Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Join the Revolution Now!

A Call to Action

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth

I am calling on all young Filipinos writers, wannabe writers, artists, musicians, composers, and other professionals to send in your articles or other literary works for publication here.

I will publish all your works in full and I will not edit it except for correcting typographical errors and wrongly spelled words.

If you believe you can help change the course of Philippine History, email me at javometa @ and Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth!

12 Things Ateneans Should Do (From Ateneo de Manila University's The Guidon school paper)

12 Things Ateneans should doby the Features Staff

Inspired by Alex Lacson’s 12 little things every Filipino should do, the Features Staff asked different members of the Ateneo community about what they think Ateneans should do for a change.

Clean as you go.
“Minsan pinapabayaan ng mga estudyante na nakakalat pa rin yung mga kinainan nila. Pero di naman lahat hindi nagliligpit.”– Bienvenido Recio, AMPC Staff

Say “Thank you.”
“Be more appreciative of people who try their best to make your stay in Ateneo pleasant by expressing your gratitude or by being more courteous.” – Fr. Bob Buenconsejo, SJ

Show some school spirit!
“The whole Ateneo community should give equal support to everything that carries the name of the Ateneo. This united support should always be present, strong, and continuous whether during times of victory or defeat.” – Arc Tolentino (IV AB PoS), Captain, Blue Babble Battalion Lifters

Behave in the library.
“Pag nasa loob ng library, di ba bawal mag-ingay? Kailangan tahimik lang. Huwag sumingit pag nagmamadali. Pag may nauna sa kanila, maghintay sila.” – Marilon Dingalan, photocopying personnel, Rizal Library

Be active in orgs.“
Academics is not enough. You need something to complement what you learn in school. You need something to complement what the Ateneo environment teaches you to do. You need something that would give you an experience of working for an organized group.” – Clark Cue (IV BS ME), COA president

Follow campus rules.“
Sumunod sila sa patakaran tsaka sa mga signs. Minsan may mga estudyante na pag nakikita yung ‘20 sheets or less’, lumalampas sila, pero minsan pag walang tao, may mga nagtatanong ng ‘Ate, pwede ba?’” – Ana Liza Chacon, photocopying personnel, Rizal Library

Mahalin ang sariling wika. – Corazon Lalu-Santos,Chair, Department of Filipino

Dress appropriately.
“Whenever you go to class, remember that what you are wearing reflects who you are. So if you want your teachers to respect you, wear decent clothes.”– Angela Kagaoan (IV BS LM)

Cast your vote.“
Be a difference. Always make informed decisions especially during elections. Make responsible choices and vote!”– Imman Santos (IV BS ME), Ateneo Comelec Chief Commissioner

Prevent the spread of viruses.
“They have to be vigilant in guarding against viruses, the same way they should be considerate of the next person to usethe computer and its components such as the mouse or keyboard.”– Gerry Laroza, Technical Staff

Use the school’s resources.“
Go to the library through the website and explore the library on your own. Walk around, explore, and familiarize.”– Lourdes David, Director, Rizal Library

Show concern for the environment.“
If you throw your trash in the proper places, that actually helps a lot. When you buy a drink and you don’t really need a straw, that’s still plastic that you’re saving."– Abigail Favis, Instructor, Environmental Science Department

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Dream Philippines by Alexander L. Lacson

A Philippines that is prosperous and peaceful, but one that is also kind and just.

A country where the weak can be strong, where the poor can also be wealthy.

A society where every Filipino can reach the heights of his dreams and the fullness of life as he conceives it to be.

A Philippines where there is love and kindness in the hearts of its leaders, and generosity and fairness in the hearts of those who have access to wealth and resources.

A country where there is a sense of community, where those who have care for those who have none, where the people care for the weak and the sick as well as for the young and the old among us.

A society where there is dignity and honor among our people, in the way we deal with each other, in the way we conduct our affairs.

A Philippines that can bring out the very best and the most beautiful in the Filipino, so he can truly be a blessing to God and to others, and so he can truly shine as a model person for all humanity.

We dream of a nation where in the core of its heart and soul is emblazoned God's name as its solid foundation. All told, we dream of a country that is beautiful and free.

All these and nothing less, we dream for our beloved Philippines.

Red China the Emerging Dragon and Hot India the Dark Horse

Special International View
Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XVII

Two of the largest emerging economies in the world today are the People's Republic of China, and Republic of India. Chinas has been for the last ten years growing at a remarkably high speed with Shanghai now becoming the world's center of attraction. All major corporations worldwide are looking at the Mainland China market with wide open eyes. It is wide open eyes because of its big market and I mean BIG market, with a population of roughly a billion people, China is set to become the biggest consumer of goods worldwide. Industries are booming and the banks are getting bigger by the day too.

China's neighbor, India is as hot as China. With a population of roughly 900 million people, India is another big consumer market as well. Major technology, software and pharmaceutical companies are already thriving in India, home to the world's engineers and mathematicians. India's main advantage is its education system - a legacy of the British, which makes the country at par with others in the world in producing quality graduates in engineering, mathematics, physics, and other fields who are proficient in the English language.

In the next ten years, these two economies accounting for a third of the world's population will create the new generation of middle class families, millionaires and even billionaires. With larger populations than the United States, and the European Union combined, the pontential for growth is phenomenal. During the next half century, we will be seeing a shift in the global economy where all the major markets are in Asia: China & India's billion people markets, ASEAN's half a billion, Japan's technology-driven economy with close to 150 million people, and the still oil-rich Middle East with a large population as well.

Along with this is the shift of the balance of power. China and India will become the two biggest economies and the two richest countries in the world. China today is emerging as the Red Dragon it once was and India because of its speed may even overtake China and become the dark horse in this race. The United States is now seriously contemplating this future scenario and that is why we have the War in Iraq. Whoever controls the oil in the next half century will have the upperhand in this global game of politics.

The Philippines now has to carefully study this changing of the Guards. We must now invest resources, time and efforts with the Chinese and the Indians. As early as now we must build great relationships with them. Only by considering these changes now can we hope to become a force to be reckoned with in the future.

A Scientist's Dream

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXVI

Another neglected agency in our government is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). In the United States and other developed countries including South Korea and Singapore, science is given great importance and is usually high on the priority list for government spending. It allows the development of new technologies and breakthroughs that ensures the country's progress as a nation continues to advance.

The Internet for one was invented through the efforts of a research project under the United States' Department of Defense. A lot of new products and technologies were a result of the work of inventors, scientists and researchers. This is something that can greatly help our country achieve First World Country Status in 10 years.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Scientist!
Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Inventor!


Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXV


Another important partnership that we should strengthen is the BIMP-EAGA Business Council. Born during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos. The grouping has been relegated lately. There are no new great developments on this front. This grouping will greatly enhance the economic opportunities now present in Mindanao and the surrounding islands.

Mindanao has one great potential to a thriving regional economy within Southeast Asia. Mindanao offers the hospitality of the Filipino people and the deep history of Islam in East Asia. For investors from the Middle East and other businessmen from across the globe, Mindanao can offer as new haven for their ideas and investments.

There is also a possibility that Mindanao has oil beneath its lands which I believe if proven true can greatly bring more revenues and development to the region. It is about time that Mindanao is given its equal share in the yearly revenue allotment it deserves. Part of the cause of the rebellion in the South is because the region has truly been neglected from any major projects in the last 50 years.

Infrastructure has to be put in place and education will have to be prioritized as well. By strengthening Mindanao's partnerships with other Southeast Asian countries and cities, the country can greatly benefit from this economic revival.

Rizal and Bonifacio

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXIV

Two of the most important men in our country's history are Dr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. Rizal first espoused the idea of achieving independence through his writings and that in turn inspired Andres Bonifacio to start the armed struggle to gain our country's independence. Rizal came from a middle class family, Bonifacio from a poor one. But despite that, they both realized that in order for us to truly develop as a people, we must be free to make our own decisions and plans. The connection between the two heroes are exemplary because as far as I can remember the two never met. In a way, they both ensured the success of one another. Without Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Bonifacio would never have been inspired to found the Katipunan. Without Bonifacio's struggle, Rizal's dream of a free Philippines would not have become a reality. Rizal helped Bonifacio make up his mind and Bonifacio made sure to thank Rizal for it. Rizal's struggle became Bonifacio's own struggle, and that became a powerful force that allowed for the Philippine Revolution to start.

Today, we also need many Rizals who will inspire countless Filipinos to take up the challenge of reforming Philippine society. And we also need many Bonifacios who will truly reform our country. In this light, I am urging all young Filipinos to start writing their ideas on paper, in the Internet, and speak out wherever you maybe. And also for the others to take action and bring about the changes that our country badly needs. Start in your own homes - start the discussion with your parents, your brothers and sisters, your cousins, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles; in your school - start brainstorming with your classmates, your friends, your teachers, your administrators; and at work - start doing corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects with your officemates, your bosses, and your organization's management team. A partnership among all Filipinos can greatly re-create the synergy between Rizal and Bonifacio.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXIII

Another important project that our country must meet are our commitments to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Primary of which is halving poverty by 2015. The eight point MDGs are:

1. Eradicating Poverty & Hunger
2. Achieving Universal Primary Education for All
3. Promoting Gender Equality
4. Reducing Child Mortality
5. Improving Maternal Health
6. Combating Disease
7. Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
8. Developing a global partnership

I believe that each Filipino is enjoined to play his or her own part in helping achieve these goals. I believe that even in our own little way, we can potentially start the sea of change that will help reduce poverty substantially in the country. By listing down these 8 goals in a piece of paper and writing down what simple steps you can take to help achieve these goals, and actually acting on it, we can potentially bring about its success.

Even by just spreading the news about the UN Millennium Development Goals, I believe we are already helping ourserves and the country in meeting our commitments to the UN.

One of these goals which we can tap now is in developing a global partnership. As I've already written, we are part of the ASEAN group which we can use to help each member country achieve their own goals. By linking with each other, more solutions can be developed together that will address these challenges.

The ASEAN Partnership

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXII

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the emerging powerful regional blocs in the world today. With a combined market of over 500 million consumers, ASEAN remains to be one of the largest groupings of nations in Asia, accounting for well over a tenth of the world's total population. With its close proximity to India, China and Japan, ASEAN is even more important as a base for operations. For one, Singapore has become the world's most diverse city with experts, innovators and leaders working here from all across the globe.

The Philippines is one of the founding member-nations of the group, back when we were still considered the de-facto leader in Southeast Asia along with Indonesia. Back then in 1975, the Philippine National Bank was considered to be the second biggest bank in all of Asia, it was bigger than banks from China, Singapore and Hong Kong. So what happened?

I believe today we seriously have to ponder our next moves. As the newer ASEAN members like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are playing catch up to globalization, the country still seems adrift in the sea. It is about time that we take the steering wheel again and show the world what the Filipino can do. The ASEAN group is a great start where we can make the changes that we need to see. With a more integrated Southeast Asia, we will be more powerful when dealing with other countries from across the globe. Tie-ups between companies in Southeast Asia should be encouraged. Centers of Excellence in research & development should be established. A regional approach towards combating the challenges of HIV/AIDS, SARS, bird flu, terrorism, narcotics trade, organized crime, and others will have a higher chance of success. Southeast Asia is considered one of the richest regions of the world in terms of natural resources - that fact can greatly help us in moving our agenda forward.

Peace and Security

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXI

One of the most important elements of a prosperous and developing country is its peace and order situation. In order for the people to have faith in the systems that the government has established, peace and order should be ever-present. Securing borders is probably much easier because territorial boundaries are more visible than in securing the hearts and minds of Filipinos that they are safe out in the streets or that their businesses are safe from lawless elements. The Philippines is currently facing two major battles on the ground: the Communist insurgency, and the Muslim rebellion. Aside from this, Jemaah Islaymiyah terrorists along with the Abu Sayaff are operating within some jungles in Mindanao which they are using as training grounds for their bombing activities. All in all because of corruption in government and a lack of a more comprehensive security plan, the country suffers from a high crime rate. Though there are many municipalities and cities that have low crime rates or even close to zero crime rates, key urban cities and provinces that account for the bulk of the country's population and economic activities are an almost everyday target of criminal syndicates. Hence, the perception of crime is high. Trade in illegal drugs and the proliferation of gambling syndicates seem unstoppable.

Unless the current administration achieves lasting peace agreements with the Communist insurgents and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), eliminate graft and corruption, improve the quality of education, and create the jobs for many of our nation's poorer citizens, the country cannot move forward faster. Poverty is the main cause of crime in the country and by eliminating poverty, criminal syndicates will have a hard time recruiting members and would-be criminals would instead have decent jobs. Unless current politicians especially in Congress realize this, they will continue to need many bodyguards. And elections will be as dirty as in the past. A solution is at hand but the challenge is having the political will to do it.

The Mindanao Solution

Mindanao is one of the most beautiful and most bountiful Islands in Southeast Asia. And Mindanao also has a very rich history in trade, culture and religion. Long before the Spaniards came to Philippine shores, Mindanao natives were already trading with people from all of Southeast Asia, China, India and the Middle East. In search of new products and spices, Arab merchants traveled to Southeast Asia all the way from the Middle East. They also brought the Islamic faith with them and converted many of the natives. Mindanao cities especially Jolo, Sulu and Kutawato (now Cotabato) were thriving settlements ruled by trival chiefs called datus.

Fast forward 2007 and Mindanao is struggling to regain its former significance. Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities are the new thriving settlements. And peace is still elusive. The reasons for Mindanao's stunted development are not cultural, they are political. A political solution is what is needed to achieve peace in our land. Muslims are an integral part of Philippine society and I believe they should be given the chance to develop their lands. The issue at hand is not necessarily ancestral domain but the neglect of Muslims in Mindanao in terms of opportunities for development, infrastructure and other basic social services.

The Mindanao solution involves the total acceptance of all parties involved that Mindanao including Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are an integral and inseparable region of the Philippines. If the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) insists on a separate state because of religious differences, what stops Christian minorities within Muslim areas to also seek their own autonomous states. It does not solve anything. But it perpetuates a culture of violence. A final peace agreement necessitates the swallowing of a bitter pill, of becoming humble, that all Filipinos regardless of religion are equal. Religion cannot be used as a political card.

I would think God or Allah will be disgusted over the thought that a belief in a God can result to war. A final peace agreement involves the real transformation of Mindanao as the country's food basket. Mindanao is rich in both natural and cultural resources, if it is given the chance to grow then it will surpass even Luzon in its economic performance.

I believe that more Muslim Filipinos should be given the chance to enroll in the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and other universities so as to build a generation of dedicated and passionate Muslims in the field of politics, business, science & technology, media, entertainment and other fields.

The Visayas Example

In terms of peace and security, it is Visayas that sets apart. A region composed of so many islands, Visayas is a tourist's paradise. Peaceful and serene, it always feel like you're really on a far away island in the middle of the sea. Peace has come to this region as far as I can remember. Cebu, its capital province and city, showcases the best in the country, it is a cultural wonder with a distinctly Visayan flavor.

Often called the Queen City in the South, Cebu epitomizes a dream Philippines - prosperous, peaceful and clean. Visayas despite many new developments still contains many forest covers and unpolluted shores.

This is a testament to the Visayan bias for peace. Unlike in other regions in the Philippines, the Visayans are known to be "malambing," or gentle, warm-hearted people and doesn't share the short temper of most Filipinos. I believe by copying the Visayas example we can bring peace to the country.

Geography plays a role

One of the necessary elements in achieving unity within the Philippines is to consider that we are a nation of island groups. In order for any political solution to be truly workable, the government will have to consider that we are a lot harder to unite due to distance and cultural & language differences.

The United States of America's struggle for independence from Great Britain and then the push for unity of all states was in a way easier because the USA is one continuous landmass. Almost all the states in the federation are within the same continental landmass of the Americas. In the Philippines, the country has over 7,100 islands, not to mention there are different tribes per island group.

Our situation is very unique in that sense. And any discussion on achieving greater unity will have to take this into consideration.

Teaching as the Highest Profession (in the world)

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XX

In the course of my 25 years of existence, I have met many kinds of teachers. From the "terror-type" as we call it in student lingo to the most amiable, from the most exciting to the the boring type, and from the great to the mediocre. Surely, there are many kinds of teachers in the world. But it does not deny the fact that they are here to teach me a thing or two about life, about science, about mathematics, about philosophy, and sometimes even about love.

I have always held my teachers in high esteem, no matter what type they were. I also genuinely believe that the role of teachers and students is interchangeable. The student in order to learn, to understand must become an expert like his or her teacher. And the teacher in order to learn, to understand how to teach better must become a student. The magic of being a great teacher from a not so great teacher is having a deeper understanding on what learning is really all about.

In education, what is more important is the HOW we learn it, and not the WHAT we necessarily learn. Yes, it is important to understand what a stone is for example but it is all the more important if we could learn how the stone came to be.

The 450,000 strong teachers under the Department of Education are everyday heroes who toil each day to impart the learnings of all in the history of mankind to a new set of Filipinos. It is no easy task. And it is no laughing matter as well, I am writing this article to set the record straigth that Teaching is by far the highest profession in the world - that is, in whatever form it maybe.

Parents are our first teachers, and teachers in school are our secondary parents. In a sense life is being a student everyday where we must seek the advice and guidance of mentors. They can be our parents, our school teachers, our friends, our relatives, our bosses from work or even our co-workers. They can also be dead friends from the past like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Manuel Quezon or Ninoy Aquino.

Teaching is a calling of a different kind. It is very hard to quantify or even to qualify the joys that it brings. There are really no set of rules and system that can capture its nature as learning is an everyday process of trial and error and hopefully perfecting it along the way.

Sabi ni Rizal "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.
Sabi ko naman "Edukasyon ang pag-asa ng kabataan."
"Ang ating mga guro kung ganoon ang pag-asa ng kabataan at edukasyon sa bansa."

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Teacher!

Special Edition: Building A Nation Of Responsible Parents

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XIX

I take this as a special article on the 12th Little Thing in Alexander L. Lacson's book "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country," which states "Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country." I am not yet a parent myself but I do believe that my parents play an important and larger role in my development as a human being, as a Filipino citizen. It is often said that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree meaning to say that we usually are our parents' children because in so many ways we are much like them - we act like them, we behave like them, and alot of our beliefs and decisions in life are influenced by them.

On one of my articles before, I wrote about Building a Culture of Educators in the country. I believe that the foundation starts from how our parents nurtured and molded us when we were still young and sometimes, even when we're already grown ups. If a parent or our parents did not give importance to our education, then it usually is that we are also indifferent to the role that education plays in a person's life.

In Building a Nation of Responsible Parents, our government should become a great example of how a responsible parents acts, cares or nurtures. Our president, as head of the government and the state, must show how it is to be responsible. Early in school, and later in college, the system and our teachers should give emphasis on the important role that students as future parents later on should learn and understand.

Responsible parents will ulimately lead to more likely responsible children as well and the cycle continues. Though it is not always an assurance that being a responsible parent will result to a better and also responsible child, there is clearly no way of knowing if you don't try. The chances are better if you have developed yourself as a more responsible father or mother. In Building A Nation, families are the basic units, and with responsible parents, a nation can build better leaders that will be responsible citizens of society.

Here are 7 Things to Remember:

1. Be Active in your children's Education. Learn with them.

2. Read on books about responsible parenthood practices. It is not embarrassing to read a book that tackles the challenging tasks of parenthood.

3. Do as the Israelis do. Reinforce your child's worth early on in his or her life. Make them understand that failures and mistakes serve important lessons that can be useful later in life.

4. Teach them to follow the law and love our country.

5. Encourage them to read and write.

6. Treat them as adults. Take the time to explain certain things. Be honest about your answers to their curious minds.

7. Teach them Good Habits.

In the final analysis, responsible parents create a great society. And it is all the more challenging for our country who has over 8 million parents who are working abroad away from their families here.

"Today's children will someday rule and lead this world. But whether they will be bad rules or good leaders, will depend largely on how we raise them today." Alex L. Lacson, author "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country"

Let us all be responsible parents to our children, younger siblings, friends, co-workers, and others.

(I am dedicating this article to my sister who is expecting her first child in November of this year 2007.)

Eco-Tourism: A delicate balancing act

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XVIII

Riding a bicycle requires a relatively easy balancing act. Flying an airplane requires a more complicated balancing act. Running a national organization requires a tough balancing act. And growing one's business without detriment to the environment is probably the toughest balancing act of them all. It requires greater attention to detail, a meticulous preparation and should be constantly reviewed for improvements.

Developing a country's potential to become a tourism hub requires this kind of balancing act. With the threat of global warming looming over us due to environmental degradation, pollution, increased CO2 emission, and the multiplication of waste materials - the need for a more responsible approach towards development is greatly needed. Our country has been called alot of names because its natural beauty and because of our rich natural resources. Our country has been often called the Pearl of the Orient Seas. And yet compared to Thailand's 12 million tourist arrivals per year, we have less than 2 million tourists that arrive yearly.

Much lies with the government's poor performance on infrastructure development and poor planning as well from the regional, provincial and city offices. I believe it is high time that we explore the concept of Eco-Tourism and Sustainable Development to improve our country's tourism potential. There is a flurry of real estate development happening in the country today but sad to say alot of these developments are concentrated in Luzon specifically Metro Manila. I believe it is an opportune time for the Department of Tourism and other local government units (LGUs) to increase their collaboration on developing possible tourist spots in the country. Expansion of more urban cities is an important step towards this direction. The government has to give incentives to entrepreneurs and organizations who are building the country's tourism facilities and centers.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should be involved from the start so that the ecosystems in these localities to be developed and the biological diversity are preserved. It is also high time to take a national and more concrete solid waste management program. A garbage crisis is already in the offing in Metro Manila and other key cities in the country and yet the government doesn't seem pre-occupied with this scenario.

Eco-Tourism can provide the dollar revenues that we need to build more and better roads, for more and better rail transport systems, and more and better aiport & seaport facilities.

Part of this Eco-Tourism plan is a national law that strictly limits the development of the country's remaining forest cover, a fund for the protection of all wildlife and plants, a plan for sustainable logging programs and a medical tourism plan as well. Eco-Tourism requires the involvement of all parties including that of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace.

WOW Philippines campaign and the various programs of the Department of Tourism under Sec. Ace Durano today are great examples of what we can produce. But there is still much more that can be done. Each province, city or municipality should also extensively pour a part of their resources in developing their own tourism potential in conjunction with partner cities worldwide.

A Revival of Our Agricultural Prowess

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XVII

One of the most neglected sectors in the country today is agriculture. Even though at least a third of our country's economic production comes from our farmers, fishermen and others in the agriculture industry, the government has not during the last 20 years done something very substantial in this sector. Sure, there is the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the establishment of the Department of Agrarian Reform aside from an existing Department of Agriculture, the National Food Authority (NFA), the Philippine Coconut Authority (PHILCOA), and other agencies that deal with agriculture - none of these programs have actually improved our country's agricultural standing in the world.

We were top exporters of many agricultural products before - in rice, corn, coffee, sugar, manila hemp, pineapple, and other products but today we even have to import rice to feed ourselves. This is very embarrassing since the best rice research institute in the world is located in the Philippines - the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) located at UP Los Banos, Laguna. A majority of all new techniques, strategies and technologies on rice farming, and the production of new varities of rice, come from IRRI and yet alot of Filipinos suffer from hunger. Thailand, Japan, China and even Vietnam has greatly benefitted from sending their experts to study in IRRI and yet our country is lagging behind them in rice production. How can this be?

I remember a funny story a few years back that when a Philippine delegation was sent to Japan to study the good performance of rice plantations and new farming techniques there, the leader of the Philippine delegation was embarrassed to learn that the Japanese learned the techniques from their Filipino teachers, scientists and researchers in IRRI!

Agriculture will always play a vital role in the development of our nation. Until the day that scientists can produce food out of thin air, farming & fishing will always be our primary sources of food. It is thus very important and urgent that our government begin the necessary steps to correct this problem. Only by admitting that CARP has failed and that the performance of the DA team for the last 20 years since EDSA I has not been satisfactory, can we as a nation start to address our agricultural challenges. CARP has focused its efforts on land re-distribution but it has not provided for a much more comprehensive program wherein new farmers who already own their land can have access to capital to improve their farms and also which I believe the most important, access to the wealth of information regarding proper farming methods and practices. There are many government agencies that do not collaborate on this point. If the government is sincere then a new plan has to be implemented by engaging everyone involved - from the wealthy landowners, the farmers, the fishermen, the development banks, other government agencies, cooperatives and research organiations. An old Chinese proverb states that "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime," and it is a very good principle to live by when implementing agrarian reform.

Only by truly developing our country's lands can we reap the benefits of any agriculture program. Over the last 50 years, we have not as a people learned the importance of farm to market roads, easy access to lending institutions, and the innovative research work needed for our country's food supply system. If we can get our acts together, then it will be easier to feed the hungry and stop the migration of poor people from the countryside, from the provinces to urban centers especially concentrating on Metro Manila - which inevitably causes more problems for the country. By making sure that farming is a great and financially fulfilling career like in the United States and Europe, we can move the country forward towards first world country status.

We are not like Singapore which has a relatively small population and it can offset the importation of many food items by making its services industry strong and very competitive. We must emulate the Americans and the Europeans who give credit to the work of their farmers and fishermen, and these workers are held in high esteem. You can see farmers there owning their own lands, own farming equipment, and own homes. In Europe, the case is the same. Even if our government doesn't give out subsidies, we can still revive our agricultural prowess by instituting what needs to be done which is first and foremost to dialogue with all stakeholders on how best to proceed. Farmers should be given a voice and their growth and development should be the government's primary concern on this field.

Farmers plant the crops that become food on our tables. Their produce fills our stomachs so that we can concentrate on our own work, or at school. It is time that we give back to them what they deserve. Under Chit Juan (for example), Figaro Coffee has been at the forefront of a new revival in the coffee industry in the Philippines but Ms Juan and Figaro are just a part of the needed solution - there are many more industries in agriculture that need to be revitalized. It is the government that should get down to work and plant those seeds. It is often said that we reap what we sow. Our country's bad treatment of our farmers leads to higher prices for the goods that we need, and if only, we as a nation will take up their cause, we can achieve self-reliant on our production capabilities in the future. Only by a strong support from the country's population can we re-ignite the power of Juan the Farmer to be great again.

Our lands are so beautiful and bountiful. There are thousands and thousands of species of both plants and animals that are only found in the country and yet we do not seem to feel its importance. It is time for action. Let us become proactive in our fight for independence - of independence from hunger, starvation and malnourishment. A healthy nation can take the action to achieve its dreams. A healthy nation can produce great individuals who will change the world. A healthy nation will bring education to the masses. Agriculture then is the single most important sector yet that we can revive to fuel our growth and development as a nation. The administration's RoRo project is an important first step towards this direction but more needs to be done.

To all young farmers, fishermen, and agriculturists out there, ignore the poor perception of your profession and demand reform in your sector. To the young officials of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and other related agencies, help reform the government for the better.

And to all those young Filipinos out there, help out in whatever way you can the rural communities where our main food supply usually comes from.

And I hope by this simple article, we as a people realize that farmers are great providers. Our earlist ancestors were farmers. And Jesus Christ was a farmer as well, though he excelled in carpentry, in a sense he was a farmer when he planted the seed of Hope for mankind. Let us change our perception of becoming a farmer as a poor choice but rather as a great challenge from God.

With the passage of the Bio Fuels Act, the emergence of coffee drinking as a national habit, the research done by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the prospects of global warming, among others - places the action that we take now to be more urgent in securing a stead food supply for years to come.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Farmer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Investor's Mindset

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XVI

One of the most important facets of the US economy is an overriding presence of investors in the physical and virtual landscapes of the economic front. From the Dow Jones Industrial Index, to the S&P 500, to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the NASQAQ, and the new exchange that deals with trade of CO2 emission certificates, and the thousands of angel investors and venture capitalists - they have made all the difference in the success of the US economy.

The US economy is probably the most dynamic, vibrant, diverse, and rich financial system in the world today. Companies that drive new technologies and that reinvent old technologies are always present and on the lookout for opportunities in the US. There are a host of investment banks, wealth management companies, mutual funds, individual investors, analysts, business schools, and research institutions that help bring new investment ideas and financial assistance to the masses.

This is something the Philippines needs to develop. As you can see this is the same environment that exists in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore - which makes these cities financial centers in their own right across the Asia-Pacific region. One of the most important elements in establishing such an environment is a truly open market. The laws and policies of these cities allow individuals and organizations to grow their ideas, their money, and assets into revenue-generating instruments.

But it is in education where the real challenge comes from. Manila, in order to become one of the financial centers across Asia, should become a hotbed of ideas, students, investors and entrepreneurs. Education will bring the most important element which is knowledge. Without individuals who are at the forefront of research and studies, any city or country cannot hope to become a regional center of excellence. Investment in improving state colleges and universities should be maximized and these institutions must be able to attract the best faculty in the country.

Hong Kong offers businesses the opportunity to transact with businessmen, traders and entrepreneurs from other parts of the world. Not to mention it is a gateway to Mainland China, which is fast becoming the biggest consumer market in the world. Tokyo is the capital of one of the world's most inventive and innovative countries, Japan. The Japanese are very adept at "everyday improvements," or as they call the kaizen philosophy of continuous "step by step" improvements which have made Toyota the largest automaker in the world today. And Japan has reaped the benefits of a society that is very focused on providing quality education. I would like to emphasize that not many Japanese speak the English language but their country is the 2nd biggest economy in the world.

Singapore is a financial paradise in Asia. Their main advantage is great services. There are many centers of excellence in Singapore, from among all fields of business, science and technology. They help create the change that companies today need. Singapore allows easy access to capital because the government is bent on promoting fresh start-ups in changing the rules of global trade. Shanghai is also fast becoming as the preferred financial capital to Asia. It is the financial capital of Mainland China. It has the single biggest consumer market there is - over a billion Chinese consumers. Shanghai offers great demand and the suppliers are coming fast in huge numbers to cash in on the growing appetite of the Chinese consumer.

Manila, which I mean to be Metro Manila, can position itself as the region's gateway to Asia. Geographically, we are the first country when you reach Asia through the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines is the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Metro Manila can become the financial center in Asia by implementing a comprehensive program that focuses on education and infrastructure.

Infrastructure will create the basic building blocks of a financial center - real estate needed for office spaces or commercial ventures or entertainment centers, schools & other establishments, highways needed to transport goods, communications lines needed for the easy exchange of ideas, and security measures needed to maintain peace and order.

Infrastructure will be the physical component while Education will be the knowledge component. For a financial center to rise in Metro Manila, the knowledge infrastructure should be in place. Accountants, investors, financial analysts, lawyers, sales people, marketing experts, and other service professionals should abound in the region.

The Filipino people are generally creative. But we need to harness this creative spirit to come up with tangible results. We need to dispel this "ningas-cogon" habit where we usually do not finish what we start. We must put our creative ideas to work. Innovation is the application of being creative. The government should encourage and provide funding for Research and Development centers in colleges and universities. These will become centers of invention or innovation where new products or processes of doing things for the everyday consumer can be developed.

Metro Manila with investments now from the BPO industry can capitalize on this to become a financial center in Asia. An investment usually requires long-term planning that involves the turning of assets into revenue-generators. The country must then be prepared to take the challenges of investing on its own people. I believe in the power of the Filipino worker. And I know he/she will succeed.

Obviously education here is every important because we need young individuals who have been awakened to the fact that they can create great products. That they can produce great results. That they can create new ways of doing things better. We need to mold the young to become bold dreamers and risk-takers in the sense that they are excited about expounding and acting out the ideas in their minds. That they can truly become employers.

An Investor's Mindset needs to be developed in the Philippines so that Metro Manila can regain its rightful place as Asia's financial center. 30 years ago, we were 2nd only to Japan in terms of economic importance. Today, we have been relegated to the tail end. Businessmen and rich families should become investors in the country's youth. Believe in us, believe that we can become great again. The government must also launch campaigns to attract local companies into truly developing their businesses and conquering foreign markets as well.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Investor!

Entrepreneurship Part II

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XV

I truly believe that if we can create a sizeable army of Filipino entrepreneurs, we can potentially become a newly-industrialized country within the next 10 years. The biggest economies in the world are fueled by little known entrepreneurs in each and every corner of their regions. The United States and Japan, two of the biggest economies in the world, are exceptionally full of people who have taken their entrepreneurial spirit to greater heights. More and more Americans and Japanese have created, innovated, produced new products or services to supply not only their respective populations but the entire world as well. India, China and Vietnam are hot on their trails and we must not waver in our commitment to this as well.

All the industrialized countries in the world like Singapore, the United Kingdom (UK), Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, France and all the others are avery keen on helping their local businessmen and industries grow to be able to compete globally. In order for the Philippines to play catch up, we must embrace the entrepreneurial culture of these big economies. We must push our students, our youth to experiment, to produce, to invent, to create, to innovate and to start their own businesses.

One of the most important forms of entrepreneurship has also gained popularity in the country. Franchising has arrived. Franchising is a great way to start your own business. Franchising allows you to replicate someone else entrepreneurial idea so that you won't have to go through the same trial and error process in starting a business. I would like to emphasize though that we must as much as possible support local companies if we do choose to franchise a business.

It is also equally important that we support local businessmen and industries over the foreign ones because most of the time, 100% of their profits are reinvested in the country. Unlike foreign controlled companies where a percentage of their profits are sent back to their mother companies abroad.

If you believe in your dream, then take the plunge now and start your dream career in entrepreneurship.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Entrepreneur!

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Entrepreneur Revolution

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XIV

One of the most interesting developments in the country today is the emergence of many individuals and organizations that are promoting entrepreneurship among the people as an avenue for personal and professional growth. It is very interesting because in over a hundred years since we declared independence, only now am I seeing a concerted and energetic push for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education in the country. Entrepreneurs are a vital component in nation-building and it is very important for our country's leaders to create business environments that will usher in more entrepreneurial individuals and organizations.

Entrepreneurs are an innovative bunch of individuals, partners and organizations that pursue their lofty dreams in bringing an idea, a product, or a service to the consuming public. In Joey Concepcion's book "50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories," Professor Andy Ferreira outlines that the entrepreneurial spirit is found in three types of bodies and I quote "These are the classic entrepreneur, the corporate (intra-preneur) entrepreneur, and the social entrepreneur. Classic entrepreneurs are those who practice their entrepreneurial spirit in their own enterprises. Corporate entrepreneurs apply their entrepreneurial spirit in a firm they do not own. Social entrepreneurs use the entrepreneurial spirit to do good, while doing well. In many ways, the entrepreneurial spirit is a journey from classic to social."

Creating a truly entrepreneurial culture among Filipinos is not a very difficult task. We have long been an entrepreneurial culture. With the trade we had with the early Chinese merchants (some of their descendants are still with us today), our Southeast Asian neighbors, and even the Arab merchants who came here long before Ferdinand Magellan stumbled upon the Philippines.

The only problem is that we have never looked at entrepreneurship as something to be really proud of as nation and something that can potentially change our country. Maybe because of years of being under colonial rule, we have lost our appetite in making our dreams come true. Entrepreneurs though are certainly alive in our country today, from the rags-to-riches stories of Henry Sy (our Mall Mogul), John Gokengwei (the Great Benefactor), Lucio Tan, Manny V. Pangilinan MVP and Manny Villar (the future President), to the inspiring stories of sari-sari stores owners, divisoria traders, and "tiangge" merchants everywhere. The old Chinese saying that states "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime" is a good quote to live by in order to promote more people to become entrepreneurs.

As Joey Concepcion wrote in his book "If you can teach a nation to fish, you feed a nation for many lifetimes." It is truly noteworthy that there are individuals and organizations today that are bringing entrepreneurship education into our mainstream culture. In order for the Philippines to truly propel itself into an economic powerhouse - we must become a country of employers. Our old thinking and our current education system conditions us to just get goods grades so that we can be employed by a good company. I believe that we need to radically change this mindset. Young Filipinos should be encouraged to take up entrepreneurship as a very good career move. I believe if we can create more Filipino companies that are at par with the best in the world, our country can stop the exodus of so many Filipinos who need to work abroad sometimes in harsh conditions just so that they can support their families.

In light of this, I hope an Entrepreneur Revolution should be started by all sectors of society to truly engage our people towards starting their dream businesses.

Important steps have already been taken by some groups like Joey Concepcion's GoNegosyo Project & Caravan which hopes to create a country of millionaires, Vivienne Tan's Entrepreneur School of Asia (ESA) that provides entrepreneurship education, and other schools who have already started offering courses on entrepreneurship. The Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) One Town One Product (OTOP) program is also a good example as well as Summit Publishing's Entrepreneur Philippines magazine. Everyone can greatly benefit if the number of entrepreneurs in the country will explore, our economic pie will increase, unemployment will drop, and more Filipinos will be able to work here and still make their dreams come true. The Entrepreneur Magazine is an important tool in this revolution. I hope and I pray that more and more Filipinos will try to read their monthly issues. I am very fond of books, magazines, newspapers, and other reading materials but I also believed we have to prioritize where we spend our money. And where else than in something that can potentially bring us more value. There are already hundreds of thousands of buyers of magazines like FHM, Maxim, UNO, Metro, Cosmopolitan, Candy, and other Entertainment magazines but I believe it should be the Entrepreneur magazine at the top - you actually learn something of great value while reading it.

More and more people are realizing the way of entrepreneurship. It is then very important for the government to do more of its share especially regarding the procedures for setting up of new businesses. Banks and lending institutions should also do their share in supporting wannabe entrepreneurs who have no capital to be able to access low-interest loan programs. And it should also be good if the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will consider a review of our country's education curriculum to include programs that will allow an entrepreneurial culture among students to take root. By planting the seeds today, we can expect many businesses tomorrow.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Entrepreneur!

Making Campus Organizations Relevant

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XIII

Campus organizations are probably one of the most neglected organizations in the country today. But we probably don't that they can be great agents for social change. With the quality of education in the country decreasing by each passing year, campus organizations have somehow become irrelevant - most notable of all, is the student government body. Judging from my personal experience and my readings, very few students today are truly engaged in their campus organizations aside probably from the basketball teams of the UAAP. If our government and the different NGOs out there are sincere in their efforts to improve the quality of education in the country, then I believe it is high time that they work hand in hand with campus organizations. Campus organizations played an important role in driving out students during the 1986 People Power Revolution and also during EDSA II.

But there is more than can be done on this point. After the usual euphoria, activities died down. Campus organizations today have become just venues for meetings or get together activities. I believe that they should be strengthened and trained by schools and universities where they operate to become better agents for social change. They can be avenues for learning and development. Campus organizations can provide the necessary leadership and management experience that today's students need. They can provide lessons on improving students' communications, inter-personal, presentation and computer skills. They can help tear down the walls for more open student involvement in school activities, be it in academic, sports or extra-curricular.

They can also help in improving student-teacher or student-parents relationships. Campus organizations can help equip students with skills they need in the workplace - selling, marketing, accounting, budgeting, planning, organizing, training, among others. By building stronger and better campus organizations, student life will become more meaningful and exciting.

Aside from meeting new friends, campus organizations can become brainstorming sessions for start-up businesses, research studies, and new inventions. Campus organizations can help reform schools today and contribute more to nation-building. School chapters of organizations like Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and other can be established to better enhance each Filipino's sense of volunteerism.

If you want to learn more about how to make your school organization outstanding, please visit this site:

The Gawad Kalinga Model

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XII

Couple for Christ's (CFC) socio-civic arm, Gawad Kalinga (which means "to give care"), is currently on-target to achieve its goal of building 700,000 homes in 7 years. Gawad Kalinga has become the new face of the Filipino volunteer. Thousands of Filipinos either young or old have come to embrace its mission towards a slum-free Philippines. All over the country, Gawad Kalinga volunteers have built thousands of homes for the poor, also for those ravaged by natural calamities like in Bicol because of typhoon Reming last year.

Gawad Kalinga has even eclipsed its mother organization, CFC, in terms of popularity and it has made Tony Meloto, GK's founder, a household name in the country. CFC has been successful by being an unbiased and apolitical organization amidst alot of scandals rocking the country. By focusing on what needs to be done rather than assigning blame for the culprit of our country's problems, CFC, has helped thousands of Filipino families through Gawad Kalinga. Today, GK, has chapters all over the world and it has built homes in Cambodia, Vietnam and even Papua New Guinea.

ANCOP (Answer the Cry of the Poor), GK's international name, has opened up the opportunity the chance to volunteer for millions of Filipinos living or working overseas. It has generated millions of pesos because of donations from millions of Filipinos and Filipino organizations based all over the globe. GK has actually began taking on a global outlook with the delegation of Tony Meloto as its new international ambassador.

I believe GK in a way is a first of its kind in the global fight against poverty. Though in some ways it has the same purpose and program as Habitat for Humanity, it has become very innovative in its approach. Judging from the number of Filipinos responding to the call to answer the cry of our poor brothers and sisters, GK has been very successful in branding "volunteerism" as an ideal passion in life. GK volunteers have become much more satisfied in their lives. Various corporations and local government units (LGUs) have also embraced Gawad Kalinga by actively partnering with it for building initiatives. The Philippine National Police (PNP) for its part now has Pulis Kalinga, which is an offshoot of Gawad Kalinga to help provide decent homes for our country's police force.

Gawad Kalinga is proudly a Filipino innovation and we should all be happy of it. I call upon more young Filipinos out there especially students to become volunteers of this great Filipino invention. It is an invention of sorts because its army of volunteers is like a machine that continuously builds and cares for the least fortunate among us.

I would also like to emphasize that the GK Model can be applied to other problems in the country. Aside from housing, this model can be used for programs in Education, Healthcare, Social Services, Employment, and Energy & Water. Organizations out there working for other goals aside from housing can replicate Gawad Kalinga's model of Success to also ensure their success.

Gawad Kalinga has clearly come a long way since it started. The national government can learn alot from what GK did to achieve its goals. By shunning idle talk and politicking, its founders and volunteers can effectively focus on the tasks at hand, on the things that truly matter. It has learned valuable insights in business like maximizing resources at hand, increasing efficiency and effectiveness, and establishing a very good sales & marketing team.

GK will continue to build more homes for Filipino families in the years to come. In this sense, the Revolution of the Filipino Youth has truly started. But alas, there is more work that needs to be done in order to bring about lasting changes to our national problems. I hope the story of Gawad Kalinga will inspires countless Filipinos especially from the youth sector to take up the challenge of Jesus Christ to truly live out his teachings even at a very early age.

* Please watch the movie about Gawad Kalinga's work, Paraiso, which I believe is now showing in local theaters.

Andres Bonifacio Profile

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XI

Andres Bonifacio was born into a poor family on November 30, 1863 in Tondo, Manila. His parents, Santiago Bonifacio and Catalian de Castro, died when Andres was only 14, and his two younger brothers and his younger sister were left under his care. He supplemented his low education through reading and self-study. Among the books that inspired him to pursue lofty ambitions for his country were the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo by Dr. Jose Rizal, The Lives of the Presidents of the United States, and Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

In 1892, in a house in Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto) in Manila, he organized the Katipunan, a secret organization aimed at overthrowing the Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines. Members signed their names in blood and pledged to fight for their country. One of the female members was Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio's wife and known as the Lakambini ng Katipunan. The Kartilla, a sort of bible of the Katipunan, contained its teachings, and the Ang Kalayaan, its official newspaper, informed the people of its aims and teachings. However, the Katipunan was discovered by Spanish authorities on August 19, 1896. Many members were arrested and executed, forcing Andres Bonifacio and some of his followers to gather at Pugad Lawin, where they tore their cedulas (residence certificates) and started an open uprising. This came to be known as the Cry of the Pugad Lawin. That was on August 25, 1896, the beginning of the Philippine Revolution.

Bonifacio, the Great Plebeian and Founder of the Katipunan, died on May 10, 1897 when he was shot while recuperating from a wound in Mount Buntis, Maragondon, Cavite.

The Challenge of Reform Part I

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth X

As the 14th Congress starts its session on July 23, I hope that they will seriously begin as well our country's real first step towards a national program of reforms. We badly need reform in many aspects of the government be it in the executive, legislative or judicial branches. Reforms in the conduct of elections are where primary efforts should lie judging from the conduct of the COMELEC during the May 14, 2007 elections, alot can be done to ensure a better, more orderly and a truly peaceful and credible election in 2010.

This is of vital interest to the country because the candidates we elect into office are the real leaders of the country and not those who win by cheating or using violence or both. Without drastic changes in the Commission on Elections, the country maybe brought to its knees in 2010.

Secondly, the government should begin a real anti-corruption campaign. A program wherein every institution involved in the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of every corrupt and scrupulous official is reformed. These are the Commission on Audit, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the Bureau of Immigration & Deportation, the regional and municipal trial courts, the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue - to name a few. Every agency which is tasked to eliminate criminal activities must be strengthened. And only honest and competent officials or personalities should head these agencies.

Thirdly, which I believe is the most challenging of all, involves the reform of each individual, each Filipino individual, each Filipino family in the country. Reforming the country needs to start from within. Each Filipino who desires change needs to realize first that he/she is part of the solution. Whether you are in power or not, whether you are wealthy or not, whether you are old or not, each one of us shold become responsible citizens in our own ways.

12 Things Every DepEd Official Can Do To Help Our Country

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth IX

1. Take the necessary steps to improve the quality of education in the country.

2. Close the shortage in classrooms and school facilities.

3. Teach the "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Hel Our Country," a book by Alexander L. Lacson to all students and teachers.

4. Institutionalize a national teacher development training program.

5. Maximize the use of Filipino as the language of instruction and enhance the English language proficiency of students as well.

6. Streamline all departmental processes and procedures.

7. Connect with respective Local Government Units (LGUs) and Provincial Governments for collaborative work.

8. Connect all public schools, colleges and universities to the Internet.

9. Emphasize the War on Waste (WOW) program of the department.

10. Encourage parents to become active in their children's education.

11. Run the department like a business enterprise.
There are over 50,000 non-teaching staff in the department and 450,000 plus teachers.
I believe there are many rooms for improvement on this point.

12. Love your work. Love your students like your own.

"Today's children will someday rule and lead this world. But whether they will be bad rules or good leaders, will depend largely on how we raise them today." - Alex Lacson, "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country"

Let's Start the Revolution of the DepEd Official!


Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth Part VIII

The recently released movie entitled "Transformers" by DreamWorks is an interesting film for our times. Produced by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Michael Bay, the film tells the story of a group of "transformers" (a term which refers to the robots uncanny ability to transform into ordinary objects like a car or CD player), who left their planet to save us, human beings, from another rogue transformer, who plans to use an energy cube to turn all electronic objects on Earth into robots. (you can read more about the story at

The story is fascinating because in today's current environment, our country badly needs a group of transformers as well to help save the day. Our country is facing its biggest challenge yet, more than the challenges of both World War II and Martial Law. The challenge I am talking about is globalization. With each passing day, the world is getting smaller due to the Internet and to the need for more openess in the global economy and international trade.

As countries around the world awaken to a new world of instant technologies in communications, transportation, trade and others, our country's preparedness will constantly come into play. Are we truly prepared to open up our economy to increased foreign investments and global trade? Are our local industries prepared to compete with our Asian neighbors and global players? Are our laws and policies conducive for business?

These are just some of the questions we need to answer. To a large extent,, I believe we are not prepared to compete globally. That is where we need our transformers. People who will take the lead and transform vital agencies and industries into stronger and globally-competitive elements of a Filipino trading system. These transformers need to fast-track infrastructure development outside Metro Manila in the next two years. They have to improve and reinvent the current set up in agriculture. We have to become self-reliant on rice. These transformers should be able to streamline the bureaucratic red tape in almost every government agency. They have to overhaul the salary standardization law and the basis or system for career advancement in government service. They have to push for political reforms especially in the country's judicial system and in the electoral process.

The transformers will have to work with the business community to strengthen Philippine companies' fighting chances in a global economic order dominated by the US, EU, Japan, China and the Middle East . These transformers like in the movie must have the courage to do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

The tranformers of Philippine society need not come from outer space. They may be ordinary Filipinos who have the potential, the knowledge, the skills to help transform the country. They will help Filipinos transcend our weaknesses, our regionalism, our 'bahala-na' attitude so that we can become better warriors on the economic battlefield.

I truly believe that transformers are what our country badly needs. They maybe individuals or organizations that envision a prosperous Philippines and are willing to take every action needed to make that a reality. They are visionaries in the sense that they will have to drive the country towards a common goal. They must inspire countless Filipinos to take up the challenge of nation-building.

As in the movie where there are good and bad transformers, we must watch out for the bad ones as well.

I believe one transformer in the horizon is Couples for Christ's Gawad Kalinga. It is helping build a Philippines free of squatters. Where every Filipino family has a home. Where every Filipino can grow. Let us hope more transformers become visible enough and help make the change our country needs.

You can learn more about Gawad Kalinga at

Buidling a Culture of Educators

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth Part VII

On the evolution of current Philippine affairs, I cannot seem to find a single Filipino that have made the biggest impact on the state of our country's education system. Even the late Sen. Raul Roco did not achieve much in the department when he was secretary. Jose Rizal never started a school. And even though there are great leaders who started Philippine schools, colleges and universities, there is no one who can be called the Filipino Father of Philippine Education. Indeed, a formal education system was one of the most important legacies the Americans left us but I can't seem to find a single Filipno who advanced Philippine Education as his or her main advocacy.

It seems our culture doesn't honor the educator much. This shouldn't be the case, our teachers serve as our second parents when we are in school. They are very important and all the more so when parents are very busy and don't take the time to be active in educating their kids. Teachers carry the burden of developing young minds to understand the world and mold them into highly-skilled, talented and knowledgeable members of society. And for that I believe that teaching is truly the highest profession in the world.

This may suggest that the current bad state of our country's education system is a physical sign of a lack of national support on the importance of quality education. We may all profess to know its importance but it is also another thing to actually become an active catalyst for improved and better education programs.

In the light of the recent elections, it is sad to note that Sonia Roco, who campaigned on an education agenda, did not fare well. But it is also important to note that individuals whose track records are only because they belong to political families or were congressmen got higher votes than those who had better credentials. Is it the election really just a popularity contest?

I can't seem to remember a single president or even a presidential candidate who run under an education reform agenda. But in fact, it is this single sector in society that might well change our country's fortunes. A workforce that received education of high quality can produce more goods or services efficiently and effectively. And they can find more innovative solutions to our country's problems. By building a culture of educators, by adopting the educator mindset, the government can produce more responsible leaders or workers who will think first to help the country.

Maybe it is time for us, as one nation to renew our commitment to the importance of education and take steps to bring about great change. A revitalized education sector will propel our country forward. The government should promote in partnership with NGOs a national re-awakening on the advantages and benefits of bringing about a culture of educators. Through this awareness program, we can re-prioritize our national goals where education is Numero Uno. This will hopefully help create a dynamic interchange of ideas within Filipinos everywhere on the great importance of reforming our country's programs toward Education.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Education Excellence Part II

The Educational Revolution
Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth Part VI

After the relatively peaceful elections last May 14, the government now has to return to the important and integral task of nation-building. Foremost of which is to finally overhaul the current education set up in the country. Last June 4, almost 20 million elementary and high school students trooped to public and private educational institutions in the country. It is a considerable number which accounts for almost a quarter of our country's overall population at 23%. They will be the future leaders and workers of the country and it is very important rather vital that they be equipped with the proper knowledge and skills they need not only to succeed in college but also when they already start working.

The task at hand is Herculean in nature. In recent studies by the DepEd, only 6 out of every 1,000 elementary pupils are actually prepared to enter high school. This is an astonishing 6% success rate. The Philippines is also No. 41 in Science and No. 42 inn Mathematics among a study of 45 countries. In Science, Filipino students edged out only their counterparts from Botswana, Ghana and South Africa. The country spends on average only $64 (equivalent of P3,000) per high school student per year compared to the US which spends $7,500 (P345,000) per student per year and Singapore which spends $5,000 (P230,000). (exchange rate pegged at $1 = P46)

The backlog today in terms of classroom shortage is pegged at 45,775 by Secretary Lapus. As an analogy, he says "Every minute, 4 babies are born, it's like every 10 minutes, I'm short of 1 classroom." The Department of Education receives only 12% of the national budget.

Check this statistics out:

41,949: Number of public and private elementary schools for academic year 2005-2006
8,287: Number of public and private secondary schools (AY 2005-2006)
12.9 million: Total enrollment in the elementary level in both public and private schools (AY 2005-2006)
6.26 million: Total secondary enrollment in public and private schools (AY 2005-2006)\
126,141: Number of teachers in public secondary schools (AY 2005-2006)
10.57%: Dropout rate among elementary pupils
15.81%: Dropout rate among high school students
1:35 => Teacher-pupil ration in elementary school
1:39 => Teacher-pupil ration in secondary school

15.09 million: Total Philippine population aged 15-24 (based on 2000 census data)
737,959: Total number of illiterate Filipinos aged 15-24 (2000)
123,000: Total number of overseas Filipino workers aged 15-24 (2004)
1.2 billion: Total number of young people worldwide (2005)
Over 200 million: Number of young people living in poverty world wide (2005)
130 million: Number of illiterate youths worldwide (2005)
10 million: Number of young people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide (2005)
2.2 million: Number of young people living with HIV/AIDS in Asia (2005)

Sources: Department of Education, National Statistics Office, United Nations World Youth Report (2005)

The country cannot afford to lose this education challenge. As China, India, Vietnam and other emerging economies play catch up to the standards of the US and European Union, we are at the tail end of this game. A very serious or if I could say the most serious 5 to 10 year-plan for a comprehensive education program should be pursued by the current administration and the 14th Congress. They should at the very least come up with a viable program before the year ends in time for a short review and its eventual implementation for the next school year of 2008-2009.

Aside from providing a healthcare system avaible to all, a healthy economy leading to hihgher household incomes, sustainable environment and adequate infrastructure, the single biggest challenge for the Philippine government today is educating the future leaders and workforce of the country.

An education program involves providing for adequate classrooms and facilities in over 49,000 barangays around the country, competent teachers with competitive compensation packages, up to date and error free textbooks and learning materials, and other learning resources including teacher trainings and development programs. It also involves connecting all public schools whether in elementary, secondary or tertiary levels to the Internet. The Internet in this day and age has become an indispensible tool for students of all ages in the area of learning.

In order for us to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs), as set by our agreements in the United Nations, we must exert all efforts to achieve 100% universal primary education for all by 2015. We are on target with this goal, having reached 97% completion last year based on World Bank data. But this statistic belies the truth that the quality of education in the country has considerably deteriorated especially as regards the public school system. It will take a partnership among all stakeholders to win this war against ignorance. The private sector which includes the business sector and all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should seriously collaborate with the Department of Education, their respective local government units and other groups on this front including the process of establishing public accountability systems which the Institute for Solidary in Asia under Jesus Estanislas has started. Businesses need globally competitive workers to survive the onslaught of cheaper goods from China and to ensure that Philippine businesses continue to thrive in the modern age of the Internet and rapid globalization.

NGOs need to band together with businesses and the government to ensure that a real solution is taken and will be implemented without the usual shady deals and government inefficiencies. As we have seen in the last elections, civil society groups or NGOs can greatly help in making sure that government processes are transparent and above-board. What we need is a PPCRV/NAMFREL/LENTE type of watchdog in the education sector, which will monitor the implementation of a comprehensive education program that should arm the student population today with skills and knowledge they truly need to succeed tomorrow.

Entrepreneurship education is also one area where the business sector can take a lead. Jose "Joey" Concepcion Jr.'s GoNegosyo Project and Caravan Series, and Vivienne Tan's Entrepreneurs School of Asia (ESA) are shining examples of how Philippine companies and Filipino businessmen can help solve the country's education challenges.

The challenge is no easy task. Each Filipino student should be enjoined to take this matter seriously. We cannot afford to be the world's domestic helper forever. We only have one counry, one home, and it is here in the 7,100 islands located south of Taiwan in the South China Sea.

I suggest a three-pronged approach, the government will take care of the basic infrastructure needed: the classroo, the facilities, the teachers and the salaries. The business sector can lead in the training and development of the teachers. While the NGOs will become watchdogs in monitoring completion, success rates, and in presenting rooms for improvements.

Training should also be in collaboration with the different government agencies and should follow a national plan where we need to have competence and skills in order to succeed. For example, English skills are every important for today's workforce and in particular, for the call centers/BPO companies. The BPO industry will thus take the lead in the development of resource materials and training programs for teachers to ensure students are really taught great English skills.

Furthermore, the NGOs in focusing their efforts at monitoring the progress of the government should establish timelines and work constructively with all government agencies. Classroom shortages should be addressed first and NGOs in each city or province will have to link up with the local government units LGUs to plan out how these facilities will be built: timeline, budgets, etc. Monthly status reports will then be available through the Internet for all to see.

On another front, parents should be encouraged as well to take an active role in their children's education. This initiative can also be strengthened by truly supporting the work of the Commission on Audit and other agencies like the Department of Justice, the Ombudsman, and the Civil Service Commission to bring corrupt officals to jail or give punishment where it is due. A special court can be created to handle all education-related cases especially dealing with local city officials and Department of Education officials involved in anomalous transactions regarding the funds meant for education.

In the end, success has to be measured based on the quality of graduates our country produces and not only the quantity or numbers. The curriculum may also need to be revised to keep it up to date with current modes of teaching and new learning strategies.

I still believe like our National Hero Jose Rizal that our country's future is at stake here, in this challenge for education reform. If we, as a nation, as a people, do not act today to change the country's ways for the better, then it will endanger our children's and grandchildren's futures. This challenge is no longer just a problem, it will be the greatest mistake we can make as a people today.

It would take just a few years and innovative partnerships to reverse the tide, Filipinos will have to step up or we will be stepped upon. For the young leaders of the country today especially those in government, this is my challenge to you: "Our country's future is in your hands, what do you intend to do? What are you prepared to do?" I believe whether you're a young congressman, a young mayor, a young councilor, a young clerk of court - you can still do something to help.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth!

Sabi ni Rizal "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan."
Sabi ko naman "Edukasyon ang pag-asa ng kabataan."


The technology sector can also explore opportunities to harness the power of SMS and other mobile service technologies in the fight to improve the quality of education in the country. It could be a mobile education framework (MEF) where companies can develop application programs on teaching elementary students spelling, vocabulary, and other lessons through the use of their mobile phones or their parents' mobile phones. It could be a mobile education network (MEN) where collaboration between schools, universities, NGOs, and students are made possible by technologies provided by communications or telecom companies (or it can mean mobile service linkages). And it could be a mobile education platform (MEP) where college students are exposed to mobile gaming application of their chosen fields like Accounting where games on solving financial statement problems can be developed to stimulate further growth and learning.

Mobile phones have become an integral part of Filipino life today, with over 40 million subscribers per data from Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. That means almost half of our country's population have access to mobile phone and corresponding technologies. It is important then to tap this technologies for the advancement of education in the country.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Education Excellence

This month I will be writing about the need for educational reforms that the country badly needs. Foremost of which is arresting the deteriorating quality of education in both private and state educational institutions.

1. Educational Excellece: The Education Revolution
2. Transformers
3. Building a Culture of Educators

Please wait for it. Thank you.