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Sa panahon ni Pareng Barack, My sons in the era of Obama

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SAN FRANCISCO — Four years ago, my eldest son and I stood with hundreds of people in a crowded ballroom in downtown Oakland where everyone broke into cheers as TV monitors announced that Barack Obama had just been elected president.

We were black, white, Asian, Latino, young and old. Some were in tears.

While people around us celebrated, my son playfully bounced a balloon on his hand. Seeing the boy, a young African American smiled and said to me, “Any way to celebrate.”

We both laughed.

My son was then only nine. He probably didn’t understand completely what was going on.

But that night, he became one of the children of the era of Obama.

Last night, when it became clear that he had won a second term, I gave my other son, who is 7, a hug. He probably also didn’t understand what his Nanay and I were so happy about.

But we were truly happy. The era of Obama just got extended another four years.

***

Ito ang isang importanteng aral na matagal ko nang alam: Hindi dapat tinitingala bilang Diyos o santo o superhero ang sinumang pinuno.

Ilang ulit na ‘tong pinatunayan sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas at ng Estados Unidos. At napatunanayan ‘to sa pamumuno ni Barack Obama.

Laking tuwa naming mag-asawa na nanalo siya noong 2008.

Pero kahit kailan, di kami nagkaroon ng ilusyon na magkakaroon ng milagro, ng himala.

Na biglang magbabalik ang kasaganaang nakita namin noong Dekada ‘90.

Na biglang malulutas ang mga problema sa pera ng mga public schools ng mga anak namin.

Na biglang magtatapos ang kahirapan.

Na biglang maglalaho ang rasismo at diskriminasyon.

Malayo pa ang lalakbayin.

***

This is how I hope my sons would someday remember growing up during the Obama years.

‘Boy, those were tough years. Many people didn’t have jobs. Some of them were Tatay and Nanay’s friends.

‘They liked the president, even though there were things Tatay didn’t like especially during the first term …

‘He thought the president could have been tougher on the people who caused the crisis. Tatay felt he could have pushed harder and sooner on immigration reform.

‘And the drone strikes and the tough foreign policy talk – Tatay hated it. He was disappointed. ‘He grew up in Suharto’s Indonesia and protested American support for the apartheid regime,’ he would say. ‘The president should know better.’

‘Still, he and Nanay were proud to have been part of the America that elected its first African American president. They’re immigrants and well, they were into all that that multi-ethnic and diversity stuff. …

‘But it was not just that…

‘Tatay and Nanay liked Obama for helping fix the health care system by making it accessible to more people, especially the poor. Nanay was a nurse so that was important to her.

‘In fact, Obamacare was actually good for me and my brother. Good thing we didn’t need it after finishing school and starting our careers. But if we did we didn’t need to worry about health insurance. Nanay and Tatay could cover us until we were 26.

‘Like many other parents, Tatay and Nanay were big on education. They planned for it and saved for it. They pushed us to do well. And they got much help from the programs Barack started.

‘Those investments in grants and loans and new research programs and scholarships – they sure made a difference.

‘Times are still tough. Nanay and Tatay never get tired of reminding us of that. But we pulled together and moved forward during the time of Obama…’

***

My youngest son told us one day last week that one of his classmates warned against voting for Obama.

Why? my wife and I asked.

“Because he wants to allow boys to marry boys, and girls to marry girls,” he answered.

My wife and I looked at each other and smiled.

Nothing wrong with that, we told him. We supported the president’s endorsement of gay marriage. Now, others may disagree, we said. But that’s okay.

I was going to elaborate. But we left it at that. An early lesson in democracy.

***

In fact, Barack’s support for gay rights is also a lesson – in not relying on a leader for change.

As gay rights leader John Aravosis told the Huffington Post, “In the end what he did was huge. We had to push extremely hard, and I didn’t enjoy that, but in the end we got more than enough for me to support the man for reelection.”

Another activist, Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice, put it best, in the same Huffington Post article last week.

“Obama is not going to be the hero,” Aron, who is with the Alliance For Justice, said. “If work needs to be done, we need to do it. We need to be the heroes in our story.”

***

There are no guarantees. We know that by now. But last night, when Obama won again, we were able to look to the future with a bit more hope and courage.

I felt so good about what was ahead I wrote this Facebook update:

We don’t agree with the drone strikes and the international chest-thumping.
We think you should have been tougher on the people who caused the economic collapse.
We think you should have moved sooner on immigration reform.
You have not been a perfect leader.
But you have helped us move forward.
We thank you for reforming the health care system
… for moving to fix our educational system
… for being a steady and strong leader
… for affirming the rights of gays and lesbians
… for building on your experiences as a community organizer who gave up a prosperous career on Wall Street to serve the poor and blaze a new trail for the country.
There’s still so much work that needs to be done…
I’m happy that my children will continue to grow up in the era of Obama!

On Twitter @Boying Pimentel. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjamin.pimentel


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  • parengtony

    mabuti sana kung mag elaborate ka ng kaunti, kabayan.

  • Expatnyc

    bart0001….

    I agree with you… but your last statement re: Mitt Romney is erroneous… Mitt Romney”s grandfather, who is a Mormon, escaped to Mexico to practice polygamy; he had at least 5 wives in fact, Mitt still has relatives living in Mexico;

    Mitt’s father re-entered to the US and got married here… yes, you are right according to some records that Mitt’s father indeed received government assistance when he came back to the US which he then used when he started with the auto industry and then ran as Governor of Michigan….

  • Expatnyc

    Pareko….

    I’m assuming that you are living here in the states but anyway, I have s short story to tell you about immigration specially those coming from the Philippines…

    Let’s say a Pinoy immigrates to the US… lived here and applied for Permanent residency  aka Green Card… that person then can have the option to petition a relative – Parent/s and spouses are given priority… let’s say his/her mother gets approved, then he or she can come over to the US to join the family member who petitioned them… now if the parent is let’s say 50 yrs. old… he/she needs to get employed ASAP because their Social Security benefit has a correlation to the amount he/she will receive when he/she retires at the age of 65 or 70… Now depending on how much he/she is earning also determines the amount of money deducted from the salary… good if he/she earns a lot of money; and bad when he/she doesn’t.

    Many older Filipinos fall into this trap because most of them could only gain low wage employment…. so when they retire and without any investment retirement accounts will be receiving probably about $500.00 / month… so what the government did to provide safety net for the elderly, they will receive additional Supplemental Income from Social Security, plus Medicare and Medicaid for Nursing Homes when no one could take care of them any more and food stamps….

    I’ve worked with some filipinos who’ve fallen into this situation… so what I am asking before concluding that most people want hand outs… is to become compassionate…. these safety nets are placed to catch many who have fallen into the cracks… many of them are our kababayans…

    • jurbinsky77

      Try to visit Houston.

    • Pareko

       Expatnyc, I said most but not all wants handouts, I used to worked at the state government and I know that we cater people who are here in the states that before they come here, the sponsors supposedly signed an affedivit of supports that the petitioned person will not be a burden to the government, and yet time and again they are entered into the welfare program. You know what? we should remember Pres. Kennedy’s speach “Ask not your country can do you, Ask what you can do for your country”. I know a lot of senior citizens who are productive this country, but I also know a lot of not senior who are milking the government programs.

  • Expatnyc

    Also, the right wingers have been harping about “wealth redistribution” ignoring the fact that billions of dollars are distributed as “CORPORATE WELFARE” aka corporate subsidies like those in the Oil and Energy Sector, Farm  Subsidies, financial loopholes, Military Complex Industries compared to money given to SOCIAL WELFARE like Education, Pell Grants, Housing, Medicaid… I did not include Social Security and Medicare because we paid into the program as Payroll Taxes….

    Blue States mostly concentrated on both coast and the Industrial Belt gives more revenues to the federal government… and most Red States mostly located in the South are takers… which is so ironical specially when they whine about wealth redistribution and I’m talking about the biggest state in the US in term of land size > TEXAS!

  • jurbinsky77

    Was it Obama who `:ended“ racism. The blacks are now the racist bunch and they feel that they have the right to enjoy life at the expense of the working men and women.

    So many delusional dudes….

  • http://twitter.com/Umbokpitaw Doodz

    Ang alam ko panalo si OBAMA..4 more year !! AND this is the reality we have to face. There are many who Believed and want to move Forward even in a snail pace…Than going back to the old system of corporate greed…The heaven will not open and the angels to comedown to make the GOPs and Dems to unite..OBAMA is facing a tough fight against Special Interests.
    Corporate America has Trillions to lobby for their self interest..While the working class is just…number ka lang sa spread sheets ng Corporate managers, in their projected profits, Consumers lang tayo…

  • Manuel Gracia

    I am happy that Obama won. Whites like Trump, Limbaugh, Gringich and the Republican billionaires think that they are the only ones entitled to live in America. Hopefully they will be a minority in a few years. I love the Kennedys, the Clintons who heartily support the common citizen and the middle class. MNBC TV supported the Democrats while Fox News were for the Republicans.

  • GilArellano

    if something goes wrong i could come home to pinas.pitty are the americans they have no place to go…

  • GilArellano

    yes,Fil-Am democrats as well as republicans will do the same…wake up america…



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