Lessons From History

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is, indeed, like a script from heaven. The elections happened, and there were no grim scenarios that Noynoy volunteers had primed themselves for. Yet, Noynoy won, almost like a walk in the park. Of course, no presidential candidate and vice-presidential candidate has been proclaimed as of this time as I comply with the deadline of my submission of this article. There are legal niceties that have to be observed, preventing Noynoy Aquino and Jojo Binay from being formally acknowledged as having won. These small obstacles, though, do not stand in the way of my accepting that destiny has maneuvered a partnership against all odds.Lessons From History

Since the difference of votes between Jojo Binay and Mar Roxas is only a few percentage points, there is a mixed and muted celebration among many in the Aquino camp. The Noy-Mar tandem had become a fixture in thought and imagination of their supporters since September of last year that a Noy-Binay scenario has upset their applecart. At the same time, the reality that Jojo Binay may soon be the next vice-president does not make him and Noynoy total strangers as they are not by any stretch of the imagination. Jojo Binay has been a personal and political presence in the Cory Aquino family for more years than Mar Roxas has been. Their belonging to different political parties is a fact that should have little bearing between long-time friends, but will be an initial hump in an unexpected partnership.

I remember when I first wrote in August of 2009 about how destiny seemed to have played a major and dramatic role in Noynoy’s life and that of the Filipino people. Like Billy Esposo and Conrad de Quiros who had already and boldly written about how Noynoy should run for the presidency despite his having had no interest and preparation to do so, I wanted to express the same view. However, I pulled back a little because the future, at that time, looked very dark and ominous. I believed that Ninoy and Cory Aquino had done so much for our motherland that their children deserved a more peaceful and quiet life. But the color of destiny kept getting more clear by the day that I quickly joined others in clamoring for Noynoy to run.

It has been a long and bruising campaign, a very dirty one, in fact. To the end, though, there had been the least of violence, and that in itself has been a special blessing. While the color orange tried its best from two parties to become overtake the yellow fever, it was yellow all the way.

Which now brings me to another moment where I ponder about destiny and whether the orchestrator of Noynoy’s destiny is also moving to attach Jojo Binay with it. The seeming impossibility of a Binay victory has triggered all sorts of speculations as to its explanation. And it has caused allegedly well-bred people to cross lines of decency and engage in gutter behavior in blaming others for what cannot be but a serious error of the core of Mar Roxas’s campaign. For a candidate to lose a lead of over 30% in three months without realizing it until the last moment is a classic case of political ineptness. The inept, therefore, have to point the blame on others, a usual human tendency.

The Philippines has chosen democracy to be its political path. However, some in the elite cling to a past that has been generous to them but very unfair to the majority. The elitism has not been relegated to land ownership but to political dominance as well. The Aquino and Roxas families are ilustrados in Philippine political history, Binays are not. That is the strange fit, an ilustrado Aquino and a masa Binay, and some vested interests will try to make political intrigue from it. Yet, destiny is offering a bright window of opportunity for a convergence that has long been delayed, the closing of the awful gap between rich and poor.

Both Noynoy Aquino and Jojo Binay must learn to rise above their partisan boxes and honor a people’s will. If they cannot, then they betray the spirit of change which catapulted them to what seemed impossible just months ago. Noynoy Aquino and Jojo Binay must prepare to sit as President and Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines, not as heads of two political parties.

That is what they have been telling the Filipino people as they asked for the people’s votes and support, that they want to be the two highest leaders of the nation, not of their respective political parties. Life is kind to the two of them, that they have more than two decades of personal amity. Only the most narrow of interest will keep one or both of them from giving their relationship less than totally supportive.

The lessons to be learned from Edsa One, the unfinished revolution, are many. One among the first is the working and personal relationship between the President and the Vice-President. Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel never hit it off, and their differences denied the country of a more effective governance. Another opportunity is being given by destiny to two friends to learn the unlearned and lift a whole people through a harmonious alliance.

The Cory Aquino presidency was perennially harassed by rebellious elements in the military. Because of determined destabilization attempts, her administration could not convert enthusiasm for change after a dictatorship. Noynoy can use all the help from a political veteran to extract more cooperation from the various political forces that will be trying to destroy his administration.

In my last article, I shared my view that we are at the edge of a historical replay. But if we are to witness our people and nation break a destructive cycle and use the lessons of history, the future can be full of hope.

There is a smell of fresh flowers after a very dark night. The sun has not yet risen, but there is a luminous sheen that is preparing to welcome it. We have a mountain to climb and we are eager to begin the journey.

“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.” Albert Camus

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