|" Where is the way to Philippine recovery?"|
Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by professionals and printed on paper or transmitted through the air by the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news — vivid, important, often consequential. In the 1960s in America they marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the '70s, they rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the '80s, they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square and Eastern Europe. Protest was the natural continuation of politics by other means.
And then came the End of History, summed up by Francis Fukuyama's influential 1989 essay declaring that mankind had arrived at the "end point of ... ideological evolution" in globally triumphant "Western liberalism." The two decades beginning in 1991 witnessed the greatest rise in living standards that the world has ever known. Credit was easy, complacency and apathy were rife, and street protests looked like pointless emotional sideshows — obsolete, quaint, the equivalent of cavalry to mid-20th-century war. The rare large demonstrations in the rich world seemed ineffectual and irrelevant. (See the Battle of Seattle, 1999.)
There were a few exceptions, like the protests that, along with sanctions, helped end apartheid in South Africa in 1994. But for young people, radical critiques and protests against the system were mostly confined to pop-culture fantasy: "Fight the Power" was a song on a platinum-selling album, Rage Against the Machine was a platinum-selling band, and the beloved brave rebels fighting the all-encompassing global oppressors were just a bunch of characters in The Matrix.(See pictures of protesters around the world.)
"Massive and effective street protest" was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.
Rick Stengel's introduction sums it all up
History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looked back on. No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history.Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering. The root of the word democracy is demos, "the people," and the meaning of democracy is "the people rule." And they did, if not at the ballot box, then in the streets. America is a nation conceived in protest, and protest is in some ways the source code for democracy — and evidence of the lack of it.
The protests have marked the rise of a new generation. In Egypt 60% of the population is under the age of 25. Technology mattered, but this was not a technological revolution. Social networks did not cause these movements, but they kept them alive and connected. Technology allowed us to watch, and it spread the virus of protest, but this was not a wired revolution; it was a human one, of hearts and minds, the oldest technology of all.
Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That's one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME's 2011 Person of the Year.
Back here, there's a reverse---from nine long years of arguing, of lambasting, of revolting against the Arroyo regime, there is now, a sense of quietude, and a longer feeling of tolerance among Filipinos.
That after nine long years, Filipinos have now felt a desire to "go back to work", " enjoy what's good about today" and unmindful of what the future will bring in this 90 million plus nation.
That explains why nine out of ten Filipinos are optimistic about 2012. They see growth. They see progress. They see development. And though a sizeable portion of the population (about 6.4%) are still jobless, the air of optimism is still very high, and it rises.
Call it false, if we are to assess the current economic state of affairs, this feeling is actually false. The economy is suffering from inactivity. Investors are keeping their cards very close to their chests. Filipinos are not spending much to support the local economy. And savings are not that high either.
Torrents of quakes and devastating typhoons have swept the country and turned huge portions of the country into swamps, yet, Filipinos, unlike their European or American counterparts, still feel that there is something yet to long for from all of these.
Confidence in the government remains high and it will continue to be like that simply because Filipinos feel the changes happening on the ground. For example, the bureaucracy, long afflicted with the status quo syndrome, have fortunately been able to transform itself into a better and more functional organism.
There is a feeling that government services have improved, from its lethargic state to an animated one, brought probably by the collective desire of the professional bureaucrats to redeem their once illustrious status.
IN the sixties, serving in government is an honor. Two years ago, serving in government means greed. That those who can't simply get a corporate job, settles for a government one simply because they see government as a huge milking cow, and public coffers a huge trillion peso private bank.
Now, with the incarceration of the symbol of nine long years of misery and corruption, people felt that government service has transformed and is now on the way to recovery.
Having an honorable name is now very important to a government functionary. That, bringing shame to one's family deters a corrupt Customs man from committing crimes or the social stigma brought by being accused of corruption is pricier than thousands of pesos worth of bribes.
What Aquino managed to accomplish in all these two years is simple yet very effective--he is trying to bring back the honor and prestige behind government service. That the government bureaucracy has an honor. That every government employee is an honorable person, accountable not just to himself and his family, but to society as well.
Dangal sa serbisyong bayan is one of the pillars of the Tuwid na Daan. HOw can this be accomplished if the remnants of a discredited regime remain in power?