On turning 84

Published December 26, 2020, 11:17 PM

by Former House Speaker Jose C. De Venecia Jr.

PEACE-MAKER

Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

We deeply thank God for adding another year to our life yesterday, December 26, and for granting us fair health and energy.

For some time now we feel our “batteries” slowing down, but we are not complaining. Overall, we feel good about turning 84 years old.

Looking back, we are grateful to God and the Filipino people for the opportunity to have taken part in some epochal events in our country’s history. We have known up close and worked with men and women who have shaped our country’s destiny.

We had the privilege of serving five times as speaker of the House and of initiating a few things that have become game-changers and landmarks in our country’s life.

We are most proud of our Dollar Remittance Program for Overseas Filipino workers, which now raises some $30 billion a year for the Philippines; the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, which made possible private investments in infrastructure projects and has become the formula for “Private-Public Partnerships” and a model for other developing countries; and the Bases Conversion Law, which has turned the former American military bases in Luzon – the biggest of them being Clark Airfield and Subic Naval Base, and including Baguio’s Camp John Hay and La Union’s Camp Wallace and Poro Point – into thriving economic zones and freeports. The law also converted the Filipino military camps Fort Bonifacio into the now booming Bonifacio Global City and the old Nichols Air Base into the now Resorts World, both in Metro Manila.

As our contribution in advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, understanding and cooperation in Asia and the international community, we founded the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), whichwe launched in Manila in the year 2000, which now represents some 350 ruling, opposition, and independent political parties in 52 countries in Asia; the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), based in Tehran, now composed of some 40 parliaments in Asia; and the Bangkok-based Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC).

We also initiated the Interfaith Dialogue in the UN in 2006, as a way of helping resolve politico-religious conflicts, strengthening the religious moderates, and isolating those who advocate terrorism and violent extremism in the name of religion.

During the last 64 years – in politics, business, and in life – we have known both triumph and defeat. We have experienced winning and losing to realize that neither the glow of victory nor the heartache of failure ever lasts. The warmth of love of family and friends endures much longer.

We are grateful to our family, relatives, friends, and our beloved constituents in the fourth district of Pangasinan – who are now represented in the House of Representatives by our son Christopher – for their unwavering support to us through the years, especially during the difficult moments of our life.

We hope to continue contributing our share in advancing the cause of peace and development, solidarity and cooperation, and dialogue and understanding in Asia and the international community as we consider it an honor and privilege to embrace causes larger than ourself.

Spanish philosopher George Santayana remarked that there is no cure for birth and death except to enjoy the interval.

In the meantime, may we greet all of you a Happy New Year in advance and we pray to God Almighty that the coming year will usher in a safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous world, and the beginning of the end of this frightening, deadly global pandemic.

 
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