SONA: Between Honesty and Hope by Edicio Dela Torre
Their two stories were similar: Born into a poor family with 7 children each. Fortunate to be sponsored by ChildFund (in partnership with Cor Jesu College) from K to high school and beyond. Became leaders of a youth organization and a children’s organizations. Have undergone training, traveled to places they did not imagine they would visit, including their first plane ride
They would cry from time to time, one more than the other, but managed to continue speaking through their tears. The one who cried more asked a question: “Masama bang mangarap?” I teased her that she borrowed that from PNoy. She did admit that she once dreamt of becoming the president.
I posed my rider question about the SONA: How many watched and listened? Very few did, and even fewer remembered what was said. What they could recall were the gowns and the ternos, the SONA fashion show.
This afternoon, at a meeting with barangay official and workers at Barangay Marber, Bansalan I posed the same question and got the same answer.
Back in Davao City, I thought: What if I re-read the SONA as if PNoy delivered answers to the same MSC evaluation question?
Q: What were the most significant changes in your first two years as President?
Nangarap po tayo ng pagbabago, nakamit natin ang pagbabago, at ngayon ay karaniwan na ito.
Q: You are saying that the most significant change is that we now expect change to keep happening? Can you cite specific changes that have happened?
He did mention specific changes: Pursuing his metaphor of ”matuwid na daan” he says that public works are done without the usual anomalies. Next he cites better disaster preparedness and response, including our readiness to help one another. He adds that wang-wang is gone. Government, instead of being abusive, is now on the side of the people.
And so on…
Reflecting on the SONA as a whole, I could summarize PNoy’s answer this way: “You elected me in the hope that I will bring about change, and bring us closer to our dreams. I have given you reason to keep your hope alive.”
Although he still gave too much attention to the past and legacy problems, he used this mainly as a springboard to project the goals he has set for the rest of his Presidency. One could call his SONA not just the State Of the Nation Address, but the State Of the Nation’s Aspirations.
On hindsight, I think it is good that the over-all tone of the SONA (some called it “feel good”) is focused on hope. There is no shortage of problems and daunting challenges that we face as a nation and as a people. We have enough reasons to continue being critical and self-critical. But in the spirit of “Appreciative Inquiry” we need to be reminded of what we have done and can do together.
Of course, we need to temper this hope with honesty. No, not the honesty of matuwid na daan. But the honesty of realizing and telling ourselves that things will not change that easily, and despite our best efforts, change will not follow a straight line.
PNoy quoted the activist slogan: “Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?”
He may want to reflect on another activist slogan from the same decade: “Maaliwalas ang ating patutunguhang bukas, pero lubak-lubak at liko-liko ang landas.”