By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Another “pakulo?” It may be perceived as another one of those movements that are born with a “bang,” and eventually wither away with a “whimper.” With all the problems of survival – inflation, traffic, continuing corruption, etc., it will not be a surprise if initiatives like these could be perceived with some cynicism.
But, the convenors of the launch are unperturbed, and are hoping that this initiative may resonate with a growing number which feels that there is a gap that needs to be addressed. And that perhaps, the challenge would be to provide a channel (beyond Facebook and social media) for those who may wish to share a platform with those who are likewise seeking answers to their questions.
This channel in the form of the Center was formally introduced yesterday to a group of people in government, business, academe, and civil society. Convened by the Centrist Social Democratic Union (CSDU) and the Raul S. Manglapus Center for Freedom and Democracy together with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), the initiative was launched at the Dusit Thani Hotel and witnessed by the signatories of the memorandum agreement which included NOW Corporation CEO Mel Velasco Velarde who is also CSDU Cchair and Francis Xavier Manglapus, CSDU president and COO, and AIJC officials. Former President Fidel Ramos, a staunch supporter of centrist political ideals, was present at the launch.
CSDU is envisioned as a development institution that would train current and future leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society. It is not a political party and it intends to work with all political parties with a centrist orientation. In the next few years, it plans to pursue its mission which is to contribute to the development of a human society where freedom and human dignity can be attained through the selfless participation of leaders embodied with the core values of freedom, democracy, solidarity and stewardship of our natural resources, and the rule of law. It will prepare training modules that will support its vision as well as that of the Sustainable Development Agenda in preparing young men and women for leadership in the country. It will complement initiatives of existing leadership professional development institutions.
Utilizing the expertise of NOW Corporation in the development of a multi-media platform that will allow the participation of diverse audiences, the Center will facilitate various online and other traditional discussion groups, produce children’s stories in various digital formats, and endeavor to engage in dialogue with national and global communities
The first phase, therefore, would be creating the needed SPACE for CONTINUING DIALOGUE with fellow citizens from which would emerge documentation of narratives about their aspirations as well as their fears. It is from this social fabric that subsequent steps would be designed – stories, anecdotes, discussion topics, training designs.
The Center hopes to involve research fellows, creative artists, and every Filipino in the task of harmonizing messages that come from the people with the centrist philosophy, one that reconciles the extremes by drawing what is best from the two to constitute the “center” or the “middle-ground.”
The result could hopefully provide a unifying function in our diverse society.
Eventually, it is hoped that what would come out from the dialogue is a consensus on what many may want to see in our present leadership and governance. Perhaps, a more open, equal, and level playing field. Maybe, the need to work in partnership with other social, economic, cultural, and political institutions that promote common ideals of respect, dignity, reciprocity, and justice for all. Perhaps it means enabling our educational and media institutions to become much more committed to the pursuit of ideals of truth through freedom of expression, critical and creative thinking, and a return to the ideals of our early heroes.
The above appears daunting. Thus, a journey such as this would mean taking alternative paths. it would require some sense of discipleship, dedication, courage, and a strong sense of pride and faith in the Filipino.
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