Thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of people who greeted me on Facebook, through text messages and phone calls, as well as email messages. I have never felt more remembered in my life. :)
It's scary, thinking that I am already another year older (jeez, who among us cannot remember our last birthday?) but I am sure I am pretty prepared for the next batch of challenges this year. It will be my graduating year, and (hopefully) the start of a satisfying and fulfilling career.
Looking back through my blog posts since I started this thing, I really see how much I've grown; it's a beautiful realization. My birthday wish this year is to never lose that awareness about my own life. It is only when we are aware of what we are doing when we are doing it, where and with who, and especially why, that we can truly grow as great people.
An entire day has passed, and this post will mostly be personal observations and should not be taken personally by anybody. This year's elections featured some clear winners - and when there are winners, there are definitive losers.
Winner (New) President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III Why Well for one, he is the new president of the Republic of the Philippines. He is also a clear winner because he was not as well-known as the other presidential candidates such as Manuel Villar or Joseph Estrada. Apart from being very unexperienced vis-a-vis some of his opponents, he is mostly riding on the fame of his parents, Philippine heroes Ninoy Aquino and Cory Aquino.
Loser Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar Why After having spent TONS of money from his billion-peso business empire, the tycoon saw himself a distant third in the presidential race and correctly seceded the victory to the Noynoy camp. His massive advertising campaigns and catchy songs are definitely now part of local political folklore.. as well as his rather obvious snips at the Noynoy camp which ultimately proved his downfall.
Winner (New) Vice President Jejomar "Jojo" Binay Why Apart from being mayor of Makati City (and apparently doing a good job at it), he has edged out Noynoy camp vice presidential bid Mar Roxas for the VP position; something a lot of critics believed he would not have won. Makati wins on this as well; their former mayor is now VP.
Loser Senator Mar Roxas Why He saw his President win his respective office, and he loses out. Not something to feel good about, especially losing to a city mayor. Also, he didn't lose by much; the results were showing close statistics all the way, but Jojo Binay edges him out in the end.
Winner Villainous Individuals Why Political conflicts arose all around the country as Election Day started, violence erupted in several areas (especially in hot-spots such as Mindanao), and vote-buying still stayed rampant, with voters allegedly receiving groceries and/or cash to vote for another candidate (or not vote at all), as well as armed thugs raiding polling booths in an attempt to scare honest, responsible voters away.
Loser Filipino Voters Why Apart from extreme weathers (extremely high temperatures or pouring rain), many voters could not even vote: their names disappeared from registries, processing of votes was snail-paced at best, and the automated machines (being used for the first time) were breaking down all around the country. In the end, many patriotic Filipinos were denied their right to vote for their future, all because of a lack of properly managed voting system, a novel method of voting for many, and impossibly long queues before they could actually vote. Also, instability in several districts prevented many from really voting, willingly or otherwise.
In the end, the new administration has a lot to work on. With way less than the 50 million registered voters voting, it needs to gain the trust and confidence of the Filipino people; reducing the national debt, increasing attractive employment opportunities in the country (the Philippines is suffering massive brain drain annually), revamp a struggling economy, and of course, repair the political system that has made many Filipinos discouraged, distraught, and disappointed with their own homeland.
Today is the day. The Republic of the Philippines - my motherland - will elect its new highest public servant today. Hopefully, this new president (whoever it is, but polls show that Benigno Aquino III is a clear favorite) will indeed put some truth in the title public servant.
God bless the country, the voters, and the next six years of new administration.
It's our 5th day in Davao, and we went shopping. No pictures there, but we did have an awesome traditional Davao dinner, as well as my receiving a VERY pleasant surprise..
Dinner with Julian's mum. Native chicken Stewed Goat Had a picture as well with a local celebrity - this guy, despite having no properly developed arms, was a huge hit at a local television show showcasing Filipino talent. He plays the PIANO. And he plays it well. Finally, on to my surprise. Julian's mum knows that I box (shout out to the boxers and trainers of Elorde Boxing Gym) and so she arranged a little surprise.. AUTOGRAPHED souvenir mini-glove from the Pacquiao-Clottey match, and an AUTOGRAPHED souvenir shirt. Can we all say "OMFG"? :D These two need to be framed. Haha! Signed by none other than the greatest pound-for-pound boxer there is, MANNY "PAC MAN" PACQUIAO. We're almost going home, and I've really grown fond of Davao.. Tomorrow morning, it's goodbye Davao. :( I'll miss this place.
I pointed out to Julian's dad that the word Mati literally meant 'die' or 'death' in Malay; I was surprised to know that they knew this; Bisaya (the native language) shared many words with Malay! Anyway, Mati is the southernmost developed town in the southern most group of islands of the Philippines, hence its status as a 'dead-end' - "mati". :) We went to a virgin, undeveloped beach, and also got to see the famed "Sleeping Dinosaur of Mati". A little unfortunate accident involving Julian, a beam, and a freshwater pool cut the trip quite short though, but thank goodness he was alright. Mati was about two and a half hours drive from Davao City proper.
The Sleeping Dinosaur. Taking a bathroom break: cliff-side. The awesome beaches of Mati. This was my first time to really get inside the waves (some were at least 10-15 feet high, I swear). I don't swim, but fortunately, Julian, his dad, and his cousin Rocky were all very strong swimmers, so I felt pretty safe. We only went up to about 4-5 feet deep waters, and let the waves carry us back near the shore. However, some really huge surfs caught us unaware and we tumbled all the way to the beach. FUN, above all else. :D We went to Mayo's, a freshwater pool that had a side facing the sea. There was a beam divider which Julian tried to balance on.. and, well, pictures do say a thousand words... Instead, we drank with his cousins, which wasn't all that bad of an alternate plan. :D All in all, a pretty alright fun time in Mati (where we stayed overnight) with the exception of Julian's injury. Great to have made new friends as well.
For a change of scenery, we went to Eden Nature Park about half an hour's drive from Davao City proper. Apart from bringing back precious memories of Miri's Lambir Hills National Park, Eden was a welcome break from being under the sun for almost the entire previous day.
Welcome to Eden! Amphitheater and Flower Garden. Native Village Replica. Lola's (Grandma's) Garden. Fantastic dinner at another one of Julian's restaurants. Ebi Tempura Tuna Sushi Fillet Mignon Tenderloin Tips Sukiyaki Steak Absolutely wonderful vacation, and it's only been Day 3! :D