Starting Over: What Builds a Nation

by Caela

Benigno S. Aquino III takes his oath on the Bible during his inauguration as 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines at the Quirino Granstand, Manila. June 30, 2010. Photo: Erik de Castro

I’m a very big fan of moving on. I’ve cheered new administrations on for not dwelling on the past and moving straight to the dirty task of governance and talk on the high road of bipartisanship for nation-building. The thing is, I believe this country have moved on far too often. I could forgive past administrations for making mistakes in issues like extended VAT, power purchase agreement, agrarian reform, etc. I console myself in believing that given they information they had at the time, they did what they thought was necessary, what they believed was right. What I could never understand is how we can forgive one that robbed the farmers opportunities by using the money allocated for them to fund an incumbent’s re-election bid, one that robbed the nation their voice when it rigged an election, one that robbed the children the right to education with unprecedented cuts in education funding to divert it to the military to keep the generals happy and in line, one that have shortchanged the people with a dodgy deals to pocket billions of public funds,one that buried reports of fact-finding committees and engaged in extra judicial killings. One who continues to be unapologetic about it to boot.

Some people criticize the new administration for dealing so much with the past urging the new president to move on to more palatable things like infrastructure and other forms of nation-building. In the end, a nation is the last thing being built. People of this country have lost their faith in politics seeing politicians as scumbags and lowlifes who keep breaching their faith. The country needs more than just a change of government. The aim should be no less than than to set the country’s political life on a new course for the future. And the only way to renew the people’s faith in politics and its ability to make a difference is to be honest about the past nine years. Acknowledge what the former administration did right, correct its mistakes and make it pay for its crimes. It’s long past due the nation gets the answers to all its questions, it’s long past due someone answers to all the injustices and crimes committed against the country and its people.

When I arrived at the Quirino Grandstand for the inauguration of then President-Elect Benigno S. Aquino III, the one thing that kept running on my mind was: when I leave this place there will be a new president and with him a hope for a new Philippines. We all have our opinion of this new Philippines we want to see. I’m sure we all want a justice system that is just, opportunities that are fair and a government that serves. We may have different opinions on how to achieve this new Philippines but we all hope for one thing: that it would be a better one. But how can we talk about justice when we can’t bring justice to the crimes committed against the nation, how can we talk about the government serving the people when we don’t run after those who stole from us and how can we talk about fair opportunities when powerful people like the former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapal-Arroyo can commit injustice and enjoy the privilege of not answering for it.

It is not just about opening old wounds but treating them properly for the healing process to finally begin. It’s about finally showing contempt and taking offense so that those in power will know we will take none of their crap. We can’t just keep forgetting. We need to forgive. Not just those who have wronged the nation but also ourselves and the nation. And then maybe we can more than just move on, we can start again. That builds a nation stronger than any infrastructure can.

I’ve always believed that former President Corazon Aquino made mistakes in office. Her biggest mistake was that she believed so much in the Filipino people. Her son holds the same belief. I hope we don’t disappoint him as much as we disappointed his mother. If President Aquino is able to deliver his plans after six years — things we must achieve together as a country — we will have a renewed nation, a country with purpose, drive and energy, with better-educated children, an economy equipped to prosper, its politics more accountable and its people confident of their place in the world. And maybe one day, we can make this nation great again. Maybe one day, our neighbors and the rest of the world will look at us and see a proud people once more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: