As the old year comes to an end, and the new year only a day away, we, the Filipino people, find ourselves once again trying very hard to face the future with hope and optimism.
The blatant graft and corruption in our government is more pervasive than ever, with common thieves protecting fellow political criminals from prosecution or from incarceration, to safeguard their own interests. The Philippine government has even earned the demeaning and shameful distinction as "most corrupt in Asia."
Meanwhile, the resultant massive poverty among more than 30% of our people continues to rob the poor of their dignity, if not of their health and life itself. With this inhumanity amidst us, perpetrated by the very same leaders who have sworn to serve and protect us, it is almost impossible, indeed, to look forward to a "Happy New Year."
But a "miracle" might be in the works. One that would usher in a nation-cleansing revolution. Not a revolution of arms where blood shall be shed, but a revolution of ideals, where love of country shall prevail, and where sweat and tears shall bathe the nation clean. A revolution inspired by the Divine Providence. A rapidly evolving international movement supported by the Filipino United Network (FUNforHumanity@gmail.com) in the United States, and hundreds of other Filipino organizations at home and around the globe.
When the Reverend Father Ed Panlilio won as 26th Governor of Pampanga against two super-funded, well-entrenched political dynasties with powerful political machineries in that province, a ray of hope inspired the nation. People wondered if this was part of a divine design to show us the way. The patriotic Filipinos around the world rejoiced, and for the first time in decades, felt an enormous sense of triumph over evil and extreme pride as a people.
How could a humble priest, without political backing from trapos, without a bank account, without an organized political machinery, beat two "unbeatable" seasoned political giants? "Impossible," said the political gurus when "Among Ed" first started his crusade. But the Power above obviously had another plan, and proved the pundits wrong. Suddenly, there was hope.
Armed with his unblemished integrity, moral ascendancy, compassion, love of country, and a strong commitment to honesty and transparency in government, "Among Ed" handily won the election, in spite of widespread vote-buying and rampant cheating. It was evident that an honest leader can truly inspire and bring out the best in the Filipino.
The billions of "missing" revenues from the Lahar collection under the past administrations, which Governor Panlilio has discovered since he assumed office June 30, 2007, is only the tip of the iceberg of the invasive cancer of graft and corruption afflicting every level of government in the entire country.
Unfortunately, an honest man makes some people uncomfortable, so there is now a move to oust "Among Ed" thru one of the three "R"s: a recount, recall, or, as rumored (hopefully not true), by requiem."
In his speech at the Ateneo de Manila University, "Among Ed" recounted the early stage of his campaign with these words:
"A very palpable sign of God's presence was the full support of brethren from other faiths and denominations in the crusade for good governance. Among the first to express their support on the day I filed my certificate of candidacy were Methodist pastors. Leaders of born again fellowships also boosted our stock, widening the spectrum of collaboration into dimensions previously unknown. I believe that there is no other previous experience in our nation where people of different faiths actively involved and immersed themselves in a mission as one body. What we were seeing was the Kingdom of God, a dedicated assembly of people under one dream: to see good governance become a reality."
Governor Panlilio concluded his speech by saying, "It has been said so often that Pampanga right now is a laboratory mouse in a grand experiment upon which almost every eye of every disillusioned Filipino is fixed, steadily observing how the dream of good and honest governance is realized, and if it can result in the improvement of the people's plight. Historically, our province has always been the breeding ground of social unrest and revolutionary thought. Once again, there is something revolutionary going on in Pampanga. With fervent prayers, consultative and exemplary leadership, participatory and law-abiding citizenship, collaborative and dedicated service, together with the application of better organizational systems, technological processes and innovations, I believe that we can overcome and transform the individual and the society. Then shall our success in Pampanga be translated in every province of the nation. Let us all join forces to transform ourselves, and in turn our beloved Philippines."
Indeed, the people had spoken. At least in Pampanga. Out with graft and corruption; in with morality and transparency in government. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
With Governor Panlilio's impressive initial success in the Pampanga experiment in good governance, can the other provinces, or the entire country, be far behind?
"Among Ed" is the ray of hope we have all been waiting for all these years. In adopting Gawad Kalinga as the pillar of his vision for Pampanga and the nation, Governor Panlilio has, once again, shown his wisdom, compassion, and love of country. With people power behind him, his great vision and noble dream for the Philippines, which every decent Filipino around the world shares, could be a reality sooner than later. Let's join "Among Ed" in his noble crusade and achieve the impossible. We, the people, can make that grand miracle happen.
Perhaps, there's a Happy New Year after all!