Yearning for high-tech presidential hope

The central theme in the current U.S. presidential campaign is revolving around "hope".

The central theme in the current U.S. presidential campaign is revolving around "hope". Barack Obama, the first African-American to have a real chance of landing the US presidency, has made a good job of offering hope to weary Americans who are fed up over the way their country is being run by their current leaders.

Two years from now, the Philippines would also be electing its new president. While a number of politicians have already made known their intentions to run for the post, there's sadly no one in the mold of Obama who inspires optimism among Filipinos.

In endorsing Obama, Senator Ted and Caroline Kennedy, brother and daughter of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy (JFK), said the junior senator from Illinois reminds them of the same kind of charisma and confidence that JFK had when he led a hopeful America in the early '60s.

The last time the Philippines enjoyed that same feeling of euphoria happened a decade earlier, when the late President Ramon B. Magsaysay infused a different kind of high among the Filipino people. Like JFK, Magsaysay also met an untimely death when his plane crashed on a mountain on one of his out-of-town sorties.

Just like Caroline Kennedy, who only has vague recollections of her father's tenure at the White House, Filipinos have not experienced that similar exuberance for a long time.

Well, we had Cory Aquino, who became president after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted during the bloodless revolution in 1986. While the initial part of her term was hailed as a start of a bright new era, it didn't last long before pessimism took over once again.

What does the presidential elections in the United States and the Philippines have to do with an IT blog? A lot, actually.

An inspiring and forward-thinking leader can rally his or her people to achieve the country's aspirations, including in the science and technology (S&T) sector.

Unfortunately, S&T is not on the priority list of politicians in the Philippines. The media is an unwitting accomplice to this, with newspaper reports all choosing to focus on controversies and inane political wrangling.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is supposed to be celebrating its 50th founding anniversary this year. But does anyone know? Does anybody care?

The country's main ICT authority, as mentioned previously in this blog, has been significantly emasculated by the decision of the Office of the President to pull out some of the vital units, particularly the National Telecommunications Commission, from the agency. For what reason? Again, nobody knows.

While other countries are feverishly strengthening their S&T capabilities, it seems the Philippines is doing the opposite. Are our leaders clueless about what's happening around the world?

Hope springs eternal, as a wise person once said. And I'm optimistic that someday, the Philippines will have its own Obama to inspire a generation of technologists and scientists.