About three months ago, I informed the management and readership of Manila Bulletin of the doctor’s advice for me to go on medical leave, which I did starting 19 October 2018 – with a request to accommodate for publication in the same column-space any article I might submit from time-to-time, when opportunities arise.
Crucial issues have been hounding not just the Philippines but even rich countries like the U.S., Canada, Germany and France – to name a few. The root cause of most problems is poverty – the reduction of which is the first priority of the United Nations framework titled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (composed of 17 Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years). Said framework was formally adopted by all 193 members of the U.N. on 25 September 2015, compelling member-nations to look beyond national boundaries and short-term interests and act in solidarity for long-term mutual benefits. In effect, we all should “Prosper Thy Neighbor” – the title of the book FVR recently launched.
The book launch was held in conjunction with the testimonial dinner held in FVR’s honor by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) – with President Rodrigo Duterte in attendance as our special guest – last 14 October 2018 at the Manila Hotel.
One of the esteemed guests during said event was respected journalist Domini M. Torrevillas who reported her observations through her column titled “FVR Book” (The Philippine Star, 06 November 2018), thus: “The Centennial Hall of Manila Hotel was filled to the rafters with people attending the national thanksgiving and testimonial dinner for the first Protestant President of the Philippines, Fidel V. Ramos, and the launching of his book, Prosper Thy Neighbor. The Sunday-best-dressed crowd was a mix of politicians, government officials, businessmen, and professionals loyal to the former tobacco-chewing head of state, and feeling high to hear in person, shake hands, and do selfies with the special guest – President Duterte.
“The book is a compilation of FVR’s column pieces in a major broadsheet. The affair was sponsored by the UCCP and intended to raise funds for the Center for Leadership and Development. UCCP officials said of their celebrated honoree as having ‘profound faith in God and strong sense of duty, honor and love for country… nurtured early in life in a Christian family.’
“The book’s topics are wide-ranging from poverty to climate change, to terrorism and law enforcement. The first part consists of FVR’s not so savory assessment of President Duterte’s first 100 days, of Team Philippines’ losing on board Ship Pilipinas, and of Du30’s and Malacañang’s need to learn more about governance.
“FVR writes that at the outset of Du30’s steering of the nation’s ship of state, much was expected of his term: alleviation of mass poverty, relief from the escalating costs of living, and improvement of the people’s quality of life.
“FVR’s assessment ‘was based simply on two concepts of primordial importance – LEADERSHIP and TEAMWORK – because that is where the obvious failures have emerged at this point in time.’
“Talking from experience, FVR believes that confronted with many serious concerns, President Digong is ‘like a juggler, balancing and keeping aloft at least ten balls, which are transnational problems. But, as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, he must perform with greater agility and competence that the ordinary circus juggler handling hot potatoes while on a highwire going 100 meters upwards, catching and managing the balls in a calm, harmonious manners, and not drop any in the process.
“Duterte cannot do it alone, writes FVR. ‘Neither can the government do it alone. But when all of us strive together with one goal in mind, and abide by the same precious values and commitments – we become a strong nation, able to achieve the higher quality of life we have always yearned for – in an environment of enduring peace and sustainable development.’
“FVR’s reprinted columns are written seriously, marching forth like a soldier’s measured cadence. But former First Lady Ming Ramos steals the thunder from her husband with five articles devoted to her summary of her life as the wife of the President of the Republic.
“Briefly, she tells of her acquaintance with Eddie (FVR’s nickname to family and friends), when they became neighbors in Padre Faura in 1940. But they were engaged in 1952 – and got married on 21 October 1953 – after she had finished her Master of Science in Physical Education at the University of California, Los Angeles, California. FVR by then had also graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and received his Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.
“Ming writes that on 15 June 1992, Congress official proclaimed FVR the President-elect. ‘That evening changed our lives as a family. All of us could not believed that our Eddie had become the President of the Republic of the Philippines and that we had become the First Family. Suddenly, we were thrown into a rush of activities.
“’In the course of our married life, circumstances would prove his patriotism time and time again. Take his participation as a member of the 20th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) in the Korean War in 1951, the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1968, the 1986 EDSA Revolution, and the various coup attempts between the years 1987-1991. All were life threatening. All were participated in by him selflessly. All for good of the country as we, his family, prayed for his safe return.’ To prove his ‘workaholism’ further was the ‘carotid operation’ incident in 1996 in which he wanted to go back to work immediately, but Ming said no, thus for the first time, the family had Christmas dinner at a hospital. ‘For once, he listened to me.’
“Eddie remained first and foremost a military man and second, a family man. He ran a household as he would ran a battalion. He set up a strict time schedule for everyone: the time to sleep, wake up, eat. Not that it lasted. To put it quite simply, it was the kind of routine that invited mass rebellion. With five daughters, all in one way or the other resembling their father in temperament, Eddie’s attempt to militarize the Ramos family was a dismal failure. I think it was the only endeavor in which he failed, miserably I might add. This shows you the power that women have.
“’What I never understand about politics is how you try to do something good and it’s never good enough. There were many difficult moments for me during his term but the most difficult ones remain to be two incidents which i hope never to encounter again.’
“One was during the Flor Contemplacion incident in March 1995. On board the plane from Europe on the way to General Santos City, the Ramoses decided that Ming fly from GenSan to Manila on a Fokker F-27 aircraft to meet the remains of OFW Flor Contemplacion at NAIA. There was so much anger and hatred at the scene. The flowers she gave were seized and torn to pieces. What hurt the most was when she handed Flor’s husband an envelope containing P100,000. He opened the envelope and saw its contents. The next day, the papers announced that he said the envelope was empty. Flor’s husband later retracted his statement, but the damage had been done.
“’The other incident was the ‘Anti-Charter’ and later on, what I perceived to be the ‘Anti-Ramos’ campaigns which resurfaced time and time again in 1997 and 1998. After seeing Eddie working so hard for the country, I was quite downhearted and disappointed.’
“The eminent scientist Dr. Angel Alcala and former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. gave testimonials, and the Manila Concert Choir headed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones provided the special music. Bishop Melzar Labuntog, UCCP General Secretary, gave an inspirational message; Bishop Joseph Agpaoa the prayer of dedication; and several bishops, the blessing.”
We also learned from the Capitol Post (29 September-05 October 2018), a weekly publication in Pangasinan, FVR’s home province, that Representative Leopoldo Bataoil urged his fellow lawmakers in both houses of Congress for the immediate approval of House Bill No. 8367 calling for the establishment of the FVR Library and Museum in Lingayen, Pangasinan under the supervision of the National Library of the Philippines – similar to the presidential libraries and museums in the U.S. It truly is my distinct privilege to be so honored.
After this article today, FVR will seek the Manila Bulletin’s consent to invite others to write in his column-space and share their thoughts on how to achieve an environment of enduring peace and sustainable development – for the Philippines and in cooperation with our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific.
Kaya natin ito!!!
Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org. Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.