Saturday, August 30, 2008

Filipino by Choice, Oh Yeah?

It's easy to say be a Filipino by choice, but what's the price to pay?

To me, being a Filipino by choice does not have to mean staying here in the Philippines and remain a Filipino citizen til you rot. The reality for a lot of Filipinos is, some of us just have to leave either to maintain their existence, or at least their sanity. You work your brains out here and what do you get in return for the 20-32% the government takes away from your salary?

Indeed, what do we get in return for what gets deducted from our profits, dividends or take home pay? How I wish I see statesmanship, unity in purpose, strong and principled leadership worthy of respect and admiration in the annals of our country's history.
Instead of statesmanship, I see warlordism still looming way into the 3rd Millenium in this part of the globe. Instead of unity in purpose, I see factionalism and personality-oriented political alignments in the government. Instead of strong and principled leadership, I see compromise as the rule. This is a sin we are collectively guilty of.

We can do better than these!

Talk about Pope Benedict XIV's cry against the dictatorship of relativism, which the Catholic Church is waging a campaign against. It's happening right here in the Philippines right now, the country with the largest "Catholic" population in Asia. The quotes are deliberate. In the Church, as in a nation, there are absolutes. Once we let go of these absolutes in favor of relativism, we lose our soul.

I once worked as a contractual worker in the government (contractuals are not covered by GSIS, that's why I've never been a client of GSIS) and I saw a lot of dedicated people working for the country. But where the buck ends, the key result areas are different. No need to elaborate on that, but we can certainly do better than politics of patronage. The "weather-weather-lang-yan" attitude will never get us anywhere as a nation, much less as a "Catholic" nation. Shame on you politicians. But shame on us too for putting you there.

(In fairness I have high respects for the Social Security System, the PAG-IBIG Fund and PhilHealth. I think they're delivering the expectations. My salutes to them!)

So what's the price of being a Filipino by choice? The price is the cross. We have a cross to carry: our government, our people, and the ills of our culture.

Our government. WE ELECTED OUR LEADERS! Let's make our right of suffrage work for us, and not against us. We do not have direct control, as common citizens, over the actuations of our leaders, but we have the power to choose who sits there. Let's use that power wisely. Go beyond personalities. Let us use our brains, not our stomachs. A politician who gets votes by exploiting the squatters in the city corners will not think kindly of my statement.

If you're an immigrant Filipino, use the same principle in the country you have chosen to reside. Be an asset there and not a liability. Then, by your shining example, the people in the homeland will have someone to look up to as a hero and inspiration. Our heroes here are either dead or dying. Some are presently being tied up to be shot. It will be this way until we all learn our lessons on how to run a government of our own.

Our people. We are a diverse people, a very diverse people. Moros do not have the monopoly of the complaint that they're different. Cebuanos can claim such from the Tagalogs had they chosen to. People in Batanes can say as much. Cordillerans say so, but they have chosen, as a people, to stick it out. We do not detest our diversity, we appreciate them. The harmony is there, we just need to support the harmony, even in pain.

The rich and poor can work together well in this country. I used to lambast the poor and the lazy, as well as the rich and greedy, til the day someone asked me what I was doing about it. That's when I realized that the poor are not lazy and the rich are generous. You see it happening in Gawad Kalinga. I am a GK volunteer, are you? Be one of us. If not in GK, then get involved in something else. Together we can move mountains to improve the lot of our people.

Our Culture. We have a great culture, only we abuse it. First were the Spaniards, then came the Americans. We are a very hospitable country, even to the extent of inconveniencing ourselves. Then came the present crop of politicians, and, like their Spanish and American predecessors before them, abused the people with their "Sultan" attitudes and behaviors.

How do we put a check on the excesses and abuses attributed to our culture? I know at least one way: blogging! This is the present day expression of people's sentiments. No need to wait for your day in front of an audience. The news are not enough. Even journalists are being accused of working for their own interests--justifiably or not--but the voices of the people in blogs like this is a great venue. The blogs I see around are beautiful, like flowers in the field, beautiful in their diversity, full of expression.

At the end of the day, I always see a beautiful Filipino rising from the ashes of its history, a Filipino that is a gift to the world, a Filipino whose values are rooted deeply into the human essence of love: spirituality, family and camaraderie among all, regardless of color and race. Through our diversity and mutual respect for each other, we can become shining examples of being citizens of the world.

We can claim that.

Let us claim that.

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