If there is probably one Philippine president who will be best known for encouraging Filipinos that we can overcome any obstacle, that would be the late Fidel V. Ramos or FVR. The slogan, “Kaya natin ‘to!” matched with his thumbs up sign has been his trademark.
Perhaps his passing amid this challenging time of pandemic recovery is his way of reminding us that, yes, we can do it. We can overcome any obstacle if we are united as a people.
During his first address to the nation when he became president in 1992, he said that peace and security were the urgent problems, which is why one of his goals was to “attain a just, comprehensive, peaceful, and lasting resolution of the internal armed conflict that has cost the nation and our people so dearly.”
He successfully brokered peace with military rebels and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), for which he won for the Philippines the 1997 UNESCO Peace Award, the first for Asians.
During FVR’s term, the Philippines experienced a period of political stability and economic growth. He pushed for the deregulation of key industries and the liberalization of the economy. He navigated the economy during the 1997 East Asia Financial Crisis. Gross National Product averaged five percent annually. It was under his leadership that the country became known as the tiger cub economy in Asia.
He was forward looking. During his last state of the nation address (SONA), FVR was already talking 10-15 years ahead, stressing that the country’s leaders must prepare the people and the economy for the intensely competitive world of the 21st century.
In 1997, his last SONA, FVR said, “great opportunities await the intelligent, the self-disciplined, the innovative, and the daring, the young bulls, and the tiger cubs. This is what we must resolve to make our beloved Philippines these next 10-15 years.”
Even after his term, he carried on his duty as a statesman, establishing the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation, Inc. (RPDEV), whose mission mirrors the principles FVR had been promoting — people empowerment, a culture of excellence, and global competitiveness.
He also founded, together with former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke, and former Prime Minister of Japan Morihiro Hosokawa, the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), a forum for leaders in government, business and academia in Asia and other continents who are committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries even closer to their development goals. FVR was also a founding member of the Global Leadership Foundation in 2004.
Many of our present leaders look up to FVR, many recognize him as their mentor. He was a tireless leader.
With FVR’s passing, the nation is mourning, but tributes will continue flooding — honoring his legacy, remembering his great contributions to the country, cementing his place in our nation’s colorful history.
May we all be inspired by his optimism and patriotism. Even in the afterlife, we all know that FVR will continue to cheer us on, “Kaya natin ‘to!”