We who are old have made our mistakes. We have been humbled by life: We have learned its limitations. Therefore we are by definition cautious, circumspect, tentative.Instilling the dynamic qualities of the young

Conservatism is no mean  quality- but it is a quality of settled societies past their prime; and not of societies like ours, whose golden age lies ahead- not behind us- us.

This is why, in urgent effort to lift up the common life, we need to infuse in the national spirit the dynamic qualities of young people- the willingness to challenge old beliefs and to experiment with new ways and new things; the daring tothink big; the resilience that disdains failure; and the bundles energy to pursue excellenece wherever it may lead.These are qualities we need desperately in our time- in Government, in business, in science, technology and the other professions, in art and culture.Seeing our country afresh

We need to look at our country and our people afresh – to see our country, not as the “Sick Man of Southeast Asia” as it is today contemptuosly called: and our countrymen not as the abject housemaids and coolies of more fortunate peoples.

We need to look at our nation through the eyes of young: to see our mind’s eye what what greatness it can attain.

We need to see our nation as our revolutionary heroes of a hundred years ago must have seen it at its birth- as a nation in which every good thing is possible.

In a way, our times are as revolutionary- as radically different from the immediate past- as the times were during the nationalist agitation, in the last years of Spanish rule, which saw the rise of a generation of heroes as young as – if not younger than – the nine young people in whose honor we are gathered here tonight.

Young heroes of the Revolution.

Of our galaxy of heroes from the Revolutionary Period – starting from the propagandists of the late 1880s and ending with the political political nationalists of the early American Period-  everyone would have easily met the age- and achievement- requirements of today’s TOYM Awards.

For instance, Graciano López Jaena was 32 years old when he founded La Solidaridad in Madrid.

Of all the heroes of the Revolution, Marcelo del Pilar was the late bloomer; he was 39 when he took over the editorship of Sol. But by then he was a veteran of the Propaganda Movement. He started attacking the frailocracy in his native Bulacan as a lawyer aged 30. And his satire was so biting that he had to flee to Spain to escape persecution by the monastic sovereignty.

At 26 years of age, José Rizal had finished the Noli; and at 35, he was dead, the first and greatest martyr of the Filipino nation then being born.

Andrés Bonifacio founded the Katipunan when he was 29 years old. And when the Revolution began, Bonifacio’s faithful deputy, Emilio jacinto, was still four months short of 21.

Emilio Aguinaldo was the victorious general of the Revolution at the age of 27 and founder of Asia’s first free Republic at age 29.

General Gregorio del Pilar was only 25 when he fougth his last battle, as Aguinaldo’s rear guard, at Tirad Pass.

Apolinario Mabini was 34 when he took up the intellectual and political leadership of the Malolos Republic.And Sergio Osmeña became Speaker and Quezon the Majority Floor Leader of the first Philippine Assembly under American rule in 1907.

And one reason I am doing so is to prove to our idealistic young people who make up the cadres of the insurgency that national society is not closed to the possibilities of peaceful change.

I note that there is a young entrepreneur among our honorees. I trust that our young risk-taker will make a public use of the private wealth his talent will amass for him.

Part of our task must be to compel those Filipinos who are not poor to fulfill their civic responsibilities.

I find it strange that the people who are resisting most strenously the imposition of new taxes are those very same ones who are the most notorios evaders of the old imposts.

Appeal to young people

You and I must work together- to raise countervailing pressure against those interest-groups determined to keep things they are. Groups like yours must speak and act for the Filipino poor- until the poor are strong enough to speak and act on their own.

You and I must generate a national consensus for eradicating national poverty and attaining a measur of social equality- because, at least in the short term, pro-poor programs will work against the interests of the nonpoor. More farm-to-market roads in the Bicol Peninsula will initially mean fewer flyovers in Metro Manila.

Human societies seek economic growth not just because it enables human beings to accumulate material goods. Economic growth is important because it allows individual human beings to realize the full possibilities of their lives.