MANY people have been sending me messages over the past few days about their views on politics and this election season. I am glad that, regardless of differences in opinions, people are united toward bringing meaningful change for the country. One that will hopefully usher us well into the 21st century, on the path from being in the Third World to the First. One of my friends said that Duterte’s campaign resonated the most with many of the Philippine population, especially because the majority has not felt the economy’s improvement of the past years. While the rate of poverty incidence is getting lower, the income gap between the rich and the poor grows even wider. With Mayor Duterte’s wide lead in the elections, one could perceive this as the people’s thirst for real change, leadership, and innovation.
For those of us living in gated communities, we are not directly affected by crime or traffic happening outside our walled villages. We are less than 10 percent of the Filipinos. Many of us are fortunate not having to struggle with public transportation every day or commuting three hours a day to work and back. Having gated subdivisions so near the Central Business Districts also limits affordable housing options within the cities for most of the employees working in the CBDs.
Somehow, our indifference is to blame. Some gated communities continue to refuse opening up their gates to lessen the traffic during rush hours, due to a “not-in-my-backyard” mentality or “NIMBYism.” This is a realization for us that, whoever wins, we should step out of our comfort zones and find ways to help our less fortunate countrymen. Whoever win, we should support our new leaders in bringing progress closer to the people. We need leaders who will drive change and innovation, as well as ensure that the masses will benefit from our bid towards being in the top 20 economies in the world.
In this election, I saw how engaged everyone was, especially the youth. The passion and the fervor in changing this country were admirable. The discussions about city planning, transport, and a more sustainable city were being talked about from businessmen, down to the streets, among the cab and jeepney drivers. Our cities are not made for people. Our streets are made for cars. Even our politics are not for people, but for selected interests.
New leaders bring with them new opportunities toward genuine progress. Ones that I hope will not get squandered. It is also up to each individual to really change and contribute, if we want to make our nation really great again. As I have said before, our new leaders will not be starting from scratch. We are the first in the world in terms of marine biodiversity and also considered first in having the best musicians and sailors. We are the first in call centers and second in BPOs. The Philippines has the third-longest coastline. Some countries go to war to claim longer waterfronts like Iraq invading Kuwait, and Dubai making the Palm Islands. We are fourth in gold; fifth in all mineral resources and No. 12 in human resources. The Filipino expatriates are the popular choices of kings, queens, sheiks, presidents, prime ministers, developers, hospitals, and schools among many other international employers.
The Philippines is more than 400 times the size of Singapore in terms of total land area. It is almost 350 times the size of Hong Kong, about eight times the size of Taiwan and three times bigger than South Korea. This should encourage us to make the most of our strengths on the land, natural resources and our people which the Philippines has been gifted by God. We used to be second in Asia, next only to Japan from the 1930s to the 1970s. Manila used to be called “Paris of the East”; and the Philippines as the “Pearl of the Orient Seas.”
Therefore, as a nation we must work twice as hard to achieve our goals. We must strive to reach the global benchmarks to be worthy of the respect we must have for ourselves as well as from other countries.
Let’s pray for our country and that our new leaders will be visionary servant leaders, with visionary leadership, strong political will, good planning, good design, and good governance. These qualities are much needed in order to effectively address corruption, criminality, climate change, culture, poverty, pollution, bad politics, social justice, selective justice, the police, armed forces, agriculture, education, environment, housing, healthcare, transportation and traffic, infrastructure, incompetence, and analysis paralysis, among many other issues and concerns—for God, Country, and Planet Earth.