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    Message at the 25th Anniversary and Social Development Celebration of CODE-NGO

    24 November 2016 Sequoia Hotel, Quezon City

    Good morning to all of you.

    Alam ninyo po pinadalhan ako ng opisina ng mahabang speech pero sabi ko hindi naman kayo iba sa akin. Galing tayo sa iisang pamilya, hanggang ngayon pag nagsasalita ako parati akong nireremind ng mga kasama ko ma’am nasa gobyerno ka na.

    All of you know that I’ve been an NGO worker for almost all my life. Had it not been for the untimely death of my husband I would not have joined government. So naging bahagi lang ako ng gobyerno noong 2013 noong ako’y kumandidato bilang kinatawan ng pangatlong distrito ng Camarines Sur. But in all the 3 years that I was member of the House of Representatives, parang hindi, once an NGO, parating ganoon ata, iyong track ng ating pag-iisip.

    Even when I was a member of Congress, parati ko pa ding tinitingnan na outsider ako sa gobyerno. Parating we want to engage, we want government to accept kasi marginalized tayo.

    Tinutulungan natin ang marginalized. Pero sa kabuuhan ng lipunan, marami pa din ang tumutulak sa atin sa laylayan.

    It has been a, I’m sure that in your 25 years, Saligan where I come from is also celebrating 22nd or 23rd year, in fact I will be in Naga on Saturday to celebrate Saligan’s anniversary.

    So alam ko ang pakiramdam na nararamdaman nating lahat. Remember iyong compassion, commitment, the desire to engage with government. Iyong, paano ba iyon sa tagalog, Bicol kasi ako mag-isip.

    Iyong parang nagpupumiglas ang ating pakiramdam na gusto nating tumulong but we are very much constrained with the limitations that we work in.

    Marami tayong frustrations na nararamdaman along the way. Of course, the inspiration to serve always outweighs the frustrations.

    Pero gusto ko lang sabihin, ramdam ko ang frustration ng bawat isa sa atin na ang dami nating gustong gawin, pero parang part of our body is really tied to so many constraints.

    But you know over the past 25 years that CODE-NGO has been here, parang hindi ininda iyong lahat ng restrictions. The fact that CODE-NGO not just survived 25 years, but were true to the mandate that it dreamt of from the very moment that it was conceptualized. This is, I think, a milestone for all of us who are part of CODE-NGO.

    Ako po, when I look back at all the years that I was an NGO worker, ako kahit tapos na siguro ang term ko as VP, alam ko na ang pinaka-best years of my life would still be the many years na I was with Saligan.

    Kasi iyon ata iyon. Iyong mas madali, I’m not saying na madali ang kinatatayuan ko ngayon alam ninyo ang hirap. Pero hindi iyon ang hirap na pinagdaanan natin. Iyong pinagdadaanan kong hirap, hirap sa politika. In comparison with all the hardships that each one of us undergo just to be able to reach out to our constituency.

    Noong panahon pong nasa Saligan ako, I remember the first year I joined in 1999, I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. Sinabak kaagad ako sa laban.

    Dahil malaki ng puwang ng isang babaeng abogado sa amin, kahit buntis ako, nandoon kaagad ako. I’ve gone through many experiences in the past, buntis na natutulog sa loob ng mga mangingisdang pinaninilbihan. Buntis na natutulog sa mga maliliit na kubo ng ating mga tinutulungang magsasaka.

    Iyong pakikibaka sa husgado na ang kinakalaban mo malalaking tao. I think iyong struggles na iyon ang mga nagcontribute sa character-building ko, kahit hindi na ako bata noong pumasok ako sa Saligan.

    I think that those are the things the strengthen you, those are the things that I think make me endure the death of my husband.

    Noong namatay ang asawa ko, sabi ko sa sarili, kung hindi ko siguro napagdaanan ang lahat ng hirap natin as an NGO worker, siguro hindi ako ganoon katatag. Pero when you’re in this advocacy, nakikita mo na mas maraming naghihirap more than you.

    Nakikita mo na kahit marami tayong pagkukulang sa buhay, blessed na tayo kumpara sa iba. So parang we are here with the mindset na wala tayong karapatang magreklamo kasi masmabuti na nga tayo kaysa nakikita natin. At it is that same realization which gives us more passion, make us endure all the hardships that NGO workers go through.

    Wala tayong pera, we make do with that is there, hindi tayo pinapansin ng gobyerno, nandoon lang tayo sa laylayan ng malalaking tao—pero andiyan pa din tayo.

    Most of the faces here are the faces which I’ve had encounters with in the past. So hindi na bago sa buhay na ito, matagal na din ang inyong pakikibaka. Pero after 25 years, nandiyan pa din kayo. Pareho pa din ang itsura ng inspirasyon na nakikita sa mga mata. And I think the book that you’re launching today says it all.

    It’s really an expression of hope. That despite all the difficulties and struggles, there is very much reason for each one of us to hope. Iyon ang role ng NGOs. Hindi nakukuntento sa kung anong nandiyan.

    Patuloy na lumalaban, naghahanap ng paraan para mas mapagaan ang paghihirap ng ating mga tinutulungan. Pero ang pagharap na iyon sa mga kahirapan, pagharap na punong-puno ng pag-asa. And I think that’s the role of each one of us as NGO workers—to provide an inspiration, to provide hope for those who have almost lost all hope.

    Kaya here’s to congratulating you for the past 25 years and here’s to moving forward to another 25 years.

    Siguro after 25 years madami nang bagong mukha. Sana nandito pa din tayo lahat, pero madami nang bago.

    Pero iyon naman ang inaasahan natin. Na hindi huminto sa atin.

    Sana over the years dumadagdag pa ng mukha, pag-asa at dumadagdag pa ang inspirasyon.

    Maraming salamat po at magandang umaga po muli.

    Posted in Speeches on Nov 24, 2016