Filipino is Worth Dying For
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For decades Benigno S. Aquino II has been a legacy to the Filipino people. He symbolizes the great aspirations and strong sense of nationalism of every Filipino. He has led the fight for a better and free Philippines up to his grave and today his legacy continues as his only son take his position to govern the once inundated Philippines. Who will never forget his strong words that almost broke the edifice of power and corruption? How can one put into oblivion his assassination that sparked rage and fury to the millions of Filipino people who at one point in time lost hope? He moved the Filipino people to stand as one and defeat the iron fist of one of Asia’s worst dictator. The Filipino uprising has awed the world. From Prague, to Czechoslovakia to Russia and Korea, they emulated Filipino people power as the best way to correct the malversation and knavery of their governments. He taught us that through unity, we can achieve justice. However, two decades after the glorious days of Philippine democracy, we are still in peril, still submerged and under the wrath of mighty forces that continuously doom the Philippines. What has gone wrong? Have we forgotten the sacrifices of our forefathers, who fought hard to draw the Philippines? Where will we be tomorrow? What we are now can be rooted to what we had been in the past. Ninoy’s essay mirrors what his ideologies on what has gone wrong in the Philippines and which I strongly agree. It said that for a child to become a man, he must be taught how to become one. What he is now is because of how he had been trained to become. It is proven that even before the West invaded the Philippines we have had our own culture. We had our own alphabet, our own commerce and simple yet effective government with barangay as the simplest unit of our society. When the West colonized the Philippines, everything changed. The West had influenced every aspect of our lives from our religion, type of government, the way we talk, the way we dress, our beliefs, norms, mores and most especially the way we think. They transformed us into a social butterfly trying to level off with Western standards which we think is the world’s standard. Yes, it has advantages. We have been globally competitive and not far behind from what are new in the world. We have a democratic government system where we can freely do what we want to do. Is it really? We have shown the world that if they can have that, we can have it too. We were able to level off to the best of the world. Imelda Marcos was a classic example. She showed the best of the Philippines and overshadowed its worst, not a single glimpse of the slums silhouette. Malacanan Palace was her version of Buckingham Palace and herself as the Philippines Queen. She traveled in style, dressed to the best with designers from Paris and Rome and jetted in extravagance, pulling out 4 Philippine Airlines jumbo jets to fly in her entourage and a slew of bellhops to a coronation rite in Kathmandu, Nepal. She was even trying hard to please the once world’s most eligible bachelor, Prince Charles of England but to no avail, not a single invitation with him was made possible. The Philippines was headlines in tabloid in Europe because of Imelda’s pleasing beauty and extravagance. She was worth million dollars and was once crowned by Harper’s Bazaar as the 10th richest woman in the world surpassing the true blue bloods of Europe. She was a friend to the richest people of the world and partied like an animal at 5th avenue in New York, while her countrymen were dying of poverty. She had a billion pesos to brag on, but a million of people to deny with. This is one of the major disadvantages of colonization which I’m afraid we can never remove from our minds. The influence on our thinking has tainted our dignity as Filipinos and I’m afraid it will remain forever unless
another Ninoy Aquino will awaken our senses. But I know it will just stay for a while, it will cease out. The West’ influence on our culture is so powerful that exit seemed impossible. It has been sewn to our brain’s wirings. Pride and prejudice will forever be in our hearts. We will continue to strive to become superior over others even to the extent of stepping other people just to get what we want. For us, life will never be fair. The rich will continuously rule supreme, while the poor will go deeper to the center of earth. The rich will continuously dominate the land while the poor will endlessly plow the land and will never enjoy the fruits of their labor. Ferdinand Marcos belonged to the working class. He had the best intentions for the Philippines. But when he came to power, Filipino as he is and so as Imelda, his vision was distorted and he became the man whom Filipinos hated for so long. He proved superior over others. Unless one man will stand with clear vision of change and unaffected by wind of power surrounding him, we will never depart from shabbiness. Twenty –seven years ago, we saw this in the person of Benigno S. Aquino II. It is quite ironic, because he came from the ranks of the oligarchy. He was an aristocrat. How much more, he was married to another heir of massive fortune, Corazon Cojuangco. Both the Aquinos and the Cojuangcos are lynchpin in the Philippine High Society. They belonged to the richest of the rich in the Philippines yet their hearts were for the poor. Never did they allow aristocracy to rule supreme in their vision of a better Philippines. They have remained low key despite of their influence. Ninoy used his voice over money and influence to expiate the wrongdoings of the administration. He was the staunch critic of Marcos. And in a twist of fate, they were once good friends belonging to the top of their class and both came from the same fraternity group. His words inspired millions of Filipino people here and abroad. He was the only man who shaken the strongman Ferdinand Marcos and the inevitable Imelda. In return, he was jailed and sent abroad for exile with his family. But his strong sense of nationalism convinced him to come home until he faced his untimely death which sparked revolution. Egoism and selfishness is the culprit in Filipinos way of thinking and corruption in government is the worst effect. How many people die each day because of poverty? How many billions of pesos are spent worthlessly or kept in pockets of corrupt government officials? This could have saved the millions of people who have nothing to eat or children who have nothing to sleep on. Corruption in the Philippines has gone to the highest level and it is unfortunate that no one can ever stop it because the most powerful person in the land is corrupt. By the time Marcos fled the country and Cory took over the government, we were penniless. It took us time to receive aids and loans from foreign banks and governments because Imelda raided them all. From Cory to Ramos, we had a steady growth. In 1997, we weathered the Asian Financial crisis and were touted as one of Asia’s tiger together with Singapore. In 2008, we are one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. What’s wrong with the Philippines? In 2002, Joseph Estrada was removed from power because of issues of corruption. Unexplained wealth and kickbacks from jueteng overthrew his administration. Days after, Arroyo was catapulted to power. She vowed to bring change. She was the hope of the Filipino people. Two years after, issues of the same came out. Tension came in. People rocked Malacanan Palace. In respite, Arroyo promised to clean up the bureaucracy and to finish her term in 2004 without seeking reelection. In 2004, she broke that promise. She ran for president. In 2006, her government faced the worst dilemma with the Hello Garci scandal. It was very clear she cheated. By all means, she finished her term until 2009. She left the Philippine economy stable but full of debts. Her assets? It rose to hundreds of millions of pesos plus the infamous Le Cirque dinner in New York that splurged headlines all over the world. What a shame to the Filipino people. When will this cycle of corruption stop? We are very sick and tired
of the way Philippine government works. The current health situation and educational system in the Philippines is a testament of how far corruption has gone in the country. Government hospitals don’t have the necessary equipments to treat impoverished patients. How ill these patients survive? They have no choice but to wait in their deathbeds seeking for divine mercy in old hospital buildings because they can’t afford the service in private hospitals. It is very disappointing that even in health inequality exists. It is the responsibility of the government to take care of its people. Why can’t his government at least provide a complete health insurance package to every Filipino citizen? It is heart breaking to see your fellowmen die of illness because they have nothing to pay for health services. Children’s future is unforeseeable with dissipating quality education. Only the few privileged can attain quality education because they have the money. How about the poor little children? No matter what they do they will remain the same. This government must at least prioritize health and education if it cannot provide more. Ninoy and Cory so believed in Education that built a foundation that would send impoverished students to school from elementary to college. Education was Ninoy’s key to fight for our democracy and character was Cory’s weapon to survive her tumultuous presidency. Unless the Filipino people will change the way they think, we will never achieve true freedom. We must use the past as our weapons in crafting the future and make the present the beginning of a lifelong journey that will once again bring the Philippines in the world map. May 2010 Election is a testament that we are all eager for change. We chose the man who sworn in the grave of his great parents to bring about change. We must all stand and help each other to achieve this dream because it is only us who can make it to realization, no one else. Not the Americans, the Japanese nor the Spaniards. We must rebuild the Philippines and bring back its glory so that once again we can shout loud and clear “I am proud to be a Filipino.” As Ninoy put it, “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”