Great expectations

FROM December 1860 to August 1861, Charles Dickens published his second novel, “Great Expectations,” in the weekly periodical All the Year Round. Set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century, the novel starts in a graveyard where Pip meets the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch. The novel is filled with imagery — wealth and poverty, prison houses and chains, fights to the death and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

Great expectations have also been set up in the victory of Ferdinand Marcos, the son. His story is similar to the archetype of the son returning to clear his father's name or a character avenging something that has been lost.

Not all, but perhaps some (or many?) of the 31 million who voted for him as president are pining for the Tallano gold that has reportedly been promised to them. Marcos Jr. himself has disavowed the existence of this gold, but his words came already near the homestretch of the campaign. Posts about the so-called gold hoard had already been seen on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, and viewed by millions of people.

Not all, but perhaps some (or many?) of the millions of people who had voted for the other candidates will look at his acts and decisions through a sieve. They will vet his appointments to the Cabinet, check if he will make momentous changes to the country and compare him to his late father.

Such comparisons cannot be avoided for the son, frankly, rode on the coattails of the father. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was a brilliant lawyer, who graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law. He defended himself in the murder charge against him, reviewed for the bar while in prison and emerged as the topnotcher with a score of 92.35 percent.

His career was like a comet. He became a senator, Senate president and a candidate for president in 1965, which he won over incumbent Diosdado Macapagal. Upon assumption into office, he appointed the brightest and best: Jose Aspiras, Vicente Paterno, Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, Gerardo Sicat and Juan C. Tuvera, among others.

He also embarked on massive infrastructure and agricultural projects that changed the face of the nation. Secondary roads were built, linking them to national roads; piers linked the islands; and Masagana 99 made the country self-sufficient in rice. The presidential promises of 1965 and 1969, when Marcos Sr. ran for reelection, were generally fulfilled.

We think it is the framework by which Marcos Jr. should govern the country. Build on the infrastructure legacy of President Rodrigo Duterte, pave more roads and build more piers and provide irrigation facilities for the fields that are now at the mercy of climate change. And appoint top-rated minds with a good track record to help him manage the country's many problems.

We should all cheer the 8.3 percent gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2022 with positive growths in agriculture, forestry, fishing, industry and services.

But cold water has been thrown on our faces by the Social Weather Station survey that said 10.9 million Filipino families consider themselves poor. The self-rated survey indicates that if a typical Filipino family has five people and if the figure is rounded off to 11 million families, then there are 55 million poor Filipinos.

Reports from the United Nations Development Program and other international organizations indicate that corruption drains off 1/3 of the government's budget. This money could have been spent for social development programs — more public schools especially in far-flung areas, medicines and doctors for all health centers, subsidies for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which gives small cash subsidies monthly to poor families whose children are present 85 percent of the time in school, or with mothers who undergo prenatal and post-natal care.

Running for an election and campaigning to win are the easiest parts. Now comes the hard part — taming the great expectations all around.

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