The Philippines inaugurated a new president yesterday: President Benigno Aquino III, the son of the late President Cory Aquino and the son of a martyr to our democracy, Benigno Aquino II.

The day was declared a holiday, and over half a million folks turned out for the inauguration ceremony, despite the fact that it rained all morning.

Here in the provinces, there was rejoicing too: locals are hoping that the new president will bring relief from the widespread corruption and make more jobs available here, so their children aren’t forced to migrate to Manila or overseas to find a good paying job.

There was a bit of a mix-up at the start: Vice President Binay came in late: he traveled in an electric jeepney, but was held up by the other bigshots in their cars.  Here, the President runs with a VP pick on the party ballot, but you vote for them separately, and Binay was the VP choice for still popular ex President Estrada; but commentators were eager to point out that the reason he was late was not a breech of protocol but because the cars of the big shots delayed “ordinary” traffic.

Everyone was there, many wearing the Yellow of the People Power revolution of his mother. Ex president Estrada, a populist who lost this election to Aquino, sent him good wishes and attended, as did ex President Ramos. Our lovely ex president Gloria Arroyo was there too but she left early. Her choice lost badly, and there are some worries that a new administration will root out the suspected widespread corruption under her administration. However, as the newly elected Congresswoman from her home district, she could be in a position to block this. Ironically, the Marcos clan also sent good wishes and promises to cooperate with the new President (Marcos is widely thought to be behind the assassination of the President’s late father).

Here in the Philippines, everyone has a nickname, and the President, who is commonly called “NoyNoy” (to distinguish him from his father “Nino”) has asked the press to call him “P-Noy” instead. “P-Noy” is of course pronounced “Pinoy”,the nickname for the average Filipino.

The new President is carrying the hopes that he will root out corruption and stop the widespread “extrajudicial killings” of reporters and activists and political rivals. The slowness of the courts in dispensing justice is notorious, and although most of these delays are due to an overburdened court system, many suspect political influence or “gifts” sometimes contribute to the delays. And, alas, the delays allow witnesses to go underground (under a false name, overseas, or sometimes literally underground).

The health-care workers among the “Marong 44” still languish in jail, and the perpetrators of the  Ampatuan massacre, where a political rival’s wife and 30 plus journalists were killed, still is in limbo. Now one of the perpetrators of that crime who turned states witness has been killed, with a lot of folks wondering why he wasn’t placed under government protection. And the killings continue: two more journalists killed, and and a church was attacked in Aurora(the priest was a defender of the poor).

But hope springs eternal: folks hope President Aquino will root out corruption and bring in jobs. His personal integrity is not in question, but he lacks a  dynamic personality; he hasn’t even been able to persuade his extended family to allow land reform, so how will he fare against more ruthless political manipulation, especially with our lovely ex president Gloria now in the Congress and able to thwart his every move?

But that is tomorrow. Yesterday it was rejoicing at the inauguration and last night, it was a huge street party rejoicing with the new president.

Remember to wear your souvenir tee shirt and put your NoyNoy bobble-head doll on the dashboard of your car or jeepney. Hope springs eternal, and maybe, just maybe, this time we will get a true reformer as president.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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