Dreamless Pinoys

Dreams, ambitions, and visions of a better future propel people and nations to bright tomorrows. Rags-to-riches stories relate sacrifices people make to improve the quality of their lives. These are inspirational, but only if there is a dream and a strong desire to realize it.

Dreams are important. War-torn South Korea became a developed country because its people had a collective dream to rise from the ashes. At one time, Koreans were contributing their personal gold and jewelry to keep their national economy from collapsing.

What about us? We don’t have a collective national dream, that’s for sure. We don’t even have a sense of nationhood. We are very individualistic, focused on family and friends, and at best a collection of regional tribes pretending to be a nation.

Some of our people may have individual dreams to improve their lives by going abroad. Many migrate permanently. Others work to support families at home, with the intention of going back.

We are always advised to dream big. But apparently, that is easier said than done.

One News, a sister media company of PHILSTAR, reports that a nine-year study by Dream Project PH showed that eight out of 10 Filipinos do not have a dream. How can we expect them to dream big?

The One News report cites reasons why many Filipinos are dreamless. Basically, it is because most of our countrymen are on survival mode.

Boris Joaquin, founder of the Project Purpose Team, Inc, reports in One News a sense of being lost among young people – students and newbie workers who attended their seminars and training events across the country.

“When we asked them, ‘Do you know where you are going?’, we found that many of them think they do, but probing further, we discovered together that their direction seemed to be going around in circles.

“This is one of the reasons we started an advocacy group called Project Purpose back in 2018. We help our participants determine their life purpose and lay down their life goals.”

Joaquin says this “observation is consistent with a nine-year study conducted by Dream Project PH founder Prim Paypon that showed that eight out of 10 Filipinos do not have a dream.

“The study covered 614 Filipino teenagers in 54 provinces from different socioeconomic classes across the country. They were asked to answer the question, ‘Do you have a dream in life?’ Their answers were indefinite.”

Joaquin cites five reasons why:

“First is lack of conversations. When you need to nurture a child’s dream or a young person’s purpose, you need to have consistency in conversations. Normally this happens at home or in school, but the consistency and the lack of it is a major concern.

“In his 2014 TEDx Manila Talk, ‘Imagineering a Dream,’ Paypon specifically noted that mere words could discourage dreaming among the youth. So there is not just a need for conversations, but a need for encouraging conversations. To nurture a dream, they need to be mentored.

“Second is a lack of role models. Many in our generation have had mindsets shaped by the previous generation where this thinking prevails: ‘You study so that you can graduate, so that you can get a well-paying job.’ To whom can our young generation look to envision a purpose for their lives beyond a well-paying job?”

In this regard, I tend to blame the media and the schools for this failure to put up the right role models. There is too much media focus on high society and showbiz role models.

And for careers, there is too much focus on politics, politicians, get-rich-quick schemers, and yes, lawyers. There is not enough focus on careers that will move the nation’s economy to greater heights like engineers or serve the people like doctors.

There should be more stories out there like that of Pinoy billionaire Dado Banatao, a poor boy from Cagayan who became an entrepreneur and engineer working in Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry. He is a three-time start-up veteran and co-founded Mostron, Chips and Technologies, and S3 Graphics.

The third reason cited by Paypon is a limited perspective.

“If the youth are not challenged and encouraged to see that they can make a positive change in their community or circumstances, chances are these will limit the future they carve out for themselves. A child is a bundle of possibilities and we need to help them explore those options.”

Fourth, there are limited opportunities… a form of “educational inflation” where so many people keep pursuing graduate degrees to get better career opportunities among a sea of college graduates. But the problem is, do we have job opportunities for everybody?

Last is limited resources.

“We’re talking about the economic situation of the country. If you were born into a family in survival mode, pursuing your purpose or dream might become the least of your priorities when your immediate goal is to get food on the table for your family. Sadly, the majority of our countrymen face this harsh reality.”

How do we make our people dream?

Joaquin suggests that parents, teachers, social workers, and mentors can leverage on simple conversations to help children and teens have dreams, pursue a sense of purpose, and chase after these dreams.

The last reason from the study, lack of resources, might be a roadblock for many to dream big, Joaquin concedes.

“But if four out of the five factors limiting one’s ability to dream are covered, then the odds are in your favor. Besides, when you dream big, work hard, and make it happen, you help alleviate the economic situation of our country.”

He ends with a quote attributed to Egyptian contemporary poet Sharouk Mustafa Ibrahim:

“May you never be the reason why someone who loved to sing, doesn’t anymore. Or why someone who dressed so uniquely now wears plain clothing. Or why someone who always spoke so excitedly about their dreams is now silent about them. May you never be the reason someone gave up on a part of themselves because you were demotivating, non-appreciative, hypercritical, or even worse – sarcastic about it.”

Let us develop the capacity to dream. Or we will be left behind further and further.



Boo Chanco’s email address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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