Keep the best we have

Published April 20, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

By Jesus P. Estanislao


Almost everyone agrees we need to transform our country so it gets aligned with the dreams we have for ourselves as a people.

But thus far, there is little agreement on what we need to do in order to properly transform our country. This is probably because we have given little thought to it, and therefore we have had very little discussion on this point.

Clink Hagedorn has been kind enough to answer my request for his thoughts on national transformation. He came up with two proposals.

The first is very straightforward: we need to keep the very best of ourselves and then build on it. For Clink, the best feature that characterizes us is our Christian culture and therefore the Christian values that have helped shape the Filipino soul. These we need to hang on to because they “define who we are as Filipinos.” He observes:

  • “Our medical workers, especially the older ones, are well loved abroad because they carry these traits,” shaped by our Christian culture and values.
  • Even “our domestic helpers carry them as well,” although “it may be painful seeing our fellow Filipinos work as help outside (our country).” He continues, “maybe what we can do is teach them more (skills) on how to improve their level of service and arm them with (more) knowledge.”

Not everyone may agree with Clink Hagedorn about how deeply embedded Christian culture has been into the Filipino soul; but it has been a distinctive trait, even today, where Filipinos living and working abroad are more likely to fill the churches on Saturday evening or Sunday (compared to the locals in the area, who may have become so secularized that they no longer show much appreciation for their Christian heritage).

Clink then articulates his dream for our country: “My dream is for us Filipinos to keep our culture and our values intact in consonance with progress.” He comes up with a transformative idea: instead of allowing other cultures (especially overly secularized Western cultures) overwhelm ours, we should be “diluting Western culture,” as we adapt it to our circumstances and use it, in our distinctively Christian manner, to work for our progress.

The second transformative proposal is for us to stand on our own, being at the same time smart to learn the best from others. No more blind imitation of what others do, or simply mouthing the same slogans others are propagating! By all means, let us learn from others: “we do not need to re-invent the wheel, we just need to look (more closely and studiously) into it, and then tweak it a bit to fit our homeland.” It is this creative tweaking that has become a strategic imperative. We do have to use our “smarts” as we adapt what is good from others into our local circumstances, whilst at the same time hanging on to our Christian culture and values.

Two simple, straightforward transformative proposals: hang on to the best we have; and bring what is best in others into our homeland, taking great care to adapt those lessons from outside, properly for our own people´s progress and our national development. By presenting these two proposals, Clink Hagedorn asks many others to present their own so we can carry on a positive national conversation on what and how to transform our country in a manner that enables us to realize our dream for ourselves and our people.