"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

P-Noy’s Overseas Giant

Last week, a contingent of about 200 Filipino leaders from various countries overseas, mostly from the United States, who attended the inauguration of Benigno S. Aquino III as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, convened at the Sofitel-Philippine Plaza for the First Worldwide Conference of Overseas Filipinos for Good Governance.

Amazing as it may seem, these Filipinos, who have lived abroad for decades, many for almost half a century, never lost their love for their land of birth. Out of necessity they went, out of love they are returning to better help their suffering Motherland. Though they left the Philippines, the Philippines in them never left.

As successful citizens of foreign lands, they never forgot, never abandoned, their Motherland. Majority of those who left to save their family from hunger, and others to further their education, never returned when the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos, chained and plundered the entire nation for 21 years --- two decades marred by massive authoritarian rule, despotism, political repression, human rights violation and nepotism.

Like their brothers and sisters in the Philippines, the overseas Filipinos felt the painful betrayal of a leader who had sworn to serve them and protect them, not realizing that after Cory had liberated them and restored democracy to the country, there would be further betrayals along the way.

Obviously, to most of those left the country and family behind, the material lure of the milk and honey abroad was only a means to a nobler end. They could have turned their back and simply continued to enjoy the peace and glory of success abroad, but almost all of them, felt incomplete, half full. They longed for their Mother Pilipinas. Many leaders, representing their fellow overseas Pinoys came home and lobbied hard for decades for the proposals and final passage of the dual citizenship and the absentee voting rights bills, a manifestation of what’s in their heart, the longing to be Filipinos again.

The more than 11 million Filipinos abroad, around 3 million of them in the United States, constitute the Sleeping Global Filipino Giant. They have been providing the life blood to the Philippine economy for decades with their remittances. The annual remittance of nearly $18 billion (and rising) is what has been keeping our nation’s economy afloat and saving the Philippines from drowning in bankruptcy. When united as dual citizens with the ballot in their hand, the Sleeping Global Filipino Giant would be a powerful force that could change not only the economic, but the social and political, landscape in the Philippines.

The trillions of pesos plundered by shameless government officials could have significantly minimized the massive poverty among the 25% of our poor people languishing in the gutter of poverty. Many of them get their meals from garbage cans. Most go to bed at night hungry, not only with empty stomach, but with empty dreams.

Except for a handful few, the majority of our officials during the past administrations were obviously crooks and criminals, who protected each other. They were members of an elite organized crime syndicate, an exclusive club, the SOP (Society of Plunderers), disguised as the Philippine Government.

The unprecedented overwhelming landslide victory of Noynoy, who garnered more than 42% of the votes, was a clear mandate from the people, who joined his noble vision of “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (“No corruption, no poverty”). It was also a testament to the extreme hatred the majority of the Filipinos felt for Gloria and her cronies, who gave the country the shameful distinction of bring one of the most corrupt in the world.

The massive victory of President Aquino was nothing but People Power 3, albeit not waged on the street of EDSA, but on streets leading to the polling places around the country. It is also a wake-up call to all dishonest people in the government, from Malacanang down to the Barrangays. The padrino and payola culture must go, and the perpetrators put behind bars. Only when justice is served can our people be truly served and can our country regain the world’s respect as a nation where no one is above the law.

The inspiring “arrival” of President Noynoy Aquino is starting to usher in a new outlook, a renewed interest, and hope among Filipinos at home and abroad. The overseas Filipino leaders are more determined than ever to give whatever support they can to President Aquino in his war against graft and corruption, social injustice, and poverty.

The theme of the conference at Sofitel last week was “Harnessing the Overseas Pinoy Power for Good Governance.” This is a healthy sign that the overseas Filipinos and those at home are getting out of their stupor and, together, are beginning to flex their muscles. Since we were the ones who put Noynoy on the hot seat, it is our individual obligation to help him succeed in achieving a new and better Philippines for all of us.

In his inaugural address, President Aquino eloquently stated that he could not do the job alone, and that “We, the People,” are his “Boss” and partners, the pillars and strength he needs to rid the government of corruption and save the Philippines. The awakened Global Filipino Giant overseas, and their brothers and sisters at home, have accepted the P-Noy challenge.

Alas! a beautiful new dawn has come to our land, a hopeful tomorrow for all Filipinos. With honest government officials leading the country, each of us no longer has any excuse for not disciplining our self and for not contributing our share to help transform the Philippines into a nation with integrity, social justice, peace, prosperity, honor, and pride.

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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