Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Better Philippines

There is at least one group on Facebook and one website called "A Better Philippines".

If these are indications of a growing clamor to set things right in this country, perhaps there may be hope that things in this country can still be turned around.

On the surface, some may quickly put down these small efforts at changing our country and dismiss it as mere flights of fancy that will eventually go nowhere.

Then again, the Facebook group already has 6,819 members and its wall is very active.  A few politicians with Facebook accounts have already joined it but what is even more substantial is that most of the members are ordinary citizens.  These ordinary citizens are calling for support to save our decrepit education system, better public health care, an end to malnutrition, an end to war and crime, and all others.

However, I have yet to receive a message from them calling for people to take specific action on a particular issue.  Perhaps, they will and perhaps they won't.  Then again, may be it's just a soiree where people can yap about what to do without necessarily having to do anything.

The website "A Better Philippines" may stand a better chance.  It was put up by a friend whom I have known for the longest time and one whom I know to be quite sincere about trying to make things better in this country.  He is scrupulous about determining right from wrong and proposing solutions to problems that continue to confound us.

With three posts, Better Philippines seems to off to a good start.  But, where is it going?

It has yet to propose an over all idea of a Better Philippines.  I am pretty sure my friend just needs some time to get around to writing a post on this.  For now, I think he deserves some praise for his effort.

And finally, let me get down to the very reason why I wrote this post.

If you are looking for a Better Philippines, there is a movement that has been around In Real Life (IRL) for two years now.  It is called Bagumbayan - Volunteers for a New Philippines.

You may have heard of this group two years back when it came out in almost every news program on television as it demanded former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos to implement the Amended Automated Election Law (RA 9369) during the 2007 elections.  Its members gathered together at Club Filipino together with other groups and held rallies in front of the Comelec Main Office in Intramuros.  And to prove to Abalos that the pilot phase of the Automated Election System could be implemented even in a short time, it held mock automated elections nationwide with the help of Botong Pinoy.

As of this moment, it is already conducting a campaign for voter's education and it has begun with 30,000 of its members all over the country.

As if things weren't busy enough, it is also currently engaged in a campaign to drum up support for HEAP or the Health and Education Acceleration Program bill.  This law proposes to take a small portion of the earnings of Smart, Globe, and Sun Cellular and put it into a fund which will be used to fill the gaps or inadequacies of our public education system.  The money will go to building classroons, hiring teachers and principals, providing a year round feeding program, and giving free dental and health care to children.

These are just two items in a list that Bagumbayan Volunteers for a New Philippines is doing.

In the coming days, I will be writing more and more about Bagumbayan.

For now, allow me to share with you Bagumbayan's Preamble:


Today, as in the past, we Filipinos have been confronted with deep and sweeping political, economic, social, and moral crises; lack of sense for the common good; poor leadership and corruption in government; crime, lawlessness, and insurgency; poverty and constant struggle with the economy; 
deteriorating quality in education; inadequate access to health care; 
weakening of the family; and poor environmental protection.

All these conditions plus apathy, indifference, and demoralization, as well as fear, helplessness, and hopelessness, have inured us Filipinos who have become jaded as we continue to face the daily challenges before us.

Experience has taught us that the old ways and the old solutions will not work in bailing us out of these crises. To go down in disgust, discouragement, and defeat seems to be the only recourse.

However, we need to look at our problems afresh and we Filipinos must fix them, for only we can fix them, and set the course for a successful future. We have the power to shape our future and determine the destiny of our country. We must rid ourselves of ingrained habits, prejudices, cultural preferences, and our traditional way of doing things. We must refresh our consciousness if we are to rise to new levels in life. We need to do things, believe things, and think in new ways.

It is time for a new direction to bring our dream of 
a better life for ourselves and for our country into reality;
 a dream deeply rooted in the hope for a new Philippines, a Bagumbayan.

To all of us who share this dream, we must all courageously face the challenges of our times. Thus, in an act of union and cooperation, we declare:

First, that we must be RESPONSIBLE for ourselves, 
for our fellow Filipinos, and for our country. We must change our attitudes, and transform ourselves to become horizon-chasers with 
duty, dignity, and determination;

Second, that we can REINVENT GOVERNMENT 
to faithfully perform its prime duty to serve and protect the people;

Third, that we can fortify LAW AND ORDER 
through self-discipline, vigilance, and respect for the rule of law;

Fourth, that we can build a STRONG AND GROWING ECONOMY 
if we all work, save, and invest in order to prosper;

Fifth, that we must prioritize EDUCATION as 
the key to national development to compete 
and lead in the new global economy;

Sixth, that we must provide adequate access to HEALTH CARE 
for all our people, especially the needy;

Seventh, that we must create JOBS for our people, 
so that they will not need to seek their fortunes abroad, but rather devote their talents directly to their country and their families;

Eighth, that we must assist our people in securing decent HOMES to live in and LAND to work and build on, so they can be dignified and productive citizens;

Ninth, that we must strengthen and reinforce the FAMILY as the foundation of our nation to develop proper values and virtues in individuals and build solid character; 


Tenth, that we must protect and preserve the ENVIRONMENT for our posterity.

These are our ideals upon which we lay the foundation of our movement for change. We are the volunteers of a movement dedicated to 
transform the Philippines into a Bagumbayan, a new Philippines.

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