MANILA, Philippines- This year’s 27th annual ‘Bulong Pulungan’ media gathering and awarding ceremony had Pres. Benigno Aquino III enumerating top projects and programs that need to be finished some 940 days before his term ends.

Although being caught in the middle of five powerful natural calamities—Typhoon Pablo, Sendong, Santi, Yolanda and Bohol earthquake, plus the  insurgency in Mindanao,  Aquino continued to have high hopes that his big programs will be translated into reality two years and six months from today, adding he is “thankful to the attitude of the people, from being apathetic to really being involved.”

“In terms of ‘yung concrete manifestations of the same, siguro Ninoy Aquino International Airport  Terminal I, I think, will be finished—the refurbishing by that time. Hopefully, NLEX and SLEX, the connector will also be up and running by that time, and the TPLEX. More importantly is the airports will be substantially finished—airports, plural—Panglao, Mactan, and so many others. ‘Yung at least the start of the light rail systems.”

“These are important by and of themselves, but I think, more importantly is I really want an expression—to see the expression on the faces of our people the ‘can do’ attitude, that nothing is beyond our grasp and our reach, and that is what I am hoping to see, hopefully, not just the day before I leave, but more importantly after I leave, that it continues and become stronger,”  Aquino told media in an open forum that followed.

Specifically asked on one “accomplishment” that Filipinos would like to remember from him,  Aquino categorically answered, saying: “Our mantra is inclusive growth and that’s why we are striving. Number one, we don’t subscribe to the trickle down theory. We are trying to find all interventions where people can participate in the economic growth of our country.”

“What does that mean? There (have) been massive investments in education—be it basic education, hence the K to 12 scheme, but also in higher education. But more importantly, we’re also expanding the proposal before Congress—and, hopefully, they approve it—is an expanded conditional cash transfer program wherein we will continue the assistance up to high school.

There is a study by the Philippine Institute for Developmental Studies, a recent study that states there’s a 40 percent premium on income, or an ability to generate income for a high school graduate over that of a grade school graduate. So, again, ‘yung the idea of being inclusive,” Aquino added.

The President also emphasized that if one  want to be remembered for anything it would be on being “ enabled people to really participate in the economic growth of this country, and it is exhibited by having this attitude of ‘can do’, and nothing is impossible, and nothing is beyond our reach.”

“When we talk about, kunwari, farmers. Massive rehabilitation for the coconut industry was a plan even before ‘Yolanda’. Now, the only requirement government will have to assist all of these farmers will be for them to inter-crop various crops—coffee, cacao, corn, and others.”

“Now, if they are suitable for coffee… For instance, from 20,000 per hectare per annum, the income can conceivably rise to over 170,000 per hectare per annum by inter-cropping. So—not only the income per se, but the attitude of really maximizing the asset that you have, is also part of our core philosophies,” he said, adding that part of what would define his presidency is  his administration’s “ability to handle”  problems, particularly on post-typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation and the Janet Napoles scam.

Pres. Aquino also took the occasion to expressed his gratitude to the people “who took the risks” during the height of typhoon Yolanda on November 8 like the Philippine Armed Forces and the rest of his Presidential Security Guards during Bohol earthquake.

“…The chopper pilots and the crew of the helicopters that proceeded from Samar and went directly to Tacloban to reopen the airport, so that assistance brought by the C130 could start happening and the personnel necessary. PAGASA, for instance, amongst others has been, I think, widely praised and acknowledged as a source of correct and timely information.”

“I guess, at the end of the day, you have the government that’s truly worthy of these people, who are so great, that they provided a milieu and they were virtually supportive that enabled everybody to reach their potentials.”

During the event, Pres. Aquino reiterated his mantra “Para sa Bayan,” saying “everything we do affects so many people, and there is no time like the present, preferably, to have done things in the past already.”

“ Dahil nga, at the end of the day, para sa bayan lahat ito and the bayan has faces. There are people that are directly affected by our acts and by our missions.”

Also in the ceremony, Pres. Aquino was  presented with the “outstanding Exemplar Award—Man of Steel” for being “tough but compassionate” by Bulong Pulongan Media founders Deedee Siytangco, Julie Yap Daza and Letty J. Magsanoc.

Pres. Aquino also witnessed the awarding ceremony of some personalities for their exemplar services, courage and integrity, corporate social responsibility and award for volunteerism, namely: Justice secretary Leila De Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Science secretary Mario Montejo, Revenue commissioner Kim Henares, COA chair Grace P. Tan, GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara, PACGOR chair Cristino  Naguiat Jr., Gawad Kalinga chair Tony Meloto, Dr. Jerome Paler, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado.