Brian Ong is a graduate of Xavier School Batch 2006. He is a college freshman at the University of the Philippines. Below is his view of the President's recent SONA.
Seeing the mass of people positioned along Ever Gotesco Commonwealth – with different banners, streamers and paraphernalia expressing their opposition to the President, soaked in rain and sweat – while I was on my way to the Batasang Pambansa Complex for the President’s State of the Nation Address – made me think of what really is the state of our nation at present.
Upon arriving at the Congress at around 1:30pm , inter-agency security personnel greeted us with checkpoints. I was dropped off at the South Gate Entrance, where more security checks were stationed before anyone could enter. Noticeably, the security detail was exceptionally tight. A congresswoman even jokingly compared it to a “military-PSG take-over of the vicinity.” It was a totally different experience for me.
As time drew closer to the arrival of the President, more and more VIPs came. People from the business, religious, private and public sectors came – each one was well represented. One would notice the seemingly colorful and traditional dresses ( sayas for women and barongs or coat-and-tie for men) each one was wearing. Obvious expression of excitement and wonder were on each one’s faces.
Enter President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her remoras. She entered glamorously while a trail of supporters followed her. She almost gave her address even before the singing of the National Anthem – a comic relief to what seemed to be a very rigid afternoon mood.
In her speech, the President spoke of her plans – to divide the country to “super regions” (North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, Central Philippines, Mindanao and the Cyber Corridor) to return power back to the provinces, to make the Philippines globally competitive, to build roads, airports, bridges and jobs, and to change our electoral system and our constitution.
She congratulated the “true friends of the Filipino people”, as she called congressmen who have supported her. She hailed police and military officials and ranks alike in their continuous support to the flag and constitution and their. She presented contented Filipinos, which were blessed by her government with jobs and land. She recognized certain bishops. She also acknowledge the presence in the audience of Filipino achievers like Emata and Garduce, “who scaled the heights of Mt. Everest ,” Asian Games medallists, Miss Tourism International Justine Gabionza, and boxing sensation Many Pacquiao.
She did mention a whole bunch of people and places. Yes, I agree that it is sometimes good to give positive reinforcement by commendations, but the problem that we face is that “are they the only ones, which the President wants to bless with her ‘major capital infrastructure investments?’” “What is really the state of our nation today?”
I pity those who were not mentioned and whose places were not even given light. Now, what will happen to them?
All there is to yesterday’s State of the Nation address was mostly aesthetics. Sure, she brushed through most of what is really necessary to hear. In my opinion, what was focused during the speech of the President is a probable state of our nation in the future. Also, she didn’t delve into the details of her plans.
She did mention her government’s accomplishments economically – that our fiscal crisis improved and all. Yes, she gave facts and statistics in her presentation. But the fact is that a lot of the Filipino people are still suffering and continuing to suffer more each day as oil prices and basic commodities rise. Why is that so?
She did condemned political killings but she didn’t really say what to do with it. Why is that so?
She said that education was important but doesn’t that clash with the notion that there's a textbook and classroom shortage in our country? The fact that the Philippines is the second worst in English, Science and Math in our region is a testament itself to what the government is doing (or fittingly what the government isn’t doing?)
There are still a lot of problems our country is facing and will continue to face in the future. And a lot of people are still asking “what happened with her promises during her last State of the Nation Address?” Why I think that would have been better addressed to the public so that we could see where we are today.
Taking a step back, I must admit that I liked what she has shown in her plans, which creatively accompanied a PowerPoint presentation. Who wouldn’t want an improved Philippines , which empowers the regions and gives us the edge globally?
I just hope that we cut all the crap (the politicking, et. al.) and focus on what is needed to be focused on. They should start doing their best in addressing the real people’s problems so that they wouldn’t be seen damp in streets in future State of the Nation Addresses and that the President wouldn’t really need that much security protection during SONAs.
After “three years, eleven months and six days,” all we can do is hope that what the President proudly paraded in her State of the Nation Address could be translated to action and reality and that in turn, we could have a better Philippines to live in.
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