I love the Philippines. And there is no higher requirement that I ask from the candidates that I will vote for but to love this country as well, more than himself – true servant-leaders Pro Deo, Patria et Terra. Without that mindset, every action will always be political and utang na loob will prevail. Somewhere along the trade-off of decisions, the love for the Filipino people will be watered down and lost.
For this coming election I have high hopes for the progress of our country. All we need to do is find a champion, who loves this country enough to let go of his personal interests or those of vested interest groups. He/She has to dream with the Filipino people. A champion who will not rest until that dream is realized.
Our country is beautiful and blessed with natural gifts that other countries in the world wished they had. Rich marine and ecological biodiversity, cities filled with rivers, and the third-longest coastline in the world. Apart from that, I take pride in our culture. We at least have one festival a day, celebrating tradition and spirit. Though for so long, we have squandered these gifts.
Our nation’s politics is not one of the things I am proud of. Corruption comes from the Latin words “cor” or heart and “rupture” or to break. And for the longest time, our country has been a “broken-hearted” nation because of corruption. Fighting corruption is a corporal works of mercy because the worst sufferers of corruption are the poorest of the poor.
This coming election is a chance for the Filipino people to mend the heart of the nation.
A few months ago, the teams of certain presidentiables came to my office so seek advice. Not political advice, but on how to confront the lingering issues of city planning, systemic traffic congestion, and climate change. They asked, “What should we implement in the first 100 days of office, and what advice can you give for medium term six-year plan, and long-term plan?” Before answering the specifics, I remarked, “We should plan 50 years to 100 years. In our projects in Kathmandu, Nepal, we were asked to plan for a thousand years!”
The first thing that I always share with the candidates and other government agencies who seeks advice from me and my firm, is that good planning and good design are nothing without visionary leadership, good governance, and political will. I have personally brought out in front of them stacks of researches and plans that date way back in 1975.
I share that, in the Metro Manila Transport Land Use and Development Planning Project (MMETROPLAN), a World Bank-funded project for the master plan of Metro Manila, all the issues that the city is confronting now have been forecasted. We have predicted that a “do nothing” scenario would be catastrophic. Today, we experience flooding, heavy traffic congestion especially along major highways, poor mass transit systems and pollution. Analysis-paralysis will only worsen these conditions.
Choosing candidates is difficult. A lot will be promised but those promises fade once the elected candidate is in office. It is disappointing. There are also a lot of problems that should be confronted by the next president and new set of leaders and advisers, as this term is the most crucial for the development of our country.
But from all those issues, I will vote for the candidates who will address corruption, criminality, climate change, poverty, pollution, bad politics, the police, agriculture, the armed forces, health care, housing, education, environment, traffic and transportation, infrastructure, and incompetence.
Corruption, criminality, and climate change
In the coming years climate change will have its most devastating impact. More rains for the urban areas of Northern Luzon, and less for central Mindanao. Just recently, we have been hitting records on heat index. Agriculture and food security will be threatened, and typhoon will continue to batter our coastlines and our cities.
For years there have been numerous plans for the development of rural areas, and most especially flood-adaptive measures and mitigation for the urban areas, but incompetence and corruption sometimes get in the way. Climate change cannot be addressed if the corruption and incompetence continue to hinder some important infrastructure projects.
The effect of this lack of infrastructure is the increase in criminality. All that we are confronting now, issues of traffic, food security, poor transport systems, and vulnerability is confluence of corruption and incompetence. We need to address these national issues and challenges more effectively.
We Filipinos and residents of our beloved country would like to live in environment-friendly masterplanned cities and communities that are livable, walkable, bikeable, safer, better lighted, better connected, more convenient and integrating places to live, work, shop, dine, learn, and worship, with wellness and health-care facilities, 24-hour cycle activity centers – For God, Country, and Planet Earth.