Again, this is the question Filipinos are left with following this year’s “EDSA People Power Revolution” anniversary. Specifically, the question of how exactly to build upon the experience of this 1986 “revolution” has become a head-scratcher for most. It all seemed clear back then — how “freedom” would be the foundation upon which a better Philippines will be built. In hindsight, it turns out that this notion was nebulous at best as it offers no substance that go towards grasping the actual realities of building a strong nation.
A strong nation after all, like strong people, is not built upon a foundation of indulgence. Indeed, like kids raised in a household of permissiveness and a lack of behavioural boundaries, a nation where “freedom” and not discipline guides behaviour becomes weak and fails to develop character with age.
As is quite evident now, what Filipinos regard as the most seminal evident in their recent history — this so-called “revolution” of 1986 — is now seen to be the source of everything that had gone wrong with the Philippines in the last several decades. There are no boundaries to balance the “freedom” that had become the rallying cry of today’s “activists”. We can see this sad spoilt brat behaviour in how Rappler CEO Maria Ressa (arguably one of the pre-eminent “thought leaders” of the Opposition) has manufactured an entire outrage fad around “press freedom” to bury the real issue of her firm’s violation of corporate regulation. It is like an adolescent throwing a tantrum about her “rights” after being grounded for coming home from a party at two in the morning once too many.
More importantly, you need steel and concrete stuff laid on the ground to build real nations upon. Filipinos cannot eat “freedom”. They cannot transport goods and workers over the corpses of “martyrs”. Knowledge and intellect and not “prayers” result in the development of wondrous technology that creates jobs and world-class brands. Real courage exhibited before real challenges and threats moves nations forward — not “courage” to screech about mere outrage fads concocted by hipster social climbers and iPad-tapping “influencers”. Statues of “heroes” and Catholic icons are good at inspiring the hopeless, but these symbols are useless before switched-on people who aspire to be truly independent, self-sufficient, and seek success on the back of who they are rather than on the basis of who they are told to be.
I cannot emphasize enough what a big failure the Philippine Opposition continues to be in a time of such abundant opportunity. It continues to apply an ideology aimed at whiners and losers and not one that inspires winners, innovators, and risk-takers. The Opposition is damaging an entire society at many levels in its focus on the past, its pandering to victim mentality, its resorting to alliances with communists and organised religion, and its demonisation of strength founded on substance and reality and lionisation of political correctness that panders to fragile egos.
It is ironic that the Philippine Opposition still directs its traditional slogan Tama Na, Sobra Na! (“enough is enough”) at the incumbent administration. Filipinos should actually be addressing this slogan to this Opposition instead. We should be shouting Tama Na, Sobra Na! at the Opposition and the bizarrely perverse manner with which they continue to cling on to the tired script that keeps Filipinos imprisoned in obsolete thinking and the overall political discourse stagnant and uninspiring.
If there is anything that needs to be replaced, it is the Philippine Opposition. An overhaul of the decrepit characters that propagate an obsolete and counterproductive narrative is long overdue. It’s time for Filipinos to re-baseline their historical context from one hinged on a mythology of “heroes” and “freedom” to one firmly gounded on substance and the reality of global competition. The world does not owe Filipinos success.
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