Leave something for God to do

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

Leni for QC rally | Photo by Patrickroque01 via Wikimedia Commons

Those words are not mine. I borrow them from their original source, from the person I first heard them from within a particular context. It was sometime in December 2000. We were in the Archbishop’s Palace in San Miguel, Mandaluyong, for a lunch hosted by Jaime Cardinal Sin, for his faithful friends in the Council On Philippine Affairs, or COPA.

It was not an upbeat moment. We had spearheaded a protest movement demanding the resignation of a sitting president. After 3 months of street activism and an impeachment trial, it looked like we would fail. The lunch with the Cardinal was a regular meeting as he was the honorary and inspirational chair of COPA. Noticing our grim faces and listening to our list of fears and complaints, he said these prophetic words.

“You have done all you could do with all your heart and hard work. Why don’t you leave something for God to do?”

In a couple of weeks, everything changed. We hardly had anything to do with the developments anymore. Things just happened from out of the blue, a surprise witness, a bungled defense of the president in the impeachment trial. Then, Edsa Dos. Out of our earlier plans, out of our hands, yet an ending beyond our highest expectations.

In these elections that are to culminate with the voting and canvassing starting Monday, May 9, 2022, it will then be out of our hands. There were a lot of prayers for Leni and Kiko from millions of volunteers and their families. There have been difficult and exhausting work on the ground. No central funding from the traditional big donors. Some may have sent over their personal contributions. But millions of others took their place.. No political machinery but one evolved from the volunteers themselves. No group could have done more.

History will point to these elections as the birth of a movement that will go much farther than the elections. The older generation who learned painful lessons from the past bravely made their principled stand and held the fort against all odds. Against them were powerful politicians holding the highest positions in the land and wealthy billionaires with financial resources we can only dream of. Add the best-in-trade professionals that money can buy. But the veterans did not fold, did not quit, and did not let old tired bodies keep them from waging a great battle.

“History will point to these elections as the birth of a movement that will go much farther than the elections. The older generation who learned painful lessons from the past bravely made their principled stand and held the fort against all odds. “

And, at just the perfect moment, the younger generations waded into the fray. Inspired by their Joan of Arc, resonating with her idealism, vision, and track record of service, especially to the marginalized, young volunteers began to populate the Leni campaign. By February, they became the dominant component – the most creative, dedicated volunteers any campaign can imagine. If the Leni forces have crossed the two million mark of volunteer population, who can stand against them?

The Philippines has two young sectors, those from 18 to 35, and those from 36 to 55. These demographics have been considered a serious Philippine advantage where the majority of adult citizens have the next 20 to 50 years of productive capacity in them. Now, they have also become a political force, those who are not only voting but those who are actively building their dreams on the ground. They will lead their own age groups and they will lead the nation. They will carry Leni as the symbol of their aspirations.

The young being the current lead force now, in numbers, energy, and effectiveness, it is not surprising that Google Trends is quick to recognize and report the momentum. This same set of young voters also happens to be the most active in the use of the internet and the production of data. Google picks up data by the second across the whole world. Google Trends is only a service of Google that is made accessible globally, information from which now deeply influences the directions and strategies of a growing number of businesses.

Google operates annually with budgets in the trillions of pesos, approximately twice as much as the budget of the Philippine government. Being a science, technology, and innovation giant with a database that could be the biggest in the world, its budget is used to sustain and enhance everything about data and human behavioral patterns – simply because its business depends on serving human needs and aspirations. It is so beautiful that the young Filipinos comprising about half of the voting population reveal so much and Google captures it quickly.

“My generation has been waiting for this to happen, knowing that we cannot even fix the mess we created, much less include what we inherited. Only young Filipinos today that has the next 30 to 50 years ahead of them can begin and sustain the critical change of government and the country.”

What other future can be brighter than that? It is not just about participating and winning in an election; it is more about being the center of national transformation. Traditional power centers will be challenged by citizens demanding their own dreams and visions of the plans and programs of governance. It will not be easy but the campaign has not been either. After all, the most powerful and wealthiest among political forces combined behind a tandem opposing Leni.

Easy is not the game here, it is sacrifice. It is not suffering though there will be and, perhaps, lots of it. But suffering for a greater cause makes it a sacrifice that only heroes can make, that only idealism can sustain. This is a challenge to all Filipinos but especially to the volunteers of Leni who have embraced her noble mission. A Leni presidency can give her power, yet not enough to cleanse the government of corruption and inefficiency. Only a demanding citizenry can do that.

Since February, I have been witnessing and studying the phenomenon of our youth’s awakening to politics and governance. My generation has been waiting for this to happen, knowing that we cannot even fix the mess we created, much less include what we inherited. Only young Filipinos today that has the next 30 to 50 years ahead of them can begin and sustain the critical change of government and the country.

From what the awakened ones are saying and doing, they will. Maybe, God is working through them.

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