MANILA, Philippines?With Senator Benigno "Noynoy'' Aquino III's formal declaration Wednesday in Club Filipino to run for President came offers to volunteer and even raise funds for his campaign.
After the announcement, former Secretary Karina David was swamped with text messages from "non-political'' friends inquiring about how they could pitch in in Aquino's campaign.
According to the former Civil Service Commission chair, the messages ran the gamut of "Ma'am, we want to volunteer," "We are with you," "What can we do?" and "My entire family wants to help.''
"It's a very hopeful sign. This is in a sense like 1985. You're up against well-oiled machinery, against the administration that you can't wait to say goodbye to, and yet you know change can happen if we each individual do our little thing,'' she said in a phone interview.
David, a convener of the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO), said people were not only seeing ?change'' in the son of the late president Corazon C. Aquino and the late senator Benigno ?Ninoy'' Aquino Jr.
"More than seeing change in one person ... the message to us is, no single leader can do this. We all have to pitch in,'' she said.
In the potentially crowded May 2010 presidential elections, FSGO will keep a "non-partisan stand,'' but individually, the members are expected to volunteer for Aquino, according to David.
"Oh yes,'' she said when asked if she considers herself a volunteer.
A civil society group, Change Politics Movement, will even go as far raising funds for the campaign kitty of Aquino, who was seen as a reluctant candidate until the clamor for him to run for President mounted.
The group, chaired by former social welfare secretary Corazon "Dinky'' Soliman, is mounting a two-day "Tiyanggehan for Change Politics'' Friday and Saturday on 69 Esteban Abada St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City to kick off a fundraiser for the senator's campaign.
Soliman, also a member of FSGO, said she's donating "usable bags'' for the fundraising event, the proceeds of which will go to a common fund.
"Our members from Visayas and Mindanao said they will be mounting their own campaign to ensure that Noynoy is known to people and become president,'' she said by phone.
The group is throwing its full support behind Aquino's candidacy after majority of its over 4,000 members nationwide voted for Aquino in a straw vote of presidential aspirants.
But political analyst, UP Political Science Professor Clarita Carlos, said it was too premature to conclude that Aquino could bring together personalities, parties and civil society groups to support his campaign in the ?afterglow'' of his mother's death.
Between now and May 2010, the first-term senator has to deal with the ?realpolitik forces in the country,? and many ?imponderables? such as political realignments, campaign funds, and volunteers, she said.
?Everything is in the realm of conjectures. The elections is 10 months away. A lot of things can happen,? she said by phone, asking: ?Will the afterglow be sustained and translated into votes? Will it galvanize the collective consciousness to support this person??
There are no easy answers, she said.
The good thing going for Aquino and for that matter, his potential running mate, Senator Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II, is their high integrity, a key factor that could prod civil society to marshal their forces behind them, according to David.
?Both of them have no reputation of dirt; no suspicion of corruption. They have high integrity,? she said. ?These are not very normal times. People have been looking for someone they can trust, considering that we've had a President who has not been trusted for many years.?
David said she hoped the civil society groups and the public would take their cue from Roxas' act of sacrifice when he gave way to Aquino's candidacy for the presidency.
?I think this announcement [of Aquino] is actually a gauge of selflessness of individuals and groups. As Mar Roxas said, it's time to put country above one's self,? she said. ?I hope that people would genuinely think about the country and will start to band together for the country rather than for personal ambitions.?
Former senator Vicente Paterno, himself a member of FSGO, said Aquino's biggest challenge was how to ?weed out the opportunists from the people with valid credentials? in his camp.
?People are holding their punches because it's not clear what he wants to do. He has to say how he will function, who will be his VP, and senatorial candidates,? he added in a phone interview.
Carlos agreed, and observed that Aquino's campaign pitch of good governance was too general.
?What does it mean? I'm looking for the operational definition of what good governance means,? she said. ?Let's give flesh to these things. Tell me exactly what good governance looks like. Most Filipinos are not interested in big words.?