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Are the Filipinos ready to dream with their government?

iTEACH - Jose Claro (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2012 - 12:00am

A simplified version of a philosopher’s discourse tells of the following story. Several men were shackled in a dark cave, their backs turned away from the light coming from the mouth of the cave. As the years pass by, the men have gotten accustomed to the darkness and embraced the shadows as their own. What if suddenly, these men were to be set free and encouraged to leave the darkness for the light beyond the cave? Are the men to accept such an invitation? The wise sage counsels that they would not as they are inclined to fear not the dark, but light.           

Are Filipinos like the shackled men who have grown to love the darkness? Having endured many years of corrupt governance, we have adapted and survived by criticizing administration after administration, and attributing our shortcomings to the corruption that pervades our land.          

But what becomes of us when we are set free from our chains? How do we react when, contrary to what we are used to, we are finally led by government officials (at least, in the executive branch) who do not act out of self-interest?    

It is instinctive to scoff and doubt at first. But reason should urge us to consider other perspectives. Taking a break here in Singapore, I’ve been forced lately to view world events through the eyes of its media. And Singapore has been noticing the Philippines lately. Channel News Asia last August and September reported on the consistent economic growth of our country. A July report featured the property boom that is transforming Philippine skylines. Every now and then, there are references to the credit upgrades and the stock market records surpassed. Other international media networks have also featured the Philippines’ exceptional performance such as BBC and CNN. A far cry indeed from our local television media, which have profited from criticizing the government year after year. Now, having no corruption scandal to delve on, it satisfies itself by nitpicking on the government’s every move.            

This is not to paint false hopes. Clearly, we have not yet solved many of our problems. Corruption is still alive in some government offices and local agencies. Dynasties and showbiz personalities are threatening to dominate next year’s elections. Most unsettling of all are the news reports of ordinary, hardworking people being murdered or victimized by criminal elements. But there is light beckoning us to escape the darkness. The only thing that prevents us from walking towards that light is the cynics among us who deny its existence despite evidence to the contrary. This government’s heaviest burden is the pessimism coming from its own people.          

Last Nov. 20, at the end of the ASEAN summit, Singapore television and newspapers headlined how the Philippines had prevented Cambodia from falsely portraying an ASEAN consensus of bilateralism when dealing with China. All news entities here reported the same chronology of events: that it was the Philippines that first raised the issue of the deceitful inaccuracy and was thereafter supported by Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. The incident, along with the other achievements mentioned above, speaks a lot about our national leadership. We are no longer pushovers. Other countries have recognized our government’s strides for the benefit of our nation. The question left to ask is: Can we Filipinos come to terms with the fact that our government is now acting for the good of the nation and not just for self-serving interests? Or do we go on anticipating its missteps so as to convince ourselves that nothing has changed?        

Watching international news agencies speak highly of the Philippines should encourage every Filipino to realize that our government is leading us towards the light. It may pain us at first, especially when we realize that it will not necessarily lead to the fulfillment of our own particular interests. However, the time has finally come to trust a government that works only for the betterment of the entire Filipino nation. It is true that compared to our ASEAN neighbors, we are still a poor country. But the sooner we break the habit of focusing on the worst about our government, the better chances we have of proving to the world that we can get our act together. I’ve always shared with my students Harry Kemp’s quote that the poor man is he who is not without a cent, but he who is without a dream. Are we now ready to dream with our government? 

‘I’ve always shared with my students Harry Kemp’s quote that the poor man is he who is not without a cent, but he who is without a dream.’

0PT A JULY ARE FILIPINOS AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER CHANNEL NEWS ASIA GOVERNMENT HARRY KEMP LEFT
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