We have heard several descriptions for what took place today: historic, a new chapter, a new beginning, a new era. The Filipino nation is filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism brought about by the inauguration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
We all share in this new hope — joy even. We only have one country, one beloved home — and we have had a shortage of hope for far too long.
Today, our new president laid all his cards on the table.
He promises to be the best example of integrity in public service — and with good example from the top, the rest of the bureaucracy will follow. Noynoy says he will work to restore the faith of people in government. He says he will improve social services. Etc. etc. etc.
After the inauguration fever, we resume our normal lives tomorrow. But it cannot be business as usual for the country. It cannot be politics as usual. After the street party tonight, it will be time to get to work. We trust that the new administration will walk the talk. We remember too that the hope that Filipinos — you and I — will place on the new administration is not boundless. We are filled with a cautious hope. Not because we have strong doubts about the capability of the new administration, but because we too have our part in government.
If there is one important call to action that was said today, it is the call for all of us to take an active role in government. By following the law. By doing our own small part regardless of which sector we work in. By guarding our democracy — and not just leaving government alone to do all the work.
Tomorrow is about walking the talk for all of us, starting with government.
I have been thinking of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s pronouncements in 2001, when she assumed the presidency. She talked about leading a simple life as a government official. And in fact, one of her first orders as president was to prohibit the purchase and use of luxury vehicles for cabinet secretaries and other government executives. She promised to eradicate corruption, bring the Philippines to a new dawn for democracy and politics. Quoting her father, who was also president, Arroyo even said that a president does not assume power to a enjoy its perks. A president is there to serve and should even be ready to suffer for the sake of serving the people.
Whichever side of the political fence one is, we know that many of these things were not practiced by the past administration. And the images we are reminded of are expensive dinners in New York, scandals, and the like.
Yes, all of these are in the past. But with a new administration, we learn from the many mistakes of the past nine years, as well as the years previous to these.
So today, we celebrate a new chapter in our country’s young history. Today, we confirm once again with joy that yes, democracy lives. Tomorrow onwards, we — government and every citizen — buckle down to work, write our history for the next six years, and bring our one and only country forward.