Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time to Act

You may have heard about what is presently happening in the Philippines. Below, for your information, is an exchange that I'm sure is happening many times over right now, in the country and without. For full appreciation, you may want to read the second letter first.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mila D. Aguilar
Date: Feb 9, 2008 12:46 PM

Dear Ben,

Amen and amen! But our recommendations and actions have to be not only concrete, but actual and physical. We can and should pray every step of the way, but God already answered what we should be doing long ago; he's been waiting for us to act.

The present situation calls for present action. If we do not act now, more and more of our people will think that corruption is the only way to go. If we do not show, by dislodging the corrupt from our midst, that corruption cannot and must not thrive, more and more of our people will feel that they too can get away with their petty sins. And as more and more of our people become corrupt, more and more of the honest will want to leave our country to the dogs and the foreigners.

We have to act now, and act fast, or our medium and long-term programs will come to naught.

Though we must not forget that the final answer is economic, we must remember that the present pressing problem is political. Once we have shown that corruption in the Philippines has been excised, no matter how roughly for now, we can go on with building our plural, responsible, and solidarity-based society.

Let me reiterate what I have advocated since 1999:

Corruption and poverty in our country feed on each other, but cannot survive once we have built a strong base of entrepreneurs. For once these entrepreneurs create wealth for the nation that can equal if not surpass the remittances of our hapless overseas Filipinos, poverty can be minimized. And once poverty has been minimized, corruption cannot thrive, for corruption thrives only on the dependency of the poor.

This is how concrete our medium and long-term program has to be. Some, like the Global Filipino Nation, can be even more specific: they are targeting the growth of medium-scale entrepreneurs. I, for my part personally, would rather spread the consciousness and practice of entrepreneurship among the masses through an entrepreneurial mass movement.

It's a chicken-or-egg situation, but the egg has been laid, and not only is it golden -- it can produce many more. Now it's time to go after the neck of that chicken.

Let us pray that the hand of God will guide us in our figurative neck-cutting.

God bless the Philippines!

On Feb 9, 2008 11:54 AM, Benjamin Quinones wrote:
Dear Claribel,

I received today through my mobile phone your text as follows: "Ben, What should be our response to these outrageous corruption scandals? Collective silence or collective action? -- Claribel David"

My mobile phone load is down to zero, I can't text you back, so I resorted to this email reply. First of all, I'd like to say I admire your courage in asking this question. Because the answer to your question is obvious from the way you framed it.

How can we keep silent when our future, especially our children's future is already compromised? How can we not take action when own country and people are looking for answers and alternatives to the existing bankrupt system, and part of that answer is in our hands? We have been advocating for a plural, responsible, and solidadrity-based society. We cannot dissociate that advocacy from what is currently transpiring in the country. Instead of folding down our banners and keeping silent, we should all the more intensify our advocacy. We cannot shirk from that social responsibility, we cannot turn our backs from the call to take a collective, constructive action.

But what kind of collective action? I believe in presenting the Filipino people a sustainable alternative. I believe in sharing with them a vision for the future that will move them to act for their own families, their communities, their country. I don't think people will respond to another short term palliative like the previous EDSA people's power action They are looking for something that will last, not only for themselves but most especially for their children and their children's children.

One of the reasons why I proposed a quarterly learning journey as a major agenda for our partners meeting in March 28 is to enable us to work together in a persistent move of rallying people to our cause for an other, solidarity-based society. We have a cause, we believe in sharing this cause to the Filipino masses, so that they will have the means and the collective will to overcome oppressive conditions. I'm sure our colleagues - Jun Simon, Pinky Cupino and her group, the Christian Businessmen's Forum Intl, EBEST and others will close ranks with us in this initiative. We should conduct the learning journey consistently as a means for mobilizing people towards an organized engagement of existing power structures in a constructive manner. The initiative we are taking is not necessarily risk-free. Every progressive move is risky.

We cannot change the scandalous situation in the country overnight. But we can commit to a persistent
collective action that could rally more and more people towards a plural, responsible, and solidarity-based society.


Arise, shine, for your light has come
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

- Matthew 10:19-22

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