The speech that somehow wrote itself: For this and no other.
Or, A draft campaign speech for any of the next possible Philippine presidents, provided he who takes it up, makes it happen;
And if no one does, then: If I were President because you all refused to do your jobs, goddammit.
Strangely enough, when I began writing this speech, I could not stop thinking about the word ad hoc. I had always thought this word meant temporary, hastily put together for one purpose or another. I had imagined this meaning on to the word because of how we have always created, and treated, the numerous ad hoc committees to deal with and try to solve single parts of our multifarious problems.
Imagine my surprise, when upon closer inspection, I discover that, from the Latin, ad hoc literally means for this, toward this and no other. And it is for this and no other that I am more than willing to work and work hard in the next six years, as your leader and servant, as your next president: I am Filipino.
If not us, then who else?
(1) I will not only fight, but eradicate, corruption. I will punish those who have and will use the country's resources to their own ends--past, present, future. I will punish those who have used their power to abuse others. I will punish and punish heftily, that everyone will unlearn this habit. And I will eradicate it, by not making it easy, by not allowing it to be part of our everyday, by refusing to think it our culture. I will expedite government transactions and services, without shortcuts or short-cutting any one, and build a government that is not only happy to serve her people, but knows what an important job it is. I will get rid of all unnecessary procedures and payments, and make sure that everyone who approaches a government office gets served and served well, without having to be passed on to another office, or another person, or on to oblivion.
It is not only that we currently have corrupt officials in our government, but that we have a government that officially encourages corruption. I will speed things up that no one will have to pay extra to get what they deserve, when they need it. And I will pay our public servants well that they will not need you to pay them any more than what is fair and just.
Our current government only makes one thing easy: It makes it easy for us to leave the country. And though I will not refuse anyone who is not a criminal this choice, I will do better and make them want to stay.
(2) I will make Filipinos want to stay in the Philippines. I will do this not only by giving them jobs, but decent jobs worthy of their education and skills and inclination. I will make it worthy of their time. I will not give them "pwede na yan" jobs, just because the family needs to eat, or the eldest is about to start college, or God knows, because they need pambaon for elementary school tomorrow. And if and when they want to stay, I will give them every reason and opportunity to do so.
(3) I will give the best of the Philippines to the Filipinos, and not to the foreigners. I will ensure that the country and its people cater to the Philippines and to the Filipino. I will ensure that if Boracay is the best beach there is, or Sagada the best mountain getaway, then Filipinos can afford to enjoy them if they are so inclined, to their taste and financial capability. The hotel and department stores and all commercial establishments will serve both the local and the foreigner, the native and the foreign. The flight attendants will be kind and efficient to both the domestic helper coming home and the businessman from Hong Kong.
I will make us proud to be Filipinos here and around the world, and I will make the world proud of the Filipino. And I will do this without wanting or pretending to be America, or insisting on America, or asking what America, or any other country, thinks.
And so that the Philippines, in turn, can give her best to her people, (4) I will pass the Reproductive Health Bill. I will pass this bill because we need to control our population, and so much of our problems are rooted in this one problem. And we need to ensure that our natural resources are enough to support our people, now and in the future.
And I refuse to enter into any pro- or anti-life debates regarding this. I will not allow abortion during my rule, and this bill does not allow it either. What it does instead is give the woman control over her body, the option to refuse her husband or lover sex, and provide her the option not to get pregnant should she wish to have sex. Neither does the bill judge her for it. Because what this bill ultimately wants, not just for women but for every single Filipino, is a chance at a fair and equitable share to our country's natural resources, a beginning of a life of quality.
And to be able to continue to that life of quality, (5) I will provide them with quality health care whether they can afford it or not. I will ensure that PhilHealth works to the advantage of both rich and poor, and is used in both public or private hospitals. I assure the poorest of the poor universal coverage. I will ensure too that our social security systems, whether public or private, work for everyone, that our premiums will result in returns when we need them.
(6) I will provide free and quality basic education, and ensure sources of scholarships and study-now-pay-later schemes for college and post-graduate degrees. I will ensure quality education is available to all Filipinos, whatever their economic class, and that information is available to them, and that it is waiting for them and not the other way around.
To do this I will pay the teachers well, and make sure they deserve it. I will ensure that history books teach them more than just dates and places, science books correct and updated science, that they learn to read well and learn to love to read.
I will incent multinationals to train our workers and make them into world-class assets, in order to build on a high-value economy here that rests on its high-value workforce.
(7) I will make this country rich by making our farmers rich, by providing them with the help and support they need, whether it be science or subsidy, or to weather the storm or the world markets. I will make it their option if they want to own their own land, or if land is not enough, the option to work as a collective. I will support their cooperatives, and watch the corporations that employ them.
(8) I will encourage green growth, not only because we need to cut down on greenhouse gases, but because we need to be energy-independent. Nor will I allow the first world to influence our decisions regarding our energy sources, because while climate change is a global problem, excessive green house gas emissions is not. Instead, I will promote energy efficiency, and natural resources management, because my priority is our development, and the quality of life of our people. I will build on the examples of some of our excellent local government units, who have done comprehensive land-use planning, disaster management, community development, and self-sufficiency outside of Metro Manila.
And I encourage this because (9) I want to move development to other parts of the country, not just in the capital. I will decongest Metro Manila by moving development to the other regions, ensure that most opportunities available in the capital are available elsewhere. And I will spend on the necessary efficient infrastructure that will allow all this.
Lastly, I will do all this without sacrificing what makes us Filipino, and democracy--whether it be in terms of culture or customs, beliefs, religion, region or tribe. If utang na loob is inherent to us, then I will encourage it because we need to help each other, not because help needs to be repaid. If ningas cogon describes our short-lived passions all too well, then we will do everything to fan the fire, and that the fruits trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid. If we have forgotten our Bayanihan culture, then we will teach it to ourselves and our kids again. And if this is trabaho lang like any other job, then let us do good work every single time.
And if we need to do more, when have we ever turned our backs when it is family that asks and needs? We just need to widen our circles a little bit, and slowly widen the scope and capacity of who and how we love.
Let the next six years be temporal and not temporary, our responses to our problems urgent and not hasty. And if it be necessary that the next government act like an ad hoc committee, so be it. If I be judged by these promises, and measured by their fulfillment, bring it on. This is the call, and I will answer, and be answerable.
Through no choice of ours, we were born into this country. And for whatever reason or lack of choice, have remained her citizens. Who else will answer for us? We are the Philippines, we are Filipino. For this. No other.
This is a result of lack of sleep, my current job, and more importantly, conversations with people around me, whom I did not mean to plagiarize, but I think feel the same way. Ayan, sinulat ko na.
(Andrea Teran works for a congressional commission on science & technology and engineering, and writes poetry--and essays like these--on her not-so-free time.)