Dignity, Harmony & Humanity: Speech at Lions Club International, La Union

My good friend and fellow worker in local government, Vice Governor Honerio Dice. I would like also to greet a former vice governor but she seems to be a little bit shy, so she does not like to be introduced but… I told you she’s very shy. I think alam niyang iintroduce ko siya kaya nagtago na doon sa likod. The president and host of Lions club, La Union Lion’s Club, President Norman Zandueta, the past International Director Enrique lim, and the president of the La Union Ladies’ Lions Club Annabel Abad, Council Chairman Robert Lim, who, it turns out is a cousin, on the Edralin side, he has roots also in Sarrat, so that reminds me that I am back up in Ilocandia where I belong. The past International Director Michael Soh, District Governor Alexander Ang, First Vice Director-Governor Charlie Torres, Lady Sylvia Ang and Lady Mary grace Torres, all the other officers and members of all the Lions Clubs who are here today for this joint induction ceremony, good evening to you all.

First of all I would like to thank you for your invitation to allow me to come and join you at these joint induction ceremonies for 2015. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to leave Manila and to be able to visit with family and friends because I think, siguro naman lahat dito ay nalalaman kung ano yung mga hinaharap na problema ngayon sa Maynila at nakikita natin and gulo gulo. At lahat ng nasa Maynila ay lahat ng pagkakataon, every chance we get to leave the city, we do, but it takes 10 hours to leave the city now because the traffic has become so terrible that our days have become so short. The whole experience of working and living in Metro Manila has become so difficult and unpleasant that we are beginning to wonder what has happened to the Manila that we all remember. That we all used to be so proud of; that we all enjoyed so much.

That is why I think that we have gone down to the wrong path in terms of governance. Because I think it would also… I heard that your theme for this evening’s ceremonies is “Dignity, unity, and humanity.” I believe that those three themes we should remind government about because of the lack of what government is doing, because of lack of problem solving, because of the lack of planning, because of the lack of good governance. They have undermined the dignity of the people that live in the Philippines. They have forgotten the humanity that is necessary – the humanity, the compassion – that we must bring to our work in governance and in the public service. And finally the issue of unity. As we have seen in the past several years that the government has taken on a policy the exact opposite of unity. They have taken up the policy of polarization. And we have seen that the government has taken us part of their policy, this idea that we must make enemies. That we must separate the different groups, the different factions, political factions.

And that’s why all the work in governance, all the work of government in the past few years has not been based on merit, has not been based on what is good for the country, has not been based on what is good for its people. It has all been based on political color. So that is why even when we hear about an anti-corruption drive, when we applaud the efforts – and I believe they are sincere – all the anti-corruption drive in this administration we are then subsequently, immediately disappointed when we see that the application of justice is selective on a political basis. This is not a genuine, this is not an effective way to bring people together. This country, like any other country, cannot succeed if we are not united. We must remember the very famous phrase of Abrahamn Lincoln when he said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And that unfortunately is the situation that we find now. And that is why it is extremely important that in the elections that we are facing in next year that we find for our country, for our people, a leader who understands the importance of unity.

Well, I thank again the Vice Governor for his kind words about my father. And I always remember that when I was still very young, and I was with my father and we would be at functions and sometimes I would sometimes sit in. It was very interesting that he would allow us even when we very small to sit with him when he was having all these important meetings will all these important people trying to decide what is the way to the future. And I remember very, very clearly that all the time we spoke, we spoke about what is good for the country, what will bring the country forward, what will make the lives of our people a better life and with hope for the future? And the way to do that, the way to approach that is nation building. Those of you who remember my father’s time, you would hear in all of his speeches – and not only in his speeches but in the publications of government – that we are about the business of nation building. We are putting together the elements of a strong society. We are doing what we have to do to give hope to our people. And to do that we must unify the country. And that is when I am asked, what is the legacy of Ferdinand Marcos for his time that he was president? My answer is always that we were finally united. We were finally one nation. And although we are still Ilocanos, and Tagalogs, and Bisaya, and Waray, and Bicolanos, despite that we all felt, at the source of it all, that we were Filipino. And because of that, because of that unity, then we found that we were working with one another, not against one another. That is what brought us to the stature that we enjoyed in the international community then because the world conceived that the Philippines was a country that was proud of itself. That was proud of its history. That was proud of its people. And that this was a country that recognized that it was in unity that we would find strength.

That is what we need. That is what we have lost. A sense of nationhood. A sense that everything that we do we must do for the country. Because it will redound to our benefits. Whatever we do to help the country we will also feel in our own individual lives. That is what we have lost. And that is what we hope to bring back to the country. The sense of unity, the sense of nationhood, the understanding that we do not stand alone as individuals. We do not stand alone as different regional identities. We can only stand together as Filipinos. How we will bring that back is of course dependent upon vision of our leader. The vision of what will be the future. The vision of what the Philippines should be in 5 years, in 10 years, in 15, in 20 years. That is the leadership that we need. That is the vision. That, as for now, we have not been provided.

The Philippines is a great country. We have always said that, that we must always recognize that. The Filipinos are a great people. That has been recognized by, look at the success of our OFW’s. Look at how well we have done when we have gone abroad, we have worked hard, maybe got a little lucky, that is the life of the OFW’s. The long time, yung tawag natin yung mga… matagal ng nasa America. Halimbawa ay nakikita natin napaka successful nila sa kanilang mga communities at sila’y kinikilala bilang mga sikat at respetado na mga professional na mga nagtatrabaho sa iba’t-ibang bansa. Look at the recognition by employers all around the world of our OFW’s. Our OFW’s who now are the ones supporting our economy. It is the OFW’s that are being recognized not so much even by our own country but so much more by other countries because whenever there is an opening for a job, for an opportunity, if there are many applicants, if one of them is a Filipino, chances are they will choose the Filipino. And that is the greatness of the Filipino. Then why is it that we do not see any of that greatness? How is it that we cannot cultivate that greatness here in the Philippines. Why is it only shown to us when our own people are abroad? And that is a sad, sad question that we face today.

From now on I believe that we must continuously; we must continuously endeavor to find leaders who in the future will bring the country together under a common goal, under a common vision. And bring the country behind that common goal, and that common vision. And to bring the inspiration, the leadership that will bring that country to work towards that common vision. And only then can we finally realize the potential. Kaya’t sa darating na halalan e nakikita natin ang mga magiging kandidato, nakikita natin kung ano ang kanilang mga magiging plataporma. Nakikita natin kung ano ang kanilang layunin para sa ating bansa at ito’y dapat, pagka tayo’y mamimili na ng ating liderato ay kailangan nating maunawaan kung sila ba’y magdadala ng pagkakaisa dito sa ating bansa o ipagwawatak-watak nanaman ang ating lipunan. Nakita na natin ang naging epekto ng pag wawatak-watak ng iba’t-ibang paksyon. Tayo ba ay gumanda ang sitwasyon natin dahil sa ganyang klaseng pamumulitika? Tayo ba ay gumanda ang ating ekonomiya dahil diyan? Ang kahirapan ba ay nawala dahil sa kanilang ginagawa na pagwawatak-watak. Ang ating bang edukasyon, ang ating pagturo sa mga kabataan ay gumanda ba dahil sa pag aaway-away ng mga pulitiko? Alam na natin ang naging epekto nito. Kaya’t alam na natin na wag na nating balikan ang ganyang klaseng pag-iisip. Dahil alam naman natin na ito ay walang dadalhin. Walang idudulot sa ating bansa kung hindi kahirapan. Kundi pag-aaway, kundi gulo. At ang ating kailangan ay pagkakaisa. Ang pagsasama. At pagiging kabalikan sa pagsulong ng hindi lamang ng ating ekonomiya, kung hindi pati na rin ang ating lipunan. That is what we are facing today. We have come to a crossroad. We have seen the effects of one kind of politics. Then I see it is time to return to what we know is not a kind of politics that is a service to the nation, is good governance and that is leadership that will bring unity. That will bring stability. That will bring a better life to our people.

Since I’m sure that of all this, I do hope all of this very high parted concepts and principles are something that we have to think about for the coming election. But since napagusapan narin ang halalalan I think despite of all of these fine words that I am inevitably making in this speech the only question that you want answered is ano ba talaga ang tatakbuhan mo? I’m afraid I cannot satisfy your question for this evening but I will just tell you that we are in constant coordination and discussions with all the other individuals, all the other parties. You know that I have to explain that any national campaign that is starting from the senatorial, vice presidential or presidential campaign really it necessitates a strong party for you to succeed. Napaka hirap tumakbo bilang independent sa halalan ng national politics. Kaya naman itong mga disisyon na ito ay hindi lamang pati na sa akin kung hindi pati na sa aking partido. As of now, as I’ve said I belong to the Nationalista party. We have yet to decide on what the Nationalista’s role and who we are we going to endorse and support in the coming election. And for my part I know I have received offers to run with the vice president, I have received offers to run with mayor Duterte of Davao. Actually I have also received suggestions that I should run with the other, palaga’y ko yung LP napaka hirap dahil hindi siguro papayag ang kanilang namumuno na ako’y masama doon at saka ako’y nahihirapan magsuot ng dilaw siguro dahil hindi matching dito sa pula ko. Which is ironic kasi ang Ilocano I don’t know ang favorite color ay dilaw e.

But anyway that is why I consider myself very lucky because I have so many opportunities and so many options and that is why I continue to this day, to ask for counsel, to ask for advice from our friends from those who have known me for a long time. Those of us here in the so called solid north. All I can say is that we should find for ourselves in the north a leader who will be a leader. Ang problema sa ngayon wala tayong leader. Ang nangyayari sa ngayon, we have elected officials but they do not lead. They do not provide vision. They do not provide services. They do not bring us to a better place to where we began. That is why it is important that we continue to follow our tradition and we show the rest of the country what the solid north looks like. That is why it is important that we as Ilocanos be always be united when we move in political circles. Why is that important? Because that is the example that we will show. That we, we are able to unite and to come together despite our differences we are still able to come together. We are still able to unite. we are still able to come behind the leadership of a strong leader. Someone who can show us the way forward. who will show us where to bring the country in the future. That is what is important and that is also an important part and I think that also that one of the reasons that marami sakanila sinasama ako sa kanilang ticket ay dahil nga sinasabi dahil buo itong mga Ilocano, kung nasaan si Marcos ay madadala natin doon sa atin. And kaya naman, if we have something to offer then we must make sure that vote, that solid north vote is properly, is brought to the group or to the ideology that properly addresses the problems that we have today that will change the way government runs.

And will finally as I said bring us to unity. We can be the beginning. We in the north can start that process. We can remind our people of that process by being together, by being united. So let us continue the tradition. That grand Ilocano tradition of being in the solid north and bring our support to whoever we see is a true leader. To whoever we see will truly unify this country. Will finally bring this country to its proper place in the community of nations. That is what we are looking for. That is what we are praying for and that is what the country asks of us.

Thank you and good evening.

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