FVR’s leadership

I would learn that FVR’s main priority was globalization and to make the Philippines world-class for us to no longer be the sick man of Asia. I admired his positive attitude and would always listen to his speeches at foreign conferences and visits on our television set.

August 4, 2022

In 1992, I knew nothing about our country and society, except that it is the place we live in. I also knew that a retired general took over the Presidency from Corazon Aquino, who was described on media as our ‘Inang Bayan’. At that time, my family was used to recurring brownouts, so we had several board games ready to be played beside candle lights and our rechargeable lamps, like Monopoly and Cluedo.

I began to know about Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) when my family would talk about him more often. My father entered government service in the regulatory office of MWSS and one of the perks was having an office staff house in the newly abandoned Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) where we would spend a weekend once a month. My father and his co-workers would take turns in using the staff house on weekends. My frequent visits to Subic allowed me to see progress and discipline before my very eyes.

I also learned about public transportation and engineering during the FVR administration. Both the Skyway and the MRT-3 began construction in the middle of his Presidency in 1996. During family trips down south, I recall seeing the girders along SLEX in the Bicutan area arranged on a straight line, to be later moved a quarter around, then later bridge segments would be placed on top of them, with minimal disruption to traffic. I remember FVR highlighting the importance of engineering, particularly the technology brought in by Indonesians.

Seeing the MRT-3 construction begins drove me to curiosity about what Metro Manila will look like in the next decades. I remember the iconic Makati City, after the Guadalupe bridge, being demolished to give way to the construction of the MRT-3. I thought to myself, how can a structure so important be ridden off to give way for an elevated railway?

I understood these better the more I read the newspapers during that time. I would learn that FVR’s main priority was globalization and to make the Philippines world-class for us to no longer be the sick man of Asia. I admired his positive attitude and would always listen to his speeches at foreign conferences and visits on our television set. I would also remember how we progressed from having six channels to over a hundred thanks to the entry of cable channels.

That six years of my young life made an impact on me and my view of politics, governance, and the economy. It opened my mind to something beyond the Philippines so that on my first trips domestically to Mindanao and Visayas, and abroad to Hong Kong, during that period, I appreciated it better since our President has given context and color to my perspective. I may have been too young still to work or to meet FVR as President, but he touched my life just as much as those close to him.

Now in 2022, I have a daughter who was my age when FVR was elected President in 1992. Together with my son, who is younger by a few years, they will be learning about the Philippines under the leadership of President Bongbong Marcos Jr. I will be guiding them in their early lives, but there may be things beyond our control, such as the recurring brownouts we experienced in my youth. Then again, I will make sure that they learn board games like Monopoly and Cluedo, so I can tell them about how we played these by the candlelight in the 90s.

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