by dan, mel and jim
Here’s a piece from one of my favorite writers ever. It is a fictional tale, set the night before the turn-over for the Philippine presidency. There is euphoria, as people brace themselves for the changes the new government have set themselves to do.
June 29th, 2016.
The room was not only filled with excitement, laughter and smiles. There was electricity in the air. There was energy and enthusiasm and hope. Unbridled hope. As the murmur of conversations floated to the incoming day, a tinkle of glass pierced the collective consciousness and silence enveloped the room. Only the deep breaths dared disturbed the pregnant anticipation.
The President-elect cleared his throat and spoke. Without a teleprompter. Without notes. Without hesitation. Nothing barred.
“My dear Filipinos, my official family, my partners in the eradication of crime, my blood, my brethren. Thank you for accepting the challenge of bringing change to our people. A change that must be brought about at all cost because our people deserve no less. They wanted the elimination of graft and corruption. They wanted the elimination of drugs, of crime, of murder, of rape. They wanted the end of an oligarch-dominated economy, of non-existent opportunity for the poor and the marginalized, of the abuses perpetrated on our OFWs primarily by their own government, of the uncaring governance, of division, of insurgency, of hunger, of poverty. They wanted the dictum: “if one is born poor, one will die poor” to be relegated to the hopeless past.
Our challenge is not only hard. It is close to impossible. But I have faith that you and I are up to the task and that if we fail, at least we will die trying.
Temptations have crept up to our doorsteps. Controversies and manipulations by those who have enjoyed superiority and prosperity at the cost of each exploited Filipino have started to undermine our planned actions and resolve. They have spread doubt, malice and ridiculed our aims. The change for a new order of things have them scared, and soon they would be like headless chickens knowing not where to hide. We must resist falling into their traps, especially the trap of enrichment, of luxury, of corruption. Together, we must remain strong. In our division, capitulation is a matter of when.
When I asked you to be my cabinet secretaries, my confidants, my true allies, I gave you nothing and I asked you for everything. Tonight, on the eve of our assumption to lead this nation, let me make a simple but a meaningful and an everlasting gift, the Kalis. The sword bequeathed by our brave forefathers to defend themselves from foreign invaders, a symbol of our bravery as a people, a testament to our everlasting desire for freedom not only from foreigners but also from threats within. This sword, I give as a testament more than anything else. Public service is a public trust. A broken public trust will make any one of us unable to be of public service. When that time comes, nothing will matter. Honor is paramount. For what is life without honor?
Receive this Kalis as the seal of the Filipinos’ trust. And if that trust is lost, only this blade can regain it back.
This is a gift and a weapon. A weapon against dishonor. If in my weakness and frailties, I dishonor myself and you, take this Kalis and end my miserable existence because at that point, I am already dead.
If this gift is too much for you to bear, if the Filipino people’s trust is beyond your realm of commitment, refuse the gift and we part as friends. If you accept and adhere to what this symbolizes, to adhere to honor beyond this worldly existence, beyond life, my debt of gratitude until my dying day!”
Digong Duterte surveyed the room with the honesty and compassion that only an overloaded President in need of all the help he can get would. Silence remained unbroken as the weight of his words sunk in. The measuring stick must now be met, commitment given must remain unbroken. To everyone’s mind, the gargantuan task got a little heavier. Will their frail humanity be up to the task?
“Help me, Filipinos! Our people deserve nothing less!”
With that, he made the closed fist he was now famous for. Lightning flashed then the thunderous applause followed from those like him swore themselves to serve. To truly serve.
The Kalis with their names on it was received.
Digong looked out into the the darkness before the dawn of the new day, closed his eyes and said to himself: ” Death before dishonor”.
His chosen heard and followed: ” Death before dishonor!”
The Filipinos crossed their fingers and prayed and hoped.
“DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR!”
There is excitement in the air, as we usher in a new beginning for the country. Change is coming.