So many things happening around the world and we are on the threshold of growth, infrastructure development, reducing poverty, gaining the second wind for peace in Mindanao and enhancing social amelioration programs in education and healthcare. So much work remains still, and we just cannot rest on the laurels of the Duterte administration for to do so would be to let time pass and other countries catch up to what we, as a nation, hopes to accomplish in the next 10 years.
This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on December 31, 2019.
Today marks the last day of 2019. We get to view the 31st as the last sunrise and sunset and mark new beginnings. In my lifetime, I have seen five decades already: the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Each timeline defines who, what, where, and how things, people and events occur to define each epoch.
The 1960s was denoted as the cultural decade — from the Vietnam War to the Beatles who were part of the British Invasion that changed music in the United States and around the world. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; after serving as president for three years; Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of 250,000; the Soviet Union built the Berlin Wall in 1961, which was one of the most famous moments of the 1960s; China’s Mao Zedong initiated the Great Leap Forward plan which failed, brought mass starvation and in which 20 to 30 million people died by 1961; the Stonewall Inn became the site of major demonstrations for gay and lesbian rights and for the first time in history, a human being set foot on the moon during the Cold War-era space race in July 1969.
The 1970s was the “pivot of change” in world history, focusing on the economic upheavals that followed the end of the postwar economic boom. You have the “resignation of US President Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal in 1974; refugees aboard a US naval boat after the Fall of Saigon, leading to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975; the 1973 oil crisis put[ting] the nation of America in gridlock and caused economic damage throughout the developed world; both the leaders of Israel and Egypt shak[ing] hands after the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1978; the 1970 Bhola cyclone kill[ing] an estimated 500,000 people in the densely populated Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (which would become independent Bangladesh in 1971) in November 1970; the Iranian Revolution of 1979 oust[ing] Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi who was later replaced by an Islamic theocracy led by Ayatollah Khomeini; the popularity of the disco music genre peak[ing] during the mid-to-late 1970s.”
The 1980s decade saw major socioeconomic changes due to advances in technology and a worldwide move away from planned economies and towards laissez-faire capitalism. There was the first space shuttle, Columbia, lifting off in 1981; then-US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, considered to be one of the most momentous events of the 1980s; in 1981, the IBM personal computer was released; in 1985, the Live Aid concert was held in order to fund relief efforts for the famine in Ethiopia when Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the country; Ukraine and much of the world was filled with radioactive debris from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; the Iran–Iraq War led to over 1 million dead and $1 trillion spent.
Culturally, the 1990s are characterized by the “rise of multiculturalism and alternative media, which continued into the 2000s and 2010s.” Movements such as “grunge, the rave scene and hip hop spread around the world to young people during that decade, aided by then-new technology such as cable television and the World Wide Web.” The Hubble Space Telescope orbited the earth after it was launched in 1990; American F-16s and F-15s flew over burning oil fields in Operation Desert Storm, also known as the 1991 Gulf War; the signing of the Oslo Accords on Sept. 13, 1993; the World Wide Web gained a public face during the start of the decade and as a result gained massive popularity worldwide; Boris Yeltsin and followers stood on a tank in defiance of the August coup, which led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991; Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell; the funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in 1997 from a car crash in Paris, was mourned by millions; hundreds of thousands of Tutsi people were killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
In the 2000s, the growth of the internet contributed to globalization during the decade, which allowed faster communication among people around the world. The economic growth of the 2000s had considerable social, environmental and mass extinction consequences, and raised demand for diminishing energy resources. Economic growth was still vulnerable, however, as demonstrated by the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The World Trade Center on fire and the Statue of Liberty during the 9/11 attacks in 2001; the euro enters into European currency in 2002; a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled during the Iraq War in 2003; US troops heading toward an army helicopter in Afghanistan during the “war on terror”; social media through the internet spread across the world; a Chinese soldier gazed at the 2008 Summer Olympics commencing in Beijing; an economic crisis, the largest since the Great Depression, hit the world in 2008; a tsunami from the Indian Ocean earthquake killed over 230,000 in 2004.
The first 10 years from 2000 saw anti-government protests spread across the Arab world in the Arab Spring; Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014; Islamic State group unleashed terrorist attacks across world and captured, but later lost parts of Syrian and Iraqi territory; concern about climate change led to the Paris Agreement and increased climate activism; the first image of a “black hole” was revealed in 2019; same sex marriage became legal in the US and several other countries; digital and mobile technologies such as the smartphone rose to mainstream adoption; populism increased in much of the world, with the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union in 2016.
So many things happening around the world and we are on the threshold of growth, infrastructure development, reducing poverty, gaining the second wind for peace in Mindanao and enhancing social amelioration programs in education and healthcare. So much work remains still, and we just cannot rest on the laurels of the Duterte administration for to do so would be to let time pass and other countries catch up to what we, as a nation, hopes to accomplish in the next 10 years. Time to roll up our sleeves and have the growth mindset to confront the opportunities of having a much better Philippines! Let us continue to build and move the nation in one direction. Time to care more for family, community, country.
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