One of the most difficult decisions a candidate has to make is whether or not to submit himself or herself to the will of the people. The decision to put forth oneself as a candidate requires a lot of thinking and discernment.
At some point, it comes down to two things – the overwhelming desire to do what is good for your city and the willingness to leave the outcome of the election to the Lord Almighty.
But once you are determined to do good, and leave the outcome of the election to a higher power, then the decision becomes easy.
All the hard work, the sleepless nights, the arguments and the conflicts, the challenges and the difficulties of the campaign, have led to this very moment.
Ngunit hindi po ito isang koronasyon. Hindi rin po ito isang selebrasyon ng tagumpay. Ito po ay isang pagtitipon ng mga taong may malasakit sa kanilang siudad na may hangaring ibalik ang tagumpay nito sa lahat ng aspeto at larangan.
(But this is not a coronation. This is not even a victory party. I wish to believe that this is a gathering of people whose collective sentiment should be on one thing and one thing only – how to restore greatness to our beloved city.)
Overcoming challenges is what life is all about.
Let me paraphrase Bill Clinton, there is nothing wrong in Dagupan that cannot be cured by what is right in Dagupan.
The simple formula of combining hard work, unity, selflessness, humility, and prayer is what will get us through the difficult challenges we are facing as a city and as a people.
Yes, just like any other city, we have problems that need our immediate attention. Flooding, waste management, lack of job opportunities, are just some of them.
So, as we begin our term, our idea is to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals as the framework of what we wish to accomplish in the next three years.
In particular, among the seventeen Global Goals presented by the United Nations, it is my belief that we should focus on:
1. The eradication of poverty
2. Good health and well-being
3. Quality education
4. Decent work and economic growth
5. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
6. Sustainable cities and communities
7. Life below water
8. Peace, justice, and strong institutions
As your mayor, rest assured, I will continue to learn from all of you. Any person that claims to know it all or thinks that the world revolves around him or her can never be successful because when a leader ceases to learn, he or she ceases to be a leader.
But if there is anything in the last nine years that I have seen as a public servant that gravely concerns me, it is seeing people lose hope.
When people lose hope, they stop expecting more, and they start settling for less.
They stop believing that their government can be better. They cease to believe that they can find better jobs. They cease to dream. The natural consequence of losing hope is that people start believing that nothing will, nor anyone can make a difference. Perhaps what makes it worse is when they lose hope, they do not even realize it.
When the concept of hope is lost, people become resistant to change. The smallest favors mean so much that it is very hard to convince them that things can and should be better; that they deserve better. The lack of hope stops people from investing in themselves, and who can blame them, for they have been living a life of sacrifice.
So, if there is anything I would like to change above anything in the next three years it is to give our people hope.
As Mark Manson once said: “To build and maintain hope, we need three things: a sense of control, a belief in the value of something, and a community.”
Control means that we must feel that we have some semblance of control in our own life, that we can affect our fate. Values means we find something important enough to work toward, something better, that’s worth striving for. And “community” means we are part of a group that values the same things we do and is working toward achieving those things.
Together let us continue to hope; to hope for a brighter future, to hope for blessings and miracles. As Albert Einstein once said, “there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Miracles are everywhere and all around us. All we have to do is look. From October of last year, I have personally witnessed many miracles. Some of which I wish to share with all of you.
The first miracle I witnessed was that of loyalty. Noong tayo po ay nag sumite ng ating pag kandidato noong Oktubre 16, naparakami po ng ating mga kababayan ang sumama at nagpakita ng suporta. Gusto ko pong maniwala na ang suportang ito ay konektado sa kanilang paniniwala na ang siudad natin ay nangangailangan ng pagbabago. Kung ito man ay katapatan o ang inyong pagmamahal sa aking ama na si BSL, ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa inyong tulong at suporta. Balbaleg ya salamat ed sikayon amin.
(When we filed our certificates of candidacy on October 16 of last year, I was surprised to see many people who accompanied and supported us. I would like to believe that this outpouring of support from all thirty-one villages, is based on the belief that our city needs change. Whether it was out of loyalty or affection to my father, Benjamin S. Lim, or for some other reason, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart).
The second miracle was that of unity. In 2016, giving my inaugural speech as the vice mayor, I mentioned the possibility of reviving the LiFe team in 2019. It seemed like a far-fetched idea then, but when Alfie Fernandez agreed to be my candidate for vice mayor, LiFe was indeed alive.
The outcome of the election may not exactly be what we wanted but this is when I realized that LiFe was not only meant to be a tandem of candidates – it was meant to be a tandem of creating positive change. I am proud to have had Alfie as my running mate, and I am glad that he has accepted the responsibility of helping us with the transition and for the next three years. Please put your hands together for Alfie Fernandez and his family.
In the same vein, I would also like to thank Dada Reyna, Cisco Jay Flores, Teddy Villamil, Rico Mejia, Dr. Malou Fernandez, Robert Erfe-Mejia, Nick Aquino, and their respective families for joining Team LiFe.
The third miracle is the celebration of life. When my father passed away in January, we grieved as a family. But during the wake, our family realized that people would come not to remember how he passed, but to remember how he lived. The outpouring of support gave us the strength to carry on. We continued our pursuit of bringing change to the city, knowing fully well, that someone up there is looking out for us.
The fourth miracle was that of friendship. Throughout the campaign, we knew that we were in an uphill battle, that the fight for selfless and moral leadership in our city was not going to be easy. We felt like a small band of warriors fighting an army. But for some reason, several people, who are here today, came forward and offered to help. They offered to help out of friendship, and most of all because they shared the same belief that something must change. I would like to recognize Mr. James Dy and his group, together with Mr. Jojo and Guan Guan Lo of the Guanzon Group of Companies for their support. Please give them a warm round of applause.
The fifth miracle was the power of prayer. My biggest concern was for us to have peaceful elections; that the elections would be truthful and honest, and of course, that we be given the chance to serve the people of Dagupan. All of these things happened. And the fact that it did, to me is proof of the miracle of prayer.
The sixth and final miracle is family. When I decided to be a candidate, my family did not hesitate to give their support. All the hardships that we went through the last few months, I believe, makes our family stronger. I am grateful for them, and none of this would be possible without them.
The succeeding miracles that our city needs are for all of us to work on and pray for. And I have no doubt that together we can make them happen. This is my appeal to all of you – that we are all in this together, politics should be set aside, as the time to work is upon us.
I expect professionalism and results from our colleagues in the city hall, and we must work fast, and work smart.
I say this because even before starting our term of office, I have already accepted my political mortality as an inevitability.
We are given three years to lead. We may be given six, or even nine years, but no one stays in any position forever, and it is imperative that in the time bestowed upon us to lead, we should do our best, uphold the highest ethical standards, no matter how difficult the challenges and no matter how thankless our jobs may be.
We are gathered here today because we all have a responsibility to our city.
While your government needs you, your city needs you more.
Allow me to end this with a thought from Mayor Benjamin S. Lim which I put into writing back in 2011: “Our city, is, and will always be, our shared responsibility. So, when we say that our city is our shared responsibility, I am not talking about the shared responsibility of your elected and city officials alone – I am talking about a shared responsibility by all.”
We all come and go. But the idea of Dagupan is what endures. But right here, right now, we have this great opportunity to do something for Dagupan – to do our modest part today, so that our city can be more prepared for an uncertain future.
This should be our creed – to have one voice, to have one action, to have one goal, because our destiny remains to be our choice. So let us seize this moment, to carry and pass the dream forward, and to strengthen our city once more.
Maraming salamat po, at magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.
May God bless you all, and may God bless the City of Dagupan.