Is This What We Want to Teach Our Children?

It’s been a busy, busy, busy two weeks. Thanks be to God, our new project is set for launching in March.

But while Perry and I have been very busy with our project, we have also been quite occupied with following the latest news on the so-called NBN-ZTE scandal. For my foreigner readers, this scandal is about alleged corruption and bribery in the National Broadband Network project of the Philippine government, and it allegedly involves not just very high officials (and, according to two state witnesses, family members of high officials) in our government, but also ZTE Corporation of China.

Now, it even seems that there is much more to this story than first thought. News anchor Ricky Carandang reported in last Tuesday’s episode of ABS-CBN’s The Correspondents  that the deal might even be an offshoot of a 2005 agreement where the Philippines, China, and Vietnam agreed to work together for oil exploration in the Spratly Islands—a deal to which lawyer Harry Roque applied the word “treason”  (paying subscribers can watch that episode online here)!

Yup, the story gets curiouser and curiouser. The progression of events and much of the details regarding the NBN-ZTE deal can be found in the links below. However, what I wanted to share through this post is what I saw and heard on TV, when Jun Lozada, the main whistleblower regarding the deal, gave a short message during a Catholic Mass held last Sunday at the La Salle Greenhills. During his message, he narrated how his young son had asked him why their family had to stay in the La Salle premises and be protected by the La Salle brothers and by nuns, their movements and freedom severely restricted. Lozada said the following in Tagalog, which I’m paraphrasing from memory:

Is this what we want to teach our children? That, in this country, those who tell the truth have to hide and fear for their lives and for their families’ lives? That those who lie and steal are the ones who are free to roam freely, go wherever they want whenever they want, and rest in beautiful, expensive, air-conditioned homes? Is this what we want to teach our children?

Good question. What legacy do we want to give our children?

..

..

For details on the NBN-ZTE deal, non-Philippine residents could refer to the websites of Philippine news organizations including, but not limited to:

Philippine Daily Inquirer

ABS-CBN News

GMA News

Philippine Star

..

..
BlinkAdd to Blinkslist del.icio.usadd to del.icio.us digg.itDigg it StumbleUponStumble It! Redd.it Vineseed the vine

How to Help Improve Philippine Society?

This week I came across this question from Francis Kong, posted at Yahoo! Answers. He asked:

What can we do to help make the Philippines a better place for ourselves and for our children?

It is not only the government’s job to improve the future for our children.
It is the responsibility of every Filipino to create a better Philippines for the coming generations. All of us must think about how we can contribute.

The question is posted at this link:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Al63Ma4yNZfqjJqZbeLsyxjsy6IX;_yl

I posted my two cents’ worth:
Wow, this is like a chicken-and-egg question. My suggested answer is: SHORT-CIRCUIT THE CHICKEN-AND-EGG SITUATION.

We definitely need better leaders to set examples, implement laws correctly and justly, set the right environment for the proper growth of the populace (economic, political, etc.) That’s the chicken.

Problem is, we also need an electorate that’s better educated and motivated to put the right leaders in place. That’s the egg.

Theoretically, without the right leadership, the environment will not be conducive to breeding healthy eggs. Corrupt leaders simply keep the environment contaminated by maintaining the masses’ dependency on them through bribes and the patronage system; by taking advantage of regionalistic preferences (i.e., he may be a devil but he’s OUR devil,,,and our devil will always take care of his own); through fear and intimidation, etc.

Because of this, the eggs, er, people, will always put into office the wrong kinds of leaders. And the right kinds of leaders will be disillusioned and opt out (e.g., Mrs. Monsod, if I understand a recent TV interview correctly).

The process must be short-circuited by a force coming in from outside. This force would include business leaders, educators, and everyone else willing to contribute and actively participate in helping Philippine society.

The process of short-circuiting would involve (but would not be limited to) the following:

1) Subsidizing education for the children, to train, equip, and support capable teachers who would not only teach CORRECT skills, but also right and godly values. (Note regarding skills: have you seen the essays and answers to simple questions submitted in many job interviews nowadays? These indicate how much our educational system has deteriorated, and has been simply a huge collective diploma mill for many years now.)

2) Include ENTREPRENEURSHIP as a core subject in childrens’ and youth’s education. For so long, our educational system has trained children to aspire to be employees (a company prexy is still an employee). A successful entrepreneur who has right godly values will have more positive impact on society—not the least of which are providing income to more people, and imparting godly values to many through his or her godly example.

3) For the older people, setting up businesses and cooperatives in the provinces, and train the people in entrepreneurship. Hopefully, this would have two effects: (a) encourage the people to stay in the provinces and stop migration to the “dream” urban centers; and (b) teach them to fish, and not just feed them with fish for the day.

4) IMPORTANT: The training in entrepreneurship should not be just the old “Livelihood training programs” such as soap-making, candle-making, detergent manufacture, etc. These have been tried for years and found wanting, with very few exceptions. This is because the people who are trained in these livelihood skills all start producing soap, or processed meat, or candles, or whatever, all at the same time, and compete with each other and ultimately kill each other’s businesses quickly (while the NGO’s and mission organizations which conducted the livelihood programs feel self-satisfied with finishing their targeted programs for the year and send self-congratulatory reports to their foreign partners and supporters, complete with numbers and photos, to ask for money for more programs next year—while the people they have “trained”, and who have killed each other’s businesses, look for other “skills” and other NGO’s from whom they can borrow capital again, to try again and again…). The help should include the provision of solid and actual marketing contacts, establishment of cooperatives, etc. Through cooperative ventures, the people band together instead of killing each other (one possible setup would be for certain persons or families to take care of the soap supplies, another of the processed food supplies, another of the garments supplies, etc). Through marketing contacts (if possible, marketing CONTRACTS), the people are enabled to actually sell the products or services which they have been trained to provide. A big problem with current livelihood trainings is that the beneficiaries have no contacts, means, training, or skill to properly and profitably market their products and services, and they all compete and kill each other selling within the same community.

5) For big business to altruistically share in the improvement of the community by providing marketing outlets and sharing their marketing infrastructure with the small entrepreneurs; setting up scholarship foundations for competent children from poor families; subsidizing hospitals, health centers, and drugstores for the poor (usually, small entrepreneurs are stopped dead in their tracks by illness in the family); setting up housing programs in the provinces and opening marketing and production ventures or small branches of their firms near these settlements. These need not lead to losses for big business. It should be possible to figure out population sizes which could be resettled in given areas and where the company’s branches could be set up profitably, which would provide marketing outlets and business and employment opportunities for the resettled people.

These are only a few suggestions. We could come up with many more possible ways to short-circuit the chicken-and-egg process of corrupt politicians always being elected and supported by a beholden electorate. The point is to achieve two important goals:

1) instill correct, godly values in the youth who will be our future leaders and electorate, and

2) break the hold that politicians have through the patronage system, which is made possible by the dehumanizing poverty of many of our countrymen.

Such actions would also hopefully neutralize the growing hostility and resentment felt by the poor towards the rich. This would lead in turn to a more stable and manageable environment in which it would be easier for the two sides to communicate with each other and appreciate one another’s points of view.

Well, just a hurried and abbreviated answer to a very complicated question. I have many more ideas, but space and time are limited in a Yahoo! Answers context. We can talk further, if you want, through email or even personal conversation. I would certainly love to explore this question further, and join forces with others who want to do something solid and practical for our country.

Shalom! Peace and wholeness to you!

Mel

..
BlinkAdd to Blinkslist del.icio.usadd to del.icio.us digg.itDigg it StumbleUponStumble It!