Friday, December 30, 2011

Speak up, Philippines!

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come," said Victor Hugo. I could not agree more with him. The best conversations I had with people, especially this 2011, have been about exchanges of ideas. Those conversations, I often remember the most. Those conversations, often bring about something life-changing, if not the feeling of happiness and peace of heart. Those conversations, inspire me to strive and aspire for more.

2011 has been a good year. I have met a lot of new people, people who have a lot of ideas to share, and stories to tell. They are the ones who have kept me going, and have kept me believing (still) that this city country will be great, greater than it could be. And we are moving, and doing, the best we could, to make that happen. Who wouldn't want to be part of all of these?

There are 3 things I hold dear, and those 3 things I have acted upon and spoken up for this year, and will continue to do so in 2012. These areas of interests, I hope, will continue to improve and strengthen this year. 1.) Philippine Tourism 2.) Protection of the Philippine Seas and 3.) Good Governance.

Manila Minds and #PhilippineFridays

There is nothing more potent than the "meeting of the minds", people coming together, threshing out issues and topics that matter, and throwing ideas to solve them. That was just what happened when Sarah Meier, a friend and someone who I consider a life mentor, together with her husband Banj Billions, and Ruby Veridiano, invited 40 of us young people, influencers in our own fields and rights, to one venue to discuss about art, culture, media, tourism, politics, and the like. There was so much energy, passion and care for the society that day. Since then, Manila Minds has been changing the Philippines, one step at a time, one mind to the next.

From the first Manila Minds, or meeting of the minds, one of the things we came up to help Philippine Tourism was #PhilippineFridays. Simply put, it's a hashtag, which we put in our Twitter posts every Friday, discussing about the Philippines, and everything good and positive about it. It evolved to writing Facebook statuses, blog posts, videos, and anything viral to help promote the Philippines both online and in the physical world.

Save Philippine Seas

Save Philippine Seas has been a successful new media campaign informing the public of the situation (rape and destruction) of the Philippine Seas, which challenged more people to care and chip in the protection of our marine ecosystem. But even before that, we have been informing the public about the horrible destruction of the habitat and harvest of sharks, and rays in the country. Now, Anna Oposa and some other people, with the help of Congresswoman Aliah Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte, have been lobbying to pass the bill to protect not just our seas, but more importantly, the species that live in our seas, especially sharks and rays.

Shark in Palawan Market
Photo from Lost Tsinelas

Earlier this year, I was in Puerto Princesa Palawan, and I was shocked at the sight of sharks being sold in the public markets. I wrote to Mayor Edward Hagedorn about this sale of sharks in Puerto Princesa market, which he acted upon right away. He closed down the stalls which sold sharks and rays, gave a complete inventory of the raid, and revoked the licenses of the vendors. I thank him for his swift action and all the help in the campaign to protect the sharks. I hope more and more local governments, with the help of the locals and tourists, will be vigilant and help us in this.

Good Governance

Working for the government has interested me ever since I was in college. Oftentimes when asked what my course is, and they find out that I was taking up Public Administration, they would give me a look of disbelief or question what the hell I am doing. Nevertheless, I am proud to have taken up public administration; and even after college, I am prouder to be working in government.

I have the belief that no amount of complaining or ridicule will ever help change the system, unless you do it yourself, or with your friends. Fellow changemaker, and worker in government, Arriane Serafico is one of the people whom I admire because of her courage to speak up and resist the mediocrity of the status quo. Where else can you better fulfill the desire to improve the system and all its processes than within, right?

Photo from Arriane Serafico

I have always admired young people who know that they want to enter into government service. Most of them know that they want to do something, something bold, unique, groundbreaking and foolish (perhaps). They are the ones who often speak up, act, and be the idea of change, from within. In all honesty, what we Filipinos need is a lot of changing of mindsets in order for us to move forward.

Just like Rizal

Just like our National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, who spoke up and wrote to resist the system, on behalf of us Filipinos, who dared not, who did not. Even when he was alone, he had courage to fight a rotten system. In his death, which we remember today, he awakened the consciousness of our countrymen, and he still does today.

Just like Rizal, we, the youth, should be constantly be up on our toes to do better, to trigger change in our own homes, school, community, country, etc, not for anyone else, but for ourselves, our Philippines, and for the generations after us.

Photo from Team Manila

2011 is now ending, and 2012 gives us a lot of chances to do more and to do better. It is a time to put our feet forward and finally be part of the exciting and relevant things that will be happening, of changing, learning, and improving.

So, in 2012, I believe that we all have revolutions to lead, just like Rizal. It’s a matter of finding what it is that interests us, what it is we are passionate about, and ask ourselves, what will I resist or speak up for this coming year?



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