The year ahead

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Once more, the cycle of earth’s years turns to another start. Once more, we’re reminded that our dreams and nightmares remain the same.

Start is a deception. What we face is a continuation.

For one, we remain a people with serious contradictions. A people with grit but often reluctant to challenge circumstances. A people with hopes but frequently despondent on being able to overcome poverty, abuse of power, maldistribution of wealth, and misrules. A people with aspirations but easily accepting the sad state of the economy, environment, and spaces for social mobility. A proud people but easily intimidated and coerced. A people clearly committed to win the future but easily drowned by the need to win the present. A people with charm, but easily charmed by falsities and fantasies.

For another, we seem persistently failing to appreciate what we have (people, places, institutions, and natural resources), and to properly invest on protecting, harnessing, and sustaining them. We’ve been failing to restore what we’ve degraded and diminished.

To be sure, there’ve been many efforts that have been making headways against these difficulties in our national life. Many have successfully diminished, if not resolved, our national contradictions and they’ve improved our lives. Taxation has been improved to better rationalize the distribution of its burden. Social services have been expanded like widening access to public health and education and expanding the conditional cash transfer program. Roads have been widened, critical infrastructure have been completed or rehabilitated, and investments on ICT have been intensified. National security capabilities against threats to our territory, to our health, and to our well-being have been slowly improved. Local government expenditures to manage risks and disasters have been expanded. Judicial reforms have been instituted like rationalizing the case loads of judges and expanding the number of courts in the country.

There’ve been more. We’re not giving up. We’re doing something.

But we need to do more because we continue to face fundamental challenges. We continue to be climate- and scarcity-challenged. We continue to need good, sufficient, and affordable foods, jobs, incomes, health, education, human and environmental security, and spaces for cultural and artistic articulations, to achieve fuller social well-being. And we see that these are not possible without, at its minimum, peace anchored on justice, a highly capacitated people, and a “healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” (Art. II Section 16, Philippine Constitution)

So, what’s the year ahead?

At its best, it’d be a year when what’s good for the Filipinos gets to drown what’s bad. A year when electoral institutions breed good government. A year when it’s less transactional politics and more responsive and responsible government. A year when political jousting and gymnastics lead to more (not less) services for our people. A year when it’s not about who’s in power in government – past, present, or future – but about who’s performing for our people.

At its worse, I’m afraid that it’d be a year when we’ll have even more nightmares than good sleep. – NWI