Thursday, September 03, 2009

Noynoy Aquino's Spiritual Retreat

I heard that Noynoy Aquino arrived here in Davao this morning and flew to Zamboanga this evening where he will be undergoing a retreat at the Carmelite monastery. Since the death of her mother (ex-president Cory Aquino) last month, there has been a growing clamor for him to run for president. Mar Roxas' withdrawal from the presidential race the other day and his support for Noynoy's candidacy has increased the pressure for Noynoy to heed this clamor.

Before Cory's death I never imagined Noynoy as a presidential contender (he wasn't really impressive as congressman and as a senator). Besides, I wasn't excited or interested about the coming elections. I didn't bother to register. I wasnt' planning to vote (I planned to leave for my sabbatical in Rome before the elections). The bottom line: I have lost faith and hope in our political system. What's the use of voting when it is still the traditional corrupt and power-hungry politicians who will run and only those who have the most money and popularity will win? A very wealthy senator under investigation in the senate for anomalies is leading the surveys, followed by an ex-president convicted of plunder. Besides the other traditional politicians several religious personalities have expressed their intention to run for president - Fr. Ed Panlilio, Eddie Villanueva, Mike Velarde.

During the wake and funeral of Cory, I became aware that "people power" was not dead and buried. It was on the rise again. I also became aware of the unfinished EDSA revolution. When Conrad de Quiros started writing about Noynoy as a presidential candidate that can continue the legacy of Ninoy and Cory, I dismissed this as one his wild ideas that deserves to be ignored. Alex Magno (who became a Gloria apologist and whose columns I stopped reading long time ago) wrote about the "game-changer" and the emergence of Noynoy as a viable candidate. Listening to Noynoy's interview with Pia Hontiveros and Tina Monzon Palma convinced me that here is the one that we can believe in and that carry the hope of many of our people. What impressed me most about Noynoy is that he indeed embodies the values of his parents: selflessnes, decency, integrity, sense of duty, service. He is not corrupt. He is not ambitious. He does not see himself as a "messiah. He consults people and he seeks their active participation in the proces of change. Unlike the other politicians, he is not seeking the presidency but rather, it is the presidency that is seeking him. The fact, the Mar Roxas would give up his presidential aspirations and support Noynoy reveals not only Mar's decency and selflessness but also his faith in Noynoy's capability to lead the people in reforming and changing Philippine society.

There are many who doubt his ability to lead, due to his lack of experience. But what kind of experience do the other candidates boast of - experience of corruption and patronage politics? Many doubt whether he will win because he does not have the money and the machinery. But what he has is the trust of people. If "people power" is still alive, then that is enough. He will have a lot of volunteers. It will be the people who will give him money for his campaign He will also get the youth vote.

As Noynoy starts his retreat/discernment tomorrow, I will pray for him. I pray that he will have the courage to respond to the call of the people that he continue what Ninoy and Cory and many of the older generation started - the unfinished revolution of EDSA. He should not expect to hear God's voice telling him that it is God's will that he will be president. All he need to listen to is the voice of people who believe in him.

We priests are not supposed to engage in partisan politics. We cannot endorse any candidate. We cannot dictate to the people who to vote for. We cannot campaign for any candidate. But if someone comes to me and asks me who to vote for, I will whisper the name of the one who I believe carries the legacy of EDSA. I have also set aside a little amount from my allowance as a donation for his campaign (I have never done this for any candidate before).
We have been looking for our own Obama. I think we have have found him.
Of course, all of these could just be the product of the imagination or wishful thinking of a few dreamers who misread the recent events. We will find out in May whether it will be politics as usual or people power is really alive.

NoyPI ako.

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