THERE is nothing happy or new about this year, including all the greetings that still is, and maybe, and perhaps, will always be, a happy new year.

Really? A happy new year?

Most of these greetings, though, are serious. Most of these greetings, though, are sincere. They must be replied to with genuine gladness. But so much more than just being serious and just being sincere can and will bring about being truly happy.

Why? The immediate past year changed the game. Entirely. Completely.

A series of schemes, scams and scandals always known but never exposed has embarrassed all the branches of the government with tales of corruption involving anybody and everybody. As in anybody. As in everybody. As ridiculous as it sounds, the latest report even included messengers and drivers as part of one syndicate.

A war waged by a forgotten few furthermore embarrassed the government preparedness, or the lack of it, and the government response, or the lack of it. Until now, they cannot figure out if the mastermind is inside or outside the country.

An earthquake that came out of nowhere, or at least not from any known geological faults, embarrassed the government anew for being clueless.

Even a wild guess was not available.

A super typhoon that is supposedly the worst the world has ever experienced embarrassed the government the most, not just from its answers that were not only not enough but were also many times mistaken and many times improper, but also from all the questions raised as to its competence and as to its attitude. Everything is in YouTube.

The game has, indeed, changed. Good enough is no longer good enough.

The way it has always been can no longer be the way it will always be.

The time has come, not only for a sweeping change of people, but also for a sweeping change in people.

We have one and only one government and there is absolutely no satisfaction in watching it being embarrassed over and over again. It does not make us happy.

We have one and only one country and watching it get crumbled or get ravaged just breaks the heart, even if one has not heard the volley of gunfire, even if one has not felt the shaking of the earth, even if one has not experienced the rushing and the raising of the waters from the sea. It makes us sad, sometimes beyond words, always full of mixed feelings.

What is clear and present is that we all suffer from this embarrassment, and this devastation. Not just the government. Also the country. Nobody wins, not even those who have ambitions for higher office in the next elections. Everybody loses, including all the critics and all the bashers and all those whose fingers point to accuse but not lift to help.

What we need now is hope.

We need to be able to hope that the government can and will eventually deliver, not with the sorry excuse that nobody could have prepared for anything like what hit us that never brings back the dead and the destroyed, but with the unbreakable faith in the capacity of a nation to survive that should be the spirit in facing not just embarrassment but also death and destruction.

We need to be able to hope that the business community and ordinary individuals can and will continue to care and share, without being prodded, without being coerced, and even without need for applause or for accolades.

We need to be able to hope that foreign aid from international donors will still keep coming our way, even if a lot has already came our way, because we badly need the dollars to pay for what our pesos cannot afford.

We need this kind of HOPE.

Honesty, integrity and transparency in managing all the challenges are what we need. No more graft. No more repacking of goods with multiple versions of why. No more diversion of goods to the capital to be offered for sale to the rich. No more false price hikes to take advantage of the victims of calamities. No more red tape in the entry of foreign help.

Order, discipline and respect in confronting the challenges are what we need. No more looting. No more petty quarrels for supremacy or superiority in allocations and distributions. No more party politics in priorities. No more legal gobbledygook in assistance. No more feeling of entitlement because of official position or status in life.

Progress, prosperity and upliftment in surviving the challenges are what we need. Not mere restoration to the old dispensation. Not the quantity of the infrastructure built but the quality of the construction developed. Not a temporary evacuation center way of life but a permanent housing community way of life. Not band-aid health but wellness. Not makeshift teaching but relevant education.

Empowerment, emancipation and independence in defeating the challenges are what we need. Not living in pity. Not living without dignity.

Not forever waiting for the next bottle of water from the cargo truck.

Not forever waiting for the next bowl of soup from the mobile kitchen. Not forever waiting for the next rubble-picking task or street-sweeping job or whatever food-for-work program there might be.

Not livelihood and employment without security of tenure or any semblance of permanence. Not mendicancy and dependency but self-reliance with the capacity to pay it forward.

This is the kind of hope that we need now.

It does not matter where it will come from, so long as it comes. It can come from government, from the business community and ordinary individuals, from international donors, or a combination of some, or from all.

A happy new year? Really?


The best if it will come from all. It takes all to rebuild a broken nation.

The worst if it never comes. The country will remain an open grave.

Comments are most welcome. Please send them to