Marcos’ Vision In Achieving A Country All Filipinos Deserve
PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.s’ inaugural speech was solemn yet powerful. He recognized the challenges of today as an accumulation of problems over the years and warned that the road ahead will be difficult given the volatile and unstable global environment.
More importantly, he embraced the people’s fears and aspirations, frankly told the people what the government will do and will not do, and called on everyone not to dwell on the past but rather to gain inspiration and strength from what we have today — to recognize the mistakes of yesterday, “to rebuild… a house divided,” and to start working now for a better tomorrow.
He is aware that the mandate he has been given represents the voters’ rejection of the old ways of “politics of division.” But he also acknowledged our common aspirations as a people; even with rivals he saw “little incompatibility with my own ideas about jobs, fair wages, personal safety and national strength and ending want in a land of plenty.”
Learn from the world, but be circumspect and avoid blindly copying
He mentioned Ukraine three times, suggesting that he is monitoring and studying lessons from around the world… for which we must also prepare. As IDSI Director George Siy said, “Ukraine is a real life lesson for countries sandwiched between superpowers.”
PBBM reminded us that those bearing the brunt of superpowers’ conflict are also those that are non-protagonist. Disasters await those with poor strategy, and impulsive and unmeasured decision-making. Even far away from the conflict, our kababayans suffer from the rising prices of oil and food. “The rich world talks a great deal but does a lot less about it than those with much less but who suffer more.”
On foreign policy, PBBM cautioned against “solutions from outside that divided us, none deepened our understanding. They were at our expense… The policy of the richest countries boils down to ‘don’t do as we do. Do as we tell you to’…”
Domestically, he acknowledges building on the successes of his predecessors, not on taking sole credit. In spite of the decades of demonizing by his family’s critics, as if the son should accept the rival’s anti-Marcos narrative and disown the father, President Bongbong continues to give tribute to his father. What most critics missed is more than recognizing the lasting contributions of his father, he was raising aspirations in his listeners: that once upon a time we, Filipinos, have achieved something great, and we can do it again!
He then gives tangible prognosis and direction on the current factors that ill our society in various priority sectors: trade, agriculture, energy, education, OFWs, infrastructure, regional development, health, tourism, economic development and foreign policy.
Top priorities — agriculture, education, regional development, environment.
Acknowledging the damaging impact of the pandemic and laying out his plans to rectify the shortcomings of our health system, he also reminded us that “The virus is not the only thing to blame… ” the pandemic only exposed the crevices long cracking underneath. We depended too much on following the model of development that “trade policy of competitive advantage made the case that when it comes to food sufficiency, a country should not produce, but import what other countries make more of and sell cheapest…” Now, our people’s very survival may be under threat, where no amount of money can help us if there’s no supply to buy from.
For too long also we relegated education as second priority, perhaps resting on the laurel as formerly the most fluent English speaking Asian country… but the series of PISA and TIMSS results that showed the Philippines lagging spectacularly far behind the rest of the world in Reading, Math and Science — despite the K to 12 implementation and pouring in billions into DepEd — should already be a wake-up call that quantity is not quality. He proposed that our “educational materials must be retaught…”
He referred to the German model for vocational training. IDSI recommends that we should also look at the education models of South Korea, Singapore, China, which have already localized what they’ve learned from Germany for the Asian culture… For the first time, our President publicly admitted that “our teachers are heroes fighting ignorance with poor paper weapons…” and that “we are condemning the future of our race to menial occupations abroad,” and appointed his vice president at the helm of the Department of Education.
On regional development, PBBM recognized the lasting legacies of his father and President Duterte were the roads they built across the country. “Development was brought to the countryside. Investors are now setting up industries along the promising routes built.” Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.
On the environment and international community, he took stock of the reality that “[s]ufficient fossil fuel-free technology for whole economies has yet to be invented and it is not seriously tried by rich countries.” But at the same time, he said “we will look to our partners to help the Philippines…” BBM was also honest to mention that we are the third biggest plastics polluter, and we must do our share to clean up! Boracay and Manila Bay are prime examples that the Filipinos can move significantly in that direction.
While revealing his leadership philosophy, he also answered the critics, who painted him as weak during the campaign especially when he avoided some of the presidential debates, that it was a conscious philosophy to “the hesitation to quarrel over differences, and to never ever give up hope of reconciliation,” echoing Jesus’ compassion of “turn the other cheek” and wisdom of “walk the extra mile.”
Inauguration speeches are a reflection of the current times the President is inheriting, the lens through which to see his character before he takes over the levers of power of “one of the most powerful presidencies in the whole world,” as UP Professor Felipe Miranda once quipped. They are among the rubrics for which history will judge him.
With this clarifying and moving speech, even critics are beginning to open their minds to a possible even brighter future. But we have many stirring speechmakers in our history. Let’s watch for delivery, and rather than just wait for, do our part to help achieve a future we built together.
Austin Ong has assisted Philippine agencies in organizing training programs for Filipino entrepreneurs. He taught global developments in De La Salle University and studied in UP Diliman, Tsinghua and Northeastern Boston.
Also published in Manila Times. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks. (email@example.com)