A few months ago, I recalled completing a DIY Philippine travel map to assess the extent of my travels throughout the country over the course of my life. This website, created by software engineer Denz Del Villar, enables users to visualize the various places they have explored, lived in, or spent time within the nation.
When I saw my map, I felt a sense of sadness wash over me. I realized I barely have the opportunity to travel extensively—partly due to my academic and extracurricular commitments, primarily because of financial constraints. Regrettably, I lack the means to travel, unlike many of my peers who can freely enjoy air travel and explore various destinations during the holidays.
As I strive to surmount these challenges by excelling in my studies, with the hope of securing a high-paying career, I've come to a sobering realization that life, in its entirety, presents an inherent unfairness. And to add insult to injury, I find myself grappling with the most incompetent presidency in recent memory.
Photo by Kriz John Rosales/Philippine Star
If there are two things that truly capture the Filipino hearts, it’s nostalgia and championing the underdog. All thanks to the prevalence of disinformation on social media, Bongbong Marcos Jr. didn’t have to work hard and put in much effort. Well, frankly, he never worked and struggled all his life.
Whether or not it’s true that he may not possess the gift of eloquence, akin to not having the height to compete in FIBA, he definitely has the most travels right in front of our eyes. Bongbong is quite the globe-trotter, frequently embarking on international trips.
It seems like the President, as ambitious and carefree as ever, dreams of overtaking Taylor Swift in the category of most tours.
State visits are important to strengthen ties with other nations. In his first year in office, Bongbong has embarked on 13 overseas trips such as in Indonesia, the United States of America, and Japan. Of which, the country received a pledge of at least Php 3.3 trillion worth of investments. The plans would have been executed regardless of his presence.
Observers contend that many of the commitments made during state visits are often customary courtesies extended by the host country. For example, consider the Chinese pledge made during former President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to the mainland.
Furthermore, a good president doesn’t need an excessive entourage to do so. Back in 2022, Sandro Marcos was included in some of his foreign trips despite being a congressman in Ilocos Norte. Instead of an ambassador or any government official, Irene Marcos attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth in London.
As a Formula One enthusiast who has yet to experience the thrill of watching races live, one thing I'll always remember is Marcos Jr.'s consistent trips to Singapore every Singapore Grand Prix. There, I figured out the President can be committed, but not for the nation's interests.
His supporters may resort to name-calling and accuse me of jealousy, but the undeniable truth persists. It's perplexing how Marcos Jr., despite his inability to serve, continues to indulge in luxuries funded by the taxes of the Filipino people.
After the May 2022 presidential elections, I wish I didn't know that everything would soon fall apart. Inflation is higher than ever, and I can't help but hear the disappointment in the voices of the lolos and lolas every time I buy fruits and vegetables with my mother at the local market.
Budget cuts, deeply
Photo by Michael Varcas/Philstar
Five years ago, a thousand pesos could fill the average Filipino's grocery basket. Today, that same amount would not even be enough to buy the basics. Bongbong Marcos’ promise of twenty-peso rice remained unfulfilled, as the reality painted a starkly different picture—an astonishing twenty-peso surge in rice prices, a golden age for rice, a bitter testament to the struggles endured by the people.
With inflation driving up the prices of basic goods, it feels like a game of bingo to guess which sustenance will make Filipino consumers cry next. Surely, Kadiwa stores exist which, by the way, are subsidized by the government.
But consequently, in the midst of soaring prices, the Marcos administration’s audacious pursuit of billions in confidential and intelligence funds sharply contradicts the backdrop of massive budget cuts Filipino families and government institutions are facing.
Despite a staggering three million drop in the number of enrolled this academic year, the Department of Education budget faces severe slashes. Specialty hospitals like the Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Children's Medical Center will suffer the most because of the planned P10 billion budget cut for the Department of Health.
We find ourselves in the throes of a multifaceted crisis left and right, and it seems that the future is poised to deliver a devastating blow to the most marginalized Filipinos. While some struggle to put food on the table, it’s a different narrative for the one seated in power.
It’s infuriating to commit to years of all-nighters and tears just to earn a college diploma, only to witness the highest authority of the country reveling in a life of unbridled luxury, built on corruption and injustice.
An unfinished business
Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales/The New York Times
Bongbong Marcos has made grand promises of the golden era's second coming, a notion that defies all rational thinking. Despite being a nepo baby, he pales in comparison to his father. Marcos Sr. held the archipelago in the grip of Martial Law for 14 years, but he possessed undeniable intelligence and was, to say the least, a charismatic orator. Of course, that doesn’t defend the latter’s human rights abuses.
The Marcoses have maintained their grip on power in Ilocos Norte for over half a century, yet the province remains to languish as a 4th-class entity, not having progressed significantly during their extended rule. Looking at this without wearing rose-tinted glasses, we’re getting robbed of a beautiful future.
It's been more than a year since the elections took place. In its wake, there was a glimmer of hope, a small beacon of light against the darkness that envelopes us. On the horizon, we still have five more SONAs to witness, more travels to anticipate, and sadly, more instances of malfeasance to contend with.
Perhaps, it's the result of Imelda Marcos and her ambitious dream of seeing her sole son ascend to the presidency of the Republic. The Marcoses’ unfinished business, now being played out in Malacañang, is becoming increasingly evident.
As this unfolds before us, we’re left with just two choices within reach: to passively witness a bitter conclusion, or to proactively shape our own ending.