09 July 2012

The True State of the Nation (2008)


Written last 24 July 2008 after the State of the Nation Address 
of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The true state of the nation is not in the perceived improvement of the exchange rate and the gross national product. It’s in how much food is on the table for a family of eight in a depressed urban poor area.

The true state of the nation is not in the imaginary number of classrooms built and textbooks distributed. It’s in the dampened aspirations of a child who cannot enroll in school because her parents could not afford the tuition.

The true state of the nation is not in the roads built all over the country. It’s in the nearly empty tank of expensive gasoline in a public jeepney whose driver still has a whole day ahead just to earn enough for his boundary.

The true state of the nation is not in the misleading figures of the supposed heightened employment rate. It’s in beads of sweat of a young man submitting his resume from office to office, being turned down in each one because he didn’t come from a reputable school nor finish college at all. It’s also in the mother who had to leave her children to take care of someone else’s in a foreign land. And it’s in the doctor who opted to move to another country to be a nurse.

The true state of the nation is not in the number of criminals apprehended and placed in jail. It’s in the man who had to go to prison because he couldn’t afford the services of a good lawyer.

The true state of the nation is not in the insincere promise to return land to the landless. It’s in the swollen feet of a band of farmers who marched for thousands of miles just to get their point across without fear of not being heard by a deaf government that doesn’t know the meaning of social justice.

The true state of the nation is not in the token liberties the State provides the people. It’s in the rising death toll of journalists, farmers, laborers, and activists who choose to exercise such liberties.

The true state of the nation is not in a woman who basks in the glory of her strength and power. It’s in the woman who was beaten up by her husband ten minutes ago and couldn’t fight back. And it’s in the woman who is being deprived of her rights by an oppressive Church. It’s also in the woman who has to worry, not about the state of the nation, but about how to find the money to at least buy a pack of instant noodles for her six starving children.

The true state of the nation is not in the hundreds of legislators applauding after every sentence in the President’s speech. It’s in the millions of jobless, impoverished, uneducated, and hungry Filipinos trying to survive in a system dominated by moral bankruptcy.

This Monday, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will once again deliver her State of the Nation Address. Many will be glued to their television screens to hear what she has to say. As for me, I’ve had enough. Unlike those who choose to watch in the comfort of their own homes, I’d rather be with other students, laborers, and farmers in the streets to learn first-hand from them what the true state of the nation really is.


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