Provincial Capitol of Bukidnon, June 30, 1998

I rise on this historic occasion to acknowledge the people's challenge for me to serve a third term. I am honored yet humbled by this call, for not very many will find themselves gifted with this opportunity; and I can only say that by the grace of the Almighty God I shall try to prove equal to this mandate.

Few years ago when I decided to serve, more of our provincemates thru public service, in addition to lawyering which is my profession, I know that I was entering into uncharted waters as far as I envisioned, true government service would be. Having studied politics and government service from the sidelines and as an involved private citizen, I was privy to both the man-on-the-street's view of elected leaders and the electoral process as well as the more sophisticated and the ideal. Consulting the Grolier International Encyclopedia one time I was amused and surprised at the same time informed and elated, to find in the entry for Philippines the following statements:

"Politics is a 24-hour story every day in the Philippines. The ballot box is important because the people have great faith in the election process. Election year is always an oratorical marathon, replete with campaign promises and bitter partisanship. Neither the politicians nor the government workers are highly paid and they are subjected to constant temptation by the donors of bribes or the seekers of favors. In spite of the ills and occupational hazards of the democratic form of government the young nation is fanatically devoted to its political faith. With all its creaks and groans, democracy is a vital and functioning process in the Philippines."

When I came to the last sentence, I was inspired and encouraged, for there lies the stability of our nation - the acceptance of the fact that democracy, as we have molded and refined it to our purposes, is a vital and functioning process in our country. Other Asian nations and new nations of the African continent are still finding out how best to let democracy work for them whereas we have the blessings of a lifetime not only to enjoy it, and savor it, but also to pass it on to future Filipinos as their heritage.

My first two terms as vice governor, which were my young years as a public servant, have bolstered this observation of the writer of that encyclopedia entry. Claude A. Buss of Stanford University, which he wrote in 1970. We as a people may not be as erudite in our expression of our political yearnings and aspiration for nationalism, but our hearts beat with a steadfast faith that in our government and the electoral process repose the people's hope for survival as a people and as a nation. This hope is even more relevant and meaningful as we celebrate this year one hundred years of freedom. In our understandable elation over our triumph and glory as a nation reborn, we cannot help but reaffirm our belief in the democratic way of life. We are emboldened once more and committed to utilize this process in building the next 100 years of our nation - to lay the foundations for the next generations, which will be that our children and their children.

I believe that we shall continue to strengthen the values we hold dear as we serve our people: faith in God, strong family ties, self-reliance, hard work and industry, flexibility, adaptability and creativity, to mention a few. At the same time, we shall improve on our weaknesses. It is good to recognize and accept our weaknesses which sociologists have identified in their studies: extreme family centeredness and personalism, lack of discipline, colonial mentality and what is called the crab mentality. No one and no people are perfect, and therefore we must conscientiously travel the road to perfection, as we cross the threshold to the next millennium soon. In the process, we mature as a people and we mature in our search for nationhood. It was Fr. Joseph Galdon who wrote in his column Mustard Seed: "Mature persons acquire deeper understanding of themselves and of others, have broader interests, rational attitudes, become richer and more stable personalities…, thus the mature person is mentally and emotionally free to do what is right."

In the time issue of April 1997 which highlights the most influential people in America, I was struck by the writer's emphasis on the difference in the terms influential and powerful.

The writer writes that "powerful people twist your arm, influential people just sway your thinking. Influential people have accomplished something subtle and difficult - their ideas are adopted, their examples followed, they have got others who will follow their lead."

I believe that a leader must be influential in the sense explained by the Time editor, By his very life, his very speech, his every action, his ideas and principles, he lets others accept, follow and change their lives for the better. I hope and pray that as the second leader of the province I will be courageous to do this. I can do no less. With God's help I know I can.

Bukidnon is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and nature rich provinces of our country. Visitors from Luzon and the Visayas cannot help but be awed by the bounty and the opportunities for development. It is one of my fondest dreams, which I am sure many true-blue Bukidnons share, to see our fair Bukidnon fully utilize the varied resources as well as maintain the eco-system. Development and ecological balance must go hand-in-hand or we rob future generations of their opportunity and privilege as well as their right to use these God-given resources.

It has been said that each of us in our own way have our own Profiles of Courage, to borrow the title of John F. Kennedy's book. Achievement is not confined to great feats like orbiting the moon, exploring the Poles or climbing an Everest, for achievement is for anyone who decides to do what must be done in the face of difficulties. I shall not go into these difficulties, for we are all aware of life in this increasingly complicated and competitive world. I would like to say now, that for my own profile of courage, I could not have done it without the support and assistance of many people. They also gave me full confidence for what I can do, and for this I am most grateful.

Let me close this address with the hope that we will accomplish what we plan for the good of the people thru unity and cooperation. As the saying goes - no man is an island and therefore we need one another. Together, let us defend the gains we have achieved and let us continue serving "Bukidnon my home." Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

Thank you and God bless.

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