Last Sunday, our “Dream Big Philippines” ad campaign came out in the major dailies. It quoted PGMA’s dream: “Believe that our dream of winning over poverty will happen – and the first step towards it is through an attitude change in all of us. As I end my term as President of the Republic of the Philippines in 2010, it is my wish to see the seeds of hope planted in all of you. Pursue your dreams and love your country. I am happy to say that it is happening”.

While she has not answered the questions that have been repeatedly asked (like what are her plans in 2010), this quote clearly states her intention of ending her term as President. The idea of her running as congresswoman of her own hometown sounds ridiculous. After taking on the highest position in the country for many years, why move down? It is just like a demotion in the private sector. No one would do that.

If we look back at her history, she finished her AB Economics as Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College, as she also took the same degree in Georgetown University. Then, she pursued a Master’s degree at the Ateneo de Manila University and a Doctorate degree from the University of the Philippines. From being a former professor of economics, GMA then served as assistant secretary and undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. She served as senator from 1992 to 1998, then, she was elected to Vice Presidency, under President Joseph Estrada. After Erap was charged of corruption and after the EDSA Revolution of 2001, GMA was sworn into presidency amidst the demonstrating crowd. In the 2004 elections, she ran against prominent contenders. She won by a margin against her closest presidential rival back then, Fernando Poe Jr. We can also say that she has weathered some of the greatest challenges that can threaten the most powerful position in the country.

We all have our destinies. Those running for the highest position in 2010 will do everything they can to win. But, I do hope that in doing so, they clearly present their platforms and visions on how to make the Philippines a great nation. This would be more constructive than taking on every issue possible about this government just to rate and make it to the front page.

PGMA has about ten months left, and time does fly so fast. While her ratings do not reflect her earnest efforts in helping this country, the amount of time she pours in working almost takes 24/7. Sometimes, one would wonder where she gets this energy.

At times, no matter how much you want it, if it is not meant for you it won’t happen. Needless to say, one should strive hard to achieve success. This is why all of us should have dreams, no matter how ambitious these dreams may be. In the end, we all have our destinies.

Last Thursday, 10 of the 33 finalists of The Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) were chosen as the “best of the best”. As I went over their interview, it was very clear that all of them faced a lot of challenges while going through school and going through life. This is part of character and attitude formation. Many of their parents struggled to put their children through school. But, in a way, this is a blessing because it has given them the drive and will to succeed in life. They have been blessed with the right attitude. More than the textbooks they read, the experiences we have in life make us better people.

I am sure that many of the TOSP finalists did not think they would make it to the national finals, and even more so with the chosen 10. Parts of their destinies are being fulfilled. They did not aim for the award. They worked hard and did what they can as students to excel. Award and recognition just followed.

The same is true for those running for presidency. It is the earnest effort that they have brought to the table as a senator, governor, or mayor. It is about how much service they have done. In the end, if it is meant for you, it will happen.

Let me share with you inspiring thoughts and stories from the chosen Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. Years from now, these will be the people who have fulfilled their own destinies…

Paul John Gesta is the eldest of five children. He was raised by a single mother. Even so, he finished school with a remarkable record. He wishes to help the less privileged Filipinos by starting from the grassroots level. (BSC Management, the University of Cebu)

Miguel Antonio Garcia is a student with the Go Negosyo attitude – optimistic, enterprising and aiming to put first the development of micro and small entrepreneurs in the country. He wishes to use his strength in research to drive this country forward through entrepreneurship. (AB Economics, University of San Carlos)

Stacy Alcantara believes that community service is all about offering solutions to recurring problems in society. She believes that it can lead to a country that is in a better condition than how it is now. (AB Mass Communication, Siliman University)

Nicole Villarojo is firm in saying that “there’s no point in complaining”. She is an active advocate of biodrive projects, environmentalism and medical missions. (BSC Marketing Management & AB Economics, De La Salle University)

Carlos Gerogalin Jr. worked as a Sakada or a sugarcane plantation worker while growing up. He weathered this job with his mother just to go through school. Now, he aims to help not just his family but his whole community as well. (BSEd Math, West Negros University)

Adrian Mundin strongly wants to push for community development. Through his background in business, he would like to focus on growing communities through Corporate Social Responsibility. (BS Management Engineering, Ateneo De Manila University)

Aidel Belamide’s words can stand on their own: “Ang Pilipino ay mayaman sa kapit ng paniniwala. Buhay ang paniniwala natin sa pagbangon ng ating bansa, ngunit may kakulangan tayo sa pag-unawa sa konsepto ng pagkakaisa ng ating sarili at ng ating lipunan.” (BA Communication Arts, University of the Philippines Los Baños)

Ann Crusit is a very proud daughter of a carpenter, with very deeply-rooted family values. She believes that even in being poor, a person can do something for his own country. (BSEd in Physical Science, University of Northern Philippines)

Roger Flores believes in the strength of nation-building. He aims to educate cadets that nation-building is not just about holding guns, but it is also about holding the tools to help build your country. (BS Naval Science, Philippine Military Academy)

Stephen Baltazar dreams of becoming the next President of the Philippines one day. A devoted student leader, he firmly believes that there is still hope for our country. (BS Accountancy, University of San Carlos).