Friday, April 30, 2010

Change is Everyone's Business

Change is everyone's business,
and it's an everyday job.

A personal belief that I've always had, and one that is at the very core of why I strongly advocate Corporate Social Responsibility, youth empowerment and a healthy multi-sectoral cooperation when it comes to nation-building.

This year, the Philippines has been sucked into this whirlwind I call the "Elections Day High". Not a bad thing at all. In fact, I am very happy to see that this time around, some politicians have taken a step towards platform-based campaigning alongside the age-old showbiz-type brouhaha. In what was before an apathetic youth sector we now find youth advocates taking initiative to empower and activate their fellow youth to vote, and vote wisely, at that. What was once an un-empowered and jaded citizenry is now passionately waging a war against corruption and unfair elections, taking on social media and new technology as their weapons.

We don't have a perfectly clean and purely democratic elections ahead of us, but what we have is a definite improvement from what we had. And that, I find, is an inspiring picture. Evidence of a country that is slowly maturing.

But for all the admiration and pride I feel.. I am very ashamed to say that mine is one of the wasted potential votes that will not be counted. I failed to register, and yes, I feel deeply disappointed in myself. My friends make a point of not letting me forget it, too! And I'm glad they do, because I know they are doing it out of love for our country.

But what gets to me is how some people make it sound like I am failing to do my one and only job as a citizen. Sometimes I get the impression that people feel like on May 10th, they are called to do their duty as Filipino citizens, and after that, it's time to sit back, relax and let the newly elected officials do their job.

Once all the emotional advertisements and heated debates go off air, when all the campaigning ends and the noise dies down... how many of these people will really still be fired up and continue to talk about a better Philippines?

My guess is, not very many. Or at least not as many as we'd like.

But one group is trying to change that. A refreshing voice amidst all the Election Day High clamor - the voice of One Tama.

The antithesis of our ever-famous Juan Tamad, One Tama envisions a Filipino that is a true and active citizen of the Philippines. One that does not just demand that his government leaders do their job, but one that demands just as much from himself. One that understands that his duty to his country may peak on elections day, but it does not end there.

They have this fascinating concept of the "Dual Motion of Voting".

Voting, most people understand, is voting for the candidate they want to become the next president. But this, they say, is only the second motion of voting. There is a motion that precedes it, and it is one that is just as significant as the other. That is voting yourself as citizen.

Simply put, they say -

If you demand change for your leader, so should you demand change from yourself.

If you admit that you are part of the problem, recognize that you are most likely a part of the potential solution.

Whenever you invoke your rights as citizens, do not forget that you should also invoke your responsibilities as citizens.

These were the wonderfully refreshing words I heard that night when I attended Dialogues @ Starbucks where One Tama presented. And I am very glad I did. I walked away from that cafe fired up. In no way did it rationalize away my failure to register - I still feel very deeply disappointed about that - but it did remind me that my duty does not end with voting and that everyday I have an opportunity to serve the country that I love.

If you have time, even after elections day is over, do get in touch with One Tama and invite them to give a talk to your school, your office, or even just your barkada. Not everything they have to say is pretty, but sometimes you need someone to shove Philippine reality in your face to make you wake up. It'll be good for you.

In the words of the speaker, Jorel, "I am not here to make you feel bad. I am here to make you feel responsible."

Pick up the phone, or write that email. Seriously.

I'll say it again..

Change is everyone's business,
and it's an everyday job.

- - - -

To get in touch with One Tama, contact:
Jorel Soyangco

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