“I love my own my native land
Philippines, my Philippines
To you I give my heart and hand
Philippines, my Philippines
The trees that crown the mountains grand
The seas that beat upon the strand
Awake my heart to your command
Philippines, my Philippines.”
– Lyrics of Philippines, My Philippines
This is one of the songs played during the inauguration of PBB M. I have not heard it sung or played for a very long time. I must confess I was misty-eyed when I heard it sang again. I’m not trying to be dramatic but this is one song that has intensified my love of country when I was a kid in a distant somnolent town of Catarman in the fabulous island called Camiguin. This song, for me, spells love of country. And I cannot help being maudlin when I hear someone sings about love of country.
The past: If I were a common run of mortal, I would be bitter on the emergence of BB M as President. But that’s not me. Politics for me is a game of ideas, vision, ideals and principles dedicated to God, country and people. Partisanship ends after every election. I said that when I became Provincial Governor of Misamis Oriental under martial law. I translated my words into action by my implementing the good programs of the FM administration – rural roads program, barangay water program, irrigation program, school building program, dairy program, cotton growing program, re-orientation of the Filipino, masagana 99, kadiwa stores, green revolution and back to the barangay.
On the national level, I have high respect for the FM national projects – Heart Center, Kidney Center, Lung Center, Children’s Medical Center, Philippine International Convention Cetner, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, Metro Rail Transit, Northern Luzon Expressway, Southern Luzon Expressway, elevated highways, Coastal Road,, modernized airports and container ports and improved inter-island ports and airports, Development Academy of the Philippines, Institute of Strategic Studies, handing to the hands of Filipinos vital industries and businesses, export processing zones, developing new and vital industries, regionalizing the country, shift to a parliamentary system, dismantling the Moro insurgency, among others.
These are outstanding achievements even if it took twenty years to achieve. The misfortune of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (FM) is well illustrated in these lines from Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” That was the case of Julius Caesar in Antony’s view. That is also the case of FM in the view of most of the martial law victims – violation of human rights, horrendous crimes of the military and the police ranging from rape to murder, torture to dehumanization; uncontrolled graft and corruption; creating new and undisciplined oligarchies, libidinous dalliances that came to be known by his wife and the public.
If I were an ordinary mortal, I have every reason to take offense against him and possibly against his son. Why? FM, during martial law did all these to me – imprisoned me for one (1) year six (6) months and eleven (11) on the alleged crime of subversion in the political prisons of Camp Crame and Fort Bonifacio; he prevented me from being proclaimed as a Member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa though I placed second in the Regional election, telling Vice-President Pelaez, in the presence of DPWH Secretary Antonio Raquiza, who claimed that there were only two winners under the banner of Mindanao Alliance (MA), lawyer Reuben R. Canoy and me, to proclaim Canoy but not Adaza; had me removed as Governor of Misamis Oriental when there were six other Governors who, like me, were members of Parliament who remained Governors and Members of Parliament as they were members of the Kilusan Ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL), the party that FM organized; he refused the numerous request of his DPWH Secretary Antonio Raquiza, that I be released from confinement as he already released those who attempted against his life like Eddie Figueras and his answer was Figueras was released because he was a known factor and no longer dangerous but I should be kept in custody as I was an imponderable factor which made me dangerous; he bodily frisked me twice, once when he was President and the other instance was when he was in exile in Hawai-i; and I refused the offer of a group of FM businessmen to leave for the United States of America before the 1986 snap elections and check-in at the famous American Navy Hospital, Waltert Reed, by pretending that I was sick in consideration of ONE HUNDRED MILLION ($1,000,000.00) US dollars. The offer was made before I met with then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos who told me that FM said, I cannot join them but they would be grateful if I leave for the USA before the snap elections.
But I am not complaining because what FM did to me is part of the game of politics. If he considered me dangerous being an imponderable factor – that’s part of the game of politics, it has to definable limits. If I were in his shoes – I could have done him worse.
But what he has done to me have all been forgiven the moment they were committed. Why? – Because I am Roman Catholic and Christianity has been chiseled into my head by my legendary father who was mayor of our town for almost twenty years and my iconic mother who was elementary public school teacher for as long as I can remember.
Digression: Why did I write the preceding paragraphs? It appears to have nothing to do with money being the name of the game. It has – because I am trying to qualify myself as a witness so the suggestion will prove rational and viable.
Money: If the economic team of PBB M will have its way, the money will come from taxes and foreign loans. This approach is unacceptable. The national debt totals to thirteen point one (13.1) trillion pesos – thanks to President Duterte and his economic team, a number of them are strategic members of the current President’s economic team. Foreign borrowings to sustain the operation of government and its planned projects will escalate our national debt. That’s definitely bad. It may cause serious repercussions in the life of our people which could trigger unrest like what recently happened in Sri Lanka.
That’s not good for the country. That’s not good for our people. It is not good for PBB M. So, why adopt a bad policy for the economy? Similarly, more taxes is painful for everyone. More taxes coupled with high prices of goods and services slow down economic development and escalate dissatisfaction and protests.
Does PBB M like that? It’s too early to revive the experience of the past. He should read George Santayana – and he will know what I mean.
So where will the money come from to finance his ambitious projects and the operations of a very bulky government – without inviting dissatisfaction and unrest among our people? I have a suggestion to make.
Suggestion: Since PBB M, in his inaugural address, said that he needs everybody’s help in rebuilding this country, this suggestion is in response to that. I am a humble citizen of this country and a stakeholder in what happens to this Republic. I know that there are people in his ranks who may not take my suggestion seriously because of my political clashes with the late FM as Provincial Governor of Misamis Oriental and as Member of the Batasan Pambansa. The clashes were always on the level of ideas, vision, ideals and principles – never personal.
It must have been former President George W. Bush of the USA who said in an interview that our country is the richest country in the world. I happen to agree, not only in terms of human and natural resources but of gold, precious gems like diamond and money buried under the surface of our land but also huge deposits in domestic and international banks of persons who are willing to help the government solve its problems like wiping away our national debt and financing all the imaginable projects of this government.
Am I imagining things? No, unless the documents supplied us by our clients are all fake and hallucinatory. Considering that the documents appear genuine, nothing is lost if the government verifies the genuineness of the documents. Moreover, if the documents and claims are proved to be false – it is about time that all claims in hundreds of billions of dollars be ordered stopped.
This is a painless way of raising funds to solve the problems of the country. And if PBB M is interested, he can always give me a call. I don’t need favors. I am not interested in a job. I don’t need any attention. I just want to help. If the suggestion is not acceptable to the government, I will only be disappointed but I’m not going to have a head ache and a stomach ache. I will continue writing my columns to document the events of my time and my poems and – publish them in books. And more – to admire the beauty of nature as reflected by the rivers and the forests in the place where I come from, Camiguin, and admire the beauty of young faces and the early morning sunrise which make me feel young.
After all, as William Ernest Henley immortalized it in Invictus –
“I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul”.