Despite having an 18-hour work day already, I am still up, reeling from the momentous event that just transpired thousands of kilometers away in the current home of my parents. Barack H. Obama has just been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. He has just delivered an inaugural address that outlines the blueprint of his administration. It was a classic Obama moment- simple, eloquent, succinct, inspiring.
Unfortunately, I must admit that I hardly remember how the inaugural ceremonies of Philippine presidents go.
I do recall in 1992 an assignment given by our Social Studies teacher. Mrs. Torcuator asked us to watch the inauguration of President Fidel V. Ramos and report to class the next meeting what tradition outgoing President Corazon C. Aquino broke. The tradition: Mrs. Aquino not only met and brought Mr. Ramos to the Quirino Grandstand but she stayed for the inauguration ceremony itself.
I do recall in 1998 the brave pronouncement of President Joseph Estrada about the type of presidency Filipinos should expect- one that is free from nepotism and favoritism. We know how THAT administration ended.
I do recall that on this same day eight years ago, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath of office as President, in front of a very hopeful crowd of a younger generation, drawn to the streets in protest, expressing our nationalism, standing up against a corrupt leadership. Her face was plastered in the headlines of international broadcast networks, juxtaposed with that of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. Both were children of former presidents, assuming office in the most controversial of circumstances. Both now await history’s judgment of their lengthy, stressed stay in office…
And now, I must admit I feel excited with and for citizens of the US at the beginning of the Obama administration. Here is a guy, literally coming from nowhere, rising to the highest post in his nation, shattering the centuries old barriers of discrimination, paving the way for a sliver of hope to pierce the cloud of fear and discontent and the possibility of change to sweep the world over.
I must admit I feel, likewise, an ounce of envy. Who can and will be the “Philippine Obama”- that somehow who will draw Filipinos out of indifference, wring tears from our eyes when s/he speaks, spur us to action, inspire us to live out Scriptures’ challenge and direction that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers?
I must admit, I am excited about 2010. It can very well be the Philippines’ make or break election year.
Here is my most favorite part of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address. Replace “American” with “Filipino” or “Finn” or “Tanzanian” and this clarion call will still resonate with our collective national aspirations, challenges, and responsibilities.
What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This excerpt came from the full text of Pres. Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech available from the Associated Press as presented by Yahoo! News in http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/inauguration_obama_text
I was setting up my camera (an Olympus FE20 toy, birthday gift from my mom and pop!), ready to document a once in a lifetime event. I was stacking books and whatnot to capture via the TV President Obama’s oath of office and inaugural address. Just as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman were playing the last notes of their presentation, my batteries conked out! C’est la vie =] I guess I will just have to make sure my battery is charged for Obama’s inauguration for his second term hehe