Recent Thoughts

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yes to a good Kapampangan leader!

Ever since I had a clear grasp of numbers, tabulation-rich events like elections, Olympics, pageants and other contests always amazed me. But elections were a different matter. I knew that the results would greatly affect the world I live in.

In 1992, my bet for President was Mitra. I think I liked him because he looked the kindest to me. Haha! But in 1998, when I had a better understanding of national matters, my bet was Raul Roco. And in 2004, when I was finally eligible to vote, he was still my bet. I was really upset that he lost. I couldn't get why people won't vote for the one with the cleanest record. Why they'd prefer the cheater that GMA was just so FPJ won't win. For me, there was a perfect alternative to FPJ and that was Roco. I really believed in his brand of leadership. So when I heard the news that he died, my first thought was, "Oh no! Wala nang pag-asa ang Pilipinas.." Of course, I know it's really not the end. Raul Roco has indeed sown the seeds of change. It's just the a matter of finding someone who would take care and harvest these seeds.

The politics here in Pampanga is another story. Back in 1995 (and consequently, 1998 and 2001), I couldn't understand why Lito Lapid would win as Governor when all he did was ride in helicopters and save people from lahar. I mean come on! He should just sign up with the Red Cross or something. His movies are bad enough, he didn't have to bring all of his pseudo-machismo in the government. I was still in Elementary, when these allegations (backed by pretty strong evidences) of corruption, mainly in illegal quarrying, ghost employees, etc, already surfaced. And yet these weren't enough to keep him from the Capitol's Office. As young as my mind was, I knew back then (1998 in particular) that the choice was obviously between good and evil, and yet, the evil prevailed.

It came to a point when the dilemma in choosing entailed voting for the lesser evil. It peaked in this year's elections where the gubernatorial bout was initially between Mark Lapid (Lito's equally untalented-actor son) on the illegal quarrying corner and Baby Pineda (wife of infamous alleged Jueteng Lord, Bong Pineda) on the jueteng corner. I would've voted ABSTAIN, but that is not an option, because there is no 50%+1 requirement for them to win. My not voting for any of them as a protest will prove futile. It was a really hopeless situation until Among Ed Panlilio came into the picture.

I am sure you have all heard of this brave priest running for Pampanga Governor who stirred up a local People Power. In fact, this amazing and noble story made it to the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer as the main headline. You can occasionally read about him in various political columns and even in the Letters-to-the-Editor section. I was initially disappointed that a priest had to run, because I know that my province is not lacking of capable professionals or individuals. Besides, I've always believed that the Church has been meddling with state affairs too much already, so I wasn't so sure if a priest as a Governor was such a good idea. But luckily, Among Ed is not the Padre-Damaso type. Not only is he a well-loved parish priest, he was also well-respected in the local NGO circles. He has founded and headed various socio-civic institutions. And he has a competitive platform to boot. Unlike Lapid and Pineda, who are indeed political and financial superpowers, but are lacking in integrity and innovative plans.

Last Saturday, I attended his Meeting De Avance. It was my very first political rally, and surely, it was overwhelming. I would've said it was an 'eye-opener'. But I realized my eyes were already opened, haha -- open to the fact that the time for major positive change in Kapampangan leadership has finally come. It was really fun in the patriotic sense. I couldn't find someone to go with to the rally, but since I really wanted to attend, I asked my 8-year-old nephew to tag along, hehe! Hindi ko naman siya pinilit ha, kusa siyang pumayag, at ang sabi naman niya pagkatapos, nag-enjoy naman siya.

I've always been an inactive member of the society, in the sense that I never tangibly took part in anything that helped other people's way of life. (Well, except for my Kapampangan org in UP Diliman, we have projects catered to Kapampangan students but we're never really a political group). I figured that attending was the least I could do, aside from actually voting for him. What's further amazing is that his campaign or 'crusade' as us his supporters would rather call it, is entirely thriving due to volunteerism for he is running as an independent candidate. Kapampangans throughout the province (even in the parts that were considered Pineda and Lapid country) and Angeles City (which doesn't vote for Governor because it's a chartered city), and even in abroad (Europe and USA), have all contributed financially in many different ways.

It was overwhelming because one can really feel the burning passion and sense of patriotism and integrity in the air. What's more amazing is that people with different socio-economic status attended the rally. And all of them were joined in the chanting of "Amond Ed!", raising their hands, waving their flaglets, and singing to the Kapampangan patriotic anthems. It was like a mall tour for Mon David, the international Jazz champion, and Arti Sta Rita, a local popular artistic and cultural organization, for they performed most of the Kapampangan songs and intermission numbers. It felt like more a prayer rally than a political one, actually. Quite expected, since the candidate is a Catholic priest. But what's also admirable is that even leaders from other religions and Christian sects proclaimed their support.

A paragraph from the people's manifesto:

"True, Pampanga is popular more than ever but not because of noble things like the resurgence of arts and culture brought out to the fore by talented Kapampangan artists; not even the growing opportunities for progress fuelled by the hard work and industry of its business sector. Pampanga is popular more than ever as the home province of jueteng and corruption and the seat of illegal quarrying operations. In recent years, we Kapampangans have witnessed how our beloved province and its people have fallen deep in the clutches of a debilitating social cancer that threatens to destroy every cell of our being.

Indeed, we are now confronted with a disaster – one that is more devastating and damaging than the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo; one that we cannot recover from unless we unite, cooperate and stand up as a community. Makarine na pu ing malilyari kekatamu at ali tamu puwedeng manahimik at magbulag-bulagan kabang sasamantalanan de reng mapilan ing kekatamung balen at deng memalen. (Nakakahiya na po ang nangyayari sa atin at hindi tayo pwedeng manahimik at magbulag-bulagan habang sinasamantala na iilan ang atin bayan at ang mga mamamayan.)"

I never had this much hope in the elections. I really believe in the Among Ed mantra, "Abak na Pampanga!" (Umaga na Pampanga!). Because with a true servant-leader like Among Ed in the government, the sun is finally rising after years and years on end of darkness due to corruption and lack of integrity of our provincial leaders. The only way for the darkness of this night to continue to engulf our promising province is if Among Ed will be cheated, or worse, killed.
For finally,
Kapampangan, atin nakang pagpilian! (mayroon ka nang pagpipilian!).

Let me end with the last paragraphs of the manifesto:

This is not about asking Fr. Ed to be the Messiah who will deliver this province out of the rut it is in. This is not about his personal achievements, nor his personal desires to be a funnel for God’s graces. This is about a province that is at the lowest point in its history, about a people who are on the brink of hopelessness and who have been silently clamoring for changes, for better options, and for decent leaders. This is about us Kapampangans. Dintang na pu ing panaun para migising tamu at talakad para king metung a gobyernong disente, malinis at apagmaragul tamu. (Dumating na po ang panahon para magising tayo at tumayo para sa isang gobyerno na disente, malinis at maipagmamalaki natin.)

This is the time for us to unite and move together for change so that with heads held high, we can once again say, “Apagmaragul ku, Kapampangan ku!”

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