These are joyous times but also sobering times.
The nation started the half-year with new leadership and great expectations. Not since Cory had Filipinos’ hopes been as high.
I voted for P-Noy against claims he was unaccomplished, unsuited for the vast task that lay ahead of the country. I openly argued the man was honest, that integrity was the prerequisite for governance. I believed he might rise to the occasion, that the mantle of power, the high office could bring out a vision, wisdom and passion not before seen in the person.
I was also convinced that under a regime of honesty and transparency, the Filipino would, as he has done in other lands and in other times, step to the fore and unleash the potential that is inherent in him.
Six months into the journey have I been vindicated or have I been disappointed?
I believe I have been vindicated in my assessment that the Filipino would respond to the new concord. There is a reborn vibrancy in the air. The political atmosphere is cleaner. There are pockets of smog but there is visibility.
In business there is a sense that it is now propitious to invest. The stock market is up. The private sector is hiring. OFWs are remitting funds at unprecedented levels. The peso is firm.
Have I been disappointed in the President?
I am not disappointed. What I am is frustrated.
Disappointment comes from realizing a man is incapable of being more than he is. Frustration comes from determining a person is unwilling to be more than he can be.
I am frustrated.
There is a historic opportunity for this nation to be great. May 10 engaged the community, people were enthused, were ready, desperate almost, to be taken on a journey of change and fulfillment.
That journey has not been realized.
After a blazing start, the promises of the Presidency have not been fulfilled. The rhetoric remains but the flame is diminished. There have been accomplishments which the Administration is quick to trot out- $2.5 billion in investments here, $2.5 billion there- but these pale in relation to the opportunity, to the grander elements that distinguish good from great governance.
The failure of expectations lies not in the President’s lack of intelligence, goodwill or courage. The failure is in his lack of ambition.
A British prime minister once said: “The nation is on the march, I better follow”. So with P-Noy: He wants to follow the progress of the country, not lead it.
As evident in his ratings, Filipinos are in love with the persona of the President, the regular guy in him. What they are not is in his awe.
Yet Filipinos seek from their leader to be impressed, want to stand at the feet of a giant, to be in the presence of history. They want to be inspired.
They want their leader to to fulfill their potential, to transport them on the voyage of their lifetime. Gandhi, Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew, these names evoke wondrous possibilities.
With P-Noy that is not to be. He is not transformational. He does not dare to dream.
This Administration is content with baby steps, with mindlessness, with common endeavors. There is not that quest for excellence and outreach that characterizes visionary leadership. This Government is happy to be ordinary.
This Administration is transactional. It governs by scorecard, the number of investments, the approval rating. It does not seek to imbibe in us the qualitative but more enduring virtues that make for a better community, like commitment , discipline, care and respect. It is unconcerned with reforming institutions so progress will be permanent and not subject to the whims of politics.
Someone once said, the rapper Jay-Z I believe, that the aim of life is to make the extraordinary ordinary.
That should be the objective of this Government, to make the extraordinary ordinary. Some nations have achieved this, Singapore for one.
For that to happen there must be a desire for it to be. There must be a conviction, the faith that more is possible, the faith that, in Obama’s words, lets us mount on wings of eagles.
Like our Azkals, our soccer team, we must know that we can be better than we are, much better.
So that is my Christmas wish, for the extraordinary in this nation to be made ordinary.