The kind of love Filipinos deserve

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Last weekend, I’ve been seeing a lot of stalls sprouting up and stores setting up display stands to sell flowers. I really wondered why and then I suddenly realized that this coming Thursday, the whole world will be celebrating the day of hearts. Months and days have gone by so fast as I went around the country that I almost forgot about Valentine’s Day. I quickly made a mental note to make sure that I buy flowers for my wife.

“In the years that I’ve worked with President Rodrigo Duterte, he showed me love that provides.

Some people say love is overrated and others think love is complicated but, with all of my experience throughout the years of living, I think love is just simple.

Love comes in many forms and I am truly thankful to be surrounded by people who showed and made me feel what love is and should be. My mother and father showed me the kind of love that is unconditional. My wife and kids showed me love that stays when even in the darkest and hardest times they will stand beside me. My friends showed me love that supports. Most importantly, in the years that I’ve worked with President Rodrigo Duterte, he showed me love that provides.

Of course, I reciprocate these kinds of love to the people close and dear to me but the love that provides is a different one. You don’t reciprocate it; you pay it forward.

As an assistant of mayor Rody for more than two decades, I’ve seen him working to the point of exhaustion for his fellow Filipinos. Every sweat, blood and tear he shed has been devoted solely to the welfare of the people who depended on him.

This kind of love is sometimes cruel, yet it is always fulfilling. It is cruel in a sense that it does not guarantee that it would give people happiness or satisfaction all the time. But it is fulfilling because your heart is certain that you not only did everything you can, but have also given a piece of yourself to them.

I’ve seen it even more now that he is President. He is working day and night for the benefit of all Filipinos yet the opposition still criticize him and his administration despite all of the good things that we are experiencing today. Sometimes I wonder whether this kind of love is worth it. But whenever I see the many happy faces, the safer streets and the stronger economy because of the programs of the government, my answer would be a resounding “yes.” It is worth it because for some people like me, I am called upon this kind of duty.

During my time as Special Assistant to the President, we observed that most Filipinos, especially the poor, have difficulty accessing healthcare. It is then that, upon the President’s directive, I spearheaded the creation of the Malasakit Center that now serves many Filipinos nationwide. The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where patients or their families can ask for help from different government agencies that provide medical assistance.

Even if I had stepped down from my post as special assistant, I made sure that Malasakit Centers will continue to be established. Hopefully, this center would be institutionalized so that the program would continue regardless of the administration.

To be honest, I am sometimes disturbed by some critics throwing shade at what I do. My initiatives are for the betterment of the health of this nation and not for my own personal interests. The same also goes with the rest of my legislative agenda.

A love that provides and one that does not expect any reward is the kind of love that Filipinos deserve. I may no longer be in the government right now, but I will continue to serve the Filipino people. I serve because I am sure that what I’m doing does not just fulfil my heart, it also fulfils my vision for a much better Philippines.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Blast from the past: On 11 February 1861, playwright, writer and dramatist Severino Reyes was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

He was famous for writing Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang, a series of tales told by Lola Basyang, who gets her stories from books coming from a seemingly enchanted baul, a kind of chest or trunk. The stories appeared in Liwayway, a Tagalog weekly magazine, which he also co-founded. Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang eventually became the most-widely read feature of the magazine.

Reyes also wrote several dramas and zarzuelas throughout his career and was regarded as the Father of Tagalog Plays and as the Father of Tagalog Zarzuela. One of the most famous and cited works he wrote was the zarzuela Walang Sugat which tackled the bravery and dedication of Katipuneros during the later years of the Spanish occupation.

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