Ferdinand E. Marcos, Eighth State of the Nation Address, September 21, 1973

His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
To the Congress
On the State of the Nation

[Delivered at the Malacañan Palace on September 21, 1973]

“Report to the Nation after One Year of Martial Law”

One year ago today, I signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law.

As President of the Republic, I saw it as my clear and inescapable duty to meet the rebellion against our duly constituted government, the anarchy in our social life, the paralysis of the economy, the disintegration of our bureaucracy.

With God’s clear light and our people’s vigorous support, we involved the full powers of the Constitution to meet the threats to our Republic and build a new society.

Man in his presumption has always claimed the advances we call civilization as his handiwork.

Often we disregard the unknown intervention of God and the logic and consequence of history and events.

This was time in the past. It is true now of what we proudly point to as the almost miraculous achievements we ascribe to the New Society.

Many of the advances that we can list down are but the logical consequences of the decisive rupture from an old and stricken society.

As soon as the moral and political decision was made, the rebirth followed.

What we now see are the attributes of that rejection of our degrading past.

The rectification of our errors and the fruits of our endeavors spring from the first momentous decision of September 21, 1972.

We worked hard to be where we are today. Each one of us has a personal testimony. But there is a common experience we share as a people and as a nation that survives to record the real change in our country. This experience is our collective effort in laying the foundations of a new society.

The achievement is yours. The symbols of our national progress are familiar to you. But let me outline them for our record.

A year ago, we faced a crisis of survival. We have surmounted the crisis.

The man who feared to walk his own street has been freed from his fears; he can now walk his city.

The farmer who feared for his cattle can now sleep.

The man whose father tilled another man’s land will no longer sire children who will till the land of the landowner’s sons. Together they will have their own lands to till.

The man who once surrounded himself with hired guns has been put in jail or reduced to insignificance. Those who used to seek his influence can now go to government offices on their own and be sure they would be served. The small man who did not dare to raise his voice can now speak and be heard. Poverty is no longer the solitude of the poor. It has become the concern of all.

The armed force of the rebellion has been crushed. The danger still remains, but the rebellion can no longer reestablish itself to its old position, unless we allow it. The urban terrorists have been checked. The Rightist conspirators, too. Over half a million firearms taken from, or surrendered by, the population will never find their way again into private hands. One hundred forty-five so-called private armies that have been disbanded will no longer intimidate innocent men. Thousands of criminals, kidnapping gangs, crime syndicates, and terrorists, now caught and jailed, will no longer pose a menace to our countrymen. The national crime rate has dropped. The once-troubled area of Mindanao will henceforth be a showcase of harmonious work.

In the economy, we have set new records of growth. As of the beginning of September, the international reserve stood at $739 million, the highest in our history. The balance of payments showed a surplus of $612 million.

In the first eight months of 1973, our export receipts totaled $1.121 billion, $408 million and 57% higher than the receipts of the comparable period in 1972. This has resulted in a favorable balance of trade amounting to P912.9 million. Our decision to open trade with nontraditional markets such as the Communist countries resulted, over a 12-month period, in export receipts from these sources alone, of $44 million, with 75% coming from the People’s Republic of China. For the first time in our history, we posted a favorable balance of trade of $59 million with Japan. Although our shift from an import-oriented to an export-oriented economy has barely begun, we expect this year’s exports to exceed our $1.4 billion target.

In the stock market, transactions multiplied 10 times in volume, from last year’s monthly average of P49.7 million, to the present monthly average of P504.3 million.

Mining and oil exploration have exploded into profitable activity. Full protection and assistance have been guaranteed to mining claims, thus separating claim jumpers from real claimants.

In energy exploration, we have made it highly attractive for domestic and foreign investors to join the search for oil and other sources of energy. A Petroleum Board has been created, and the Oil Industry Commission has been attached to the NEDA, signifying the high rating given to oil in our priorities.

As of today, a total of 18 oil firms from the United States, Europe, Taiwan, Australia, and Bermuda have joined the oil hunt in the Philippines, with six of them signing service contracts. This includes the biggest firms in the world.

In investment, the record has surpassed all previous records. From September to December last year, 52 firms, including Ford, with a combined investment total of P671.7 million, applied for incentives. As of July this year, 31 multinational firms with an aggregate capitalization of P302 million applied for BOI listing. In that same month, 37 foreign-owned companies were granted permit to operate locally, with a combined capitalization of P20 million. From September to the end of August this year, applications from foreign investors to the BOI totaled P237.9 million, or more than double the figure for the same period immediately preceding the proclamation of martial law. At least seven investment banks with foreign equity have registered with the BOI. In all, some 250 industrial and agricultural projects were registered as of June 30, 1973, with a total investment of P5.7 billion.

The Progressive Car Manufacturing Program of the Philippines performed according to schedule, with the five participants—Ford Philippines, General Motors Philippines, Delta Motors Corporation, DMG, and Chrysler Philippines—meeting the 10% local content requirement as of June 30. They are expected to fulfill the 15% content requirement for the second semester by December this year. Ford has begun construction of a body stamping plant in the export processing zone of Mariveles at a cost of P257 million. General Motors is constructing a P137 million transmission plant in Muntinlupa. Delta Motors has just completed us engine block plant.

There was no letup in our effort to support the growth of the economy with infrastructure. We have increased capital expenditures to P5.3 billion—an increase from 15% to 45% of the budget. The integrated development approach allowed us to concentrate on a number of area development programs, including the Manila Bay Project and Mindanao. The Manila Bay Development Project envisions the reclamation of a 1.5-kilometer-wide strip of land with an area of 10,700 hectares from Cavite through Manila to Bataan, on which will be constructed a six-lane highway, sewage, flood control and drainage complex, among others. In Mindanao, P496 million has been appropriated for rehabilitation and development. Five major road-building projects are being undertaken by local and foreign firms on contract with the government. Aside from these, we have the Bicol River Basin Project, Pampanga Delta, Candaba Swamps, the Metropolitan Manila Transport and Land Use. Construction of the Pan Philippine Highway continues and we expect its completion by the end of 1975. Last July we inaugurated one of the longest bridges in the world between Samar and Leyte, the San Juanico Bridge. The Opon-Mandaue Bridge in Cebu and the Lucban Bridge in Cagayan were also inaugurated. Rural electrification has reduced the cost of electricity to the common man, and is lighting up far-flung areas of the country.

Meanwhile, we authorized the Export Processing Zone in Mariveles, upon its incorporation, to incur up to $100 million from abroad, in order to hasten its development. Fully developed, the zone should house P1.8 billion in investments, generating at least 205,941 jobs and producing at least P2.1 billion a year in exports.

At the same time, the development of small- and medium-scale industries was given a new start this year. Liberalized government policy has facilitated the establishment of small- and medium-scale industries all over the country, as a spur to rural development. The countryside must now share in progress and must catch up with the urban areas. This is both an economic and environmental necessity.

Not only have we sought to open up the rural areas to industrial development. We have also begun to develop as many tourist attractions in these areas, as part of our tourist development program. After September, the Philippines became a favored tourist destination, and for the last 12 months, we posted an increase in tourist traffic of 107%. This tourist influx has not only given us an evolving major dollar earner for the economy but has also given impetus to some of our environmental programs like the cleanliness and beautification drive and major historical reconstruction projects. The Pasig is now being cleaned, Chinatown is being dressed up, Intramuros is being reconstructed, while in the South, Zamboanga and Marawi are being developed.

In food production, we had to weather one of the worst droughts ever to hit our country, ironically after the disastrous floods that inundated most of Luzon last year. While we turned to outside sources for our immediate needs, we launched Masagana 99. The Green Revolution, of course, continues; but with Masagana 99, we aimed to double the present average per hectare yield of rice. We made available P305 million in loans to 350,000 farmers tilling 500,000 hectares in 53 provinces. At the same time, we launched “Palayang Bayan” with a total coverage of 150,000 hectares of heretofore uncultivated public lands. We also set the price of palay at P35 per cavan to encourage production.

We had to adopt certain measures to meet the temporary shortage in rice supply. We rationed rice to the hard-hit areas, encouraged the use of substitutes, as well as a mixture with corn. We have now passed the most critical part of the shortage. We can now look to the first Masagana harvest in October.

This was, for many of us, a most difficult situation. But given the challenge, our people were willing to sacrifice and organize themselves to help find a common remedy to the problem.

Our economic performance stands in marked contrast not only to past years of poor economic activity in our country but also to the difficulties encounters it by the mighty economies all over the world during the year. The entry into our country of capital is a demonstration of faith and confidence both in the economy, and in the future of our nation.

Easily the most meaningful reform in the society is the emancipation of the farmer from his age-old bondage to the soil. This means the liberation of about a million farmers who have tilled without owning the land. As of the middle of this month, 119,655 certificates of land transfer have been issued, involving 148,014,867 hectares and 85,818 tenant-tillers. In 62 provinces, 538,652 tenant-tillers have been identified and interviewed, preparatory to the issuance of the same certificates.

As for the laborer, we sought reforms that contribute to his dignity as a working man. We have just finished a Comprehensive Survey for Employment by world experts. Through the National Labor Relations Commission, we instituted a system of swift arbitration and conciliation between labor and management. As of the end of August this year, the Commission settled 4.576 out of 5,841 complaints, resulting in the payment of P58.28 million to claimants. Labor disputes that used to take 20 to 25 years are now settled within 37 days.

Employment reform also continued, and we succeeded in cutting down the unemployment rate to 5%. By requiring certain agencies of the government, and encouraging the private sector to give priority to labor-intensive projects, we were able to generate more jobs for our people. Manpower and youth training continues to occupy a high priority in our human resources program. Some 13 public employment offices have been set up all over the country to gather labor market information, match available skills with available jobs, and work out employment generating schemes in cooperation with local governments, civic groups, and the private sector. Women and minors, and the long-neglected domestic help, all got their due from our labor reforms.

In housing, we instituted a more reasonable and effective rent control law, increased the housing allotment to P970 million, with 80% to be borne by the private sector. The capitalization of the National Housing Corpo­ration was increased to P250 million to make it a more effective agency for low-cost housing. At the same time, some 45,570 squatters were moved to government resettlement projects.

In education, we began a reform that seeks to improve the relevancy of the curricula to the building of a society of enlightened and productive men. We have started to redirect the school system so that it does not continue to in­culcate in the young prejudices against work, as it did in the past. State support for early education has been broadened by the new Constitution to include high school education in cases where funds are available for the purpose. Various means to reduce the cost of learning tools, including books, have also been adopted.

We have not overlooked the care of the health of the population. Govern­ment health services and Medicare have been broadened and expanded, parti­cularly in the rural areas, where health conditions, in spite of our efforts, often determine life or death. We have more rural health units serving our people, more hospitals in the provinces, more workers in the field; but these increases only open our eyes to the larger possibilities of public health care.

Alongside this program, we began a serious effort to safeguard the environ­ment from pollution and the other hazards to life engendered along the way to industrialization. We shall not commit the mistake of other countries of facing this problem when it has already arrived and reached critical proportions. We have created an environmental center to map out our program against this threat to man.

The result of all these social programs, whether directed towards the achievement of social justice or the broadening of social services to the people, has been to increase the chances of every man, woman, and child of this country for a long and productive life, for a living place in harmony with their hopes, and for an equal share in the benefits of progress.

But all this we must premise on the radical change in the political order and the political culture.

We ratified a new Constitution that has given a firm and formal basis to the sweeping reforms that we instituted by decree.

All the social and economic reforms that had been denied us by the old legislative process are now enduring features of the law of the land.

The sanctified concept of private property, which permitted the rise of an exploitative oligarchy, has been displaced by a democratized concept of private wealth.

The new Constitution declares as national policy the need to democratize wealth and spread social justice.

This has enabled us to move confidently towards the complete extirpation of the monopoly of privileges and power by the old oligarchy in our society.

And in place of this monopoly of power by the rich, there has been a resurgence of the power of the people to determine their future. Sovereignty has passed from those who claimed to represent the people to the Filipino people themselves.

Today, what began as a movement to ratify the new Constitution by the direct and open exercise of initiative by the people has become the mainspring of political power and decision making. Through the barangay, the voice of every citizen has found a direct channel to the citadels of government and the heart of the Presidency. Every citizen now has a chance to speak on the issues that affect the national community, to harmonize his interests with those of the community, and to act directly on matters that touch deeply his individual and communal life.

We saw this emerging political order at work in the recent series of con­sultation with the people on national issues last July.

We saw the barangay at work in the national effort to meet the recent rice crisis. For the first time in our history, the rice shortage did not drive us into panic, but became instead the occasion for moral resurgence on the part of our people. We looked on it as an economic problem and not as apolitical problem. We matched the crisis with resolution.

And, with the barangay serving as the network of rice distribution through­out the country, we weathered the crisis and today face with optimism the coming harvest.

It has been possible to pursue this broad program of social, political, and economic reforms because we retrieved the government bureaucracy from inutility and made it the servant of our development effort.

We began the journey of the last 12 months with massive overhaul of the government bureaucracy, as proposed in the Reorganization Plan that I submitted to the Congress as early as March 1972. Every letter and provision of the plan has since been implemented, and in those instances where it did not provide for new necessities, we did not hesitate to establish the machinery to answer them.

As the first step, we faced the massive problem of graft and corruption in the bureaucracy that had been for so long the nemesis of every development program. After a review of ranks of the service, we dismissed and retired over 6,655 employees from the government service. No agency or department was spared from this overhaul, but the most severely affected offices were predictably enough the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Customs, the now-defunct Rice and Corn Administration, and the judiciary.

Following this house cleaning, we implemented changes and modifications designed to make the executive branch more relevant and responsive to national needs and goals, particularly the goal of accelerated national development.

We merged the various economic planning agencies of government into one central body: the National Economic Development Authority that was charged with the task of formulating and overseeing the national economic development program.

We created the rational Grains Minority to replace the Rice and Corn Administration and attend to the country’s staple food.

We launched a major overhaul of the revenue collection agencies of government, and provided for a more efficient lax collection system that offered, in part, an amnesty to individuals and corporations with accountability with the government. The immediate result of this has been a new record in tax collections.

At the level of every department and agency, we have implemented reorganization plans designed to make them more effective and economical units of the bureaucracy.

Finally, at the level of the local governments, we have created the new Department of Local Governments and Community Development to bring new vitality to all the local governments of the country.

The net result of this reorganization effort is a government that can provide services in the field where they count most that spends less for political representatives, and more for the benefits of the people, and leads in the realization of national objectives.

As of the first of September, the cash operations of the national government netted a surplus of P1.202 billion.

The priority we have given to Mindanao in our integrated development approach was dictated in part by the immense resources of that area that had to be tapped, in part, by an old social question that has nagged me since I first came to the Presidency.

We have never really bridged the cultural gap between the majority of the Filipinos and our Muslim brothers, and it is for us now to really bridge it. The troubles that broke out last October, fanned by Communist agitation and propaganda, did not precede our plans for the area: They delayed rather than hastened the implementation of our projects.

The Muslim areas have a lot of catching up to do with the more developed parts of the country, and in this we were committed to give them all possible support.

That is why new road arteries are being built simultaneously in the area; food production, education, and health services are being given utmost emphasis; and economic activity is being given a big push. P496 million have been appropriated for Mindanao, apart from the funds coming from foreign loans for development. A Muslim information center has been opened in Marawi, the Institution of Islamic Studies in the University of the Philippines, Amanah Bank has been created with a capitalization of P100 million; barter trade has been resumed with Sabah; and a unique type of development loan is being given to those who had fled to the hills but later opted to live a normal life.

Our relations with our neighbors and the outside world have been marked with civility and friendship, with a deepened understanding on the part of our allies of the new decisions we have had to take in pursuance of the society we are trying to build.

Our reforms have won the respect and confidence even of those who were skeptical about the prospects of our success immediately after September last year. We have won new friends without losing any of our old ones. We continue to maintain a strong presence in the ASEAN and other forums of importance.

We have forged new ties with Eastern Europe, strengthened existing ties with the Islamic nations of Africa and the Middle East, as well as the non-Islamic ones. Only a few weeks ago, we sat down in friendly consultation with dignitaries from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Somalia on how the Islamic nations can help in our effort to lift up the Muslim areas.

At the root of all these is a new sense of vitality and discipline, a new sense of pride that has taken hold of our people. Here at last is a people who will obey the law not because they fear punishment but rather because they know that by supporting order and government, they are building with their own hands the future that they want. It makes one proud to be one of them, and to see what they have become.

Many will ask, what do you consider your worthiest accomplishment during the last 12 months? My answer is: the transformation of our people. It is this reaching out to one another, to do something ”extra” for the country and for one’s fellowmen. It is here that our democratic revolution inscribes its greatest virtue, its most important gain. For it is that makes an age, a culture, a civilization.

The sheer momentum of our reforms so far has thrust our country forward on its journey towards full national development. But, compared to the long way we still have to go, we have taken only a few steps.

And we cannot afford to linger on the road. If we do, we risk being overtaken by a reassertion of old habits, a relapse into complacency and indolence.

Then also, development generates its own dynamism. Our very gains have created new problems, vastly more complex than the ones we have surmounted.

Basically, what we have done these past 12 months has been to lay the foundations of national civility that have been torn up by decades of bitter political strife and social anarchy. We have redressed the most urgent popular grievances. We have established a pattern of social, political, and economic stability. From this new level of stability, we must now launch our nation towards a new height of development.

Specifically, we must consolidate the gains we have made in peace and order.

We must vigorously check any backsliding on the part of the civil service and the national bureaucracy.

We must complete the land reform program that we have begun.

We must propel the national economy to new feats of productivity.

We must democratize wealth, and make labor a full partner in development.

We must broaden the social services, particularly in housing and education.

We must broaden our political economic and cultural relationships in the world community.

The tremendous improvement in peace and security is self-evident to every citizen and every visitor to the Philippines; Manila has at last been able to shed its international notoriety as a city of guns and mindless violence.

The Filipino is safer now, in his person and property, than he has been in a generation.

Yet you and I know that there are gaps, lacks, and remission in this atmosphere of security.

Petty crime appears to be rearing its ugly head once again in Metropolitan Manila, and I am aware that there is a resurgence of petty graft among the lower echelons of local and national governments.

We cannot—we shall not—condone this kind of backsliding. Neither has insurgency completely subsided. In some parts of the southern islands, in Northern Luzon and Bicolandia, there is still occasional righting between our troops and rebellious bands. Although the government has broadened its effort to develop the Muslim regions through a broad-based, integrated program of economic and social development, and our negotiations with leaders of the disaffected communities have been productive.

There have been recent ambuscades in Cotabato, Lanao, and Zamboanga; and outlaw bands still roam portions of Basilan Island.

In Jones, Isabela, the government recently lost some men in encounters with Communist terrorists.

We expect some more incidents of this kind to occur in the South and in the North. But such incidents are bound to be limited in scale and peripheral in significance.

It is clear that dissidence has no future in this country, and we shall not let these incidents distract us from our real work.

We shall continue to meet insurgency and subversion with the full force of state power, as we have done. But we shall also remain eager to negotiate, to conciliate the grievances of those among us who are disaffected, who feel left behind by the level of living that others of us have attained. We shall extend the government’s hand, in friendship and respect, to all those who desire it. And the state shall continue to make its primary concern the task of spreading the benefits of development equitably among all our people. It shall be my policy to unite the nation and bring together all diverse and conflicting elements.

The cornerstone of this policy is the land reform program. This has touched the lives of many Filipino workers on the land. But the implementation of the program has been hampered by a lack of funds, by resistance from vested interests, and by administrative deficiencies. In some cases landowners, in the ways of the old society, are once again trying to use their “connections” to preserve their landholdings.

On the problem of food production, the next harvest should enable us to more than meet our minimum domestic requirements in rice and other food crops. Masagana 99 and Palayan ng Bayan are doing their part—the one to improve agricultural technology, the other to harness all idle government lands to the needs of food production.

But our efforts here are grievously hampered by a perennial shortage of fertilizer, farm machinery, even of farm animals. We must find a way of overcoming these deficiencies.

In the last 12 months, we have started to shift the thrust of the economy from imports to exports. In this effort, we have had initial success—which is reflected in the favorable balance of trade, the unprecedented level of our foreign reserves, and in the influx of foreign investment. Our exports increased by 57%, 27% of which are new products. But here too we have a great deal more to do, and many complex problems to face.

Our basic strategy is to balance the optimum growth in national product—utilizing both national and foreign capitals to the fullest extent—with the largest-possible expansion of employment. Towards this end, we are paying particular attention to the encouragement of small- and medium-scale industries, which are characteristically labor-intensive.

We do not intend to neglect our youth in this generative process. Our out-of-school youth, particularly, must become committed to development: They too must share in the proceeds.

We must now undertake a survey of youth resources: how many of them are productive, how many unproductive.

Part of this enlistment of our youth in the developmental process is the reform of the educational system that we have initiated, to transform our schools from sterile ivory towers into vital centers of modernization. While doing so, we shall preserve and enhance academic freedom: Our universities will keep their autonomy, and will continue to take care of their own problems of student dissidence.

Despite the lessons of the past, there still is a tendency among some of the affluent and economically powerful in our society to amass wealth indiscriminately and to corner scarce commodities. The government has no desire to create new oligarchies in place of the old: We shall take every opportunity to encourage the rich in the fulfillment of their civil responsibility.

To whom much is given, much will be expected by the New Society. We shall propose to national business and industry the creation of a social ameliora­tion fund that will encompass housing, education, medical, and pension plans for their workers.

This acceptance by the rich of their social responsibility must include their willingness to democratize the crucial sectors of the economy. We shall urge corporations engaged in the public utilities and the exploitation of natural resources to broaden their ownership.

In this way can Philippine capital make Philippine labor a partner, instead of an inanimate tool, in the process of production. We cannot allow progress to be built on the back of the Filipino worker, nor allow the minimum-wage worker to be squeezed between the threat of unemployment and an escalating cost of living. The government shall see to it that the worker is awarded his just share of every increment of rising productivity.

This government concern for the Filipino worker cannot but extend to the military, whose scale of salaries is very much lower than that of the private sector. I am, under my own personal direction, organizing a fund intended for those who serve in the Armed Forces. This fund must be organized in partner­ship with the private sector and must take care of the housing, educational, medical needs, as well as the future of military personnel and their dependents.

As an earnest of our determination to develop the economy, we have in the past year drawn up a variety of incentives for business and investment. We shall continue this policy. The tax on dividends declared by corporations shall be reduced from the present 35% to 15%.

We shall continue to protect foreign investors from harassment, confisca­tion, or expropriation. The government regard them as partners in Philippine progress and solemnly guarantees the free repatriation of their investments and their profits at any time.

In government, we shall continue to give priority to development. Forty-five percent of the national budget, instead of the usual 15, is now devoted to capital spending.

Faced with a worldwide problem of energy, we are determined to reduce our national dependence on oil to 25% of all our fuel needs. As part of this effort, we are initiating the organization of a mass-transit system for the Metro­politan Manila area—transport being the biggest consumer of oil. We shall direct the shifting of needs for energy to geothermal, hydroelectric, and atomic sources of power.

As the emphasis of our economy changes, so must change national patterns of settlement. We must mitigate the inevitable problems of rapid urbanization—slums, traffic congestion, crime, and so forth—as much as possible. Towards this end, I have ordered the creation of a Human Settlements Commission to oversee the establishment of satellite towns and cities distinct from the Metropolitan Manila region, and to study the implications of changing population patterns and new modes of social organization.

The broadening of social services continues. And here, the main effort must be the generation of employment, the alleviation of mass poverty and the extirpation of social inequality.

In foreign relations, we need to broaden our contacts in a time of shifting power relationships in the world community. Towards this end, we have offered relations with Eastern Europe. We have also expanded our contacts with the Middle East and Africa. We are sending an ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A special mission will soon leave for the Middle East. And some of our ambassadors are being concurrently designated to the countries in Africa.

Conversely, we have been receiving foreign missions in Manila: A Russian trade mission has just arrived in Manila; and recently we sent a Philippine mission to the People’s Republic of China.

We have recently acceded to GATT, the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. We are participating in the World Conference on Sugar in Geneva, where we hope to obtain a larger share of the sugar quota for the world market. We are negotiating with the European Economic Community through our regional organization, the ASEAN.

Our economic performance in the past 12 months has raised our credit rating at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. As a result, we have been able to ease our debt-servicing burden and to generate more development capital through foreign loans.

Our diplomacy is turning towards the Asian region, as it should. Our primary area of interest is productive Philippine participation in ASEAN and the creation of an Asian Forum as a meeting place of the diverse ideologies, cultures, religions, political orders, and national interests of the Asian national states, which must share a common interest in peace and prosperity in the region.

The agenda before us is full. Hard work awaits us. But the future we face is bright, for national development is within our grasp.

In a memorable metaphor, the historian Toynbee compared human societies to climbers on a cliff. Some have found poor niches in the rock—and are content to rest where they are: static, petrified, unwilling to venture any higher.

By contrast, the dynamic societies disdain the mean shelter of the rockface: they aspire to the heights, and willingly risk the danger of a fall for the glory of the summit.

In many ways, this metaphor sums up the state of the Filipino nation today.

We have dared to make new beginnings—because the old paths have proved to be dead ends. We have exchanged the poor certainty of the status quo for the dynamism of a new society.

Now we must move from where we are—to new heights.