Monday, August 21, 2006

Governor Grace Padaca and the Isabelinos, Fairy Tale or Real?

Last May 20 to June 11, 2006, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca was in the U.S. for the International Visitor Leadership Program Study Tour or “IVLPST.” She visited Washington DC, New York City, Michigan, Colorado and Washington State. During her visit in America, Governor Padaca visited institutes and organizations which furnished her information on the following: Ethanol Processing from Corn; Coal Mining; Government and NGO programs on Persons With Disability and the Elderly; Relationship between Government and Media; and Organizations and Foundations giving grants to the needy. At the end of her study visit, Governor Grace shares her impressions:

“I admire the dignity of labor that I saw among young Americans doing part-time jobs during the summer to be able to pay their student loans. I will tell our young people in Isabela about their humility, independence and responsibility. I have told our people before and I will them again that I find many Americans gracious and pleasant. For shy, or even serious, Asians like me, I find uplifting and infectious the Americans’ natural tendency to greet others and communicate, no matter how brief or fleeting.

As a physically handicapped person, this becomes more precious to me as they are always ready to give me priority in elevators, hold doors as I pass through, and even apologize for being in the way, even if they are actually not. I wish our own people in the Philippines had better lives so that they will not always feel burdened with the daily struggle to live that they forget to smile and say hello. I wish, like most Americans, they will also be blessed with opportunities as well as imbued with responsibility so that they too will earn the reward of enjoying the fruits of their labor and be one of those who fill up planes to go on vacation, explore other places and expand their horizons.

I saw many American boys and girls traveling to distant places, one thing that most 70 or 80-year olds in the Philippines never get to do even in their whole lifetimes. If I did not become Governor, under very extraordinary circumstances, I am sure I would never be able to go beyond the boundaries of the Philippines. Having undergone the International Visitor Leadership Program is clearly beyond everything I ever dreamed of.”

Governor Grace Padaca is a different politician. She does not come from a political family. Her victory over the 40 year old Dy dynasty is almost like a fairy tale. Although people wished her to win, they were not very optimistic that she could, knowing how much golds, guns and goons her opponents owned. Recently, Governor Grace expressed concern than the Dy’s have begun campaigning. They have started speaking to the Mayors who make up the current political structure of the province headed by Governor Grace.

The 2007 elections are not far away. Surely, not only in Isabela but in every Province, City, Municipality and barrio, the wheels of traditional politics have begun to turn. Governor Grace Padaca is not a fairy tale but a true story of the triumph of good over bad, of clean over dirty, of integrity over compromise. Is this story about to end? I hope not. The story can have a part two where once again, those who believe in what is good, clean and responsible will not only watch but stand up and and fight.

The story of Governor Grace Padaca is not a fairy tale but a testimony to the possible. The possible became real in Grace because of Grace and her people. The possible, the story of a free, clean, peaceful and prosperous Philippines can become real if like Grace and the Isabelinos, we so desire, believe, fight and sacrifice for it.

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
August 21, 2006


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