The Road to Leadership

Speech before the Community of Imus, Cavite

I come today to share with you our people’s jubilation and joy. It is our 207th Celebration of Araw ng Imus. Today is our day. Let us make it the best ever. 

I feel very much inspired to see my own home community. Those who are from overseas inspire me likewise. Please spend your savings here. And keep coming every year. There is no place like home.

To those who are yet planning to go overseas, I have a mixed feeling. I can understand why you are leaving this country. We are not only economically bankrupt. Our leadership at the top is politically little.

Today’s national leadership is more interested in showing her surfing abilities. Saan ka naman nakita ng liderato na nasa laot at gustong maging surfer? Dito lang sa Pilipinas!

If there is anything that a nation has yearned since time immemorial, it is real leadership. This is not the kind of leadership that leaves the president alone to enjoy herself on top of the waves. On the contrary, this is the leadership that compels her to make personal sacrifices so others may live abundantly. Or at least, feel new hopes of living better.

Leadership is at its best where the leader is the first to take each and every turbulence. Community is at its highest where the citizens do not feel sorry for themselves because of a sorry tenant of Malacanang.

Best leadership, however, has never been easy to come by. Those of us who have seen the weaknesses of our leaders, have had to suffer a lot. We have to stop suffering much more – here and now. Enough is enough.

But there are many bold and brave souls who detest weak leadership as much as they love strong leaders. It is these souls whose company we must yearn for. They were here in Imus. They are here now. They will always be here. Let them come to Imus.

The question has been asked by everyone regardless of creed, color, and culture: what causes weak Presidents? You and I have asked that question before. You and I have heard answers before.

Let me share with you my mind.

First, lack of a people’s mandate. Today’s little president was never elected to be our president. Between now and 2004, all her longing is to be the elected one in 2004.

Second, lack of political will. What we have been seeing are all-photo opportunities. Pang sine, pang Hollywood. Panay rhetorics, panay theatrics.

Third, instability as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police. This little president is afraid of mutiny by the uniformed services. She knows that she became a president by such mutiny. She is now a victim of her own strongest fears.

Fourth, lack of preparation. This little president does not know what it means to die for a country. She was born with a silver platter. Poverty has never been her lot.

Fifth, fear of the opposition. She thinks of the opposition as her enemy. Her greatest enemy is herself and she does not care a whit.

Side by side with leadership, and motivated by it, there must stand a strong community. This community must be prepared to define its obligations, assign its duties, and answer the right of every member. We find this community in our own home ground of Imus. We can never be more proud.

Community strength, in its turn, has to be completed and sustained by community charity. This means that love of neighbor – and of one’s community – should not develop into closed egoism. On the contrary, it must grow into a spontaneous movement towards solidarity with other communities.

Co-existence is just not enough. Living together is a lot more self-fulfilling.

But why is it that we do not always want to be safe and happy? I think the philosopher by the name of Pogo is correct when he said: we have met the enemy – and it is us.

Sigmund Freud was even more direct. He said that man has become a wolf to others. And when he gets bored, he loses his sanity. Worse, he even imposes his insanity upon the innocent and the ignorant.

I think community leaders must empower man to link himself to the power within him. This is the power that produces the values and virtues of truth, justice, and charity.

I think community leaders must encourage man to seek the kingdom within him this is the kingdom that can command the forces of good to liquidate the forces of evil.

I think community leaders must enlighten man to see the light and hear the melody within him. The light gives the vision of the external world. And the melody, the mission.

Only then and only then will we able to review afresh the foundations of the past 207 years. Only then will we be able to cherish the hopes of the future. Only then can we have the faith of present moments.

What has community to do with leadership? My answer is everything.

Community-oriented people are gifted with infinite patience. They see beyond the greed of the politicians. They only feel their unity in everyone and everything. But community-orientedness without economic development is not enough. One without the other is a fallen tower. This spirit of reinforcement is a must.

If Malacanang is looking for that kind of spirit, let her tenant come to Imus. And find for herself where the good leaders are.

The best leadership is what we all demand. I am afraid we are left with no better choice.

It is bad that we suffer from a weak national leader. There is something worse than Gloria. It is called droga. By all means we must choose to make Imus drug-free.

Let us make, then, that choice. Right here at General Pantaleon Garcia Park. Right here at Imus. Right here in Cavite.

Thank you very much.