Thursday, February 26, 2015

Life isn’t that bad at all

ONE of my favorite local songs is “Lift Up Your Hands” by Basil Valdez. Well, Gary Valenciano’s rendition is as great. I particularly like the first line of the song that says: “Life is not at all that bad my friend.”
The song comes to mind quite often these days, especially when I read the newspapers or websites with mostly negative and purely critical stories, doomsday scenarios, and allegations after allegations. Is it really that bad?
Nonetheless, the November 27 to December 1, 2014 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 41 percent of respondents look forward to an improved quality of life this year, and only six percent expressed pessimism, with a net optimism of 35 percent.
Thirty-five percent is still not a majority but it was way better than 30 percent in September, and 33 percent in the last quarter of 2013. It was one point lower than the 36 percent net optimism on the last quarter of the Arroyo administration in 2010.
But this survey on the trends in personal quality of life and optimism with the Philippine economy was conducted at the time when prices of petroleum products were going down, and many people are excited about the year ahead.
Last week, the Chinese community and even many non-Chinese Filipinos celebrated the Lunar New Year with renewed hopes for abundance and prosperity. It is auspicious to think positive at the beginning of a year, isn’t it?
With the prices of petroleum products, power rates and other basic necessities starting to go up despite depressingly bad services, and with politicking rapidly moving toward the peak, it is doubtful if this air of optimism can be sustained.
News that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is now keeping an open mind about seeking the presidency has given some people hope because of his daring anti-crime program. Duterte had said he “could make the sacrifice” to run for the presidency “if only to save this country from being fractured.”
But Duterte’s frankness and open declaration to abolish Congress and his strong anti-criminality campaign are guarantees that he could not win a national election where money rules.
It is as certain as the sun rises in the east that politicians, businessmen and other moneyed groups and individuals who make a living out of politics and criminal activities will abhor a Duterte presidency.
The Philippines is not Davao City, many would say to undermine Duterte’s capacity and capability to lead the country as effectively as he has been as mayor of one of the world’s largest city in terms of land area.
It was the same criticism to then Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City, the country’s top financial district, when he run for a national position, and he won on a campaign promise that he would do nationwide what he had done in Makati.
In the last several months, however, accusations of massive corruption against Binay and members of his family who are in public office are quite disturbing. But then, I could not remember Binay promising to stamp out corruption and to remain poor, as he had projected himself in his campaign ads. Maybe he did, I just can’t remember it.
It is still too early to place a bet on aspirants to the 2016 presidency, but the choices being floated around do not give us a promising future.
The next 14 months into the national elections would surely bring out the best and worst of political spins from the different camps. But the first line of the song “Lift Up Your Hands” still reverberates that “life is not at all that bad, my friend.”

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