Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Open Letter to Filipinos Everywhere (by a brave woman)

To all Filipinos Everywhere:

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were
caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one

thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and
murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich,
educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior?
And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and
locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time
thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get

any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the
latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not
men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad
to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each
one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing
the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and
apalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at
its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking
smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with
the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very
citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator",
"Justice", "General" and worse, "President". Ironically, these lawless
individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why

our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders

of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob
the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of
upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to
see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of
teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures
who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the
impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their
children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole
new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more
style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays

for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to

the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time
and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic
services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system,
poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have
always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and
my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing
fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes.
Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss
only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about
someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more
money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a
lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan.
Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security
men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money,
money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his

dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking
citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president
whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship.
"Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and
again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded

with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her
cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no
longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger
at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the
same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at
my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that

I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are
capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have,
though I may not yet feel it.

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to
let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to
issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known
that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the
Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with
scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who
believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas,

a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused

their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this

country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my
responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to
battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good.

We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer
petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too,
including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer
sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of
our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they
cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do

not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts
of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more
important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their
children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play,
sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old
enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school,
everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your
children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and
pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of
your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of
what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their
country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real,

worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and
women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can

to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us

into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our

educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good
leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law
enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look

around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an
excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see.
But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and
fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY
NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that
gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available

resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social

conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will
not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at
your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this
country. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are
tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of

the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your
chosen field. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs,

engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in
government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who
have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do
what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines

than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this.

And we owe our country even more.