|WITH FVR. Author Melandrew T. Velasco joins the thumbs up led by former President Fidel Ramos together with Sens. Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, former Executive Secretary Oscar Orbos, former PAGCOR president Jorge Sarmiento and Adonis Samson, an uncle of the lady senator and leading presidential aspirant. (MTVi Photo)
By Melandrew T. Velasco
It was a day of learning from a living legend who once occupied the highest post in the land and the rainy weather on that Saturday afternoon, December 19, was not enough to stop it from happening.
It was Senator Grace Poe who arrived first.
The much anticipated elevator ding that echoed through the quiet Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV) office announced her arrival. The usual salutation commenced as she shook hands with her Over-all Campaign Adviser (OCA) – former Executive Secretary and Pangasinan Gov. Oscar M. Orbos, resigned Pagcor President and COO Jorge V. Sarmiento, lawyer Bobby Lucila, her uncle Adonis Samson, and this writer. Waiting in the other conference room was forner President Fidel V. Ramos.
After several minutes into conversation, Senator Chiz Escudero arrived, whose father the late Salvador Escudero III served as FVR’s agriculture secretary from 1996-1998. Chiz just came from his home province of Sorsogon to check on his kababayans who were then badly hit by Typhoon Nona.
A few days before the meeting, FVR announced his stand at the “Pandesal Forum” in Quezon City on the disqualification cases against Poe, stating to “Let the People Decide,” on who they want to lead them. He also chided the ruling administration for its continuing “politics of exclusion and process of elimination.”
In the same forum, FVR also reiterated his wish to give the young Filipino leaders like Senators Poe and Chiz the chance to serve the country as he cited the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as among the young leaders and global political stars who are changing the course of their nation’s history, respectively.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that you are a natural born citizen,” said FVR to Poe. “Given the prevailing peace and order situation at that time, there is no stupid foreigner who would travel all the way to the Philippines—to a rustic town of Jaro, Iloilo—to place her child and leave her in front in the church.”
Addressing Senator Grace sparingly as Madam President, he told her that should she be elected President, the two would share two unique things in common in terms of geographical affiliations.
“You know we have two things in common. I am an Ilonggo by choice on account of my marriage to Madam Ming who is from Iloilo and you are native of Iloilo. And since your father, FPJ, also hailed from San Carlos City, Pangasinan, we are both Pangasinenses. You come from a revolutionary province, where the likes of local heroes Andres Malong and Juan de la Cruz Palaris were born. Stay the course, and go on with your presidential bid,” said FVR.
FVR’S WORDS OF WISDOM
The animated consultation meeting with FVR lasted for more than two hours ranging from serious topics to funny anecdotes from all parties concerned.
Poe, who once worked as a preschool teacher in the U.S., was like an ardent student in those moments with FVR as she religiously took down notes and continuously asked questions about governance and other hallmarks of the Ramos presidency.
Both candidates laid down to FVR the plans of Gobyernong May Puso for the Filipinos, should they win on May 9, 2016.
As a global statesman who is still respected by world leaders in major countries like US, China, Japan, among others, (should they be elected) both Senators Grace and Chiz requested the former President to lend his voice and expertise in nation building anchored on UST (Unity, Solidarity and Teamwork), and CSD (Caring, Sharing and Daring).
Among the items discussed in the meeting with the former President geared towards ably helping the Poe-Escudero administration are related foreign policy concerns such as West Philippine Sea, BBL, AFTA, among others that could best be articulated by PFVR.
Aside from good governance that marked his six-year administration with the landmark passage of 228 socio-economic reform bills, the two Senators vowed the regular conduct or convening of the National Security Council, LEDAC, inclusive and consultative governance, enhanced economic diplomacy as well as intensified security and defense.
On one hand, FVR and Senator Escudero were on the same page when it comes to major flagship projects and further developing the agriculture sector. Senator Escudero mentioned his plans on agricultural modernization and proper resource allocation, on building new highways and dams, and on giving more funds in constructing better farm-to-market roads so that farmers would be greatly empowered to produce and market their products.
But more than the details of the platform of Gobyernong May Puso, what stood out was the heart of their platform—and that is to empower the people by giving effective social security system and welfare for all.
And even if FVR is a living icon of people empowerment during the 1986 Revolution along with President Cory Aquino, Jaime Cardinal Sin and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, he knew that he had an unfinished mission, or an unfinished revolution of empowering every Filipino.
In the book “FVR’s Wonder of Words,” that I authored and co-published with the RPDEV in 2014, the former President has this to say about people empowerment:
“People empowerment underscores the role of individuals as stakeholders and participants, and necessitates a “bottom up” contribution through self-help and self-reliance.
“It my firm belief that empowering one individual would give that person the capacity to help or empower other people.
“Once poor people break through to sufficient levels of income, health and literacy, they could — on their own — sustain the gains of development and become productive citizens.
“It is on lifting up the lives of people of our absolutely poor but willing-to-work families where we as a nation should concentrate our scarce resources.
“This means that we must truly empower ordinary Filipinos and give each one a stake in our country’s fortunes.”
Taking inspiration from this gem of wisdom of FVR on people empowerment, Team Grace and Chiz together with their Manong OCA Orbos, are now fully supporting Project Serendipity—a noble project that shall petition the Supreme Court and call for the automatic allocation of 20% of the people’s money for HELPS (Health, Education, Livelihood, Pension, and Shelter).