the lessons. :-)
Labels: angela dela Calzada, gibo, gilbert teodoro, halalan 2010