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[Ponderings] A Salute to a Fallen Patriot

By Philip Suzara

Pondering … as I sit here at the edge of my mythical life pond.

One can see many things happening at the edge of life’s pond, as in any pond. Decisions are made there, life changing decisions, defining moments … to get in the pond, or not. The pond is encircled by its edges in different forms and kinds … straight, jagged, rough, rocks, pebbles, sand, soil, or mud. Very much like people. No matter the differences we have, we all belong there … around the life pond, inside, outside, at the edge, but there.

“Ako ang nakikita,

Ako ang nasisisi,

Ako ang laging may kasalanan”

These are the first three lines that reverberate from Freddie Aguilar’s “Estudyante Blues”, which tells the story of a poor teenager who is always blamed by his parents for everything and who, in their eyes, can never seem to do anything right.

This song is also one of former President Noynoy Aquino’s favourites when requested to sing in friendly public gatherings.

He sings this with gusto and good humour, and finds it, in his words, “most appropriate” description of his run in governance. He takes a dig at those detractors who always have something to say and seemed never to have seen anything right in what he has done for the people and the country during his presidency.

Such were the potholes and bumps he encountered on his journey along his “Tuwid na Daan”, his Social Contract with the Filipino People marked with a commitment to democracy and good governance.

Last Thursday, June 24, the nation woke up jolted by the sudden death of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who died peacefully in his sleep with complications from his diabetes.

Noynoy’s Presidency was definitely a class act, much difficult for hooligans to copy, it was, at once, decent and dignified. His “Wala nang Wang-wang” was a simple statement on his brand of governance … it simply meant no abuse of power.

He was the ultimate Public Servant and regarded us, the common tao, as his Bosses. He and his economic team raised our international credit and investment rating, leaving surplus monies with the government at the end of his term. We also now enjoy the benefits of his administration’s many infra projects.

He strengthened the nation’s democratic institutions and reinforced the value of Human Rights and Justice for all. He also dared thread on precarious grounds and incarcerated corrupt high profile public officials such as his immediate predecessor and a few other senators and individuals.

Our Moral Compass was firmly rooted on solid ground, Press Freedom and Free Speech was inviolable with healthy respect during his term. He continued the fight for our sovereignty against China’s incursions and won for the country the UNCLOS arbitration case against China.

There are many other accomplishments of PNoy that have been done, too many to mention. Naysayers will be naysayers and bash at will … if they were movie critics, they would die not ever seeing a good movie!

Ateneo’s Fr. Jett Villarin, in his homily at PNoy’s wake, shared this of his last text exchange with his good friend soon after his angioplasty.

PNoy: “Yung isang klaseng broken heart, hindi kaya dito.”

Fr. JV: “Kung broken-hearted siya, alam kong dahil hati rin ang puso ng bayan. Ang dalamhati ng bayan, dala-dala rin ng taong ito.

Ang broken-heart ng bayan, lalo pang nagagasgasan ngayon ng gaspang, ng dahas na walang pinagpipitagan, ang karahasan at pananakot na panakip-butas lamang sa malalim at laganap na kahinaan.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas also summed it up in his homily at PNoy’s inurnment.

“His silence after his presidential term was a silence of dignity, as he brought dignity and honesty to his service to the nation as our president. He preserved that dignity after his retirement. It was the silence of noble statesmen now rare and forgotten. It was the silence of Daang Matuwid. It was a silence of nobility.

Death for him came like a thief in the night ... “namatay siya sa kanyang pagkakahimbing.” PNoy died as he lived. He served without fanfare; he abhorred power trappings and power tripping. He slipped away quietly as much as possible, disturbing no one. Walang wang-wang, very PNoy, and not surprising.

Eulogies have been written, and spoken, and shared. But the best eulogy tribute we can pay to our dear President Noy is to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants not bosses.

The flags at half-mast are not only for the dead president, but for the dying decent governance. Our human reckoning, 61 is an age too young to die, but his relatively short life is a fitting reminder for us that what matters indeed is not how long we live, but how.

He still had so much to teach us about decency and integrity. He still had so much to teach us about good governance and professionalism. He still had so much to teach us about self-sacrifice and simplicity, maybe, and I do hope, his death will spark another fire within us, to resurrect his example of decency and integrity. The sincerest form of tribute to dear President Noy is to relive his life’s lessons of decency and ethical leadership, recover honor and dignity in our private and public lives among us private citizens, and among our leaders. his mortal remains are now ashes but his integrity and decency must resurrect through us and in the leaders we choose.”

Yes, President Noy, you have fought a good fight, you have finished the race, and you have kept the faith.

A snappy salute to you, dear patriot.


Pondering … as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.

Philip Suzara

Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.

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