In her vitriolic rant she says among other things that since she graduated from college, with idealistic dreams and plans to "change the world" she has become so disillusioned with her country that now, at 23, she writes how she hates everything about it...from the broken infrastructure, to the rampant corruption, to the lack of attention to anything and everything outside of Manila. She says she is sick of making excuses to people from elsewhere about the problems that this country faces.
I was saddened when I read this blog, for a number of reasons:
Perhaps it is my cynical nature, but as I read the blog I began to think about a previous blog that had been written by an American girl, I think, about Philippine food, and specifically Philippine street food. There seems to be a general acceptance now that the blog was written, the way it was written, for one reason and one reason alone...to get noticed...especially in Social Media. It seems these days that reason, objectivity and balance are not enough to get attention in the cyber-world, which of course is what most bloggers (me included) seek. The only way, it seems, to get noticed is to adopt an extreme posture at one end or the other of a topic's spectrum. This is the only way to go "viral", I'm reliably informed by my 14-year old daughter. As an ex-journalist, who cut his teeth on balance, context, and fair reporting, I'm disappointed that some people think that is they only way they can get noticed in the cyber-world. I for one don't accept it. Well, I just hope that this young lady's rant about how much she hates her country was not driven by the desire to "be noticed" or to have her "fifteen minutes of fame". That would be disappointing!
If her reasons for writing the piece were motivated by a genuine anger and frustration at the conditions in her country (our country), I would first of all agree with many of her sentiments. The Country does have a lot of problems. I would just add these few comments as food for thought on the issue:
1/ You are 23 years old. You say that when you graduated you were full of ideals and dreams of making a difference. Now, if we assume you went to University at 16 which many kids do here, and that you did a four-year degree; that would mean that you had been in the "real world" now for all of three years! I doubt that three years is anywhere enough time to have formed such an entrenched and angry position on any subject, let alone a subject with which you speak with such absolute indignation.
2/ Change is effected only by people prepared to work, and to work hard, from WITHIN the system. Change that comes about from without the system, only comes about through violence, suffering and repression. I would just ask you, if we really want to go back to the days of personal restraints and lack of freedoms that typified the Martial Law years under Marcos. You have a freedom to express your opinions now that would have not been available to you during the years of Martial Law. You would have been arrested, detained and even tortured for the type of comments you made in your blog. To retain these freedoms, and still change the system, it must be changed from within by a new generation of young leaders. We need strong, hard-working, committed young leaders - not quitters.
3/ Yes, there are a litany of problems that can be attributed to this country...as there can be to most countries anywhere around the world. You talk of hating the fact that the only thing Filipinos are noted for in the international community is their resilience and fortitude in the face of natural disasters. I say that you should be immensely proud of your fellow countrymen. Nowhere in the world have I ever encountered such a staunch people who can keep their spirits high and their dignity intact in the face of such horrific natural disasters. This country will always be the recipient of the worst that nature can throw at us; such as typhoons, earthquakes and volcanoes. That is just the reality of where we live; a group of islands in the middle of the tropics, sitting on the "Pacific Rim of Fire". There's nothing we can do about nature, it will always do its worst, no matter what we do. All we can do is try to mitigate its effects. To be fair; we have often been poor at this in the past - but things are improving; albeit maybe too slow for you. What I am asking you to accept is that we are now on the right path. We are now doing the things necessary to respond, and to respond quickly to natural disasters. Filipino people, by dint of their incredible courage and resilience are as best placed as anyone, anywhere to deal with the aftermath of calamity. Be proud...don't hate!
4/ Corruption, greed, extreme poverty and self-serving leaders; have and continue to be a problem in this country. What we need to understand is that short of violent revolution (AND NOBODY, BUT MADMEN, WANT THAT!) reforms take time. The elimination of poverty and corruption are inter-generational. The ills cannot be cured overnight. What this administration has done (and some would argue it has done little enough), but what it has done and this is the start of change...it has woken the sleeping giant...the Filipino people. For the first time since I've been involved in this country, I see a change in mindset. I see a non-acceptance of corruption and poverty. For the first time, I see an unwillingness, among everyday Filipinos, to accept that poverty and corruption are endemic and not fixable. This is the start of the revolution! This is the start of the change! This is the point at which Filipinos say...enough! This is the point at which we no longer accept mediocrity and theft from our leaders! Whether you support or decry President Aquino's performance, is actually irrelevant. His legacy to this country is simply this...He has changed the mindset of an entire nation to believe that change is possible and that we, as individuals, can contribute to that change. I reiterate - what this country needs is committed dynamic, free-thinking, YOUNG leaders who are not tainted by the familial ties of the past and who can act in the best interests of their country. To our young 23 year old blogger, I say, be one of those young leaders...don't be a quitter.
5/ Social Media has become and is becoming an even more vital cog in the push for change. What our politicians, civil servants and civic leaders are slowly coming to realize is that they just can't get away with it anymore. Everyone has a cellphone with a camera; everyone has a device that can record audio; and anyone is capable of being "your" whistle-blower. There is a coming awareness among the entitled elite that their days are numbered. That is why you currently see such fear, such violent reactions and such vehement denials from those caught up in the current scams. They are scared! They can see the writing on the wall! Their days are numbered and they know it! Don't give them comfort by relaxing the pressure on them. Use the power of social media to expose all and every case of corruption you come across. Only then will we see change.
6/ My final plea to our blogger is that she considers what has been achieved in the four short years since the drive to clean up our country started. Much has been achieved, whether she admits it or not. They key to success now is continuity. As a Country we must never go back to the status-quo. We must never go back to politicians that will serve themselves. That is exactly what the current bunch of miscreants are hoping for. They believe that come 2016, the new government (led no doubt by the cunning little man himself - the do nothing, keep quiet, upset nobody and I'll get elected President, man - you all know who I mean), will forgive them. Don't believe it? Just look at Erap Estrada...pardoned by Arroyo...now Mayor of Manila and apparently considering a run at the Presidency in the 2016 elections. Please, tell these people NO! Their time has come and gone (thankfully). It is now time for a new generation of honest, dedicated, committed, young people to take the reigns. To our blogger...be part of that revolution.
The thing that sustains me the most in my hope for this beautiful country (and don't ever forget that - it is a truly wonderful country!) is one exciting fact: Over 50% of the population of this country is under 25 years of age.
Young people - you ARE the majority. You can effect change. You have the power. To all young people, especially our 23 year old blogger...
DON'T HATE - MAKE A DIFFERENCE!