As we bid farewell to a very eventful 2008 in our country's history, let us recall some of the major events that rocked our country for the good and bad last year. In the first quarter, we were all witness to the saga of the corruption-plagued NBN-ZTE Deal wherein according to star witness Jun Lozada more than US$ 200 Million (approximately 6 Billion pesos) was to be pocketed by former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. In a country wherein more than 50 million people have to live with less than P 200 pesos a day, you have two families sharing 6 billion pesos at the expense of our hard earned taxpayer's money. Since then our government has been plagued by one scandal after another such as the return of the 1 Billion Peso Fertilizer Scam, the glaring irregularities in the much delayed Northrail project and the international humiliation that we got for the Euro Generals controversy in Russia.
Yet, there are also some good news, it was in 2008 wherein we had Filipinos who made us proud abroad such as teenage singing sensation Charice Pempengco who was discovered through You Tube and has since guested in shows by Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Of course, we continue to be awes by the continuing exploits of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao who demolished David Diaz and Oscar Dela Hoya this year to prove to the rest of the world that he is indeed the best pound for pound boxer today.
Amidst these good and bad stories the past year, a question that begs to be answered is, has the life of the ordinary Filipino become better or worse the past year? A few weeks ago, the Social Weather Station (SWS) released the results of a survey wherein almost 25% of Filipinos have experienced involuntary hunger in the latter part of 2008 which goes to show that life hasn't gotten better for many Filipino families. With the recession happening in the United States of America, Japan and other 1st world countries, we can expect that our economy will also take a hit.
In a newspaper article I recently read, Taiwan has already begun cutting its labor force thus, many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been sent back to the Philippines and are now unemployed. Economists have predicted that the recession will last up to at least another year and thus, we can expect that with the global slowdown many more OFWs will be retrenched and sent back to our country.
Yet, at the backdrop of all of these problems facing ordinary Filipinos like you and me, we continue to be led by leaders who not only turn a blind eye to the needs of our people but continue to suck our government resources dry for their own selfish interests. Despite this apparently bleak outlook of our country's future, there are still glimmers of hope especially since the Filipino people has always been known to be resilient in times of tragedy. We have seen the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan whenever there are natural calamities that affect the lives of our fellow Filipino brothers and sisters. This same spirit needs to be cultivated in all of us now if we want to aspire for a New Philippines and a new set of better leaders for our country. We have seen it happen in Pampanga in the 2007 elections when despite having very little resources and no political experience, Among Ed Panlilio won against the incumbent Governor Mark Lapid and the wife of the alleged jueteng lord, Lilia Pineda. According to Gov. Panlilio, he won because of the support of ordinary Kapampangans who wanted to see good governance work in their province. In Isabela, the polio-stricken Gov. Grace Padaca won not only once but twice despite having meager resources compared to the well-financed political machinery of her opponents.
Like Panlilio, Padaca attributes this to the support of the youth and ordinary people who wanted to see positive change in her province. In 2009, we will all be preparing for the 2010 National Elections wherein we will hopefully be able to elect a new set of leaders who will not only be effective but more importantly, morally-upright and ethical. For the Filipino youth, what is at stake are not just positions in government but our future. Let us remember that whoever we choose in 2010 as President will be our leader until 2016 or even beyond thus it is imperative that we take a hold of our future by being active participants in selecting the right leaders for our country. In these times of crisis, the challenge for us is to leave behind our old ways of being apathetic and indifferent to politics in our country. If we want a new Philippines and if we want a better future for all of us then we have to become New Filipinos as well. As a New Generation of Filipinos let us not leave the politics to the traditional politicians that have laid waste to our country but let us begin by ensuring that we are able to elect leaders who will put our nation's interests above their own.
For the first time in so many Philippine elections, the youth will comprise majority of the voters thus, young Filipinos like you and me can actually make a major difference in choosing who will become our next President in 2010. Change in our country will only happen if the Change begins with you and me. Do you want to be part of that Change in 2009 or will you just sit down and watch as millions of Filipinos continue to suffer at the hands our inept and corrupt leaders? The choice is yours in 2009, the dream of a New Philippines is in our hands.
If you want to help make change happen in 2009, join Kaya Natin! A National Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at (02) 426-5657.