Philippines: A New Voice

On Feb. 27, in the wake of demonstrations calling for the overthrow Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Filipino blogger Bong Austero wrote a post called an “Open Letter to Our Leaders” in which he expressed his frustration and anger at opposition leaders’ grab for power. “You know why?,” he wrote. “Because all you do is whine and sabotage this country.” The post was forwarded on email and reposted on other blogs, turning its author into a celebrity. Many responded that he had captured their feelings exactly. Some said it had caused them to think and reflect and others have penned rebuttals.


  • Dearest Mr. Bong Austero,

    I saw you last night on ANC you read your letter on cable television as is very much famous on the internet and blogging circles.
    You were saying that we should give GMA a break and move the country forward.
    You were saying that you have forgiven her.
    And while people protests on the streets you say that it is not helping the economy.
    You say that they are at connivance with these people that you ask to have protection from.
    You say that they have not been able to offer any viable alternative.
    You say that it is better to have a “Flawed leader than scheming power hungry fools who cannot even stand up for their convictions in the face of an impending arrest”.
    You say that many replied to your letter and congratulated you for it and even pasted it on their blogs and forwarded them their friends.
    You have mentioned the threat of a Coup de’ tat within the ranks of the military and the Left.
    All in all as in the way I understand, you mean “ENOUGH” and just live on with our lives as we watch the “FLAWED” President run the country. While saying that Cory et. Al are the bigger problem.

    Your letter and its contents are what I’ve always heard with almost all the people I talked to about GMA.
    They say that it’s better to keep the status quo than anarchy and let the country suffer an economic downfall.
    They say that there’s no viable or a better alternative than GMA. And if there’s one they certainly won’t bet for another Erap or the likes of Noli de Castro. (or even FPJ for that matter on the last election)
    Some say to wait for another election of congressmen and vote for the moral ones that would stand up against GMA.
    Others would say that they will never trust a communist government or a state run by the military or a junta.
    But the worse of them all is that they blame the Filipinos for voting corrupt officials thus having them deserve their plight.
    Some reactions would state that even how many People Power that happens in the country there will never be a government that would listen to the people or be morally upright.
    Each and everyone becomes as corrupt and hungry for power as everybody are as soon as they sit in office.
    They become afraid that the current lifestyle that they are living now would be changed and more and more people will be affected because of the rampant destabilization plots as it would affect the economy.
    Some would even compare different Philippine presidents and pinpoint each merits between them.
    Yet all the more they are resigned to their conviction that there will never be a good Philippines much more an upright President.
    So they decide to get out the country or live their lives and look for greener pastures.
    That’s the part where I say “ENOUGH”.

    I’ve never lived with my family.
    My parents went out of the country with the same reasons.
    They said that they want to have a better life for me and for their families.
    They even planned on taking me with them.
    In their time they saw that the only solution for a better life is outside.
    They were poor to begin with.
    They were squatters who came from their provinces and worked their way up the employment ladder through hard work and dedication.
    As an end result they were able to have a better life.
    They earned the merits of their actions and eventually became able to leave the country.
    When they had me they thought that I deserve a better life than they had, thus they left me with my aunt and started another life oversees.
    All their lives they worked and worked as many odd jobs as possible that they were able to send me to an exclusive school.
    They told me to study and when I graduate to work hard as they are so I’d be able to do buy anything I want and when Id have my own family I’d be able to stay with them.
    But for all the troubles that they went through they only have one request to make of me.

    “Son if you choose to leave the country it is fine by us. But we ask of you not to do so and help our countrymen, we cannot afford to loose another generation of Filipinos at the expense of our country.”

    So I did my best.
    Though not that good in my academics I was able to graduate from my tertiary education. (In six years though)
    In those years I tried searching for reasons and went all over the country to see the real Philippines.
    I’ve mingled with criminals, the poorest of the poor the drug addicts the richest of the rich and the academics and mere street philosophers.
    In all of them I saw the same bleak realization of a country that doesn’t deserve them or on the contrary made them who they were.
    But in times of deep despair, in times of drunkenness and sober meanderings they’ve always hoped for a better life for the country and for their people.
    That their children might never experience what they had.
    They look at me with wondering eyes and asks me if there’s still hope.
    I always tell them “When people stop making their lives better that is when there can never really be any hope.”

    So now in these troubled times I read the news and I can’t stop myself from not doing anything.
    A President apologized but never showed accountability.
    GMA called who?
    GMA did what?
    I ask myself why we can’t put her to justice.
    The point is she did something wrong and a simple sorry wont suffice it.
    A simple sorry wont change a corrupted ballot.
    A simple sorry wont change a cheated majority.
    A simple sorry wont heal a wounded land.
    And the more that she puts her back on accountability the more robust the criminals become.
    The bolder the corrupt politicians become.
    Because they see a society that bows down to a “Flawed leader by virtue of keeping the status-quo.”

    Eventually her philandering continued.
    By virtue of poverty and paranoia and sheer lack of viable alternatives she stepped on our civil liberties.
    She issued E.O. 464
    She decreed P.D. 1017
    She puts to jail anyone who’s against her and asked them to be arrested without a warrant.
    She puts media to a watch list and continues to harass its employees and supporters.
    She silences the dissenters and brands them as communists and destabilizers.
    And now she wants to change our system of government.

    I say “ENOUGH”
    Clearly there is no reason for me to stay silent and not do anything.
    I don’t want another generation that is conditioned to learned helplessness.
    I don’t want another wave of poverty that would throw the best and the brightest out of the country.
    I don’t want us to not do anything.
    I don’t want the next generation to blame me for another mistake that the older generation did—to remain complacent and just live their lives.
    I also want to have a better life for all Filipinos but not like what you say Mr. Austero.

    I see a justice system that is not friendly with the masses because of language gap.
    I see an educational system that is flawed and backward because of lack of funds.
    I see all the basic services like healthcare and access to food and water being eaten whole by graft and corruption.
    And I see the taxes I pay going nowhere but to a “Flawed Presidents’ Government”

    So let me remind you Mr. Austero that the President is not the Government, the people is the Government.
    The President is not the economy, the people is the economy.
    And I will never tire reminding you of that.

    You have every right to protect your vote.
    To not just let anyone take it from you.
    You have every right to voice out your opinion and not agree with the governments’ policies and never be put to jail.
    You have every right to question a leader’s credibility because you placed him/her in that position of power.
    It is even a privilege that they are there.
    Because they didn’t earn it, they asked us to give it to them.

    So I find it justified to answer your letter.
    And share my two cents of the matter.
    That while you have presented your alternative of complacency I present my alternative of social responsibility.
    That while your answer is “we are prepared to lose our freedoms and our rights just to move this country forward”
    My answer is “I am always prepared to defend our freedoms and our rights that we so hardly fought for hundreds of years and move this country forward”
    And if it needs be id fight nail and tooth for it.

    Unfortunately Mr. Austero it is from the likes of you that we need protection from.

    I am not loath to see a series of People Power just so we could bring about real and tangible change.
    I am not loath to see hundreds of presidents impeached if they so rightly deserved so.
    I am not loath to see this country go down just so to rise up and rebuild itself rightfully.

    I’m sorry Mr. Austero but I am not the silent kind that would just watch the events on television.
    I also want to earn a living and live a good life with my family and friends but not in this status quo.
    Surely not in this status quo of corruption and un-accountability and clear malicious disregard for the law.

    And like you I am sick and tired of self scheming agitators that only have regards to what is good for themselves and their economy.
    Perhaps that’s the only part where we could agree.

    But take note Mr. Austero that I am never afraid to stand up for my convictions furthermore for truth and justice even in the face of any impending arrest.

    So I end this letter with a prayer that by doing so I’d give justice to peoples like my family and millions of Filipinos hoping for a better country.

    That as faulty as human beings we may find forgiveness in the eyes of God and men, but pledge accountability for our sins.

    That we may stand up high and proud that our generation will never fail the future generations…

  • The preceding comment appears to be a full repost of a Mar. 20 post on Floyd’s blog, upoytao. I let it through, but in the future, please link to your original post (if you’ve written one on your own blog) rather than reposting the entire text here.

    Because it’s a bit spammy to do a full self-repost. ;)

    Joel Tesoro
    Southeast Asia Regional Editor

  • oops sorry about that. it wont happen again. ^_^

    more power!

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