Saturday, October 20, 2007

An Open Letter to the Filipino People

Rewrite of Jottings: An Open Letter to the Filipino People

A friend sent me this forwarded email:
Subject: An Open Letter to the Filipino People
>Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 21:02:08 -0800 (PST)
Last year, Fernando Poe, Jr. said he wasn't going to run for president; last December, President Gloria Arroyo said she wasn't going to run for president. I don't know how they make their decisions, but it sure sounds like they do it on a whim because today both of them are talking about their "sacrifices" - how hard the next six years are going to be for their families, how they have to give up their privacy, how they have to deal with the criticism and mud slinging and how much they love this country. Oh please. You're all beginning to sound like Kris Aquino.
Watching the news on Wednesday when FPJ announced his intention to run, I panicked when I saw Susan Roces looking alarmingly like Imelda as she cried on TV and said that her husband was running because he just wanted to help the people, so why is everybody so mean to him? I kept thinking, oh my God, is she going to break into Dahil sa Iyo?
That scared the hell out of me. That and the clip where FPJ mumbled through his one-on-one interview with ABS-CBN wearing shades. Did he perhaps misplace a wristband? Or when he was asked about his economic policies and he said
... what did he say? Nothing, that's what. You'd think if you were going to announce your presidential ambitions you would have at least prepared something - anything - on how you were going to lead the country aside from the overused line about being the savior the masses need.
Now showbiz people are complaining of the criticism FPJ is receiving. Their loyalty is fascinating. I can watch their display on TV all day and be alternately amazed and confused about whether part of their brain goes on auto pilot when they're talking about FPJ. It's the same kind of loyalty for Erap, which led Senator Tessie Oreta to do that little jig in the Senate during the impeachment proceedings. Look where it got Erap.
You don't know whether their loyalty to FPJ comes from personally knowing he has the brains to lead the country or simply because they belong to the same profession. There must be something about show business that creates this strong bond, this persecution complex that leads them to think that because they are actors people think they're stupid.
In this country that has elected showbiz people and made them mayors, councilors, governors and senators barangay captains, and hell, even president - why do they still complain of a bias against their profession? You don't hear electricians saying, "Oh they'll never elect us into office!" And you certainly don't hear economists fanatically defending GMA just because she is one. We all know there are many accomplished actors whose achievements go beyond their profession. You see their every move in newspapers every day, for God's sake.
The biggest bias against FPJ is not that he is an actor, but that he may lack the skills, temperament, and attitude to become a leader. People say he has such a kind heart, unquestionable sincerity and that he has helped a lot of people through the years - shouldn't this be enough? No, it's not. I need my president - whoever he or she is - to be better than the average Juan. I want him to know history and poetry as well as economics, to be able to quote Shakespeare and argue with Allan Greenspan, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world's most powerful leaders, to make me proud - not to make me laugh- when I see him on TV.
I want to love my president and I want to respect him. I want a president who doesn't have to surround himself with economists to know how to run the country. I want him to know these things on his own and listen to advice but not be influenced by people who have a different agenda. I want to talk about my president to foreigners without being embarrassed, without shaking my head and saying, "Well, Filipinos aren't the most mature electorate in the universe." I don't want to hear that Filipino doctors are now studying to become nurses just to apply for jobs abroad or college students choosing their courses based on what the most popular jobs are in other countries.
Sincerity is a beautiful thing, but it's not the only thing that makes a president great In 1998, when Erap was elected, I was hoping he would succeed, that since he was wildly popular and beloved, he was going to do good. But look what he did.…
…He blamed the rich, played to the poor and completely forgot about the middle class who didn't cheat on their taxes or steal other people's land. Like Erap, FPJ polarizes people. It's the kind that creates so much anger and distrust on both sides. This early, the people surrounding him are far from reassuring. Tito Sotto? After showing his fantastic grasp of economics, of what drives foreign exchange? Hello?
This is not Eat Bulaga, sir. Nobody is laughing. Somebody should pinch FPJ and tell him this is not the movies. That he cannot fight off our Asian neighbors for measly investment with his magic sword. Erap and now Ang Panday. It's so depressing I want to cry.
A friend warned me about pissing off FPJ. She said, "Be careful what you write about him, he may be your next president."
What's he gonna do, drop an anvil on my head?

My Reply

Subject: Re Open Letter
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 04:11:25 +0800
Thank you for sharing with me the "Open Letter to the Filipino People". I do adore this country, although it's starting to waver a bit.
It is remarkable how election fever has stirred emotions and agitating uncivil language. So many messages forwarded on email and mobile text are coarse, at times gross, and no longer couched in sarcastic humor, but rather in ridiculous falsehoods. It pains me to read statements by literate Pinoys using rude and vulgar language.
The letter portrayed some of the nation's travails. Nevertheless, there are a few items I wish to add to balance the picture.
Showbiz people do seem to excel in the political voting arena due to their wide exposure to the public. Fortunately, rare are stories about their filching public coffers, perhaps for fear of smearing their pogi image.
People biased against actor FPJ as being unprepared to lead the nation should recall that two decades ago, opponents said the same of Cory Aquino. A president, by his lonesome self, is not capable of running the country's affairs. He needs a team to do this. Even a parliamentary system has a team of ministers headed by a prime minister.
To blame an immature (read injudicious) electorate for electing to office an ill-prepared person is, in itself, injudicious. Voters who have lost all hope for a better life will cast their votes for the person they perceive can save them. Else, violence is the alternative.
Doctors are highly educated individuals. If a doctor decides to take up nursing, he chooses to pursue a career which can provide a better life for him, probably overseas. Inference of idiocy is inappropriate. In the same vein, I disagreed with the top official of Higher Education who proposed the closure of all nursing schools in the country because graduates take overseas jobs, thus wasting the nation's money in educating them. (Where are these subsidized government schools, I'd like to know).
Knocking the future émigrés who choose a career abroad is the unkindest cut of all. Philippine jobs are as rare as hen's teeth. Graduates who took courses that are dead-end job-wise become parasites to society, but could be valuable assets (some say heroes) as OFWs. Many third-world governments have set up formal plans to educate their youth targeting jobs overseas.
The bureaucracy today desperately needs a little less grafting and a little more pruning. Perhaps Erap honed his sticky-finger skill in that institution.
If God had intended us to vote, He would have given us good candidates.

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