Some Things Young Filipinos Can Do to Help the Philippines

by Harvey Keh
Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph

1.) Stay informed and updated about what is happening in our country. It’s so easy to stay in our comfort zones and just turn a blind eye to what is happening to our country, especially if we aren’t directly affected by these problems. Find time to read the newspaper, watch the news on TV, surf the Internet or listen to the radio. Attend forums and discussion groups on the national situation.

2.) Organize discussion groups among your friends and peers to discuss current issues in our country. Don’t be apathetic and also encourage your friends to know more about what is happening to our country. By talking about these issues, you can make more people aware and ultimately be made more vigilant against rampant corruption in our government. The government is just waiting for us to stop talking about these major scandals such as the corruption-laden ZTE Broadband Deal, Hello Garci and the P780-million fertilizer scam. Let us not allow them to get away with it by ensuring that these issues are very much in the minds and consciousness of the general public.

3.) Share your thoughts and opinions to the public by writing blogs on what you think about these current events and national issues. Many young Filipinos maintain Livejournal, Blogger, Friendster, Multiply and Facebook accounts and these can be used to make many other young Filipinos aware of what is happening to our country. Use these Internet tools to post and promote statements by credible institutions and individuals on the current state of our country. You can even make a video blog expressing how you feel, thus sharing your thoughts with others. Whether you are pro-GMA or anti-GMA, it doesn’t really matter as long as you are able to take time out to think critically and share your thoughts with others. Visit my blog and read my thoughts at http://filipinochangemaker.blogspot.com

4.) Take a stand and join activities that will promote greater truth, accountability, and reform in our government. A good friend of mine once told me that even if we replace our President, nothing will change in our country unless we put into place policies and mechanisms that will ensure truth, accountability, and reform in our government and its leaders. Examples of such are the lifting of E.O. 464 which bans any Cabinet member from appearing before Senate hearing without the President’s consent and revising the Government Procurement Act to ensure greater transparency in the use of taxpayer’s money. Billions of pesos are lost to corruption every year and that money can be used to send more students to school, build homes for the homeless and provide quality healthcare to every Filipino. Will we just allow this to happen?

5.) If you can, don’t leave the country. Many of our best minds like our teachers are leaving the country in search of better opportunities and the effects are already showing in our public schools where there is a lack of highly skilled English, Math and Science teachers. I totally understand and don’t blame those who come from very poor families who decide to work abroad to provide a better quality of life for their families. Some of them may have no other choice than to leave. But for those who have a choice and live a relatively comfortable life here, then I hope you can consider staying and working here to contribute towards moving our country forward. For those who decide to leave, I hope you don’t forget to give back to the Philippines by helping send a poor but deserving student to school or sending books that our public-school students can still use.

6.) Register and vote. In my conversations with my students, they told me that many of them failed to register for the last elections. Their reasons varied from being too lazy to stand in line to not being interested at all to vote. Our right and duty to select our leaders is one of the main pillars of our democracy and if many of us fail to exercise this right properly or exercise it at all then we have no right to complain about how bad our leaders are. By voting, we are given the opportunity and power to select the right leaders that will help solve our country’s most pressing social problems in the fields of education, health, shelter and employment.

7.) Write letters to your Congressmen and local officials. Many of my friends always complain about the services that our government provides and yet when I ask them have you brought these complaints to the proper authorities, they just shrug and say “no.” If we want something to change with how our country is being run, then we have to tell our leaders what we think they should do. Remember the reason that they are there right now is because we voted for them and at the same time, they are spending money from the taxes that we pay. Thus, I think we have the right to engage them by informing them about our stands on certain issues.

8.) Volunteer your time and share your skills for causes that are bigger than yourself. According to studies on what makes people genuinely happy, being able to help and take part in causes that are bigger than yourself is one of the most fulfilling and happiest experiences. There are so many non-profit organizations and foundations that are currently doing their own share in helping change the Philippines. But for them to reach more people and do more good work, they often need volunteers who can commit time to help in their activities. For example, Pathways to Higher Education-Philippines needs volunteer tutors who can commit 2-3 hours a week to help poor but deserving public high-school students gain access to quality higher education. Another example is Museo Pambata, which looks for volunteer tour guides and storytellers who can help in entertaining and educating children who visit the Museum. You can visit the Pathways website at http://www.pathwaysphilippines.org or call them at (02) 4266001 local 4048.

9.) Pray, reflect, and act. Take time every day to pray for our country and ask God to lead you towards what you can best do to help our country. The challenge here is that we just don’t end with prayer and reflection, but rather, our prayer and reflection should lead us towards doing something concrete in helping our country. I have always believed a faith that does not do justice for the poor and powerless is nothing, since for us to be truly called Christians, we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ who not only preached social justice but more importantly, lived this out in His way of life.

10.) Pass this on to your friends. If you think this can help many other young Filipinos to actively take part in nation-building, then I hope you can pass this on to your family and friends.

*Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and a Lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila-Loyola Schools’ Development Studies Program and Department of Theology. Aside from this, Harvey is also the Executive Director of AHON Foundation (http://ahonfoundation.blogspot.com), a corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc. that helps build public elementary-school libraries.

5 Comments

  1. funnygirl said,

    August 7, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    +100. Respect.😉

  2. rightwing said,

    September 7, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    tnx for the guide… Im a 3rd year History student from Silliman University…. And I’ve noticed the rise of “student activism”… here in our campus… I think all of this activism is not healthy…. I mean its like the usual anti gloria thing… But one thing that worries me is the way my fellow students are acting… All the problems today that they feel or encounter, they blame government right away.. Its like this “Rice Crisis” People: ahhhhh Gloria’s fault; “Oil Crisis” People: ahhh.. Gloria’s fault; “Mindanao Crisis” People: ahhh..gloria again.. “What is wrong with today’s youth?” They seem to be so “involved” with this activism… To the point that they say the solution for our economic crisis is to “kill gloria” because she is the reason why we are experiencing economic problems…. I mean it’s silly, and totally out of bounds… I think my fellow students are just feeling so much emotion and are probably brainwashed by todays media… I respect protests everywhere, it is their right to do so.. freedom of speech, etc etc…What i am concerned is the making of a gloria poster and burning it? throwing stuff at it? making fun of it? (saw it from the newspaper, tv news, one protest in silliman) We are all civilized people here…. Cant we have a little respect for out elected president? I mean please, “respect”, at least treat her like a human being…. It’s not funny nor pleasurable to burn a figure/picture of someone… Well I guess people who do this are just probably, you know… “a little deranged?”.. I mean come on, no one in his/her right mind would do that…. “Calm down”..
    i’ve been really interested with the political scene in the Philippines. But it seems that, all of the things that are happening here are accusations, new witnesses against the government, scandals, etc. etc. This really made me think twice. I mean, it seems like there is no end to this sort of “relationship” between government and oppossition. Why cant we just “cooperate” for the greater good? All the blaming, wrong policies, gma scandals, etc. I mean everyone’s not perfect? right? These opposition members blaming the government, do you think they’re right? do you think they can do better? better laws? policies? no scandals? “i doubt”…. As a Filipino, I think our we should change our politics…. Dont do it for personal objectives/interests, do it for the country… serve the country!! serve the people of the country!!! Do not use “change” to promote your careers, use your careers to promote “change”…. (kinda got this idea from Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska)🙂

    -RW

  3. Justice Reign said,

    September 10, 2008 at 4:42 am

    When you said anti-Gloria protesters, I assume you (Right Wing) were referring to the Leftist alternatives of youth/students in Siliman U (it surprises me to hear from SU) and elsewhere (UP,SUCs,etc). While I emphatize with your persistence to take control upon sensible things and seek for ‘change’, you must first get hold of the underlying factors that beset the current scene.

    In my case, I join rallies up to now because I am conscious of the need. Not for the sake of attending but for my person’s sake and stake. As a student, I was directly affected by some of these issues, the tuition fee increases and commercialization scheme in SUCs, and as an employee, EVAT, corruption, etc. Hence, I made myself available to discussions on pressing issues.I am not a history student but I valued my Phil. history class before. I spare time to research on these issues, discuss with peers and later on come up with a stand. It is but saddening to accuse us of being brainwashed, when after all, I have invested so much time and effort to go after these pieces of information that substantiate my stand. To think you’re a History student, I believe you have grasp of our history, I hope you also have the same thing of our history in progress.

    And yet, despite joining these actions I still maintained excellence in my studies. I graduated on time and in fact is enjoying my work in a development agency of government. I remained faithful in the institutions of government, but not in the people that run them. Not because GMA is in Malacanang that she’s already innocent of election fraud in 2004.The struggle for liability in a variety of corruption (fertilizer scam, NBN-ZTE, etc.) continues. I mean are we too shallow to let these things pass over our heads?

    Now this is an issue of credibility and moral ascendancy. Fittingly, for SU I believe is standing by Truth (in their motto). Have you found the truth in these issues? If so, then you may challenge these anti-Arroyo groups for a debate in your campus. Contradictions are never settled in mud slinging. An purely intellectual discourse may suit your campus.

    Thus I say, our stand (and my stance on issues are not just mere opinions but are bounded by facts, based on present objective conditions). Let not be derailed by biased insinuations purported by government and your our own personal comforts, make wise of yourself and create a basis of your stand.

    Now let me ask you, have been to any rally/protest at any time? And if you, do you have any grasp of what are the rationale in those mass actions, or you were just there as a warm body, or an on looker, nothing more? If we keep on attacking these forms of redresses of grievance without even trying them, then, it suits you well, you are really in the ‘right wing’. I hope this is not short of apathy.

  4. rightwing said,

    September 14, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Well, i respect your stand on my comment. And I hope you dont judge me as a person too obsessed with supporting the government that i dont even try to look on to the facts on these different scandals. I do look on to the facts and I must admit that there are really some forms of corruption that is taking place. But this doesnt mean that after we know about this information, we dont tend to look to the other side of the story. This is being again “self-righteous”. No doubt, there is corruption in our government today and I believe that even if you change the public officials, corruption will still remain. It’s never ending.
    Yes, I’ve been to rallies, i’ve listened to some people speak out their ideas about our political status today. Now i joined these rallies just to hear the side of these people, yes, there are some points and matters that are discussed but I just get disgusted of the way people act in rallies. I mean, do you guys really have to do that? Is that the effect of the so called “truths and facts” that you learned from the “opposition”? Will these facts drive you to do all these non-sense and disrespectful actions against our elected president? Lets all be civilized here…
    As a student with a different background and belief on the politics of our country today, I am afraid that i still really doubt the intentions of the opposition. They want “change”, fine. These guys are saying that they want change, but did they implement this during the time of Erap? Why didnt they do this back then? Im starting to doubt that they want change and this change would ultimately mean that we’re going back to Erap?
    When you mentioned the various scandals that happened in GMA’s administration, and you even said that, “I mean are we too shallow to let these things pass over our heads?”. Here’s my take, the former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who’s the leading figure of today’s opposition if im not mistaken also has several misdeeds or he has commited corruption during his time. It was proven, and he was jailed for it. Now let me return the question to you, “Are you too shallow to let these things pass over your head?”.
    “Change” has been the most abused word in the Philippine political scene. I am afraid that this word is just used for political interest. Let’s say that in 2010, there will be another government, lets say the opposition would win. Do you think they can provide “change” in the country?

    Although we have conflicting ideas on politics. I really do appreciate your comment. If my comment before was too judgemental, then im sorry. I was just stating my own take on the problem and same as you, I was just being conscious of the need of civility in our society. I condemn those kind of statements and actions Peace.

  5. liling magtolis briones said,

    September 16, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Dear Rightwing,
    I congratulate you for writing out your views on the need for “civility” in society. Your comment is well taken. You refer to gma as the elected leader of the country. I am sure you have heard the garci tapes,read about the impeachment charges, watched the televised proceedings of the gargantuan ZTE scandal, and all other multi-billion scams. These explain why many young people refuse to recognize GMA as the legitimate president.

    Not all young people (and even old people) are comfortable with rallies. However, there are many other venues and fora for learning more and exchanging views on the crisis that is plaguing the country. Only last August I was in Silliman where I made three presentations–for high school students, college students and for graduate students and faculty. I gave an overview of the economy based on government statistics (the slowdown of the economy is undeniable) the state of social development, the state of public finance, and the role of Silliman students. While some developments can be blamed on global and international events, bad governance, graft and corruption are largely to blame.

    Now let us go to Erap. Whatever you think of him, assessments of the different presidents (from Marcos to GMA)based on official documents have shown that Erap had the highest level of percentage of budget expenditures for social development –education, health, social welfare, etc. Official numbers also show that health spending as a percentage of the national budget are at the lowest ebb under GMA, compared to all other presidents.

    As to everyone being corrupt, no less than the World Bank,has stated that at present the Philippines is the most corrupt country in East Asia. The levels of corruption are unprecedented in Philippine history.

    I know for a fact that when the Treasurer of the Philippines stepped down after Erap was removed, she left more than P75 billion in cash as well as P50 billion in restricted deposits with the Central Bank. This is so much more than the “bankruptcy” that was advertised. What I am sharing with you is all on record and can be verified, sans the rhetoric.

    I hope I will have the opportunity to meet you the next time I visit Silliman so I can share official data with you. As a student of history, I am sure you will be objective in your assessment.

    In the meantime, my best to you. Carry on your conversations with those who agree with you, including those who disagree. In a civil way, of course!

    Mam Liling Magtolis Briones


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