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Thursday, March 29, 2007

(Updated) what do you want to change?

We know the story. a man named Armando "Jun" Ducat, held the lives of 26 children and their teachers yesterday. He was a man who wanted to express his grievance. He wanted education for the kids who were enrolled in his daycare. he wanted housing where these kids and their families lived. What makes a man hold children's lives on the line like that?

Mr. Ducat said:

He said what he wanted for the children was education “because if they were educated they would have discipline and would not become drug addicts.”

granted, education makes a better person, but no amount of education can account for good parenting and good values. a guy can have a doctorate and still be a lousy human being.

so where does the blame game begin? government? church? society? parents?

a lot of smart people become drug addicts. a lot of celebrities become drug addicts. i'm not an expert in that field. so i can't tell you what makes people take drugs and be addicted to them. all i know is, smart people can become addicts.

the real important part is, good parenting. whether that parenting comes from your biological parents or some relative or some other person. we've got to get our values from somewhere right?

who teaches our right and wrong? where do we get it?

what is important to us?

are these not the questions that make us human, that form the foundation of human civilization?

perhaps truly, on the most fundamental level, our values as a race, as a nation is really, really flawed.

Mr. Ducat said:
“I am appealing to you to give me a chance to speak. You are witnesses to the political dynasties, the rampant stealing in government. Because of this, our dream of progress for the country will not be realized,”
why do we persist on the notion that the success or failure of every man, woman and child in this country is directly tied to government?

yes there is graft! yes there is corruption! but we let it happen! Thats part of human nature and ergo, part of anything man creates. its an imperfect system.

"political dynasties", isn't the cause of what is wrong in this country. it isn't even a symptom.

Granted a lot of these families have been running this country since it began. many of our business leaders, our political pedigree, the celebrities, basically all who run this country are the same sounding, same spelling last names. they are the aristocrats. While Leadership, or in our case, a fundamental lack thereof is a huge factor as to why this country isn't going anywhere, our Aristocracy, can't entirely be blamed.

i submit that good people are elected to office and they can stay there for as long as we, the people deem it. people vote these politicians into office. if these people were doing something great, wouldn't you want them to keep on going? if they weren't, isn't it time for others to run for public office and get the old guard out?

if the old mayor's wife ran for office to replace her husband who had just complete his term and reached the cap of his term limit--- why would people vote for her? knowing full well, she is his wife? so, is it a vote of confidence for the stewardship of that family?

perhaps the real reason is, people have so few choices to pick from.

so the question shouldn't be why we must ban political dynasties, it should be: why aren't we encouraging more people to participate in our political exercises?

Mr. Ducat asked: “Aren’t we ashamed of ourselves? We are a country who believes in God and yet we are ungodly in our actions,”
holding children hostage, wouldn't that offend God?

anyway, yes, we. meaning you and me. we have contributed to this nation's problems, particularly graft at least one point or another in our life.

to Mr. Ducat and to all the misguided adventurers out there and to every Filipino, you want to change the Philippines? Do you want to raise the standard of expectation? do you want this country to rise and awaken? why aren't you doing more positive things with your time, instead of raising ruckus like taking kids hostage? initiating a military take over or yelling at the top of your lungs how many kinds of evil Gloria and her ilk are?

in every barber's and coffee shop in this country, in every newspaper, from journalist, and quite recently bloggers have reported what is wrong with our country. Those kids didn't need to be subjected to such trauma, all at the expense of what we already know to be a fact: that Gloria and her government and a lot of politicians represent what is terribly wrong with our country. things will not change tomorrow or in thirty days or in in four years. certainly justice must be done but through proper avenues. we have to work with those facts, so why don't we get over it and move on, so we can change things, positively?

one small measure is perhaps vote during the coming election (and succeeding elections) and make such vote, values oriented and, truthful election.

you want to get this country going? it starts with stopping the blame game and it starts when we all decide it to stop and start working.

we can start a revolution, right here right now. we need not raise arms.

for those of you reading this who are deeply religious, a values-oriented revolution can be a chance for you to practice what you learn from church. if you don't put stock in religion, thats ok, such is not a perquisite to doing good and being a better human being and better citizen. we can in our own private lives, in the simplest of deeds accelerate and create a profound impact on how this country is.

Those kids and millions more out there, yeah they need great education! but let us not delude ourselves with saving millions. You want quality education? Those kids, I believe should be taught how to think for themselves creatively, more than the ability to memorize facts and figures off a book. where to begin?

i dare you this: put one kid to through school. those of us who can afford to, send a kid to school. there is no need for foundations or politicians or press releases, or bonding together or churches. send a kid to school, any kid other than your own, be it your house helper's or your driver's. send one. make an impact in that one person's life, positively.

we can't force people to work. we can't force them values of earning a living instead of spending each day drinking, but we can encourage them to work and find respect for themselves and put food on the table.

You want to put a stop to those families living in slums? start by giving them jobs, and food to fill their empty stomachs but not through hand me downs. let them savor the value of putting food on the table, by working and learning to respect themselves.

if the government has a program to give housing to people, don't just give it to them. ensure they have jobs, and ensure that these people, even if it is a "token" payment, must pay for their new housing. why? it doesn't help if just give it to them. they have to respect themselves. they have to value their property so they'll take care of it and make it grow.

(Update-Added 30 March) on that note about government intervention, the New York City government is planning an experiment to curve the "vexingly high poverty rates" in their city. it would be interesting how this experiment would come out and perhaps we could get ideas of our own based on what they learn and apply it in the Philippine setting. Here's a snippet of the New York Times Article by Diane Cardwell which could be found here in detail:
Seeking new solutions to New York’s vexingly high poverty rates, the city is moving ahead with a bold antipoverty experiment that will pay poor families up to $5,000 a year to meet targets like exemplary school attendance, going for medical checkups or holding down a full-time job, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today.

Under the program, which is based on a similar effort in Mexico but is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, families would receive payments every two months for meeting any of 20 or so criteria per individual. The payments would range from perhaps $25 for an elementary school student’s attendance to $300 for greatly improved performance on a standardized test, officials said.

Conceived as an experiment, the program, first announced last fall and set to begin in September, is to serve 2,500 randomly selected families whose progress will be tracked against another 2,500 randomly selected families who will not receive the assistance.

The city has already raised $42 million of the $50 million needed to cover the costs from private sources, including Mr. Bloomberg. If the experiment is successful, officials plan to make it a government-financed program.

Likening the payments, called conditional cash transfers, to tax incentives that steer people of greater means toward property ownership, Mr. Bloomberg said he hoped the payments would set people on a road out of poverty permanently.

(update ends here)

truth be told, you don't even have to go far. if you can't afford to send another person's kid through school, all you need to do, isn't even just being a good Filipino. all you need to do, is be a good parent and teach your kid, great values. who knows what good that kid can do?

we don't need to go far in solving this country's many problems. we just need to have the right values and the right outlook. we don't even have to be in government. we don't even have to be in power. we just have to stop the blame-game. we just have to recognize the wisdom that we can't change what we have no power over, but we can act using our own hands, through what we can do. we can do a lot of good, right here, right now. want to change this country? it really does start with us: contribute positively.


sparks said...

I know where you're coming from bigmango. I read your frustration quite well. Its practically coming off the monitor in waves. I know we're all doing what we can as individuals to sort of function as much as possible in the system.

But here is where I disagree with you:

we don't need to go far in solving this country's many problems. we just need to have the right values and the right outlook.

Perhaps you underestimate the reach of government in each of our daily lives? You give it money, you obey its laws (however silly), it can punish you if you disobey such laws. From the moment you're born to the time you die, it monitors you, it makes you service a growing external debt whether you like it or not, it can either shelter you or let you ride out the onslaught of a globalising world on your own. Your fortunes literally rest on government policies. I can think of countless more examples.

If we want change, then we start with changing government because there's no other institution in the land that has as much (legitimate) power to either ameliorate or worsen our living conditions.

Cocoy said...

don't get me wrong. government has its proper place: defense, diplomacy, building infrastructure, settling disputes. those are functions of government. our debt is manageable. but it is fiscal policy that falls undoubtedly with the national government.

what's wrong in the philippines isn't that our system of government is broken. we're broken.

no system will work as long as you, me and everybody else can't get our act together. our moral compass is broken.

we expect our government to feed us, to shelter us, to make lives better, just like that. don't believe me? why is the pcso such an important function?

instead of trusting government to do that, as a "catholic" and "religious" nation does it not fall on us to do the right thing? what can we do? i already told you.

we don't need to be rallying in the streets. we can't all be saying gloria is evil. or who ever replaces her in 2010 or thereabouts. we can make a difference, right here, right now.

you want a government that doesn't take bribes, stop bribing. want a government that collects taxes well, then stop cheating on your taxes. want a government that is ethical, vote properly and encourage others not to waste their precious vote.

at the heart of all our problems it is first and foremost our moral compass that is broken. when we've fixed that, then we can start talking about leadership.

as individuals, we are not as powerless as we think we are. we can make a difference and together, that difference can change our country.

thats what i've been saying and no one seems to be getting.