The best for someone else!

MGA LAMAS SA KINABUHI HINIKAY - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2016 - 12:00am

The best thing that ever happened to me in 2016 actually happened to someone else. 

As every year comes to an end, we of course look back at the best and worst of things that happened to us in the year. I myself started making a mental list of the things I was thankful for and most of it was material or professional achievements. It did not take long for me to start feeling “Ho Hum” about it all because material or professional accomplishments are nice to recall but in the grand scheme of things, they happen because of plain effort and determination.

“Something to be thankful for” ought to be in the realm of things or events that happen way beyond your abilities, strength and even expectations. Whether they are major or mini miracles, what makes you thankful is because you did not expect them, could not believe getting them and yet beyond the odds, they happened. The best thing is, when what you wanted the most, was the best for someone else.

In my case it is the fact that the young girl I wrote about who had been paralyzed a year ago, spent a year in the hospital, was surrounded with love, care and commitment by medical professionals, returned to our farm in Lipa in an ambulance, depended on a wheel chair and a neck brace, now walks practically unaided, attends home school and ONLY by GOD’s GRACE can now look forward to an almost normal life! Never once did she experience any complication and in spite of the daunting challenge, none of us lost hope, kept the faith and went about with a quiet reassurance and peace beyond understanding. All we knew and believed in was she would get well, all in God’s time.

In the year that I hovered in the background I learned that as tempting as it was to burst out in anger and attack the first available targets, coming to an agreement with them to solve the problem resulted in greater cooperation and deeper commitments that evolved to respect and friendships. I came to appreciate that we should not try to do everything, but allow even the simple people to take part in the battle so that they have a sense of contribution and self-respect. I learned that in the grand scheme of things, money may come in handy and solves many problems but the prayers of many righteous and caring people elicit the grace of God more than cash.

I learned that encouragement and being an encourager, being blunt about what is at stake and even giving tough love help prepare people to fight their darkest fears and overcome their inner weakness. I learned that when God declares war he does not stand behind you but beside you. His provision and his people will join the battle and many times you will face overwhelming situations not as a challenge or discouragement but to emphasize beyond a shadow of a doubt that God did it, not us.

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“Why buy the cow when you can buy the milk?”

This very pragmatic lesson is something many rich businessmen ought to consider in their search of a legacy. Many Filipino Chinese businessmen have been attracted by the idea of “buying” a school or a school building so they can place their name or their father’s name on it. The practice is generally self-limiting where the donor-buyer often buys into their high school alma mater or a university where the alumni association is very strong or aggressive and shameless in selling corridors, hallways, or conference centers. There’s really nothing wrong with it since the money is “hard-earned” and the practice is culturally and legally accepted.

But one has to wonder: in terms of getting the most bang for the buck or wise investments, is buying square meters in a school really the best option? Obviously some Taipans or Typhoons never bother to do “due diligence” or “complete staff work” because if they did, they might discover that investing or buying into “public” programs or investing in technical – vocational facilities tend to impact more people, more families who are at a greater disadvantage than those rich well off children or students.

As a “rogue faculty” member of the Development Academy of the Philippines, I have personally seen the difference that such an institution of learning and research makes for government institutions and their executives. In particular the PMDP or Public Management Development Program is a unique and dedicated program that gives government executives the same education and tough training as private sector executives get from institutions such as the AIM or Ateneo School of Business. The PMDP at DAP has a line up of senior mentors some formerly holding Cabinet positions, multiple degrees, or a lifetime spent working in a given field or specialization.

The program is not cheap; costing about P1 million per student over an initial five-month program that extends through years of updates and consultations with mentors. Sadly the uniqueness and value of the PMDP comes under threat because pencil pushers and Budget officials look at the zeroes and not the heroes the program creates. Education and training do not automatically result in outputs that can be measured through year-end metrics. Consequently, the budget scissors always hang like an axe overhead.

Budget officials and leaders have always harped on institutions such as the DAP becoming self sustaining and this could be done through grants or programs such as those adopted by private schools and universities that sell a wall here, a floor there or a whole building. But the question is: can companies and businessmen actually buy or fully sponsor such programs? Do Philippine laws conveniently allow government programs or buildings to be named after Taipans or Typhoons? Does the BIR have a modified and modern provision for making such donations tax deductible?

Many politicians talked about PPP as a solution until they discovered that each project takes 3 full years to process and complete. A check and a plaque is a whole lot easier and faster to write and screw to the wall. Perhaps, instead of cost cutting measures and killing programs, let’s sell the milk instead of killing the cow.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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