Someone once told me I have too many opinions about the Philippine government. In response, I said you can never have too many opinions about a government such as ours. You see, I try to be optimistic about my country. There are, after all, signs of progress. Towering skyscrapers are cropping up left and right. Foreign companies are investing and expanding job opportunities. And people are similarly becoming more vocal about their rights – especially with the recent PDAF scandal that found everyone disgusted in the face of rampant and obscene corruption.
In spite of this, I remain critical of the present administration, of the government, of Philippine society, and of politics in general (which is still ironically, a political stand).
What I really want is quite simply, a properly functioning society. Yes, gleaming behemoths of steel and glass are testaments to economic progress. And yes, crowded malls may disprove the notions the Filipinos are poor. And yes, the recent middle-class condemnation of taxes being used and abused by legislators and swindlers is a nice change of pace from the usually passive and indifferent Filipino society. But more than anything else, I want to see society, and its associated infrastructure and institutions, to simply function right.
I’ve always written about public transportation because it is something I take every day going to work. I live a commuter’s life, and having experienced the perils of the country’s travelling options, I know I deserve better.
When I say I want society to function, it is something as simple as having better roads. It’s pointless to have your swanky condominiums and office spaces, when the roads which lead you there are potholed, easily flooded, or poorly designed and built. Something as simple as public infrastructure should have received, and should be receiving the attention of the government. Our cities are bursting at the seams and yet the government appears unable to have any sort of will, or desire for follow through, to actually make the necessary changes, or overhaul existing systems.
It’s been 68 years since the Allied troops defeated the Japanese, and 68 years since we’ve technically been independent. And yet look at our roads? We still have to take jeepneys. Look at our sidewalks, and our footbridges, all haphazardly built. Look at our train stations, its miseries, its dysfunctions.
And look outside of the public transportation system, and see how the dysfunctions occur in all aspects of our society: from something as barbaric as undisciplined men who urinate in public spaces, to unqualified legislators bragging and bickering like little kids. Pedestrians jaywalk, police officers take bribes, lawyers play with the law, and doctors treat their profession as business. A slew of cancers afflict our society. Yet we do little to circumvent it.
We’re always stuck with the same people in government, always blinded by out selective memory, and the election’s money. We continue to vote elitist public officials who are keen on implementing elitist laws, because they don’t really know what it means to be on the losing end of this country. Insulated by their luxury cars or hidden in their ultra-exclusive subdivisions, they don’t have any idea what is needed for this country to function. Their corruptions are an open secret. We take a stand, we rally, but it is still so frustrating to see how much of the administration remains stubborn, unfazed by the calls for change.
We need political will. We need a societal will. Take the footbridge goddamn it, follow traffic laws. Resist the temptation to bribe traffic enforcers. Write to your legislators, write about it social media, be critical of the government, be discerning of media. Form your own opinions and do not simply regurgitate what you hear from someone because it is the trend, it is popular, it is legal. Contrary to popular belief, the legality of a matter is not always indicative of its moral soundness.
Public opinion is necessary. It is our only tool against societal tyrants. It’s our way of removing their excesses.
It’s our only weapon to gather force for change. It is our way to enforce change. I dream of a day when taking the bus won’t be a life or death situation; when you could expect your train to arrive on time; when you can enjoy walking the footbridge without the hazard of intrusive vendors; when you can go to a public hospital and expect decent, human service; when you have legislators and public officials who really listen, and who pursue change with fortitude.