OF TREES AND FOREST
One important lesson I have learned is that life always offers us a second chance. Even when we experience failures and setbacks, life always gives us a do-over so we can try again and succeed. This, I believe, is the real message of Easter. The Resurrection of Christ symbolizes the possibilities for renewal, and the fact, that no matter how many times we fall, we can always stand up. As the famous proverb put it, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
I have had my share of setbacks and challenges in life, but I have always managed to bounce back. I was born to a life of poverty in Tondo, Manila but God gave me a mother, who works hard, and who love her family so much, she would not allow them to go hungry. I was also given the chance to help out and dream for better things for my family.
My first business venture went kaput but I persevered. That was when I realized that giving up was never in my DNA. I refused to be paralyzed into inaction by failure. I stepped back, rethought my strategy and fought back. In politics I have had my share of debacles too. Some thought that my role in the historic impeachment of a sitting president would turn me into a political pariah, but in the elections that followed, I placed seventh with more than 11 million votes. I was also elected by my peers to become Senate President.
In 2010, I made an unsuccessful run for the Presidency. I gave it my best shot but it was not enough. Even in that debacle, I knew what I had to do. I wanted to return to my first love – entrepreneurship. And I did. That was the time when I knew what it felt like to be reborn, to be rejuvenated. I felt like a neophyte businessman again studying trends, planning with my team and launching new enterprises.
This is my wish for the country as we go to the polls next month – I hope we can use the elections, to renew our faith in each other. When I ran for the presidency, I was the victim of a vicious and malicious black propaganda campaign but when the results came out I was the first one to concede. I urged our nation to heal and support the new administration. I did that because it was the right thing to do.
I sincerely hope that after the elections, we can start the process of healing the political wounds created by a toxic campaign. Look, I am not a naive person. I know that some divisions run so deep it will take years to heal. But I hope we take little steps towards unity. Despite the animosity of the 2010 elections, I decided to work with President Noynoy Aquino through a coalition of forces during the 2013 midterm elections. There are more important things than pride and power—the interest of the country. And, I say this to people who have invested so much in the electoral campaign: politics is important, elections are significant, but they are not worth ruining your family, or friendships for. I have heard of stories of people giving up friendships, warring with family members over the candidates they support. Candidates come and go but family will always be there, through the ups and downs.
It is my hope that after the elections, we can at least set aside our differences, so we can work together to address the real critical issues the country needs to grapple with – rebuilding our economy in the face of this continuing pandemic and global uncertainties. Let us focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us. Let us not forget why Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross – He carried the burden of all our sins, so that those transgressions may be forgiven. God does not demand that we get crucified, only that we open our hearts to reconciliation.
Happy Easter everyone!