For the most part, a big part of the reason why I think our country’s gone to hell has to do with families. In particular, very rich, very powerful and very old families who typically own enormous tracts of land – land being the currency by which being rich has been measured for many generations, and rightfully so considering how you can never go wrong as long as you own land.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
If not, let me spell it out. If you own land, you have power. If you have power, your clan will flourish. Your children will go to the best schools, your employees will be paid well, people become loyal to you, you and your family’s future is secured for many generations to come. You will achieve the realization of economic success: long term financial security to weather any storm and any crises that comes your way.
The more intelligent members of this clan are all too aware of this, having grown up in the secure trappings of it. They are treated like royalty from birth, and usually humbled by religious elders as was the fashion at the time. Some lead simple albeit secure lives. Not too simple so as to forego the benefits of it, but certainly moneyed enough to be considered elite. They are the celebrated elite society insists on making famous on the premise of beauty, taste, intelligence or capacity. At the end of the day though, they’re famous just because of their vast amounts of money. The more of it and the older it is, the more great they are made out to be.
Certainly they are smart enough to at least realize where their power comes from – their enormous land. From which all is given, with which they have security, the protection of which is beyond importance and without which they lose their privilege.
To me, Cory is such a person, and the existence of the great injustice that is the CARL stands as proof.
I considered the possibility that judging her purely on her failure to implement agrarian reform is too narrow – minded of me. Maybe I should try to remember what else she has done during her Presidency, but even then I am stumped. As far as I can remember, I don’t remember anything significant – and I remember well because she was the first President I ever experienced other than Marcos, so I was paying extra attention. The whole nation was.
I remember the frustration at not seeing genuine reform. I remember Gringo Honasan looking comical, staging coup after coup trying to kick her out. I remember thinking he had a point as he along with the public wasn’t seeing any change. And I remember most of all the thought that the most satisfactory, the most telling and most significant contribution she can possibly make – the one thing that could put a stop to all the coups and the resulting human rights violations, even the growing rebellion in the provinces, is implementing true agrarian reform, which means yes, even on her family’s land.
Today, this remains a pipe dream.
Cory’s family still owns vast tracts of area in her home province, and her relatives are just as rich and powerful as they always were, still secure in their mansions and foreign condominiums. Today the Philippines is just as fucked over as it ever was, the people going overseas as a first option for lack of opportunity. Opportunity I can’t help but wonder would be available if only the elite would share.
Do I blame this all on Cory? Of course not. Her predecessors weren’t exactly top of the line either, but the point I’m getting at is this: I remember her most of all because she had her chance. She was the first after the dictator to actually get a crack at fixing stuff around here, possibly the best chance we could ever have, and she blew it. I don’t remember her as the beacon of democracy she is made out to be, because I’m pretty sure that was an unwelcome responsibility thrust on her as she was the only ‘safe’ choice the opposition could agree on.
I remember her, in her life after the Presidency, as actively participating in events to kick Erap and Gloria out, not as the instigator, but as a high profile opinionator after the fact.
I don’t care or pretend to know why this happened. All I know is that I was at Edsa I unlike most of the current generation. I experienced firsthand the excitement and tremendous hope, and I remember thinking this might have been the first ‘real’ thing I had ever experienced in my life. I also know that during and after her Presidency, all that potential went for naught. We were all left wondering if all that was worth it, if it was all hype, did we just dream it, or maybe we were all fools because nothing had changed.
And I also know those tracts of land I was talking about, all 6,000 hectares, are still intact. Still owned by her family.
I am sorry for her family’s loss. They have lost a mother and a friend.
However, I encourage the people, especially the current generation, to see things for what they are and avoid getting carried away by rhetoric. We owe it to ourselves to judge our leaders by how they run government. It is a singular task worthy of careful inspection to the minutest detail, if only to avoid previous mistakes. Only then shall we see results. Otherwise we continue to live in a world of yellow colored glasses and suffer for it.