Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Things To Do to Be a Better Filipino

There are at least three things one can do to be a better Filipino. Certainly, there are more. But these are my contributions to the table.

There are two kinds of Filipinos. Filipinos by default, and Filipinos by choice. There's a world of difference between the two.

Filipinos by default. When you were born, you became a Filipino by default. You did not choose what would appear on your birth certificate, nor did you choose the nationality of your parents, much less the place you were born in. Then, as you grew up, you had all these impressions--good or bad--about the Philippines, but were largely uninvolved because of your very young age.
Some Filipinos have chosen to remain uninvolved even after 18 years of age. When these Filipinos get their day in court for the crime of being a Filipino, these are the ones who will tell the court, "Your honor, I did not choose to be born a Filipino."

Filipinos by choice. Clearly, when Filipinos by choice get their day in court for the crime of being a Filipino, these will say, "I am guilty, your honor. Hang me if you will. I am a Filipino." After having seen everything that the Philippines stands for, they say, all these don't matter at the end of the day. I love my country. In my own little ways, I'm going to help out.

A great present-day example of this kind of Filipino is Alexander Lacson who wrote the book, "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country." In sum, the 12 things are:

1. Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy Local. Buy Filipino.
4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
7. Support your church.
8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
9. Pay your employees well.
10. Pay your taxes.
11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.

The book is a best-seller and the ONE THING you can do today to be a Filipino by choice is to go out and buy that book, and most importantly, READ that book. You will see that the 12 things are not all that hard to do. They only need to be done by a critical mass of Filipinos, starting with YOU.


(a) Find a world map and locate the Philippines in that map. Someone somewhere may ask your help, and it will be a shame if you will not be able to point in the map where the Philippines is. Know how far it is from the equator. Know its neighboring countries. Know what oceans surround it. Know what climate we have. Know how long our day or night is. Even without a map, be prepared to describe where it is. Lastly, know what the number 7,107 means.

(b) Find a Philippine map and locate the main islands. Know where Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are, and where their artificial boundaries are. Know where the key provinces and cities are. Know how many places are called "Cagayan" and where they are: Cagayan Province, Cagayan de Oro, and Cagayan Islands. Know where Mt. Apo, the country's highest peak, is. Know where the Philippine Eagle thrives. Know where the Chocolate Hills are, where the Banaue Rice Terraces are, and where many other great sits of the Philippines are.

(c) Know the languages spoken in your country. Do you know that the linguists count between 130 to 170 languages or dialects in the country? Do you know the main ones? Do you know where the Ilocos region is? Know where the Tagalogs are, the Bicolanos, the Hiligaynon, the Cebuanos, Moros, Waray, etc.

(d) Know the major events in our history. Be ready to tell your friends and children how the name "Philippines" came about. Do you know there was once a move to change it to "Maharlika"? Read a bit more about Jose Rizal, Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar, Antonio Luna, Juan Luna, Apolinario Mabini, Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat and many more. Find out a bit more how each one lived, and how each one died. Find out who killed some of them and why; and reflect how we can do better in this generation, or the next.

(d) Know the religions and customs of every part of the country. What religions influence the thinking of Filipinos? Are we properly living out the values taught to us by the Church? What are our core values? Which values are helping us? Which ones do not? How can we do better? What are our festivals? Why do we love festivals?


(a) Appreciate the different sub-cultures of our country. Filipinos come from different linguistic backgrounds and cultures attached to them. Know a bit more about the diversity of our people. Know how each one is being stere-typed by the others, and the reasons behind it. Know the sensibilities of each sub-culture and respect them. Understand why Filipinos speak English even to each other. Understand why Moros want greater autonomy.

(b) Serve. From praying to blogging to actual work in an office or community, one can be of great service to the country. Oftentimes, being a good civilized citizen is good enough. But it is virtue to participate in anything that will make our immediate surrounding even more civilized. So start serving right within your family, work or business, church or neighborhood. Be a man of integrity and don't be lazy.

(c) Say "No" to corruption. Corruption is there because people patronize it. It's an "easy" way out for some of us. But for this country to function properly, let us pay our dues properly. We want smooth traffic and disciplined drivers. Corruption hinders it. We want good roads. Corruption short-changes us. The list is long and painful. Let's stop the list from getting even longer. To love our countrymen is to say, "No" to them at some point.

(d) Pray for our leaders. When you're a Filipino, regardless of your religion, you know how to pray. Pray for our leaders. Tremendous responsibilities are on their shoulder. We want them to be super-human; but fact is, they're just human after all, prone to temptation, prone to anger and frustration, prone to discouragement, prone to disillusionment---just like the rest of us.

(e) Pray for our government. This is the only government we have. This is the only government we ought to have. We have embraced democracy as a nation. We cannot learn to handle its reigns overnight. We started to run our own government only on July 4, 1946; barely a few decades ago, and one-man rule--whom some of us call a "dictatorship"--tainted 20 years of the time in between now and then. We have a lot to learn as a country and as a people, but let us treasure democracy, which we have fought hard to earn.

These are all for now. When I think of more, I'll write more...

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