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Launching of “Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual”

The Manila Hotel

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

A pleasant evening to everyone.


I thank you all for coming here tonight to celebrate the accomplishments of Build, Build, Build encapsulated in the book that we called, “Night Owl”.


Seven years ago, I did not even think I would be part of PRRD’s Build, Build, Build team; or that we would accomplish this much in one presidential term. This is something I had hoped for our country, and I was glad I saw this happen in my lifetime. 


From the onset, there were many critics and naysayers of Build, Build, Build, but we shrugged aside their comments; and though we put effort into correcting misinformation and disinformation, our energy was more focused on bigger things, because the real challenges were within the system that we had to change, such as ghost and delayed projects, and bureaucratic inefficiencies, to name a few. 


Reforms had to be instituted in the different government agencies to increase transparency and accountability, as mandated by PRRD. For the DPWH under then Secretary Mark Villar, reforms instituted include the decentralization of right-of-way authority, the automation of the monitoring system, and the imposition of calibrated sanctions and penalties on contractors with negative slippages, among others.


When these reforms were already in place and the program has gained momentum, we thought the worst was over, and all the other challenges would easily be resolved. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which caught us all off guard and disrupted our way of life. We had to adjust our targets and timelines. We had to impose a new normal protocol. We did take a pause, but Build, Build, Build had to restart immediately as a recovery approach. More of these stories are presented in the book.


In all of this, I am honored to have been among men and women who exemplify true leadership and public service. I am immensely proud to have worked with 6.5 million Filipinos whose skills, work, and sacrifices turned vision into reality. It is fulfilling to be part of something bigger than yourself.


“Night Owl” is the story of our nation; a narrative on how, through our collective action, we were able to chart the course for a better nation. 


Tonight, we are launching two versions of the book—the second edition and the Filipino edition. The second edition includes a new chapter on the present administration’s Build Better More program, which builds on the gains of the Build, Build, Build and includes a digital infrastructure program. This chapter aims to highlight the importance of continuity, because often times there is no need to reinvent the wheel, especially when a program has been proven effective. 


Meanwhile, we did a Filipino edition so that we can share the story of Build, Build, Build to more Filipinos, especially those who are more adept at our national language. We want more Filipinos to understand the importance of these infrastructure projects in improving lives and in the development of our nation.


In closing, I would like to thank everyone who helped me with this book, the Manila Bulletin team led by Dr. Emilio Yap III. Special thanks to my editors, AA Patawaran and Richard de Leon. Thank you to The Manila Hotel and to everyone who helped organized tonight’s book launch. 


Most especially, thank you to my mentors who I have worked with in Build, Build, Build—ES Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go, thank you for the guidance, I enjoyed working with you sirs; Senator Mark Villar, thank you for the opportunity to work with you and learn from you; and to President Rodrigo Duterte, thank you very much sir, if not for you and your vision for our nation, we would not have this book in the first place. Thank you for your gift to the Filipino people.


To everyone who made time to be here, thank you very much.


Through Night Owl, we want the years of the Duterte Administration to be remembered as a collective movement of the Filipino people who wanted change and acted on it. We may have set our sights too high, but our country and the men who stood behind it deserve nothing less.


Thank you and good evening.

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