Thursday, November 29, 2007

For love of country

There is no denying. The people behind the Manila Pen take over did what they did for love of country. Iniibig din nila ang Pilipinas. I will give them credit for that.

Pero sayang. They are too focused on GMA. GMA is just a manifestation of a bigger problem. Ousting GMA is not the solution. Kapit tuko na si GMA sa malakanyang. Ang nakakatakot, ang magpilit siyang manitili sa poder beyond 2010.

Kaya napakahalaga na makapag buo ng critical mass. A critical mass of good citizens that will be strong enough to prevent GMA from holding on to power after 2010. Masyadong tuso si GMA. Kung nakapandaya sya noong 2004 para manatili sa poder, kahit ano pwede nyang gawin para manatili sa kapangyarihan.

Pero sa ngayon, mas mahalaga na pagtuunan ng pansin ang mapukaw ang atensyon ng sambayanan. There is a need to capture the imagination of the people. Confidence building is a necessary ingredient. There is a need to influence the collective mindset. For love of country is not enough to do the job.

The damage is done

Thank God it's over. Tear gas lang pala ang katapat nila.

Naging katawa tawa naman tayo sa buong mundo. Pinagpyestahan nanaman tayo ng media.

Father Rober Reyes is now blaming the police for the violence. Oh please. If they did not do what they did, there will be no violence.

According to Trillanes, obligasyon daw ang ginawa niya. Oh please, you have such a strong hero complex.

Bibeth Orteza thanked the media for protecting their group. Oh please. The media was there not to protect them but to get the scoop.

Marami nanaman ang maisusulat ant masasabi tungkol sa insidenteng ito. Isama na ang blog na ito. Ang masasabi ko, isang malaking sablay at papansin ang ginawa ng mga anti GMA. Panibagong dagok nanaman sa atin ito.

Tulad ng nasabi ko na, hindi magtatagumpay ang kanilang balakin. Walang critical mass na akala nila ay mayroon sila. Hindi lumabas ang tao sa Oakwood mutiny. HIndi lumabas ang tao sa kasagsagan ng Hello Garci scandal. Hindi lumabas and tao noong Feb. 2006 coup attempt. Hindi lalabas ang tao sa pangyayaring ito sa Manila Pen. Kung sakaling mag underwear fashion show si Trillanes, baka sakaling maglabasan pa ang mga tao.

Masyado silang nagpapaniwala sa survey. Galit ang tao kay GMA pero wala din silang tiwala kung sino man ang ipapalit, kung meron man. walang mukha na maipakita ang oposisyon na maaaring magpagkatiwalaan. Kahit mga anti GMA forces hindi pinagkakatiwalaan ng taumbayan. Mahirap ba intindihin yon?

Dahil hindi sila marunong umintindi, ayon, sira nanaman ang imahen natin sa buong mundo.

The political solution has to wait

As I write this blog, the Manila Peninsula stand off is on going. It is now 4:45 pm. I hope this crisis will end soon. This incident alone will definltey affect our economy in general. If this crisis drags and ends in violence, the more it will be bad for us.

Definitely, this will be the worst crisis for this administration.

Nakakalungkot. Hindi na nga maka usad and ating bansa, eto nanaman at may panibagong dagok. I saw two bishops, former senator Guingona, Dean Nemenzo, Argee Guevarra, JV Bautista. The statements made by Trillanes and Gen. Lim are quite strong. There isn't much new with all the statements they made. Mostly corruption charges against the Arroyo administration. As I kept saying, I am no GMA fan. This issue of corruption will not be solved by ousting GMA. The cycle of corruption will continue, itaga mo yan sa bato.

What I am seeing right now are men trying to beocme heores. They know that they don't have the support of the military. These people are disillusioned by surveys. What they are saying is that they have taken the fisrt step, the lead. Now they are calling on the people to support heir cause. They claim they have the support based on the figures in the surveys and the people who voted for Senator Trillanes. They believe they have a critical mass. But they are very, very wrong.

There is no critical mass. Yes, people are disgruntled but the people themselves are also at a loss on whom and what to believe. Even these groups wanting to oust GMA are not in agreement on who and how. In the absence of a critical mass, GMA will stay in Malacanang.

In the absence of a critical mass, the political solution has to wait. Everyone is talking of moral recovery but there isn't really a concrete move in this direction. Everything is lip service. Without the collective change in our values, as stated by Gov. Panlilio, change is not going to happen.

The Church has failed us. Only if the Church has truly done its role in our society, we will not be where we are right now. If the Church has not failed us, we should have become a nation of people with good values, with moral leaders. Unfortunately, as Tony Meloto noted, the Catholics have two personalities, one inside the Church and one the moment he/she steps out. And what is pulling this country down is our collective personality the moment we step out of the church.

So what do we do? Again, I reiterate my call for a sustained and faceless good citizenship campaign that will capture the imagination of our people to influence our collective mindset.

What we hear from these people are all motherhood statments. We hear nothing new.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

According to Gov. Panlilio

Lifted from here

"Our problem is not the form of government, but values and disvalues."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The disconnect

As I kept saying, I am no GMA fan. GMA is part of the problem and she is not the only problem. The bigger problem is us. Unfortunately, we don't want to take responsibility for our faults. We'd rather blame others for our woes.

When the masses elected Erap in 1998, the middle forces' candidate, Roco was way behind the pack. Roco was again their candidate in 2004 with another dismal performance. The problem with the middle forces is that they cannot make a connection. They only connect amongst themselves.

There is no dearth of anti GMA forces around. Columnists, commentators, bloggers, politicians, civil society groups are everywhere always harping anti GMA statements. The civil society is very efficient in forming groups and actions to certain issues. At the height of the Hello Garci scandal, the
Black and White Movement was organized. When Sigaw ng Bayan made a lot of noise to change the constitution, civil society countered with One Voice. The Pinoy Big Briber campaign was organized to show civil society's disgust over the cash gift distribution in Malacanang. Then there is also a petition calling for GMA and De Castro's resignation and the holding of a snap election in reaction to the various scandals rocking the administration.

At the end the of the day, ordinary Filipinos, who have no internet access, just went on with their lives unaware of such campaign from anti GMA forces. They may hear a bit from the eveninig news or from radio commentators but that's it. The ordinary Filipino hears about the cash distribution in Malacanang with hardly a reaction as if it is just a normal occurence. The masa cannot see what the middle forces are seeing. That is where the disconnect lies.

Middle forces are mostly educated. They can have a wider lattitude for patience and understanding. The masa has little of that. The middle forces therefor cannot expect the masa to swalllow every bit of words that they say. The masa can only see things from their perspective. The middle forces meanwhile has the capacity to see the perspective of the masa but they refuse to go down to the level of the masa. The middle forces only see things from their perspective.

Middle forces are the catalyst for change. Unfortunately, they intellectualize too much. By doing so, they alienate the masa more. Online petition? Pinoy big Briber? How can the masa relate to these campaigns. And these campaigns are good only while the issues are hot. Once the issues are over taken by other events, so is the campaign. In as much as they want to effect change, the middle forces cannot hold a sustained campaign that may hopefully get the attetion of the masa.

There is no dearth of intellectuals around. Many have come and gone. But they hardly made a dent. Some made a living out of their being intellectuals by becoming newspaper columnists. I have observed that a lot of these so called intellectuals are more interested in bloating their egos than trying to find a common ground.

The people who has truly affected our lives are the politicians. We have allowed politics and politicians to rule our lives. I think, after EDSA 1, most Filipinos have become experts in politics. Just like showbiz, politics has captured our imagination. Each and everyone of us, be it the masa or the middle forces, become opinionated on every political issue. Since EDSA 1, there has been no turning back.

Politics means division. Because of our penchant for politics snce EDSA 1, our has been a divided nation. Up to this day, we are still deeply affected by our politics specially civil society. It is the masa who has already become numb on political issues. At this point, the masa just couldn't care less.

With the masa being unaffected by the political noise the anti GMA forces are trying to create, the corrupt politicans and public servants are having the best times of their lives.

There are a lot of Filipinos who really, really care for our country. We are everywhere, not just here in the Philippines but around the globe. Unfortunately, us, the middle forces also cannot get our act together. Some of us are staunch anti GMA. Others would have no problem seeing GMA finish her term. At the same time, many among us are also involned in various advocacies. Due to differing advocacies, it is quite difficult to create a single advocacy that could gel all advocacies and make a connection with each and every Filipino.

Advocacies would vary from environment, education, housing, microfinance, health, transparency, relief operation, etc. There are thousands of advocacies around us. Again, the problem is the disconnect. Each and every advocacy is treated separately from each other instead of being seen as interconnected advocacies. Just like the middle forces that cannot make a connection with the masa, advocacies cannot make a connection with each other. At the end of the day, in spite of the large number of well meaning Filipinos who want to do their share in nation building, everything is in disconnect. The kanya kanya attitude prevails.

What we need is to go back to the basics. The most basic issue that can connect each and every one of us and each and every advocacy is CITIZENSHIP. Let us take a moment to leave our politics behind. Yes it will be good for GMA. But I also believe, in the long run, it will also be good for our country. GMA is already a given. She is the product of what we have become as a people. But if we change as a people, change our attitude, be better citizens, then chances are, we won't have a problem like GMA again.

Reaction to Archbishop Lagdameos's blog post

From the blog of Jaro Archbishop Lagdameo, Moral Recovery? Do it, I posted the following in its comments section.

Moral revolution or moral recovery is quite elusive in our only Christian nation in Asia. Has the Church failed in building a moral foundation to lead us Filipinos on what is right and just? In spite of its strong influence, not just at the pulpit but even on our political life, the Church was unable to lead its people to the righteous path. Why? Because the Church has failed to capture the imagination of our people.

Going to Church and attending masses is just a routine among most Filipinos. More often than not, religion has barely influenced our behaviours. We often see public officials attending masses and yet we suspect corruption from these officials. But it in not only the public servants who are guilty. It is also us the public. If we as a people, will only practice what the Church teaches, we may not be in this quagmire we are in now. We will not cheat on our taxes. We will follow the traffic rules. We will be more frugal and practice discipline. We will be more caring to others. We will not bribe our way out. We will reports wrong doings. We will return what is not ours. We will not sell our votes.

We have been a Christian nation for almost five centuries and yet we have not become an ideal Christian nation. The Church must also assess itself on where it has failed. Personally, my assessment is that, as I mentioned earlier, the Church has failed to capture the imagination of our people.

For moral recovery to happen, it has to be a collective experience. It must not be an isolated cases such as the Marikina or Naga phenomenon. Change can happen in this country if we do it collectively. We regularly read from the news on calls for moral recovery but unfortunately, there is not a single entity that takes up the challenge to truly push for such recovery. It is nothing but lip service and left to the readers on what they would do about the call.

My personal advocacy is good citizenship. What we need is a sustained and faceless campaign that will capture the imagination of our people in order to influence our collective mindset. We are all part of the problem We, then, should also be part of the solution.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Among Ed's speech at Ateneo

Eight hours from now, I will be speaking before a similar audience at De La Salle University.

I know what you are thinking. You got first dibs at the governor of Pampanga, and for that alone, the eagle has soared over the archer once again. Tuloy, I am tempted to shout, FABILIOH!

By the way, I gave a talk in UP last week, so that probably settles the implied question.

Beyond your deep-rooted and far-reaching rivalry, I am grateful to you for giving me a forum to communicate the moral crusade in Pampanga. I hope that the campus communities will respond positively and become an active partner in the renewal that we all desire for our country.

You invited me to share with you my experience in responding to the call of leadership in a time of crisis. I would prefer to rephrase it as a response to a crisis in leadership. In order to make it clearer to you, allow me to begin with a bit of an overview of the social and political situation in Pampanga a few months before the elections.

Lilia Pineda, more casually called Nanay Baby, (nanay na, baby pa. trust the Filipino to be that family oriented) broke into the turf of the Lapid father and son when she began a series of so-called consultations with the people, asking them two questions: first, if their lot has improved with the ascent of the incumbent governor, Mark Lapid. The answer of course, was quite obvious, leading to the second question, if they have an alternative leader they would want to take over the governorship. The answer was equally undeniable. Equipped with more than adequate resources, she covered the whole province, practically running a roadshow of grassroots building.

There was talk that Pineda, then a board member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the wife of Bong Pineda (who is quite notorious, I mean, famous in his own right throughout Regions One to Five), decided to face Mark Lapid head on in the coming elections because the governor chose Con Laus, the son of a local businessman, over her own son, who was the mayor of Lubao town. To make matters worse for the father of the province, Pineda ally and Vice Governor Joseller Guiao filed a case against him, alleging graft and corruption in the supervision and collection of quarry taxes.

The stage therefore was set for a grand battle between the two political giants of Pampanga. Every media pundit and sari-sari store istambay were expecting a drawn out war of attrition, where no prisoners will be taken and no resources will be spared. A senior citizen described it with a mixture of expectation and dread, saying, " muran pera king kampanya," or that it will rain money during the campaign. So many of the poverty-stricken in the province excitedly awaited the coming of the usual generosity, commonly experienced every three years, but only this time it will come like wave after wave of blessings. It was often said that it is only during this period that the poor get the attention and assistance they deserve, so they better make the most of it by playing one side against the other, conceding to the highest bidder, as it were. Many among the Kapampangans, however, were disconsolate at the prospect of having to choose between two candidates they did not like. A good many of them have decided that early to leave blank the space for governor in their ballots.

Before this backdrop, a group of people, a priest and some seminarians among them (no, I was not the priest) regretted the state of affairs that their province was in. If only to express a statement to the world that Pampanga is not bereft of good leadership, they decided to gather more of their like-minded friends and begin to search for an alternative candidate. Enough is enough, they said, the pride of the Kapampangan is at stake here. And if you know us, then you should also know that our kayabangan is legendary.

And so began the series of consultations in search of a candidate with the moral ground, the resources and the acceptability, who will stand as a symbol for the Kapampangan dignity and conscience.

We had a great difficulty in searching for that candidate. It even dawned on us that we might have been too idealistic, too far removed from reality. Either our prospect could not measure up to our criteria, or he would not be willing to get entangled between two battling giants. "The election result is already common knowledge," one of them said, conceding to the strength of one of the candidates, although I will not say who SHE is.

In the midst of this desperation, one seminarian turned to me and asked, "what about you?" My immediate and emphatic answer was, "no way!" My heart and mind was then running on hierarchical fuel. It was never an option for a Kapampangan priest to run for office in any previous election. Kapampangans being such a pious people, they revere their priests to a fault, conceding to them a spiritual leadership that excluded political power.

Like any other Filipino, Kapampangans live with a compartmentalized sense of morality. Our churches are filled every Sunday, but our jueteng industry is equally robust. We declare ourselves cerrado catolico, but we do not pay our taxes honestly. Our cars and jeepneys are festooned with images and pictures of the crucified Christ and the Virgin Mother, but they are not powerful enough to remind us to obey traffic laws. Thus, what place is there for a priest to enter the secular world of politics?

The idea of a priest running for the governorship snowballed among the people of conscience who have begun to call themselves the Third Force. Slowly, my outright refusal gave way to sober reflection as I thought of the people being under the yoke of patronage, and for how long, since we all know how easily political dynasties can take root and flourish. I looked back at my past to find a ground and a horizon for my final decision.

Even as a seminarian, I have intently dedicated my life for the uplift of the marginalized and the weak, and this had continued in my parochial and archdiocesan work. Thankfully, I was assigned later to direct the Social Action Center of Pampanga, more popularly known as SACOP. This enabled me to delve more deeply into the plight of the masses and be exposed to their needs and aspirations, and more importantly, to identify with their situation. Thus, I made it a personal choice to live a simple life and temper my wants to the more basic necessities, for it would not have been in consonance with the Gospel had I enjoyed affluence while people around me were hungry. If they did not eat, I did not eat.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo allowed me to work more closely with government and non-government organizations in helping to ease the plight of the poor and dispossessed. I began to realize that good intentions were not enough, there must be a working structure that would efficiently and effectively answer to the needs of the poor. I also learned that I did not have the answer to all the problems besetting the needy, that there are others who can creatively contribute to the common pool of knowledge and wisdom. Thus, it was impressed upon me that I was not a modern-day Messiah, but rather, a bringer of grace from the Annointed One. On the other hand, I realized that redemption has its social underpinnings, and that I join all other people in a journey towards salvation. Having experienced all these, there came a certain point in my life when I dedicated my priesthood to the central message of the Gospel of John, that Christ came that man may have fullness of life in all its dimensions, that we as clerics must not only feed the soul, but also see to the nourishment of the body and the mind. I celebrated the sacraments as essential signs of relationship with the Divine, but encouraged my parishioners to share their graces to the less fortunate they meet outside the Church. In my own humble way, I persevered in my vocation and my service to the archdiocese, giving my obedience to my spiritual fathers, first to Archbishop Oscar Cruz, and then to Archbishop Aniceto, fostered by my brotherhood with my fellow priests.

Thus, when I finally conceded to become a candidate for governor, it was in response to a gaping need for moral resurgence in a despairing province, and in a more personal way, a deepening of my ministerial priesthood. When Kapampangans of known capability, respected stature and proven worth would not want to give people an option to choose a better candidate, I had to stand up for my people. But believe me, I had to spend days of prayer and feverish consultations before I made my decision. I had to resolve if this was a genuine desire for good, or a hidden longing for glorification. Either way, I was made aware of the consequences of my decision. The reasons for not running were many and equally valid. Not a few friends came and gave me their advice. I listened. In the end, I had to listen to and obey what my conscience dictated. My own ministerial priesthood demanded that I come down from the safety and security of the pulpit and incarnate the Gospel message in the political world. The Church has been complaining for so long about graft and corruption, but she was generally being ignored. It would have seemed that she has lost her moral authority over the considering that most of the suspected practitioners of graft and corruption came from Catholic schools themselves, Ateneo included, or probably, Ateneo specially. It was my belief that the extraordinary situation prevailing in Pampanga at that time demanded an entirely different and fundamental response. I took the leap and decided to do something about it hands on. I leapt, and found that I was not alone. I was joined by men and women of good will who were willing to take a risk.

I honestly believe that the people who leapt with me, people from all class and all manners of persuasion were driven by a common desire to see through a crusade that will realize Gospel values in governance. I do not deny the fact that Kapampangans are personalistic, more so with their priests, but be that as it may, I have always explained that the crusade was not about me, but it was about something bigger than all of us combined. I was just a part of the whole, as important as the campaign manager, but equally as indispensable as the poll watcher.

Who were these people of conscience? A classic example would be our technical consultant on software systems. All his life he had never voted in any election, or even participated by any means whatsoever. He was a self-confessed apolitical and fence-sitting Filipino who would just let political dogs lie, for as long as they leave him in peace. But when the crusade began, he was convinced by his wife to visit the EDquarters and offer whatever talent or materials he could contribute to the furtherance of the campaign. We cannot quantify his involvement in pesos, much less measure its effects, but because of his free services, we were able to set up a text brigade, hook up the EDquarters in a wi-fi network, and more importantly implement an automated quick count system that helped us track down the results of the elections accurately. Given the fact that as independent candidate I was not privileged to receive a copy of the election returns, his help was truly incalculable. What is more notable is that during an interview, it was found out that he lived next door to a mayoralty candidate of the City of San Fernando. He could have earned tens of thousands of pesos, had he offered his services to him. But he chose to give it to us for free.

Actively involved, too were a dozen former seminarians who were among the workhorses of the campaign. Collectively known as Bakal Boys, their background often provided a spiritual dimension in our daily struggle. Where else would you find a campaign where strategies and tactics were discussed along with conversion, metanoia and kenosis? Many of them were influential in my decision to run, being members of the core group that searched for an alternative candidate. Among the Bakal Boys was one who lived quite an easy life in Cebu, earning a salary that would be the envy of most single men of his age and stature. But like Peter, he left everything behind, leaning on nothing but his faith and his earnest desire to do something good for our province. He is now a part of my team, involved in a sensitive position that requires my utmost trust and confidence. Another former seminarian came all the way from London, where his community produced the very first U-Tube video in support of my candidacy.

Perhaps it is the presence of the Bakal Boys that allowed us to look at the ordinary events of the campaign with the eyes of faith. The confluence of all the events, such as the blessing of good weather in both our grand miting de avances, the speed at which triumph was achieved, the mystery of the experts in statistics and probability being confounded by their own means, all pointed to the hand of God actively involving Himself in the affairs of man. At every turn, we looked for the sign of His presence, and we were not disappointed. Ours was not just a moral crusade, it transformed itself into a divine crusade.

A very palpable sign of God's presence was the full support of brethren from other faiths and denominations in the crusade for good governance. Among the first to express their support on the day I filed my certificate of candidacy were Methodist pastors. Leaders of born again fellowships also boosted our stock, widening the spectrum of collaboration into dimensions previously unknown. I believe that there is no other previous experience in our nation where people of different faiths actively involved and immersed themselves in a mission as one body. What we were seeing was the Kingdom of God, a dedicated assembly of people under one dream: to see good governance become a reality.

Cyrelle was your typical Among Ed volunteer: multi-tasking, energetic, uncomplaining, except for the fact that she just graduated from a private elementary school. She was everyone's kid niece or sister, a favorite object of pranks, but equal to every joke thrown her way. Forsaking a summer of visiting malls and beaches, she became the ultimate factotum, preparing coffee, manning the photocopy machine, answering the phone, encoding data and stapling sheets of paper. Not even four years social studies in high school would match up to the wealth of hands-on learning she attained during those months.

And of course, there were those who contributed their time, talent and treasure from all walks of life and practically from every corner of the earth. There was this public school teacher who was given a one thousand peso bribe by another candidate. She took the effort to visit our EDquarters and turn over the money to us. As fast as people were taking posters and flyers from our office, equally consistent were the kind donors who dropped by every day to deliver campaign materials they had printed on their own. During our motorcades, ordinary people threw coins into our showboats to share their support. Even non-Kapampangans generously shared their blessings.

And finally, there was Jomar Nulud, a barangay chairman in my last parish who was gunned down by still unidentified assailants days after my proclamation. Kapitan Jomar switched allegiance after he learned of my candidacy. The night before he was killed, he ominously told me to be careful. "Hindi baleng ako and itumba, huwag lang ikaw," he said. His was the ultimate sacrifice. I am nothing compared to him.

A common thread that ran among all of these examples of people who joined us in our campaign was the element of sacrifice. The Japanese have a proverb: always replace a thing of value with that of a greater value. In giving up something of themselves, whether as mundane as a summer vacation, as abstract as a preconceived notion of a different faith, or as irreplaceable as a human life, their surrender was for a far greater cause. And because of this, they gained an ownership of the crusade. This ownership has been multiplied a thousand times and has reached the puroks and barangays, but we still need to reach out to a lot more people and convince them to own this new politics.

Once, I expressed my misgivings to a supporter, rhetorically asking, What if I got used to all the attention and the glory? What if I started to enjoy it? What if I started to demand it? Thankfully, I am surrounded by people whose presence always reminds me that the crusade is a team effort. Even now, I am not "Gov" to them. I am still "Among Ed," and to the more familiar, I am "Brods or Jo." I allow this informality, because I know that I am just one instrument among many volunteers, workers, contributors, prayer warriors and well-wishers who gave a part of their lives to realize a vision. It just so happened that my position warrants me to be a primus inter pares, a first among equals, or more accurately a father to sons and daughters who deserve my love, respect and attention, because they gave so much so freely.

That we have won through a plurality reminds us that we have to be gentle with our salesmanship. We have to convince the civil society and the civil service, by way of example and education, that honest governance works. We have to provide for a transparent, efficient and effective delivery of services, that the people may pay their taxes with cheerful hearts, knowing that their hard-earned money does not find itself in some bureaucrat's pocket. Arriving much sooner than expected, as it were, we are quite pleased that the Capitol leadership, as well as the rank and file have for the most part adapted to our program of government quite quickly. I credit this to the government employee's innate goodness and willingness to work. I have to admit, though that the adjustment period was quite tenuous. But when the Governor sets the example in punctuality, simplicity of lifestyle, openness to the constituents, dedication to work and pleasantness of disposition, the most taciturn employee has no other recourse than to follow.

Today, our province earns an average of a million pesos a day in quarry revenues. Suppliers have lowered their bids dramatically after being reminded that the days of SOPs are over. A system of fiscal discipline is being instituted. We have streamlined the manpower to make it more citizen-oriented. Our primary attention is now given to the equipment, staffing and development of our provincial and district hospitals. We are at the moment studying systems and processes that will make quality service be delivered on time. Capacity and confidence building measures are being undertaken in order that the bureaucracy can pride itself as a working and effective body. For the first time in the history of the province, a draft three-year executive agenda will be submitted to the people tomorrow for their comments and suggestions, in the spirit of consultation and collaboration.

But for society to be transformed, it is not enough that government employees be empowered and motivated. The desire for positive change and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good must not only trickle down, but must engulf every barangay. A visual way of describing the approach to this objective is that of the way the bibingka is cooked: heat on top, heat at the bottom. We should inflame the governing and the governed. The inured system of political patronage and dependency may take a little more time and may require a more extensive strategy for the people to realize that in the end, the benefits to the community will outweigh any personal gain. Good citizenship must take root until following the law, paying taxes honestly, respecting the environment and upholding one's dignity shall become second nature to every person.

I don't think that God meant me to endure five seminaries just to become a Governor or some other public official. I love my vocation, and at the end of this temporary detour into politics, I shall desire nothing more than to have my priestly faculties once again, and be a shepherd of the faith anew. A personal glory shall be that day when I shall hold aloft the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ, recalling my first mass after my ordination. It is from this vantage point that I say that I really do not encourage the entry of priests or ministers to the electoral arena. It would be utter presumption and even a complete falsehood to maintain that only the clergy posses the moral superiority to lead the nation. A layman with the proper motivation and popular support can lead any province to glory, in the same manner that an elected priest with less than honorable intentions can bring the province to its knees. Every believer has a divine mandate to do good and cast out evil. For the sake of the beggar out in the street, for the sake of the baby who is fed with rice water, for the sake of the sick patients in our public hospitals, for the sake of every Filipino who persists in the hope of a brighter horizon, I ask you to help us prove that we are essentially good, and that we uphold the common good.

It has been said so often that Pampanga right now is a laboratory mouse in a grand experiment upon which almost every eye of every disillusioned Filipino is fixed, steadily observing how the dream of good and honest governance is realized, and if it can result in the improvement of the people's plight. Historically, our province has always been the breeding ground of social unrest and revolutionary thought. Once again, there is something revolutionary going on in Pampanga. With fervent prayers, consultative and exemplary leadership, participatory and law-abiding citizenship, collaborative and dedicated service, together with the application of better organizational systems, technological processes and innovations, I believe that we can overcome and transform the individual and the society. Then shall our success in Pampanga be translated in every province of the nation. Let us all join forces to transform ourselves, and in turn our beloved Philippines.


Good citizenship is my personal advocacy. I sincerely believe this is part of the solution. Unfortunately, people can't see things from my perspective. I sent email to various columnists and known personalities floating this idea. They can't even give a "thank you" note responce which is a reflection of good citizenship.

But I am not giving up. I know there is still people out there who may be willing to take up this cause. Among Ed has recognized the significance of good citizenship. Beyond being inspired by Among Ed's speech, let us take it a little further by actually doing something to promote good citizenship.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

De Quiros is clueless

Conrado de Quiros is not really my favorite columnist. What he writes in his columns are quite predictable. It is always his being anti GMA. If something goes wrong, chances are he will blame GMA.

For a change, in his column today entitled Suggestions, he lamented what he observed as dysfunctional behaviors among Filipinos. He wrote,

You know you’re Filipino when you bump into a friend or friends on the door of a building and you exchange pleasantries there and then, oblivious to the fact that you’re blocking other people going in and out. You know you’re Filipino when you freeze in the middle of a supermarket aisle and have a conversation on your cell phone, oblivious to the fact that it’s everything people can do to squeeze around you. You know you’re Filipino when you park in front of a parked car, expecting him to push your vehicle out of the way when he comes back; when you talk loudly in a forum or movie house, not particularly minding that a speaker is speaking or that other people are intently watching the movie; when you throw soft drink cans, hamburger boxes, and wrappers outside the window of your van on the highway.

As I continued reading his column, I was already expecting that he will blame this behavior to GMA. Thank God he was quite reasonable this time. In fact, he was clueless why we behave the way we do. His college teacher theorized that one thing Filipinos never learn is civics, or or a self-propelled sense of duty or sense of propriety, something ingrained in other Asians. Exactly! This is what I have been saying all along.

We do have good Filipinos or good citizens around us. Our problem is our collective psyche. Good citizens involve themselves in various civic activities or duties. They become part of advocacies in various forms and agenda. Once in a while we hear from the news acts of kindness. We can come together in time of calamities and tragedies. But these are more of the exceptions than the rule. Collectively, we simply are bad citizens.

We are all very aware of this characteristic. There is a show on channel 2, Noy-pi Ikaw ba 'to, showing our faults as a people. We always hear and read comments saying how we easily adjust in a foreign land. We are very much aware of our faults. Unfortunately, there is really no group or individuals that could influence our collective psyche. Our collective psyche is part of the cause of why we are where we are. Good citizenship has to be ingrained to most Filipinos. This can only be done if we can create a critical mass of good citizens. There are many good citizens among us. We just have to come together and really behind a singel cause and/or campaign.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who should we believe?

From his Inquirer column, Manolo was asked this question by Cebu students in one of his speaking engagement.

It is heartwarming to note that students are engaged. That they want to do their share and be part of the solution. With the question, it is obvious that their adult counterparts are doing a terrible job.

In my youth, I did not have that dilemna. There was Senator Tanada, the old Man, there's Ka Pepe Diokno, Sen. Jovito Salonga, Chino Roces and even Cory Aquino. In those days, there were people we believe in. Senator Pimentel was one of them before but now he has become a huge disappointment.

But today, the youth is asking, Who should we believe?. For me, that is not the right question. Or maybe it is just a statement of fact in the form of a question. That in our country today, there is hardly anyone among our leaders that is trustworthy.

Leadership is part of the solution but looking for a leader is not the solution. What we need is to create a critical mass of good citizens who can make their voice be heard. This critical mass will come from the youth and the middle class. Once this crtical mass is formed, a true leader who will hopefully emerge, who will stand out. But what is vital is the critical mass. Let us worry about the who later.

So how do we form the critical mass of good citizens? Through a faceless good citizenship campaign that will capture the imagination of every Filipino and influence our collective mindset.

Faceless is a necessary ingredient to have a credible campaign. The campaign will be visible but the movers will be invisible. This is a must. If the movers will be coming out in the media to explain the cause, then it is very predictable that the campaign will be lost through insinuations of personal agenda and motive. Anonymity must be maintained even after the formation of a critical mass.

Capturing the imagination of our people is the best way to get their attention. Nobody will take the campaign seriusly unless it is able to get the attention of evrybody. NO, it does need to set off a big blast, literally and figuratively, just to get the attention. What the campaign needs is a content where each and every Filipino can relate to. My idea is the title of this blog, Iniibig ko Ang Pilipinas. We can start something as small as this phrase, Iniibig ko ang Pilpinas. Space in newspapers can be bought specially in tabloids and have the phrase "Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas" printed. Stickers of "Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas" printed in the local dialect can be spread all over fro Batanes to Tawi Tawi. It is just a simple teaser that will make everybody asking, what is this campaign and who is behind it? Questions that the public and the media will not know and will always keep them asking the question in order to sustain the interest of the public on the campaign.

Once the attention is there, then influencing the collective mindset is the next agenda. But the details of this cannot be expressed in a public space such as this blog. Confidentiality is a necessary component to be able to thwart any attempts of various groups who may want to use the campaign to their advantage.

Going back to the Cebu students. If a good citizenship campaign is already in place, chances are, these idealistic students would most likely invlolve themselves to be part of this campaign. They can easily adopt and propagate whatever ideals the campaign will pursue. Student can imbibe the values of good citizens and practice them not just in school but in their every day dealing with people and in their homes. We, adults, simply have to show them the way, the correct path. If we can do these, then the student won't be asking, "Who should we believe?" but "How can we help?"

The Filipino driver

An article from the Inquirer caught my attention.

For Filipino drivers, traffic lights are mere suggestions

Many explanations were offered to explain why Filipino drive the way they do. The Filipino time attitude results in aggressive driving for doing things in the last minute. Lack of education and training is said to be a factor. Road bullies are also blamed. Our "makaisa" and "makalusot" attitude reflects in our driving behaviour. From the article, it said that drivers are more likely to commit traffic violations if they don't see any traffic enforcer.

My solution to this is simple, good citizenship. Good citizens will follow traffic rules and regulations. Good citizens will not break the law even in the absence of enforcers. Good citizens will become good drivers. Good drivers who will not drive on counter flow, who will give way and who will not just cut lanes. Even if one is uneducated but a good citizen, chances are this citizen will follow the law.

How to promote good citizenship? That is another story. All I am saying is if we are good citizens, our roads will not be as chaotic as it is today.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Batang nagpakamatay dahil sa kahirapan

Mga Bata ng Hapag

Nakapagngingitngit. Hanggang kailang magiging ganito tayo. Lugmok sa kahirapan.

Sa Malakanyang, yung mga mayayamang pulitiko binibigyan pa ng bugkos bugkos na pera samantalang may mga batang kumikitil sa sarili nilang buhay dahil sa kahirapan.

May pwedeng gawin pero kanya kanyang diskarte pa rin tayo. May mga magpapadala ng postcard sa malakanyang. May mga nagpapakalat ng petisyon upang magresign ang nasa malakanyang. Pero ang mas nakararami sa atin, sadyang wala nang pakialam. Masisisi ba natin sila?

May gusto akong gawin pero di ko magawa. Gusto kong magkaroon ng isang kampanya. Kampanya na pupukaw sa kamalayan ng bawat Pilipino. Kampanyang magiging bahagi ang bawat Pilipino. Kampanyang walang mukha. Kampanyang pakakaisahin tayo.

Kung kailan ko maisakakatuparan ito, di ko alam.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The November 9 protest

Some may already be aware of the planned mass-mailing scheduled on November 9. The details of the protest action can be read on the blog of the Black and White Movement. On the same day, an e campaign will also be held. Details here.

When I read about this protest action from Manolo's blog, my initial reaction was, here they go again. I am sure the intent of the organizers is pure. That there is no personal agenda. That what they plan to do is for our country. But this kind of campaign is only a good media event for the day. After this event is reported on the news, everything will be forgotten.

As I kept stressing in this blog, what we need is a campaign that will capture the imagination of our people. This November 9 event is too middle claish. Napaka burgis. It is something that our poor kababayans will not be able to relate to. They will simply see this event as another anti gloria campaign. Just one of those, ika nga.

If we truly, truly want to have change, we need to influence the collective mindset of Filipinos. We should always think of the collective. Hindi iyong tayo tayong lang na mga nasa middle class. A campaign must involve each and every one of us.

There may be no speeches or banners on this day. But still, it will just be like another perya. Remember the Black Friday campaign? May nangyari ba? So many other campaigns have been launched and forgotten. November 9 will be another one of them. Sayang. The middle class is just too elitist it doesn't know how to involved ordinary Filipinos in its campaigns. Masyadong napapaka burgis ang burgis. The reason why it can't make itself become catalyst for change.

Yes,the middle class may be outraged by the suhulan, but still I asked on this blog, where is the outrage?, the collective outrage, that is. Part of the solution is psychological.