Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who Will be Our Obama?

Perhaps the better question is, do we really need our own version of Obama - someone Filipinos can see as a transformative leader, a savior... burdened with expectations so high it would make most others dizzy?

We had one such leader before, of course, in Corazon Aquino. Talk to those who were there, especially in the giddy months of February, March and April 1986, capped by her triumphant speech in the US Congress - and the chills, tears, hopes, inspiration and dreams - not just here in the Philippines but on a global scale (as country after country will invoke her name and use people power to oust leader after leader in the late 1980s) will sound familiar.

Fast forward to today, when the hopes and dreams of EDSA have long been dashed for many (but not us - a preternaturally optimistic bunch - at CANVAS), and still we continue to look for inspiration or salvation from singular personalities.

The danger of Obama's victory for the Philippines is that many will now look to see if any in our current crop of political leaders offers similar inspiration... and we will be doomed to look in the least likely place to find one. Scan the list of likely and even probable presidentiables for 2010, and no one - absolutely no one - offers a vision of change that we can truly call, well, visionary.

And this now, is the challenge then for Juan... if we cannot find inspiration in our leaders, where will we now look?

We in CANVAS know and say that we need not look far. We only have to look within ourselves, to the people close to us and to the people we run into everyday in our everyday lives.

Obama, speaking about his recently deceased grandmother, said "She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America. They're not famous. Their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day, they work hard." Anyone could just as well have been speaking about the countless Filipinos across the country, and indeed, all over the world.

Everyday Filipino heroes are all out there... and it is in this light that CANVAS, through its Looking for Juan Program, have long been conceptualizing, and will soon launch a new major event, centered on this very theme.

Details to follow...

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