His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
Dear President Aquino,
I want you to give me a new car for my birthday. Preferably a 4 x 4 SUV bought from government monies meant for health assistance to the poor.
May I remind you that Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos was given government money by former Pres. Arroyo so that he could buy himself a Montero for his birthday. As the Bishop’s request letter managed to get him the said bonanza, I will cite the same justifications for my request. But my justifications, while similar, will be better.
I celebrated my last birthday like the good Bishop. I carefully discerned not to throw a party and “spent the day with and for myself”. But unlike the Bishop who spent the day also “with God” I spent some of the day with President Emerlinda Roman who was given a testimonial on her last day as UP President. I was running for UP Diliman Chancellor at that time, so I thought it best to be seen at said event. I therefore missed watching the Askals game with my family. I did not take my one-day birthday leave. With all due respect to former UP President Roman, surely the Bishop had a more pleasant day than I did. I deserve a luxury vehicle more, for having renounced more pleasures on my birthday than he did. I was a model of Christian asceticism and saintly sacrifice!
Unlike Bishop Pueblos who was chosen by the former President Arroyo as “Peace Champion of Caraga”, I was not chosen as UP Diliman Chancellor. However, I have been reappointed as the current Director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies. I also have a few awards to my name, but I am so filled with Christian humility that I won’t mention them.
The point is, like the good Bishop (and all those other Bishops who also bought nice SUVs or vans using government charity money), I DO GOOD WORKS! I do, I do. Swear and cross my heart. And in the words of said Bishop, “I know I could do more”.
Quoting Bishop Pueblos further, “It is in this view that I am asking a favor from your Excellency. At present, I really need a brand-new car, possibly a 4 x 4, which I can use to reach the far-flung areas… I hope you will never fail to give a brand new car which would serve as your birthday gift to me. For your information, I have with me a 7-year-old car which is not anymore in good running condition. Therefore, this needs to be replaced very soon.”
Your Excellency, my official vehicle is an early 1990s Toyota Fx and I am terribly ashamed of it at this point. It is older than 7 years old. When it was 7 years old I envied the Director who was riding around in it. It really needs to be replaced because when I use it to transport relief goods, the poor and displaced tend to hand me money thinking I am poorer than them.
Your Excellency, us poor Professors from UP, the servants of the Filipino youth, cry out in our desperation for 4 wheel drive SUVs. Please don’t help the CBCP anymore. Help your own. It is high time government money be spent for the Colleges of UP rather than the College of Cardinals.
Sylvia Estrada Claudio, MD, PhD
Professor of Women and Development Studies
Director, Center for Women’s Studies
University of the Philippines
PS Please make out the check to: UP Center for Women’s Studies c/o Sylvia Estrada Claudio, MD, PhD. I prefer that the check be made out in my name complete with all the post-nominal letters just like the one they made for Bishop Pueblos. Please note I have more letters after my name. This proves I am a worthy doer of good works. In any case, I promise I will tell the accountants about the check and the purchase. Trust me on this, I do good works.
P.P.S Don’t worry, if it blows up in our face, I will promise to return the vehicle, all the while acting as if I still had the high moral ground. After all, I do good works.
cc: Margarita P. Juico