A Work Truly Our Own

Ito ang kahalagahan ng ating demokrasya.  Ito ang pundasyon ng ating pagkakaisa.  Nangampanya tayo para sa pagbabago.  Dahil dito taas-noo muli ang Pilipino.  Tayong lahat ay kabilang sa isang bansa kung saan maaari nang mangarap muli.

– Inaugural Address, President Benigno Aquino III

I woke up to the tune of a new President today.  Noynoy Aquino took to the stands and faced the nation and the world, and today marks the beginning of his Presidency.  Today marks the journey we take with him, with his guidance and leadership, to a new chapter in our history.  He stands before us as our leader, as our President, and most of all, at least for six years, our beacon of hope; for he himself took that mantle up for himself.  A man with a clear mandate, a man backed by the will of the people; a man who now stands as the President of the Philippines.

Like President Aquino, I hope.  I wouldn’t hold my head high to walk with pride, but to keep it low enough to see the road ahead, and where I am on this road.  Surrounded by the yellow glow of hope, the road ahead is rife with challenges and problems that hope alone cannot resolve, that dreams alone cannot make better, and legacies alone cannot address.  That hope, without action, is a dangerous thing.

As Noynoy Aquino takes up the mantle of the Presidency, so we should take up the mantle of citizenship.

The evil of administrations past was that through the imprudent exercise of power – through graft, corruption, and impunity – they have rendered citizens mute and meek; accepting and tolerant of all sorts of hijinks and brouhaha done on a daily basis, rendering all of us immune and hopeless.  If Noynoy offers hope, we should offer action.  If he offers glowing pride, we should offer a watchful eye.  The lessons of administrations past shows that the way to a better future is not through the way of Government alone, but by the compliance – as well as the resistance – of the people.

If there’s anything that a vitriolic – and sometimes unreasonable – hatred of the previous Administration should teach us, it is that to make this country better, we have to own it.  If we demand accountability of our officials – and we should continue to do so – we must also demand action from ourselves.  Our expectations of President Aquino may be great, but our expectations of ourselves must be greater.  Noynoy will be President for six years.  Our citizenship transcends term limits.

We are heirs to promises made before, and promises made today.  It takes a call to the authorities to report wang-wang. It takes our patience and cooperation with Government agencies to get things done right, and to point out that they’re wrong when they’re out of line.  It takes the people to be keenly observant of government projects to make sure they’re done right, at cost, and delivered on time.  Simple things like throwing rubbish properly, obeying traffic and pedestrian rules, paying taxes, getting a job, putting up a business, all the way to the complexities of exposés and rallies which we have had a lot of in the past administrations.  Or to go up to the steps of Congress with our suggestions on how to make this country a better place, and, if necessary, to point out where they’re wrong and where we’re right.  The challenge for Noynoy is to lead, to demonstrate political will, and to live up to his promises.  The challenge to us is to live up to the barest minimum – and strive for the maximum – of citizenship.

To have honest officials in Government is one thing, but the rest is a job for us to sign up for and to continue.  When we start hoping, when we start caring, when we take on the Philippines as our common, shared responsibility, only then do we move forward and away from the glow cast by our new President.  We begin.

President Aquino is a President some people criticize to have been elected on the basis of very low, base standards: marketing, name recall, nepotism, incompetence, and so on and so forth.  Here, at the beginning of a new Administration – one that all of us will outlive and perhaps one day critique just like all the rest, we wipe the slate clean and start over.  Once more, hoping that this time, we get it right.  To invoke Kennedy, it’s not a matter of the President just doing his job; but every for every nuance of the most privileged and most powerful position in the land that requires our contributions as citizens, President Aquino’s work is one truly our own.

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