Category: Opinion

Vote for LIFE

Better than any serye to date on Philippine TV, the race towards Malacañang in the 2016 elections demands public attention. With much fanfare and unexpected plot twists, the presidential race has gripped the entire nation with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

Political propaganda, news coverages, election surveys, Facebook memes and (sometimes ridiculous) interviews do little in helping us determine who to vote for come election day. I, myself, am still undecided about who will get my precious vote on May 2016, but here are the qualities that I think we all should find in a candidate.

I will vote for someone who supports and embodies LIFE — that’s leadership, integrity, faith and excellence.

Leadership

Everything rises and falls on leadership, says renowned leadership guru John Maxwell. All kinds of reforms — whether political, economic or social — will only end up in the ditches without good leadership.

But leadership is a tricky subject. Having the balls to push for an ideal, win public acceptance, outwit political opponents or, heck, exterminate them from the land of the living don’t necessarily indicate strong leadership. 

A leader is a servant. He who serves best leads best. Service doesn’t mean feigning compassion for the poor, enjoying boodle fights, directing traffic and whatnots in front of a camera. A leader serves by using his power to protect the welfare of the people, promote the common good and defend the weak.

One doesn’t need to look far to validate a person’s leadership. Check how he manages his own family and see their relationship, values and culture at home. If this candidate doesn’t know how to manage and protect his own marriage and household, how will he lead an entire nation?

Moreover, the ultimate mettle of leadership is the person’s ability to lead himself. How does he govern himself in view of existing laws, ethics and moral standards? If a candidate does not pass this acid test, chances are his leadership will crumble in the face of strong pressure or trials. 

Integrity

A person’s ability to lead himself depends largely on his character. In leadership, character is everything. As John Maxwell puts it, leadership is about influence, and a person’s influence is built on his credibility and moral track record. With strong moral leadership, a leader gains the people’s respect and admiration.

What the Philippines needs is a leader who will lead with integrity. Integrity is doing the right things no matter what. It’s about sticking to one’s moral standards. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Integrity is about being morally consistent, whole, undivided. We’ve already had leaders in the past who may have had brilliant minds, economic acumen or strong political will, yet we remain to be the sick man of Asia.

Why? Because what we need are not just leaders with outstanding intelligence; we need leaders with unmistakable integrity.

Economic progress is not the only problem that we need to focus on. We need to restore the moral standards and values that founded our institutions — love, righteousness and justice.

We don’t need leaders who will clean the streets by striking fear, but leaders who will show us that we as a people know better than embrace barbarity. We need leaders who will not fool us into believing that they can end our economic woes, but leaders who will empower us and inspire us to embrace the future with hope. We don’t just need leaders with political experience, we need leaders with unquestionable character.

Faith

A person’s faith shapes his character. Indeed, faith is the moral compass that guides a person, especially when circumstances demand sound decisions. Faith is the barometer through which a leader leads.

I will not vote for a candidate whose faith is questionable. I want a president who will establish the government on the strong foundation of justice and righteousness. I want a president who will protect the marriage institution and will not push for legislations that seek to undermine it. I will vote for a president who will uphold the value of human lives and will do everything in his power to protect it.

Look at the United States. While it remains to be the strongest superpower on earth, its social institutions are in the brink of collapse in the face of moral degradation. Economic progress is not the end-all-and-be-all of everything.

As CBCP President Socrates Villegas puts it, corruption comes in many shapes and forms. Stealing from the public funds is one of it, but moral corruption spells greater doom. We need a president who is guided by the right moral compass. We need a president who understands that all governments are instituted by God; it is a charge from God, and that he is ultimately accountable to Him. 

Hence, we need a president who will not play god, but will be guided by his fear of God.

Excellence

Knowing that the government is a public trust, and that it is a charge from God, public officials must perform their duties to the highest standard of excellence. This one is the easiest to see; one should only look at the candidates’ track record as a public servant.

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These qualities will surely narrow down — or complicate — your choices. Perhaps, upon close examination, you may find that none of the candidates pass these qualifications. I just hope that on the day of the polls, we will be guided by the right values and principles in choosing our leaders.

Whoever wins this election, let’s participate in the work of nation-building, pray for the new leaders and bless our nation. 

It may be difficult for now to look for political candidates who embody leadership, integrity, faith and excellence, but I am part of a movement called Every Nation Campus, whose ultimate desire is to raise up the next generation as world-changers and nation-builders.

I’m keeping my knees bent and my fingers crossed. God bless the Philippines.

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Random Ramblings

Two words perfectly describe the world we live in today: FAST-PACED and MAD.

By fast-paced, I meant that the world is changing at a rate that is faster than ever. And by mad, I meant that the world is getting crazier by the minute as shocking events unfold in different parts of the world almost simultaneously.

On November 12, 43 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Lebanon. A day after this incident, another 19 people died in Iraq because of another suicide bombing incident at a funeral. The pinnacle of these events took place on the same day in Paris, where several terror attacks claimed at least 127 innocent lives. The notorious ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The world as we know it has changed. The significant moral decline, the plummeting regard for the value of human lives and the growing evil in society indicate that we are now living in the 11th hour.

Things happen so fast nowadays that we no longer have enough time to process and mourn over a crime before another one takes place. It’s like browsing your Facebook feed: The emotion you feel over one post from a friend only lasts until the next post hits your eyes.

Here are some of the trending issues that currently affect us. Allow me to share my thoughts on each.

Laglag Bala modus

laglag bala gangPerhaps anyone will really feel indignant about this because of the shame it brought upon our country and the chilling effect it created among travelers. To the perpetrators of this crime, you may evade justice in this lifetime, but the justice of God will hunt you down. Turn away from your evil deeds before your time is up.

To the government, it’s time to wield the sword and get some heads rolling. Fulfill your mandate to protect the State — the sovereign people who placed you in your position — and get to the bottom of this oppression.

To my kababayans who allegedly bring bullets to be used as amulets, put your faith in God who has real power to protect you from anything. Putting your faith in anything or anyone else can get you into trouble.

The #PrayFor Debate

pray forNewsflash: Those who were hurt or killed in Paris, Lebanon and Iraq do not care about our profile photos on Facebook. We can stop arguing about who really prayed for Paris, what hashtag to use, or who to pray for. It’s time to focus on the most important thing — LOVE. This isn’t a time to hate over trivial matters. This isn’t a time to fight over religion. This is a time to love one another as human beings. It doesn’t matter whether you changed your Facebook profile photo, or whether you changed it for the right reason. Whether you’re praying for Paris, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria or the world, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people are praying for somebody — or at least are joining humanity’s stand for a better world.

APEC Horror

12273059_10154408865316632_1295954226_nSocial media are abuzz with horror stories caused by the APEC Summit this week. Metro Manila has already been experiencing horrific traffic on normal days, and this summit escalated that to an extreme level.

I understand the hatred and frustration by the people, and the least that I want to do is to fuel their anger. I pray that this scenario will compel our government to grow in terms of hosting high-level events like this. The woes of the working class — the very people who fuel our economy — undermine the economic goals that this summit aims.

Nevertheless, I would like to enjoin everyone to keep praying for the success of this summit. Big things are at stake in this event, including our territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. Also, in light of recent world events, let us pray for protection for our country as we could be the target of terrorist attacks while the summit is taking place.

Ronda Rousey

ronda-rousey-1024Ronda Rousey’s defeat in the hands (or, should I say, deadly leg) of Holly Holm somehow succeeded in taking our attention away from the attacks in Paris. I’ve seen the match, and I can’t help but say, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Indeed, pride comes before a downfall (Proverbs 16:18).

Peace out to all Rousey fans out there! She’s an amazing fighter, and I’m sure that she will be greater once she learns to put her confidence not on her strength but on God who gives real strength.

 

Alma Moreno

alam-moreno-1This deserves the final spot on this list because of the social media attention it is getting.

Adding to the ire of Filipino netizens is aspiring senator Alma Moreno, who blew an interview with veteran journalist Karen Davila. The whole interview was cringe-worthy, filled with nervous laughs, motherhood statements and ignorant opinion on important matters that a senatorial candidate must be familiar with.

While I understand the disgust of everybody, there’s really no need to shame her for her ignorance. I think that Ms. Moreno has good intentions for running, but she is probably being used by people who seek to promote their political agenda by fielding an ignorant ally to win a seat (and a voting power) in the Senate.

Let’s just thank Ms. Davila and her fellow journalists who endeavor to educate the voters for the upcoming elections. Let’s do our part in guarding the country’s rein and do what we can to spread awareness.

***

In the midst of all these madness, let’s guard our collective sanity as a nation. Spread good vibes, pray for our nation and keep a positive outlook! Stay sane, everyone!

On PNoy’s SONA: Cut some slack!

interphoto_1374493576After hearing various criticisms on President Aquino’s recent State of the Nation Address, I couldn’t help but write my thoughts and confront this issue spot on.

  1. If you’ve already experienced leading a group, you know that being a leader is a tedious task. Multiply that to leading 100 million people spread out across 7,107 islands. And you still think PNoy is not doing his job?
  1. If you haven’t been a leader all your life, all the more that you have no right to complain and tell PNoy what to do.
  1. The President can only do so much in improving the country. If the people he is leading continually choose to wallow in poverty and corruption, no government can ever pull them out of their situation.
  1. If you have not exercised your right to vote during the 2010 presidential election, you have forfeited your right to complain.
  1. Not every issue can be addressed in the SONA. Else, it would take forever before the President finishes his speech.
  1. The President is not God. He is not omnipotent, omniscient nor omnipresent. Cut him some slack and remember that he is just as human as you and I. Instead of blaming him for all the evils of society, why not ask yourself what you’ve already done to improve your community.
  1. Six years is not enough to make every Filipino rich, build all the necessary infrastructure, jail all evildoers and change the mindset and culture of a nation who had lost all hopes for change and transformation. It takes an entire generation for that to happen, and it takes an entire race to make that happen. Have you considered participating in the work of nation-building?

PNoy is far from perfect. I am not a fan, and I don’t always agree with his actions and decisions. But as a citizen of this nation, I know better than to spread hatred, doubt and animosity. I’d rather pray for our leaders, overlook the imperfections and spread faith and trust in the government that has been working so hard to reclaim the Philippines’ lost glory.

PNoy’s 5th SONA revealed a lot about his character. While most politicians claim all the glory for themselves, this President deflected all the credit from himself.

“To my Bosses: You are behind the transformation we are enjoying. You are the key to continuing all the positive changes we have achieved. I fully believe that, whether I am here or not, the Filipino is headed towards the rightful destination.” — President Benigno Simeon Aquino III

In the eye of the storm

philippines-typhoon

Our eyes have seen a lot. Macabre images of death and destruction fill the Web and the airwaves every day since Haiyan crushed the southern part of the Philippines.

Our ears have heard so much. On TV, we hear the desperate cry of our fellow citizens begging for food; we hear their pleas for redemption and their shout for deliverance. In social media, we hear people rant against the government, curse the president and blame the people who voted him in to office.

2013-11-15T020120Z_710481209_GM1E9BF0RP001_RTRMADP_3_PHILIPPINES-TYPHOONWhich is why the news of a rainbow appearing over “ground zero” is a breath of fresh air. Seven days after the tragedy, Heaven has affirmed its pledge to protect humanity.

On Nov. 11, three days after Haiyan hit Philippine soil, Philippine envoy Naderev Sano tearfully addressed the United Nations in a convention in Poland and urged the council to take up serious measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. Sano’s family was among those affected by the typhoon and his brother, he said, “has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands” over the last few days.

His plea was met with a standing ovation from representatives of more than 190 countries. Shortly afterward, nations from all over the world sent in their help and donations.

One thing is clear.

The world is watching. The world is listening. And the world is paying close attention to us. The Filipinos’ voice is louder than ever, and the nations of the world are looking to us. This scenario gives us a platform, a unique opportunity to influence the world and show them “the Filipino way” of rising from the ashes.

Dear Philippines, let us teach the world a lesson in the midst of our ordeal.

5085168-3x2-700x467We have done it in the past, we can do it again. No storm in the history our nation had kept us on the ground.  Our people have fought and survived wars, trampled a dictator, stood their ground amid life-shattering quakes and braved numerous calamities.

May we see this as an opportunity to mature as a nation: to know how to keep quiet when our words will only add insult to the injury; to look past beyond religious differences and political colors and embrace our nation as it is because, heck, we belong to the same race and will be judged and measured by the world as a people. This is an opportunity to respond, and not just to react on social media, knowing that doing so will only contribute to the severity of the situation as we spread hopelessness and animosity.

Even Hong Kong and China, amid ongoing political spat, have chosen to extend their hands and set aside politics for the sake of patrimony.. Why can’t we?

Haiyan may have destroyed our houses, shattered our homes and turned communities into lands of both the living and the dead, but it will never take away our sanity, strip off our humanity, crush our spirit and steal our collective hope that, soon, we will rise from the ruins.

I remain optimistic that in the eye of the storm, we will choose to believe rather than bash; encourage rather than rant; help, rather than criticize; and pray, rather than curse.

Someday, we will look this storm right in the eye, with a victorious grin, and will wow the world with renewed strength and greater resiliency. I don’t know how or when, I just know that we will. We’re Filipinos after all.

Something to be proud of

In my previous post, I have expressed my excitement and optimism about the coming protest march in Luneta on Monday, Aug. 26. The fact that the movement is social media-driven, initiated by ordinary taxpayers and eventually supported by almost all sectors of society — including the academe, the business sector and the religious sector — creates a different sense of urgency to finally participate in the public discourse about rooting out evil in government.

White will be the color of the day: A color that communicates tides of messages when viewed from different angles. It could signify the people’s mourning for the persisting corruption in government, or a call for a new beginning from a dark past. It could signify a call for peaceful, yet fervent, redress of grievance, clamoring to put the erring behind bars to face the music of their evil deeds. It could signify the neutrality of the movement — not red, lest it be associated with the militants; not yellow, however significant it was in the Philippines’ history, because of political connotations; not black, lest it be mistaken for a national day of mourning; and definitely not orange, for crying out loud.

Why should we care about this hullabaloo?

Because whatever’s going to happen on Monday in Quirino Grandstand, it’s something that we Filipinos should be proud of.

While more than 500 protesters and civilians were mercilessly killed in a senseless bloodbath in Egypt last week, we Filipinos are cooking up a picnic rally to urge the government to prosecute corrupt lawmakers and their accomplices. While more than 1,300 civilians — including women, children and the elderly — were reportedly killed in a chemical attack by their selfsame government, we Filipinos are bracing to flex the collective muscle of the people to force corrupt politicians into submission, but through peaceful demonstrations.

Something great is really brewing for our nation. The recent string of credit rating upgrades, the continuous economic surge, the growing clamor for change — all of these are just breadcrumb trails of what is yet to come. Something bigger, something brighter, something unimaginable. I am blessed to witness these things happening in my generation.

If you’re one of the many Filipinos who have lost hope for a better Philippines, it’s time to dream again. If you’re among those who have lost all confidence in our nation, hold your head up high; it’s time to be proud of your race once again. Because on Monday — mark the date — we will make another history and show the world how peaceful revolutions are done. That’s what we do best. We started it in 1986, and we’re doing it again, using a different medium and platform.

Wherever you are on Monday, whether in Luneta, in the mall or in your office, wear white.

Yellow has always been the color of freedom, democracy and change in the Philippines. It’s time to add another color to our history. This time, it’s white.