It is difficult not to be optimistic about the future of our country. In fact, one would have to be totally blind, totally prejudiced, totally compromised, or simply too emotionally constipated not to be optimistic. Optimism does not remove the problems, but makes it easier to do so. Optimism does not paint a bright future but makes it attractive to have one. Yes, optimism looks at the glass half full instead of half empty, but it has good reason to do so – like realizing the water is coming in and not going out.
For nine months, financial institutions and international rating agencies have consistently upgraded their forecasts on the Philippines. I am amazed at how all of them, yes, all of them, are so bullish about the Philippines. And like a self-fulfilling prophecy, their optimism has been affirmed when the Philippines posted an outstanding 6.4% growth in GNP for the first quarter of 2012. By achieving a growth that is the highest among ASEAN countries and second only to China for the whole of Asia, the Philippines proved that the positive ratings had solid foundations.
What is interesting is that the optimism of the world’s financial institutions and rating agencies coincided with the arrest of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the impeachment of now deposed Chief Justice Renato Corona. What his political opponents tried to downplay, even disparage, now has President Noynoy Aquino on the right side of history. When he placed absolute priority on the fight against corruption as his campaign promise, and now his governance, P-Noy accepted that the pain of reform and the challenge of transformation were necessary ingredients to the change that Filipinos clamored for.
It takes courage to demand justice and begin from the top. It takes courage to demand that the former president must face the music from inside the Philippines and now safely outside the arms of Philippine laws and justice. It takes courage to confront a TRO from the Supreme Court which would have allowed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave the country in a fastbreak manner. It takes courage to tell Renato Corona to his face in a public setting that the Chief Justice was protecting the one who appointed him in the dead of night and worked out Supreme Court decisions with great partiality. It takes courage to inspire the impeachment of the Chief Justice despite all the warnings about a Constitutional crisis.
I am on my last leg of a month-long journey to visit Filipinos in the United States and Canada. In the nation-building advocacy of Gawad Kalinga which I always try to contribute to, I have found it crucial that Filipinos abroad, especially Filipinos in America, must be an active player in the change and prosperity of the motherland. I have also realized that the fractiousness, and, sometimes, outright divisiveness of community leaders, have to take their own reform and then movement towards solidarity The enormous financial power of Filipinos in America plus their influence on the families they support back home cannot be undervalued.If they find reasonable convergence in transcendent causes, the money and influence of Filipinos in America can bring more financial and political benefit than the World Bank or the IMF combined.
Overseas Filipino Workers, popularly known as OFWs, send more money to their families in the Philippines than Filipinos in America, but they cannot send much more than what they are already sending. OFWs already send the bulk of their wages every month. On the other hand, Filipinos in America can till increase dramatically what they remit to the Philippines if they are properly motivated or inspired. They can send annually more billions of US and Canadian dollars than what the World Bank and the IMF has historically provided the Philippines as loans. And the funds that Filipinos in America can additionally remit to the Philippines, even as investments to long-term development, will most probably stay in the Philippines permanently.
Credibility. Confidence. Optimism. A crab mentality is born from a sour outlook. Divisiveness is born from an acidic attitude. Most bad news are not real – they are stories from spin masters who take one bad news and multiplies it until it dominates the rest of reality which carries good news as well. Most bad news flow from a history of Filipinos ready to believe the worst of ourselves even when the best of ourselves is what it takes to build the future we long for but can never have with negativism as the primary driver. Revolutions have been known to destroy but only hard work with positive motivation builds a nation with a brighter future.
There is a new generation of Filipinos who do not carry the baggage of divisiveness and pessimism. They have long rejected the gloomy or the contentious which are great dampers to the creative spirit and expression of modern technology. Those who will build our nation are not chained to conflict, they are wired to change. Those who cannot see and say anything contributory to the kind of future they want are simply neglected, not even worth contending with. This is the future.
In the United States and Canada, Filipinos are beginning to feel that new optimism about the great possibility of change. In no small measure did the impeachment, conviction and removal of Rene Corona as Chief Justice contribute to the general feeling of pride in being Filipino, in being part of people able to demand honesty and justice. I believe, though, that the new optimism in the air is from a deeper faith that we can do it, that we have what it takes to do it, and that change is possible because we want it more strongly than ever.
I believe, too, that the fresh air of the young, the idealism that naturally springs from their soul, will lead us to a togetherness that will defy the bondage of history, dismantle our divisions, confront and defeat the greed and apathy that perpetuate poverty. I believe that those who will build a future full of hope have arrived at last.