Unfulfilled promises and unrelenting poverty

Skyscrapers and slums

The Philippines is a country of rich and poor. Roberto Verzo under a Creative Commons Licence

It was a year of difficult and challenging times, both here in the Philippines and elsewhere. It was a year of missing planes and geopolitical tensions around the globe.

Closer to home, the stories were filled with political tensions and warring politicians. The popular chief executive, President Benigno Aquino III, who won on a platform of good governance, has found his popularity slipping in the ratings as Filipinos have grown impatient over his unfulfilled promises.

And the list is long. There’s a failed agrarian reform programme, stuck in limbo since the time of his mother, the late and former President Aquino Corazon Aquino; and the problem of unresolved killings of journalists – it has been five years since the Ampatuan Massacre of November 2009. Fifty-eight people, mostly journalists died in the worst election-related violence every recorded. On Thursday, another journalist was shot dead while she was on her way to work.

And then there’s the problem of traffic, which has worsened beyond imagination: public trains bogged down in the middle of rush hour and an airport heavily congested and characterized by delayed flights and perennially long queues.

Aside from unfulfilled promises, the Philippines is also reeling from the trauma of Yolanda, the Super Typhoon that hit the country in November 2013.

At least 6,000 people died and even now, more than a year later, the province of Leyte, the hardest hit among the affected areas, is still recovering.

And then there’s the problem of poverty. No matter what the President’s men say of the country’s growing economy, many are still mired in deep poverty; you’ll see children, hungry and homeless, sleeping in Manila’s streets, and you’ll see hundreds of Filipinos leaving the country to work abroad because of the lack of gainful opportunities here.

Indeed, there are too many problems: the list is long and seemingly endless.

However, I look forward to the blessings of 2015. I hope that the unfulfilled promises will final come true; that social services will finally reach those who need it most; that corruption plaguing every province, city and town in this country will be eliminated; that justice will finally be served to human rights victims and to every victim of injustice here and finally, that the traffic problem will be resolved sooner rather than later.

May the government finally realize that long-term solutions to the problems plaguing this nation are the key to a better Philippines. 

I am keeping my fingers crossed that things will be better for this country of 100 million people. 

Happy New Year to my dear Philippines and the rest of the world! May 2015 be better for each and every one of us.