Ang Paglilingkod sa Bayan

Napakarami ng nagsilbi sa ating bayan na matataas ang pinag-aralan, at kung saan-saan pa nag-aaral. Maraming mga namuno mula pagka Pangulo, mga Senador, mga Kongresista, mga Kabinete, at iba pa nga mga Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, mga abogado, mga may doctorate degree, etc… Sa madaling salita, hindi nagkulang sa mga matatalinong mga indibidwal ang naglingkod sa ating bayan. Nguni’t bakit mahirap pa rin ang Pilipinas hanggang ngayon? Matapos ang pangalawang digmaang pandaigdig, ang Pilipinas, bilang alyado ng Estados Unidos ang panglawa sa pinakamayamang bansa sa Asya. Nguni’t dahan-dahan ay nilagpasan tayo ng mga karatig-bansa.

Ano nga ba ang mali sa Pilipinas? Sa aking palagay ay kulang ang pagmamahal sa Bayan ng marami sa mga namuno sa ating bansa. Maaaring mayroon naman nguni’t hindi ito ang nasa una, nguni’t ang sariling interes bago ang interes ng bayan. Kung ginamit lamang sana nila ang kanilang galing at talino para sa kapakanan ng bayan ay marahil tayo ngayon ay maunlad na at hindi ganito ang sitwasyon ng bayan. Sa ating sitwasyon, mahigit siguro 90 porsyento ng mga halal na opisyal ay hanap-buhay nila ang pulitika. Kung kaya’t ito na rin ang dahilan kung bakit sila ay nakikipagpatayan sa mga laban sa pulitika sapagka’t kabuhayan ang pinag-aawayan.

Ang inyong lingkod ay sinuwerte sa dahilang hindi ko hanap-buhay ang pulitika. Nagkataong ako ay isa ng matagumpay na negosyante bago sumabak sa pulitika. Sa madaling salita, hindi ko kailangan ang pulitika upang mabuhay, sapagka’t ako po ay may pinagkakakitaan sa aking mga negosyo.

Ito marahil ang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit ako ay nakapagdedesisyon ng maayos at tuwid sapagka’t wala akong interes na personal. Ang sa akin, ako ay nabigyan ng pagkakataon na makapaglingkod sa ating bayan, ay pagbubutihin do na lang. Napakasarap pala ang makita mo na ang iyong mga kababayan ay masaya sa mga ginawa mong proyekto na labis na nakakatulong sa kanila. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam kapag nakita mo ang ngiti ng iyong mga kababayan, ito ay higit pa sa mga parangal at iba pang rekognisyon na maaaring igawad sa iyo.

Nagkaroon ng pagkakataon ang inyong lingkod na matikman kung paano ang mabuhay na parang prinsipe sa loob ng palasyo, at natikman ko na rin kung ano ang pakiramdam ng nilait at inapi matapos na mapatalsik sa palasyo.

Ang aking pinanghihinayangan lamang kung sakaling nasa palasyo pa ay ang pagkakataon na makatulong sa mas higit nakakarami nating mga kababayan

Nguni’t sa aking buhay ngayon sa oposisyon, ay kontento na ako at masayang-masaya sapagka’t alam ko na ang aking ipinaglalaban ay ang interes at kapakanan ng higit sa marami nating mga kababayan. Sa ilang mga pagkilos at pakikabaka na aking pong sinamahan nitong mga nakaraang taon ay mas nagpatibay sa aking paninindigan at paniniwala. Ang Edsa 3, kahit na pilit na binubura sa kasaysayan ng mga naghaharing-uri at mga ‘civil society’ ay nakatatak na sa puso at isipan ng inyong lingkod. Ito marahil ang pinakadahilan kung kaya’t ganun na lang ang aking paninindigan sa interes ng masa. Ang pagmamahal na ipinakita ng masa sa aking ama, kay Pangulong Erap, at sa inyong lingkod ay naka ukit na sa aking puso. Kung kaya’t ako ay makagaganti lamang ng utang na loob sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng paglilingkod ng tapat at maayos at higit sa lahat sa pakikipaglaban para sa kanilang kapakanan.

Kung kaya’t hindi ko kailanman hinahanap-hanap ang buhay sa palasyo sapagka’t ako ay kuntento na sa aking pong ginagawang pagtayo at pakikipaglaban para sa interes ng ating mga kababayan lalong-lalo na sa masa. Napakasarap maglingkod kung ang pagmamahal sa bayan ay tunay na iuuna bago ang sariling interes.

JV Ejercito


Ka Bel

Ang inyong lingkod ay lubos na nakikiramay sa pagpanaw ni Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. Sa kanyang pamilya, mga kaibigan, at mga kasama sa pakikibaka, ako po ay nakikidalamhati.

Sa ilang taong pakikibaka at pagsama ko sa mga kilos protesta laban sa mapaniil na rehimeng Arroyo, si Ka Bel ang isa sa madalas na kausap at kabatian ng inyong lingkod sa lansangan. Napakabait, bibo, at napakasarap na kausap. Sa mga lider ng militanteng grupo, siya ang isa sa mga tunay na niririspeto ng inyong lingkod.

Ma-mimiss ko ang mga kwento ni Ka Bel tuwing nasa lansangan.

Nawa’y maging inspirasyon sa atin ang ipinaglalaban ni Ka Bel para sa manggagawang Pilipino!

JV Ejercito

True Heroes – Our war Veterans

Last Sunday I was at the American Cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremonies hosted by the American Embassy. I had the great fortune of meeting real heroes – our few surviving war veterans. I was fortunate to have a picture taken with one of them and I’ll upload it soon so you can see what a genuine hero looks like.

The American Cemetery is located in the heart of for Fort Bonifacio and it is a true oasis in the urban jungle of Manila. According to Ambassador Kenney, the premises is the biggest war memorial and cemetery of its kind, even bigger than the one in Normandy. I have started making arrangements to bring our students at PLM there, not only so they can enjoy the physical beauty of the place – because it is truly beautiful – but also so that they can connect with our nation’s courageous past and to instill a sense of pride and patriotism. To remember that once upon a time, Filipinos stood up against tyrants and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. To remind that real freedom is never without cost and, for us who are the succeeding generations of these war heroes, that our freedom was purchased by their blood and heroism.

Obama’s commencement address to young graduates

Senator Barack Obama’s Commencement Address at Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University Commencement Ceremonies
Middletown, CT, USA
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thank you, President Roth, for that generous introduction, and
congratulations on your first year at the helm of Wesleyan.
Congratulations also to the class of 2008, and thank you for allowing
me to be a part of your graduation.

I have the distinct honor today of pinch-hitting for one of my
personal heroes and a hero to this country, Senator Edward Kennedy.
Teddy wanted to be here very much, but as you know, he’s had a very
long week and is taking some much-needed rest. He called me up a few
days ago and I said that I’d be happy to be his stand-in, even if
there was no way I could fill his shoes.

I did, however, get the chance to glance at the speech he planned on
delivering today, and I’d like to start by passing along a message
from him: “To all those praying for my return to good health, I offer
my heartfelt thanks. And to any who’d rather have a different result,
I say, don?t get your hopes up just yet!”

So we know that Ted Kennedy’s legendary sense of humor is as strong as
ever, and I have no doubt that his equally legendary fighting spirit
will carry him through this latest challenge. He is our friend, he is
our champion, and we hope and pray for his return to good health.

The topic of his speech today was common for a commencement, but one
that nobody could discuss with more authority or inspiration than Ted
Kennedy. And that is the topic of service to one’s country — a cause
that is synonymous with his family’s name and their legacy.

I was born the year that his brother John called a generation of
Americans to ask their country what they could do. And I came of age
at a time when they did it. They were the Peace Corps volunteers who
won a generation of goodwill toward America at a time when America’s
ideals were challenged. They were the teenagers and college students,
not much older than you, who watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold
on their television sets; who saw the dogs and the fire hoses and the
footage of marchers beaten within an inch of their lives; who knew it
was probably smarter and safer to stay at home, but still decided to
take those Freedom Rides down south; who still decided to march. And
because they did, they changed the world.

I bring this up because today, you are about to enter a world that
makes it easy to get caught up in the notion that there are actually
two different stories at work in our lives.

The first is the story of our everyday cares and concerns — the
responsibilities we have to our jobs and our families, the bustle and
busyness of what happens in our own life. And the second is the story
of what happens in the life of our country — of what happens in the
wider world. It’s the story you see when you catch a glimpse of the
day’s headlines or turn on the news at night — a story of big
challenges like war and recession; hunger and climate change;
injustice and inequality. It’s a story that can sometimes seem distant
and separate from our own — a destiny to be shaped by forces beyond
our control.

And yet, the history of this nation tells us this isn’t so. It tells
us that we are a people whose destiny has never been written for us,
but by us — by generations of men and women, young and old, who have
always believed that their story and the American story are not
separate, but shared. And for more than two centuries, they have
served this country in ways that have forever enriched both.

I say this to you as someone who couldn’t be standing here today if
not for the service of others, and wouldn’t be standing here today if
not for the purpose that service gave my own life.

You see, I spent much of my childhood adrift. My father left my mother
and I when I was two. When my mother remarried, I lived in Indonesia
for a time, but was mostly raised in Hawaii by her and my grandparents
from Kansas. My teenage years were filled with more than the usual
dose of adolescent rebellion, and I’ll admit that I didn’t always take
myself or my studies very seriously. I realize that none of you can
probably relate to this, but there were many times when I wasn’t sure
where I was going, or what I would do.

But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values
my mother had taught me — hard work, honesty, empathy — had resurfaced
after a long hibernation; or perhaps because of the example of
wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world
beyond myself. I became active in the movement to oppose the apartheid
regime of South Africa. I began following the debates in this country
about poverty and health care. So that by the time I graduated from
college, I was possessed with a crazy idea — that I would work at a
grassroots level to bring about change.

I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of.
And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago
offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in
neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings. My
mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school. My friends were
applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, this organization offered
me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car.

And I said yes.

Now, I didn’t know a soul in Chicago, and I wasn’t sure what this
community organizing business was all about. I had always been
inspired by stories of the Civil Rights Movement and JFK’s call to
service, but when I got to the South Side, there were no marches, and
no soaring speeches. In the shadow of an empty steel plant, there were
just a lot of folks who were struggling. And we didn’t get very far at

I still remember one of the very first meetings we put together to
discuss gang violence with a group of community leaders. We waited and
waited for people to show up, and finally, a group of older people
walked into the hall. And they sat down. And a little old lady raised
her hand and asked, “Is this where the bingo game is?”

It wasn’t easy, but eventually, we made progress. Day by day, block by
block, we brought the community together, and registered new voters,
and set up after-school programs, and fought for new jobs, and helped
people live lives with some measure of dignity.

But I also began to realize that I wasn’t just helping other people.
Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship
that was meaningful; the direction I’d been seeking. Through service,
I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of

Each of you will have the chance to make your own discovery in the
years to come. And I say “chance” because you won’t have to take it.
There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one
forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage,
and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the
other things that our money culture says you should buy. You can choose
to narrow your concerns and live your life in a way that tries to keep
your story separate from America’s.

But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligation to those who
are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because
you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do
have that debt.

It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our
individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking
only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs,
betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your
wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true
potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great
chapter in America’s story.

There are so many ways to serve and so much need at this defining
moment in our history. You don’t have to be a community organizer or
do something crazy like run for President. Right here at Wesleyan,
many of you have already volunteered at local schools, contributed to
United Way, and even started a program that brings fresh produce to
needy families in the area. One hundred and sixty-four graduates of
this school have joined the Peace Corps since 2001, and I’m especially
proud that two of you are about to leave for my father’s homeland of
Kenya to bring alternative sources of energy to impoverished areas.

I ask you to seek these opportunities when you leave here, because the
future of this country — your future — depends on it. At a time when
our security and moral standing depend on winning hearts and minds in
the forgotten corners of this world, we need more of you to serve
abroad. As President, I intend to grow the Foreign Service, double the
Peace Corps over the next few years, and engage the young people of
other nations in similar programs, so that we could work side by side to
take on the common challenges that confront all humanity.

At a time when our ice caps are melting and our oceans are rising, we
need you to help lead a green revolution. We still have time to avoid
the catastrophic consequences of climate change if we get serious
about investing in renewable sources of energy, and if we get a
generation of volunteers to work on renewable energy projects, and
teach folks about conservation, and help clean up polluted areas, if
we send talented engineers and scientists abroad to help developing
countries promote clean energy.

At a time when a child in Boston must compete with children in Beijing
and Bangalore, we need an army of you to become teachers and
principals in schools that this nation cannot afford to give up on. I
will pay our educators what they deserve, and give them more support,
but I will also ask more of them to be mentors to other teachers, and
serve in high-need schools and high-need subject areas like math and

At a time when there are children in the city of New Orleans who still
spend each night in a lonely trailer, we need more of you to take a
weekend or a week off from work, and head down South, and help
rebuild. If you can’t get the time, volunteer at the local homeless
shelter or soup kitchen in your own community. Find an organization
that’s fighting poverty, or a candidate who promotes policies you
believe in, and find a way to help them.

At a time of war, we need you to work for peace. At a time of
inequality, we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much
cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again.

Now understand this – believing that change is possible is not the
same as being naïve. Go into service with your eyes wide open, for
change will not come easily. On the big issues that our nation faces,
difficult choices await. We’ll have to face some hard truths, and some
sacrifice will be required — not only from you individually, but from
the nation as a whole.

There is no magic bullet to our energy problems, for example; no
perfect energy source – so all of us will have to use the energy
sources we have more wisely. Deep-rooted poverty will not be reversed
overnight, and will require both money and reform at a time when our
federal and state budgets are strapped and Washington is skeptical
that reform is possible. Transforming our education system will
require not only bold government action, but a change in attitudes
among parents and students. Bringing an end to the slaughter in Darfur
will involve navigating extremely difficult realities on the ground,
even for those with the best of intentions.

And so, should you take the path of service, should you choose to take
up one of these causes as your own, know that you’ll experience
frustrations and failures. Even your successes will be marked by
imperfections and unintended consequences. I guarantee you, there will
certainly be times when friends or family urge you to pursue more
sensible endeavors with more tangible rewards. And there will be times
when you are tempted to take their advice.

But I hope you’ll remember, during those times of doubt and
frustration, that there is nothing naïve about your impulse to change
this world. Because all it takes is one act of service — one blow
against injustice — to send forth that tiny ripple of hope that Robert
Kennedy spoke of.

You know, Ted Kennedy often tells a story about the fifth anniversary
celebration of the Peace Corps. He was there, and he asked one of the
young Americans why he had chosen to volunteer. And the man replied,
“Because it was the first time someone asked me to do something for my

I don’t know how many of you have been asked that question, but after
today, you have no excuses. I am asking you, and if I should have the
honor of serving this nation as President, I will be asking again in
the coming years. We may disagree on certain issues and positions, but
I believe we can be unified in service to a greater good. I intend to
make it a cause of my presidency, and I believe with all my heart that
this generation is ready, and eager, and up to the challenge.

We will face our share of cynics and doubters. But we always have. I
can still remember a conversation I had with an older man all those
years ago just before I left for Chicago. He said, “Barack, I’ll give
you a bit of advice. Forget this community organizing business and do
something that’s gonna make you some money. You can’t change the
world, and people won’t appreciate your trying. But you’ve got a nice
voice, so you should think about going into television broadcasting.
I’m telling you, you’ve got a future.”

Now, he may have been right about the TV thing, but he was wrong about
everything else. For that old man has not seen what I have seen. He
has not seen the faces of ordinary people the first time they clear a
vacant lot or build a new playground or force an unresponsive leader
to provide services to their community. He has not seen the face of a
child brighten because of an inspiring teacher or mentor. He has not
seen scores of young people educate their parents on issues like
Darfur, or mobilize the conscience of a nation around the challenge of
climate change. He has not seen lines of men and women that wrap
around schools and churches, that stretch block after block just so
they could make their voices heard, many for the very first time.

And that old man who didn’t believe the world could change — who
didn’t think one person could make a difference — well, he certainly
didn’t know much about the life of Joseph Kennedy’s youngest son.

It is rare in this country of ours that a person exists who has
touched the lives of nearly every single American without many of us
even realizing it. And yet, because of Ted Kennedy, millions of
children can see a doctor when they get sick. Mothers and fathers can
leave work to spend time with their newborns. Working Americans are
paid higher wages, and compensated for overtime, and can keep their
health insurance when they change jobs. They are protected from
discrimination in the workplace, and those who are born with
disabilities can still get an education, and health care, and fair
treatment on the job. Our schools are stronger and our colleges are
filled with more Americans who can afford it. And I have a feeling
that Ted Kennedy is not done just yet.

But surely, if one man can achieve so much and make such a difference
in the lives of so many, then each of us can do our part. Surely, if
his service and his story can forever shape America’s story, then our
collective service can shape the destiny of this generation. At the
very least, his living example calls each of us to try. That is all I
ask of you on this joyous day of new beginnings; that is what Senator
Kennedy asks of you as well, and that is how we will keep so much
needed work going, and the cause of justice everlasting, and the dream
alive for generations to come.

Thank you so much to the class of 2008, and congratulations on your graduation.

Adel Tamano is president of ALCU

Lopez, Pidal, and Rolex

by Lito Banayo
First published in Malaya

Education Disconnect

I wanted to share this video with you because it demonstrates the disconnect that the current educational system has with the interests and perspectives of the youth. We have to find a way to make learning more relevant and interesting to students. The video focuses on the American educational system but since the Philippine system is more akin to the US system, the problems expressed in the video apply and resonate in the Philippine context as well. Food for thought.

Selling Candidates: The Promise and Limits of Political Ads

4 Things I’m Doing to Make RP a Better Place


There is a common question from many of the comments on this blog, which is, essentially, what am I doing personally to make our country a better place. Put another way, some assert that all I do is engage in talk about “change” while not doing anything concrete to effect it. To address this directly, here are 4 things – there are actually more but let’s start with this number – I am doing personally and concretely to move this country forward:

1. Eliminating Corruption at PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). As president of the University I oversee a fund of 300 Million Pesos yearly for the benefit of nearly 12,000 students, staff, and faculty. Commission on Audit records will show the wastage and corruption that have occurred in past administrations. For those familiar with S.O.P.s (standard operating procedures, which is a codeword for corruption) of government, unfortunately, ten per cent of that fund, and this is a very conservative estimate, goes to the head of the organization. In my case it would be 30 million a year, at least. There are rumors that the past administrations in PLM stole even more than that. I do not – and will not – steal any money from PLM. That money should benefit the University, its students and staff. By utilizing the University’s money properly, I am building up our nation’s future leaders.

2. Lecturing on Youth Leadership and Empowerment. From invitations from organizations like the Jaycees and Rotarians to Student Organizations to High School and College graduations, I always make it a point to make my speeches or lectures center on youth leadership and a sense of hopefulness for our country’s future.

3. Establishing Programs for Adult Education and PLMAT review. We are currently working on an adult education program in PLM that will provide instruction to janitors and other low income earners such as small vendors, metro aides, etc. Also, seeing that those with higher income levels have an advantage at the entrance examinations for PLM, we are establishing a PLMAT – the University’s entrance exams – review course that will target the poorest Manila High School students to enable them to hurdle the highly competitive PLMAT. Bringing quality education to the poorer sectors of our community will always reap social dividends in the long run.

4. Advocating Muslim-Christian Dialogue Through Media, Articles, and Lectures. Muslim-Christian dialogue – inter-faith discussion – is very close to my heart, particularly being married to a Catholic. Through my numerous articles, media interviews and appearances, as well as lectures, I hope to open the lines of communication between Muslims and Christians in the Philippines, which is the essential pre-condition to overcoming distrust, discrimination, and finding peace in Mindanao.

Young Turks On 24ORAS

Mayor JV Ejercito, Gilbert Remulla, Prof. Danton Remoto and Atty. Adel Tamano were featured in GMA 7’s 24 Oras. The video can be found here at the GMA news website.

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