How much more time do I have left, and am I making the most out of it? Am I now closer to my goals than I was a year before, or has there been a shakeup in my goals and perspectives because of intervening events that transpired during 2013?
My goodness, is 2013 almost over? Despite (or because of) a packed schedule, including countless deadlines, several trips abroad and regular visits to the hospital to help an ailing family member deal with certain health issues, I hardly noticed it pass us by.
But while New Year’s Eve invariably leads us to reflect, count our blessings and take stock of our progress or lack thereof, New Year’s Day allows us to embark on a clean slate that could bring us closer to our goals or even dramatically alter the course of our lives and those dear to us.
It’s also a time to dream and wish for the best for ourselves, our families, our friends and our country. Some have even used the opportunity to make supposedly fearless forecasts and predictions whose outcomes are either vague or obvious from the start.
I’m not about to go into fortunetelling, nor am I making any resolutions, which, as far as experience has shown, are bound to fail or be forgotten even before the first quarter of 2014 is over.
Instead, I’m going to make wishes for a better, more productive and less disaster-prone Philippines in 2014.
Lessons from Yolanda
The year 2013, especially the latter half, was a particularly trying one for the Philippines with Muslim unrest, earthquake and a supertyphoon coming one after the other. Now that global warming has morphed from theory to reality, weather disturbances of “Yolanda” magnitude have become the new normal.
Supertyphoons are no longer wind and rain events, but also occasions for a previously unknown phenomenon now widely known as a storm surge. Typhoon-prone coastal cities like Tacloban should lead the way in building more disaster-resistant houses away from the coastline.
Our meteorologists have their work cut out for them. But if there’s one good thing this rather unfortunate development has led us to, it has given everybody a fresh start on how to more effectively mitigate a supertyphoon’s damage and its aftermath.
Yolanda was also teeming with lessons on disaster-preparedness, response and sensitivity that this administration should heed if it is to effectively do its job.
And despite the national government’s initial failings, Filipinos were again able to rise to the occasion as they mobilized local and foreign assistance. Not a few generously donated their time and resources to help shell-shocked disaster victims cope and pick up the pieces of their shattered, wind-tossed lives. All is not lost.
Goodbye pork barrel
Thanks to the efforts of media, particularly the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which broke the news, ordinary citizens now know the extent as well as the chief players behind the pork barrel scam. Everything is almost over except for the sentencing.
What was previously thought of as a necessary evil to grease the wheels of government into action has, overnight, become totally unacceptable.
Filipinos are starting to finally realize that pork barrel, despite the change in name and the introduction of all those supposed safeguards, brings more harm than good. As the mother of all forms of corruption, it has dragged down the country from achieving its full potentials.
Again, may government do the right thing by heeding the people’s clamor to once and for all abolish it. May Filipinos in turn be mature enough to accept the fact that legislators were elected not to fund weddings, funerals, scholarships, waiting sheds and basketball courts with taxpayers’ money, but to legislate or come up with relevant and practical laws.
O May Manny Pacquiao find an end to his tax woes by paying the right amount of taxes either to the Philippines or the US.
No one, not even a so-called “Pambansang Kamao,” should be exempted from paying taxes. Not even his supposed excuse for bringing honor to the country should shield him from meeting his obligations. Why, are we not all bringing honor to our country by doing our best in whatever we do?
May Manny do away with his lavish lifestyle, profligate ways, misleading advisers and empty excuses as he sits down and figure out how to best deal with his tax obligations. After winning all those millions, it would be heartbreaking to see him end up a broken, penniless man in his post-boxing days.
O May more entertainers like Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis realize that their duty to the public doesn’t end with a performance.
As well-paid public figures, they carry with them the weight of being role models to their countless fans. Whatever they do in private is their own business, but whatever they do in public, even beyond TV or the silver screen, is fair game.
O May the government stop this reckless and wholesale attempt at privatizing vital sectors and industries entrusted to advance the public good.
As a recent Inquirer editorial pointed out, and as our experience with Meralco and overcharging power producers has shown, privatization isn’t the solution to everything.
By their very nature, privatized companies are in it for the profit. How can you expect them to absorb losses and not to pass down these losses to the public, when their very reason for being is to make money?
O May Pope Francis continue to lead by example a Catholic Church that is more concerned with inequality than its members’ sexualities.
I’m not saying that wanton sex is good, but to be fixated by it at the expense of other more glaring issues such as corporate greed, social injustice and even church abuses speaks volumes of how certain leaders of the Catholic Church think.
O May elected officials like Mayor Junjun Binay find it in their hearts that courtesy and respect are earned and not demanded.
As elected officials, Binay and his ilk should bear in mind that their power emanates from the people who elected them, and not from such ephemeral trappings as SUVs with tinted windows, open umbrellas on a rainless night and body guards with cocked guns.
On a personal note
On a personal level, I hope that current health issues confronting certain members of my family find resolutions. If a resolution isn’t in the cards, may we still find the wisdom, compassion and strength to learn from and deal with it up to its preordained conclusion.
There’s a thin line separating cynicism and acceptance. I hope I’m not being cynical. Since I’m way past the age when happy endings were the ultimate goals, I’m willing to settle for more quality time.
Maintaining one’s composure and sense of humor in times of crisis are tall orders even for the most intrepid and optimistic soul. From hereon, I will try my best not to lose sleep over things that are inevitable or might not even come to pass—at least, (I hope) not in 2014. Happy New Year!