"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Our Appointment with Destiny

The destiny of a nation is in the hands of its people, the dreamers and visionaries who love their country with pride and nobility.

The history of the Philippines is replete with heroes, men and women like you, who envisioned a peaceful, prosperous, and proud homeland with justice for all, free from oppression and abuse, even by its own people.

You are all here today because you want to help our fellow Filipinos who have been abused and neglected by their own government, whose leaders the majority voted into office.

What we are seeing is what we can always expect to happen when we elect wolves to guard our sheep.

The 2010 national elections back home will show the world either how wise and smart we are, or how dumb and stupid we can actually be, as a people.

Filipinos, in general, have always excelled in whatever they did wherever they were. One such Filipino was Jose Protacio Rizal, an Atenean who obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree in Madrid, Spain, in 1885, and who was a European trained ophthalmologist, one of very few specialists at the time, when specialization was not even popular.

In 1897, Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian Professor, described our national hero Rizal as “not only the most prominent man of his own people but the greatest man the Malayan race has produced.”

Years before Gandhi and Sun Yat Sen started their fight for freedom, Rizal, in the 1880s, already advocated and introduced what is known today as modern democracy. Through his essays, letters and novels, he espoused “such principles as the worth and dignity of the individual person, the inviolability of human rights, the innate quality of all men and races, the need for constitutional government and due process of law, faith in human reason and enlightenment, the right of the masses to public education, and belief in social progress through freedom.”

Rizal, believing in the “brilliance of his people, exhorted the Filipinos to regain the pride in themselves and in their race.”

We, global Filipinos, need to wake up and claim the glory of a people long victimized and dominated, no longer by conquering foreign powers, but by our fellow Filipinos themselves, our very own elected officials in the government, whose plunder of our nation has disenfranchised, marginalized and neglected our people, more than 25% of them now languishing in the gutter of poverty, robbed not only of clothing, food, and shelter, but of their dignity, honor, pride, and a future. As these corrupt leaders fill up their pockets and bank accounts, the poorest of the poor Filipinos go to bed at night hungry, with empty stomach and empty dreams.

This most unfortunate and sad state of our people is the reason why we are all gathered here today, some of us coming from across the seas, with resolve on our mind, compassion in our heart, and love of our people and our land of birth.

This is a wonderful humanitarian movement, and we must all support endeavors like this. But as we continue to apply bandage and pressure over the bleeding wound of our people and our nation to minimize the damage, we must also act to stop the main source, the root cause, of the massive hemorrhage, which is the cancer of graft and corruption in every level of our government.

This is where we, Filipinos around the world, must come together, even in our diversity, even without unanimity, and unite for a common cause, and inspire our people towards responsible citizenship, and our nation, towards good governance and ethical leadership.

As I have stated before, what we need is a revolution, not a revolution of arms where blood shall be shed, but a revolution of principles, priorities, attitude, and discipline, where sweat and tears shall be shed to bathe our nation clean.

First and foremost, we, Filipinos, must love our country enough and be proud of our Philippine heritage. Then, as a people, we must rearrange our prejudices and priorities, and discipline ourselves.

Indeed, the change must start in us, in “We, the People.”

Although citizens of our adopted country, we must nonetheless realize that no matter where we are, we are still Filipinos. Those who believe otherwise will have the greatest surprise of their life when they wake up one morning and look at the mirror. Like John F. Kennedy’s pride in his Irish ancestry, and Barack Obama in his African origin, we, Filipinos, in America or elsewhere, must exude in our pride as Filipinos. After all, the Philippines would be a great nation, a real pearl of the orient seas, where it not for our corrupt politicians, who have damaged the reputation of our nation, and robbed its people of self-respect and self-esteem.

Indeed, what the Philippines needs today are more UNEMPLOYED traditional politicians and a departure from traditional politics, where graft and corruption is the pervasive culture.

Happily, we see providential signs that the tide might be changing and that our people back home are opening their eyes, and seeing the light. There are at least a dozen elected officials in our government, governors and mayors, who did not have a well-established political machinery, nor financial war chest, but who nonetheless won against formidable, corrupt traditional politicians, who had all the funds and well-organized political campaign machinery.

Two of these are Pampanga miracle Governor Eddie Panlilio, who won against the well-entrenched, rich, and powerful political dynasty of the Lapids and the Pinedas, and the other is Governor Grace Padaca of Isabela. We are hopeful that these political experiments in Pampanga and Isabela, could be duplicated, replicated, in the coming 2010 national elections. Indeed, we have good signs that our people are getting to be more politically mature and wiser, especially the youth of our land.

Another good omen of the greatness of the Filipinos is the growth of humanitarian groups like Tony Meloto’s Gawad Kalinga, Ayala Foundation, R. Lewis Foundation, Kids Against Hunger, Gawad Kalusugan, Operation Blessing, International Care Ministry, World Vision, Physicians for Peace, the Gift of Life Foundation, World Surgical Foundation, Society of Philippine Surgeons in the America Charity, and dozens of others, in keeping with the biblical wisdom that we are our brother’s keepers.

All these little miracles and providential omens developing in our country and among Filipinos around the world today are a manifestation of positive things to come. Indeed, I most hopeful that the day we are all dreaming for will come, perhaps, God-willing, even sooner than we think, so long as we have the wisdom to we unite and break bread together.

When I spoke at the Good Governance Summit at the Ateneo Professional complex at Rockwell in Makati last April 29th, the more than 20 good governance organization leaders who attended, together with a hundred other religious, business, and civic leaders, were mostly young, highly energized people.

Our hero Ninoy Aquino, in a speech he never had the chance to deliver, said, “the Filipino is worth dying for.” While the assassin’s bullet had silenced his voice on August 21, 1983, his profound words of patriotism and love of country shall reverberate for generations to come.

You, who are here today, leaders of our people in your own right, embolden my sustained faith in the Filipino people. You represent what is best in humankind, and your nobility and compassion towards our fellowmen ensures the Filipino a rightful place in history. You are not only the source of hope for our people but the foundation of dignity and pride for the Philippines.

This humanitarian coalition launched today, with highly respected leaders, from Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Ayals’s Vicky Garchitorena, Greg Macabenta, Boy Abay, Johnny Montero, Dom Alvear, P. Emraida Kiram, Liz Garcia-Gray, Richard Proudfit., David Sutherland, David Liban, Jr., Kim Pascual, Modesta Lugos, Nannette Alcaro, Sofia Garcia-Buder, to every single one of you, representing various organizations, highlights the goodness in the individuals and the greatness of a people.

Leaving this world after this life is not a tragedy. Dying without significance, without making a difference, without leaving behind a good legacy, is.

You and Filipinos like you will certainly leave behind a great legacy that our children and the future generations will cherish with pride forever.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Indeed, the change must start with us, with “We, the People.”

The future is in the hands of the Filipinos at home and around the world, among those who believe in their vision and dreams.

After Rizal was executed by Spain at 7:00 in the morning on that fateful December 30, 1896, historians poignantly described Rizal, with his elbows tied behind him, upon hearing the command “Fuego!” to the firing squad, deliberately made a sudden twist to face the squad and fell on the ground on his back, facing the early morning sky and the eastern rising sun. This, they said, was perhaps Rizal’s final effort of defiance against the oppressors and symbolized his vision and dream of a glorious destiny for the Filipino people rising from the ashes of abuses and indignity.

I have an abiding faith that the Filipinos are destined for greatness and will someday rise to reclaim their lost glory and pride.

Allow me then to make this clarion call to all of you within the reach of my voice today, and to all those within the reach of yours tomorrow, to join the crusade and come together for a noble cause, to serve our poor, to renounce corruption, to reclaim our lost glory, and recapture our dignity, honor, and pride as a people and as a nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, with all these signs and symptoms of a suffering people, let us not wait for surgery to open our heart. Let us come together now as our brothers’ keepers, as our nation’s loving patriots, to serve a cause nobler and greater than ourselves, and, someday soon, make our appointment with destiny.

Thank you and have a wonderful evening.

Paper presented at the Operation: Bayanihan, a global coalition for humanitarian services for the Philippines, May 16, 2009 at Wyndham Hotel, Rosemont, Illinois. *Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana, USA, trained at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, is Chairman of Filipino United Network (FUN-USA), Vice Chairman of Filipino American Leadership Council (FALCONadvocacy) and Vice President for Far East of Cardiovascular Hospitals of America, Wichita, Kansas. He is a columnist for five newspapers and one magazine in the United States and five newspapers and one magazine in the Philippines.

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