For some of our countrymen, every month brings in another reason to begrudge being a Filipino. Increasing corruption and record-breaking inflation make every day more difficult to deal with than the last. It isn’t surprising then to see that emigration in search for better working and living conditions has increased over the years. A recent study by the Social Weather Station showed that there were 2.3 million Filipinos working abroad in 2017, 100,000 more than the previous year.
While the forecast for the nation may seem bleak, organizations like the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) still believe that there is hope for the country. Guided by their thrust of good governance, ISA aims to further urge proactive public participation with the release of their new book, “Dream Philippines”.
The value of values
“Dream Philippines” discusses values that every Filipino must espouse to ensure we build a better country. During its launch on November 27 at the UP BGC Auditorium, some of the book’s contributors expounded on the values they considered essential, based on their experiences in their respective professions.
UA&P’s Dr. Celerino Tiongco, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, picked 3 values: kaayusan, kahusayan, and karangalan. He explained how he intentionally used these Filipino terms as he found that no English word could fully capture their meaning. Under each value are more specific nuances, such as “order & discipline” for kaayusan, “attention to detail” for kahusayan, and “self-respect and pride” for karangalan.
Also from UA&P, Dr. Paul Dumol, vice dean for research, focused on virtue, sacrifice, and love for country, inspired by a dialogue in El Filibusterismo which discussed how the Philippines might be redeemed. Dr. Dumol explained, “What Rizal meant was to stop thinking of the things that will benefit you at the expense of the country, [and] think of the things that will benefit your country and hopefully, in the process, you will also benefit by it.”
Commitment to a genuine notion of citizenship was the call-to-action of Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV, a trustee of the Institute of Corporate Directors. He identified three issues that cloud the perception of citizenship: the idea that it is a simple status, that it demands heroic sacrifice, and the lack of common values among people.
“We have to take note of these mistakes that could infiltrate our common notion of what citizenship is,” he said. “And work towards seeing citizenship, truly, as our highest form of office.” Filipinos should focus on fulfilling their duties: national allegiance, informed governance, community service, and individual diligence.
Beyond the individual
On a macro-scale, Dr. Jesus Estanislao, chairman emeritus of ISA, emphasized that Filipinos need to start thinking beyond the level of the individual.
“We talk about our businesses, we talk about our families, we talk about our concerns, and we talk about our schools,” he said. “But given where we have been coming from, there is very little reference in our mindset to the country as a whole.”
Once Filipinos overcome this barrier, ISA says they can move forward together in pushing for progress. To foster solidarity, an open conversation among Filipinos for the next three years was proposed aimed at discussing priorities and agreeing on core values as a people. Dr. Estanislao also urged the public to develop the following mindsets:
- Long-term vision
- Comprehensiveness in aspects of life beyond politics
- Strategic planning
- Responsible citizenship
- National productivity and competitiveness
Ultimately, Dr. Estanislao called for the government, businesses, and civil society to work closely with each other. Together, regional opportunities should be explored and the standard top-down strategy execution process complemented with a bottom-up approach.
“Focus on individuals so that they become the ultimate governance assets of any institution, of any enterprise,” he said.