Badge of honor


Former Senate President
Manny Villar

Andres Bonifacio was born 159 years ago on the 30th of November 1863. That was a long time ago and the circumstances were radically different. But somehow Bonifacio’s thoughts and writings still remain true today. Let us celebrate Bonifacio Day by reflecting on some of his words. I have learned in life that the answers to the many deep questions we have can be found in the past.

In the “Dekalogo” (Duties of the Sons of the People), the Supremo laid out his basic philosophy in life and those who wish to serve God, country and people. One of the things that stood out for me was this precept — “Ikintal mo sa puso na ang tunay na karangalan at kaligayahan ay natatamo sa iyong pagkamatay sa pakikilaban sa ngalan ng iyong bayan.” It is always so beautiful in Pilipino rather than in English but here is the rough translation — “Engrave in your heart that the true measure of honor and happiness is to die for the freedom of your country.” See what I mean? “Engrave” is so mechanical, lifeless. “Ikintal” on the other hand almost feels like the thought is actually being physically etched in your heart and mind.

At any rate, I like this philosophy because it was also one of the many things my mother taught me when I was still a young boy. My mother, God bless her soul, would use every opportunity to dish out a lesson in life. My young and restless mind would not always absorb it but this one stuck with me. She told me, “Never seek out recognition, work harder than everyone else, persevere and the recognition will follow.” That is what I carried in my heart and my mind all through my life, in whatever I do — “sipag at tiyaga” then success and honor will follow.

When I decided to leave the life of an employee to become a full-time entrepreneur it was never because I wanted more money. It was because becoming an entrepreneur was what I truly loved and that I thought I had a good idea that I can turn into something that will help people. Having been exposed to the life of building and running our small fish and shrimp business, I have always wanted to do that the rest of my life. That is also the advice I give to those who are thinking of leaving their work and starting their own enterprise — do not do it for the money or the accolades. Do it because you love it and you have something to offer.

When I decided to run for public office in 1992 it was never because I wanted the honor and power associated with political life. I truly wanted to serve and I thought that my experience in business would allow me to offer solutions to the problems of the country. I would like to think that I accomplished that in the 21 years I served our country.

These thoughts were running through my mind when I received the “Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun” from the Japanese government represented by His Excellency Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa. It was a recognition that I did not seek out and it was the most prestigious Japanese decoration for foreign nationals. But I was very thankful and honored to be recognized.

During the ceremonies held in Malacañang Palace, I expressed my sincerest gratitude to His Majesty Emperor Naruhito, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Ambassador Koshikawa, and the people of Japan for the eminent commendation. I also thanked President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., our guest of honor, who joined me and my family on this special occasion. It was a happy occasion especially because my family was all there — my wife Cynthia, and my children, Mark, Camille, and, Paolo.

I wished my mother was still alive to witness the event but I can almost hear Nanay Curing from heaven saying “I told you so Boy, sipag at tiyaga, and the honor will follow.”

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