By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman
“I’ll be around in 2030, I don’t know about you,” former President Fidel V. Ramos told reporters on Feb. 19, six days before the 30th anniversary celebration of the 1986 People Power Revolution, during the launch of a new book. Stood on a stool to elevate himself over the heads of the attendees at Kamuning Bakery’s Pandesal Forum, he held up the book called 2030: One World, One Community, One Family, which is a collection of his essays and speeches.
His book, he said, “is the ultimate aspiration [of the world], but especially for the Filipino generation.”
At “87 years young,” the former President, one of the People Power heroes, is still witty and vibrant. The press conference might have been the unveiling of his newest endeavor, but it was also a venue to give his views on national topics.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE PEOPLE POWER?
“Beyond the annual celebration, do we really try to remember why that transcendent, God-inspired event happened?” he said in his speech. “And do the younger ones, particularly those born after 1986, who make up a large percentage of our population today, even understand why the non-violent EDSA People Power Revolution took place? Why did more than a million Filipinos armed only with their convictions, democratic faith, and God’s protection, come out in defiance of overwhelming odds most likely to suffer sudden death or grievous injury?”
It’s because we wanted to make a stand, he said. People Power isn’t a one-time thing either, he added.
While the People Power Revolution was the country’s exclamation point ending well over a decade of repression and hostility, “it must be seen as just the beginning,” he said.
His book is a beginning, created to promote and achieve the United Nation’s 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including the end to poverty, hunger, water unavailability, and gender inequality, and promoting sustainable living through inclusive economic growth, peace, justice, and sustainable living.
“We must be like the stock exchange,” said Mr. Ramos — who before his fateful role in overthrowing the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos, served in the top ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — while motioning a zigzag pattern with his hands, “it is upward, but hindi daang matuwid (straight path).”
“’Yung daang matuwid, kung sino man ang nag-imbento nyan, hindi nag-aral ng physics. (Whoever invented ‘the straight path’ didn’t study physics.) Because of the force of gravity, ang daan na pinakamatuwid (the straightest path) is going to hell. There’s no straight line unless downward, which is going to hell,” he stressed.
HOW IS PEOPLE POWER RELATED TO ECONOMICS?
“The concept of People Power is also useful in the economy. When I became the president, I said, we must grow the economy like cooking a bibingka (rice cake). May apoy sa ilalim at ibabaw. (There’s fire above and below). Below, is the people power: agriculture, fishing, and mom and pop businesses. Sa dami niyan ang lakas niyan (With so many people, this is strong). Ang apoy sa ibabaw (The fire above is) leadership, networking, marketing, education, science, and technology. Kung nagsama yan, aangat ang economy at magiging competitive (If those two are together, the economy is rise and become competitive). Pero di pa nangyayari dahil marami palpak na leader. (But it’s not yet happening because of many leaders who are failures.)”
DO YOU THING THE YOUTH DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE EDSA REVOLUTION?
“It’s not the youth’s fault if they are disconnected with the EDSA Revolution, but of their elders and ancestors. Me, I always give lectures to the youth. We have a road show, which started in June 2015, in 25 colleges and universities. We’re going to Mindanao. So far, we’ve been to Luzon and Visayas. The values of EDSA are development, cooperation, education, and international friendship.”
HOW SHOULD THE NEXT PRESIDENT DEAL WITH CHINA?
“China must be made to understand that we’re not acting alone. We are part of the democratic world. And this was brought about by our model during EDSA 1986 that ejected a dictatorship without violence. That model still holds. If you look at countries in the Middle East, there’s too much violence, suffering, and bloodshed. These must be avoided. This is our path toward avoiding bloodshed with any country in the world, with and between, the two super powers. Your foe in the world map is not another country my friend, it is Zika virus, Ebola, HIV, AIDS, dengue…”
SO 30 YEARS AFTER THE BLOODLESS REVOLUTION, WHERE ARE WE HEADING?
While Mr. Ramos is optimistic, he said we need revolutionary changes.
“The trouble with the Philippines is that we adopted the US style of presidential system,” said the former President, who started his career in 1946 as a cadet under former President Manuel L. Quezon.
“The American presidential system has not worked in the Philippines. We should try something else. We must be parliamentary, because, first, we are not a compact land mass, hiwa-hiwalay tayo (we are scattered). What we need is more local authority but greater connectivity. Not just in communication and transportation, but in culture and patriotism, maniwala kayo sa mga sundalo (believe in the soldiers).”
He said the people tend to falter repeatedly each new era. “After brilliant triumphs, we appear to fall short again and again in the aftermath.”
The former President, who was wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt and his military cap with badges pinned on it, predicted we might fail again as a nation: “If we content ourselves with flawed policies, greedy bureaucrats, and self-serving political dynasties at this time of new opportunity in the competitive world of the 21st century.”
With the coming national elections, he stressed that we need to look for competent leaders “who must work 25/8. [They should] figure how to work that out, because new problems come in every day.”
There are five 2016 “presidentiables” gunning for the highest position in power, including Sen. Miriam Santiago whom he beat with a small margin in the 1992 presidential national election.
The former President advises voters: “After 30 years from EDSA we should [have] umangat nang malayo (risen far). Ang hanapin natin sa bawat political unit, mayroong competence, marunong sa governance, management, bukod d’yan may integrity, transparent, and [is] honest (What we should look for in each political unit is competence, one who knows governance, management, and aside from that has integrity, transparent, and is honest).”
Mr. Ramos has been a vocal supporter of Congresswoman Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who’s running as vice-president. He said her late husband, Jessie Robredo, was his “model of Filipino mayor, who must be looked [up to] by other mayors.”
As for his choice for president? Laughing boisterously, he told reporters to ask him again some other time.
In summary, according to the president, if the country is to traverse the upward and right albeit crooked path, we need three things: unity, solidarity, and teamwork.
“We must be able to translate our unity and solidarity into action; that means the ability of people, of community, of government, of the nation… to work as one team to achieve a brighter future.”
2030: One World, One Community, One Family is published by Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc. Visit www.rpdev.org for book inquiries.