Today's Philippine Daily Inquirer has for its front page a rather large picture of Senator Raul Roco gesticulating behind a lectern, with the following words from the late senator prominently superimposed on the picture:
When I was 20, I wanted to change the world; at 30, I wanted to change my country; at 60, I realized I wanted only to change myself.
The news report didn't say specifically during which occasion Senator Roco uttered the words. But what could he have meant with that cryptic statement? Did Sen. Roco grow old to be a selfish man ? Because if you seek the literal meaning of the sentence, that's what it says. Was Sen. Roco's political life a case of narrowing altruism?
I think Sen. Roco must have wanted to to use the verb can rather than the verb want, but settled on the latter because using the former would sound defeatist for a presidentiable. The sentence, as I think Sen. Roco must have truly meant, is:
When I was 20, I thought I could change the world; at 30, I thought I could change my country; at 60, I realized I could only hope to change myself.
The Filipino people should have elected Sen. Roco as president back in 1998 when he was still healthy. Among our politicians in the national stage, it's only Roco--only he--who has managed to emerge as a decent and magnanimous man. It is the saddest commentary on our country's politics that a man who seemed infinitely superior could miserably lose to petty middlings. Think about it: A good man in politics is a failure.