April 29 passed by without incident here in my blog. But now that I’m making up for lost time, let me tip my hat very briefly to US President Barack Obama.
I remain an observer. I’ve always been. No contemporary historical figure has captivated and inspired me quite like Barack Obama. Looking at how he has managed his presidency thus far, I see that he brings a much needed intelligence and pragmatism to his job just as I’ve always believed he would. The extent of the change he brings to American life has yet to be seen, but his global impact has already been profound.
I can’t believe that it’s been more than two years since I first read Audacity of Hope and I kept track of his candidacy ever since. I’ve written a lot about him too for he has changed the way I see myself and the way I can impact the world. I’d like to share my favorite entries as a tribute for these first 100 days.
My endorsement of Barack Obama hinges entirely on the message he carries and what he represents. In a climate of fear, he has the audacity of hope and the winds of change behind him. Casting my theoretical vote is my way of saying that I too am hungry for change. I too would want a Barack Obama figure for the Philippines.
We need somebody who can rally us to say, “Yes, we can.”
Roll the Manila clocks back twelve hours at the time of this writing and what you get is the opening of the November 4 polls in the United States. Twelve hours later, Manila time, we get our first glimpse of the next President of the United States. On this momentous day, allow me to repeat my case for Barack Obama, but on a level I haven’t really written on in quite a while. I’ve always echoed his chorus of hope; but Obama is no messiah. He is a man, with weaknesses and limitations but also with clear strengths and talents. For the last time and for the first time, allow me to address that central question — Why should Barack Obama matter to a Filipino such as I?
I do not see Barack Obama as an African-American. The son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, he was raised by his grandparents in the islands of Hawaii and moved on to Indonesia where he was joined by a half-sister of Indonesian and American descent. He often says that his family reunions span at least three continents; it is no surprise therefore that when he became President-elect on November 4th, Kenya declared a holiday the next day. His political identity goes beyond his race, and it is this that makes him such a compelling figure.
Barack Obama’s speech made me feel heavy — not in the sense of being burdened, but in the knowledge that the time for taking the easy way out is over. This is a new era of responsibility. This is the age when we, as a global community, redefine what citizenship means.
I have an article to be published soon in Planet Philippines that brings home all this talk of change and hope. A lot can be said of all the moral movements rising at the fringes of Philippine politics — Kaya Natin!, Ang Kapatiran Party, Moral Force. They all trade hope. Though a Chinese poet once said of hope — it is “dream’s friend and illusion’s sister.”
Looking at these movements and even at Obama’s first 100 days, have we traded on dreams and illusions too?