Elections began last week when the COMELEC opened its doors so candidates can file their Certificates of Candidacy, enabling their names to be on the ballot. A report by Rappler’s Paterno Esmaquel II noted that those who filed for candidacy to run as president broke records, standing at 130.
UPDATE: The candidates were eventually whittled down to five.
According to the candidates, they all want to serve the country. They’re all putting forth promises. They’re all heralding themselves as hope for the nation.
But hope, as I’ve discovered, can rarely (if ever) come from a person or circumstance.
When I moved back to the Philippines in April 2014, I admitted to myself that I no longer had hope for her. In fact, I wanted to get out of the country the evening I returned (my flight arrived in the morning). When you see the same old problems, you hear the same old stories, you read the same old last names running the country, and you feel the same old sentiments, you get tired. It’s hopeless – I’ve iterated in my mind. I know – it’s a terrible thought.
But a little over 10 months since moving back, I flew to Israel to be with my parents. I stayed in the country for a total of 42 days and loved every minute of it. I was immersed in the daily life sans the conflict. I saw the sights. I prayed at The Western Wall and saw the Temple Mount. I also met the church leaders my parents have trained and sat in sessions where Papa and Mama taught or preached. It was all in all, an incredible experience.
But the biggest takeaway from the trip was a transformed mindset – not about Israel, Palestine, Jews, Arabs, or the Middle East, but about my own country sitting thousands of miles away from where I was. A speaking engagement that required me to ponder what to teach led me to a much-needed realization.
I was hopeless for my nation because I was trying to look for hope in the wrong places. I was gazing on the external realities, neglecting the fact that hope does not come from circumstances, but from a personal decision. As a Christian, we were taught in the Bible that our “hope comes from him,” him being God. This means that I can be hopeful by choice; I can be filled with hope by asking for it.
Our very existence justifies the possibility to find or have hope. Until the world is rotating around the sun the way it should, and there’s still a Filipino breathing and alive– there is hope. Why? It is because hope comes from nowhere but us. And for believers like me, from God Himself. Its basic requirement is that you still exist.
“To want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true,” is the definition of hope by Merriam-Webster. In the same dictionary, it notes that it is a “desire accompanied by anticipation or expectation.” If you want to have hope, you must decide to be hopeful.
This means that in spite of all the bickering and mudslinging during election season…
Despite the fact that millions of Filipinos are underemployed and in poverty…
Though there are tragedies, both man-made and natural, that have occurred in our land…
There is hope.
Because hope is a decision. If you believe in God, you can ask hope from Him. Hope can emanate from your being and character and it can be a positive and life-giving contagion for others.
Stephen Hawking, the legendary physicist whose debilitating illness did not hinder him from doing groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology said:
“However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope.”
In our context: Though we fear what the future of the Philippines may hold, as long as we’re still here, breathing and alive, there is hope. There is hope that we will see our country’s potential realized. There is hope that we will accomplish whatever it is we’re destined to attain, as a people, as a nation.