So Where Do We Go From Here?

Writing for this blog used to be a walk in the park. I could write about anything (theoretically, I still could since this is my space). Since my brush with pseudo fame, I had to watch what I write about because it seems anything I write is now open to a lot of interpretations. There is always someone out there watching out for a simple grammatical slip or a mixed metaphor that they can throw at my face with all the righteous indignation they can muster.

Not that I lose sleep over it. It's just that sometimes I do feel sad that it seems people can not argue or debate anymore without losing their temper. This is why I can't sit through a whole episode of Debate on GMA7 - I get the sense that what happens in that show is symptomatic of the state of this country - lots of people pontificating and not really listening to each other. Perhaps it is time to remind ourselves, yes, myself included, that God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us two ears and one mouth and that there is a powerful message in there; we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.

A number of people texted me today to inform me that that letter was read on NBN (the government channel) this afternoon. It seems that letter has reached some people in government. On the off chance that it did, and that they have found their way into this blog, I will now address them directly.

People in government, please take note: just because there are people like me who have taken the trouble to express our support for you (at the risk of being ridiculed and mocked), it should not be construed as blanket authority for you to continue making utter fools of yourselves. On the contrary, it is a challenge for you to perform better and do right. Please do not waste the goodwill and the conditioned support that people like me are giving you. It may not be much, but it is being given to you freely so put it to good use.

For instance, arresting Dinky Soliman and Enteng Romano for walking at Baywalk was a monumental blunder. That was completely unnecessary and you have just made martyrs out of these people. I have always taken the position that that there is nobility in accepting mistakes and admitting errors in judgment. We do not expect you to be exemplars of intelligence and wisdom; we know you are people who make mistakes too, particularly when provoked. So I hope that that unfortunate event does not happen again. Take the higher moral ground, apologize and resolve never to pull that stunt again.

Some semblance of calm and normalcy has returned and there is no point in inviting unnecessary provocation and criticism. In fact, I would caution you against making any more arrests without warrants and cases filed in court. If you want us to continue respecting democratic processes, then you must lead the way. That is the only way. Likewise, I hope that some cabinet members learn how to put their brains in gear before opening their mouths. Secretary Gonzales, please listen.


I think it is high time now to bring the discussion to a higher level. We need to put a closure to the endless nitpicking and debunking of each others’ points of view.

In the last few days, I have received emails from four people asking me what I think is a workable action plan. I am flattered that they deemed me qualified to make prescriptions. It is in this spirit that I have decided to break my self-imposed rule not to offer prescriptions. I thought that the last thing I needed was people to think that fancy myself as some prophet of good news.

But I think it is time to stop the screaming contest. It is time to bring the discussion to a more constructive level - the objective should be in trying to understand where people are coming from and with full cognizance and appreciation of the fact that whatever we say or do, we are in the same boat together. There are differences in opinions and points of views, but despite the venom and the vitriol that is dripping in the comments in this blog, I truly think that this does not necessarily mean we are against each other.

And so, after going through all that and having come from a spiritual retreat during the weekend (thanks to my spiritual mentor Sonny), I went through most of the emails and the comments in this blog with an open mind (it was a truly difficult process, but it was cathartic!). But I think, I truly think, it is time to refocus our energies into more constructive ways. So where do we go from here. Indulge me please.

I think that first, we should get commitment from everyone - and I mean everyone - pro or anti, leftist or rightist, opposition or government - to respect democratic processes. No more extra constitutional solutions. No more coups. No more conspiracies to topple the government through extra-constitutional means. No more arrests without warrants.

Second, I think it is time to bring the discussion to the level of what is "the common good." We can disagree on how to get there, we can disagree on what is the right course of action, but we should all focus on a more strategic goal - a better country in say, three or four year's time. I may be naive in thinking that this is possible, but hey, it is worth a shot. If we can agree on a common vision, then our disagreements can be made more civil and sensible. I think what is tragic today is that we are focusing on short-term goals that divide us rather than on larger goals that can serve as rallying points. And hopefully, viable win-win alternatives can be crafted in the process. And yes, this includes a possible peaceful transition of power through democratic ways.

Third and necessarily, I think that it is time to come to the table with a little more sincerity. I ranted about vested interests and selfish intentions in that letter. It is time to come clean and this is only possible in an environment that is free from moralizing and judging. For example, let us stop obfuscating about whether there was a conspiracy or an attempted coup last February because as the no-nonsense Professor Solita Monsod said on public television: meron talaga coup! And since the threats to stability has been reduced and it has been proven that the people are not wont to support such moves anyway, it is best for government to come clean now, rectify the mistakes, and stop all this senseless posturing.

Fourth, it is time for ordinary Filipinos to take the discussion and the crafting of the solution out of the hands of the politicians. For crying out loud, who actually listens to them? I know I reach for the remote control everytime someone of their ilk comes on television.

It is time to listen to the dreams of ordinary Filipinos. It is time to come together to listen, sincerely and with an open mind, to the sentiments of the people whose only desire is a better future for their children. Who knows, we might be in for some major surprises and true enlightenment.

All these may be unrealistic daydreaming. Call me an idealistic fool, but as someone said, if you can dream it, you can achieve it.

But it is time to get to work.


cvj said…
Arresting Dinky Soliman and Enteng Romano for attempting to walk at Baywalk was not a monumental blunder, it was policy.
cvj said…
Bong, doesn't it occur to you that the Baywalk fiasco is GMA's way of taking you up on your offer when you said “we are prepared to lose our freedoms and our rights just to move this country forward”?

If so, i hope that your clarification addressed to the government in this post might help. I'm looking forward to your issuing more clarifications of this nature.
pinoy said…
Number one is not doable. The way we are or the way politicians, leftists and rightists are, they will always insist that they have the correct interpretation and the right solutions. They only have one agenda, to grab power. We cannot expect them to respect democratic processes. Grab power at all cost. That is their bottomline and we suffer.

Second. How do we define "the common good". Who will define it. Us the ordinary people or them the politicians, the leftists and the rightists? They all say that what they do is for our good but we all know that what they do of for their own good. So what is the common good and who will define it?

Third. Sincerity? The moment you blurt you points in public, people will always question your motive. Even how sincere you try to be, there will always be those who will hit your reputation specially if your point is working against their agenda. Those opposed to your view called you a malacanang lackey while malacanang used your letter to serve their agenda.

Fourth. Yes it is time to take the politicians out of the discussion. They are the problem in the first place. Let us leave them out it whatever solution we find. It is us ordinary Filipinos who should take the steps in crafting our future, not them.

But how? First, we will need a symbol where we can rally our people around. Second, we have to do things quietly, underground if necessary, out of reach of politicians, out of reach of media. I am on your side. It can be done.
jher said…
analysis schmalysis. so many smart people in the country and we are still getting nowhere.
romé said…
I understand the desire of pinoy to take concrete actions but i will exclude media, media we need it, it is the fastest way to bring into light what we all believe, we just have to use it well not to be used by it.

For sure there will be a lot of people out there who are also craving for what we intrinsically craved for: true filipino freedom.

I left my comment and suggestion on the INQ blog post, check on it perhaps it will help.

Bong may your "open letter" be publish in front of one of the dailies.

Good Luck.

Joey said…
first of all it's pontificating not fontificating ;)

second of all, dinky and enteng are idiots, who cares if they are arrested. they are ksp.

and so unto the rest. you are right all this dialogue is pushing towards a common goal. a first world philippines. we are all sick and tired of these stupid politicians. most of them suck right now. but hopefully all this discussion will make one or more of us enter politics. another big problem we have in the country is that only the ocrrupt, ambitious, etc. run for elections. All the good people want to stay out. Hell, the GOOD PEOPLE SHOULD RUN FOR POLITICS, so that we have someone to vote for.
jec ailes said…
Yeah! C’mon let’s move this country as one sans the politics, trapos, colors, partisanship, idolatry, selfishness etc. Surely we could achieve change of the system if we just go forward progressively. Let’s come up with fresh ideas to outdo the current band of political personalities. Here in abroad we Filipinos are recognized as intelligent and workaholic yet we can’t advance our country competitively as we are stuck in the political quagmire. It is high time now for us to think for only one cause – for our country to grow-up. Just count me in for whatever you guys come up with.
Anonymous said…
Relax. Your letter didn't shape people as much as it described how some people feel. That is why it is so powerful. Much to the dismay of some of your readers :)

This is what frustrates a lot of writers. Why their writings cannot move people and yours can. What they don't realize is that your eloquence is really just supporting an undercurrent that has been there all along.

This is why that particular letter has gone around the world; and why the criticism hasn't.
Anonymous said…
Dinky Soliman shouldn't have been arrested for her antics. She and her companions have the right to wear those t-shirts. They have the right to take a stroll in Baywalk.
But if I were her next employer, I'd be very, very wary if she starts singing "If we hold on together..."

Jeg said…
Fourth, it is time for ordinary Filipinos to take the discussion and the crafting of the solution out of the hands of the politicians.

Amen. Let's make these people irrelevant.

The thing that irks me the most about being a working class stiff who's taxed even before we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor is that part of those taxes go to these clowns. If there's a middle class cause to be indignant about and would make us pour out into the streets, it's taxes. There's a People Power cause I would join in a heartbeat. We are being punished by new taxes because the BIR and Customs are either incompetent or corrupt (or both). No new taxes are needed if all the taxes are collected (not leached away thru corruption).
Anonymous said…
"I think it is high time now to bring the discussion to a higher level. We need to put a closure to the endless nitpicking and debunking of each others’ points of view".

bring the discussion to a higher level? bwahaha! ang assumption nito ay may kapasidad si bong na gawin ito. siguro nga... and pigs can fly...

"But it's time to get to work"

Bong, why don't you go home and plant camote instead?
Anonymous said…
call me an idealistic fool too cause I know we can do better. first of all, every Filipino has to acknowledge we are part of the problem just by how we choose to live out our daily lives. It's as simple as showing courtesy to others, avoiding the "pakiusap" system of getting things done because we think we are special, obeying traffic laws, not throwing trash on our roadways or even spitting in public. Simple things that will translate to bigger things if we are not careful - which is the case, and which is now hurting society in general. All these little "sins" almost all of us are guilty of, would not even be a problem if we just were not so arrogant and cocky in our own country. We need to take ownership of all that we are - both good and bad before we will see our country moving forward.
Anonymous said…
Will this be the start of a NEW CIVIL Society - the one that will truly think of every Filipino's desires and aspirations and work towards achieving that and that alone?

If this is so, we have to be ready to give in to the mandate of the people if another Erap wins a presidential election. I'm willing to face up to that because it will mean respecting the true will of the Filipino people. But I want our present government to work for all of us first so we have better checks and balances.

Ms. Eggie Apostol has started on quality education. Ms. Solita Monsod has started moving on. Education is the key. Educate not just the masa, but the middle class into THINKING with more focus, with more regard for others, with more regard for the future, not only of their families but the country as a whole. What we do today will be our legacy to the coming generations, our legacy to OUR country.

The biggest issue facing the country today is not Gloria, it's Cha-Cha. That will have a greater impact on all our lives than any other issue of the day. Before we even reject it, we have to study it and determine OURSELVES if this is our chance to make our country better. If we don't want it, we have to determine WHAT then do we want and what can we do to push the country forward. It's no longer a time to sit back and wait because life-altering events will be happening soon, whether we like it or not.
I think Dinky Soliman has pushed it too far...she should stay out now and care for her apo's instead.
Anonymous said…
THE current events in the Philippines are in themselves a reflection of complete chaos and disillusionment of everyone involved. Credibility is and has always been a question in the quality of government. And here's another blow to this credibility, an "attempted coup" that failed. What else is new in our political arena?
All these selfish attempts at a power grab by politicians and military officials with their own personal agendas must stop.
And why is Cory Aquino in the middle of all of this? She had her time and what did she do? She did nothing really, aside from surviving numerous coup attempts. How about with Fidel Ramos, who can't seem to figure out on whose side he is? His is political grandstanding at it's best.
To the opposition and the pros, please wake up and look at the bigger picture. The only ones who are benefiting from this madness are these communist radicals who are clinging to the glitter of hope that is somehow being realized in the Philippines. Communism died a long time ago, but they have a good grip on this very fragile democratic country.
I'm not saying that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the best bet, but who do you have right now to steer this ailing ship? This country is not beyond repair. But it does need a lot of work by all parties involved.
But two wrongs do not make a right. Arroyo must start a hands-on leadership process. She must start patching things up and fixing the problem areas. She must work with the military, to start with. She must start dialogues to hear the grievances of soldiers, government workers, and fix the problems right away.
Arroyo must show her dedication and work hard with the masses, who are the ones suffering from decades of unstable governments. In turn, she will get the support of her opponents, and hopefully calm things down. For her to restore the country's credibility, the effort must come from every citizen. We must ask ourselves what we can do for our country, and not what their country can do for them.
Many of us have learned to go on with our lives, ignoring what goes on in government or in politics. Making politics and government as irrelevant as possible enables us to concentrate on more productive endeavors instead of belly-aching and being obsessed about the situation. Besides, there’s something about ranting that turns people off. Like it or not, for the message to be effective, it has to be made attractive and palatable. You can’t always be preaching to the converted because it turns out to be so tiring, repetitive and a waste of time

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