SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT
By DR. JESUS P. ESTANISLAO
In the governance advocacy that the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia have been undertaking for more than a decade and a half in our country, there have been many Filipinos, who have gone out of their way to contribute time, effort, money, and their respective networks in order to help raise the standards of good governance practice in the Philippines. When the proposal for putting out a book on DREAM PHILIPPINES was made, more than a few responded to my call to share their own perspectives. Some even went out of the usual practice of simply giving a nod and a perfunctory encouragement: they actually sent in their written contributions.
Their contributions are highlighted in this section.
One contributor is Manny Bautista, who used to be the chief of staff of our Armed Forces (AFP). He fully understands what DREAM PHILIPPINES is about. He says: “Dream Philippines is a great aspiration, a big vision for our country. While the challenge is steep, it is not at all unattainable. Identifying that unifying vision (for) our country and effecting (the necessary changes) to achieve that is the big challenge.” Indeed, thinking five decades ahead and using that time frame to construct a Philippines more in line with our dreams as a people is a “big challenge” and one that only a few thus far have been willing to think about to rise up to.
For him, the first question is: “What is that collective vision of the Filipino people?” The earlier segments of this book present some alternatives. They are now for us, as a people, to digest, think deeply about — perhaps even pray intensely about — so we can give a more definitive and authoritative answer to Manny Bautista’s question. He thinks that the answer “can be found in our history and culture. What we have been through as a people has shaped our thinking and the way we live.” In this regard, the book recently launched, entitled “Governance in the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period, 1565-1898.” could provide a first step.
Beyond taking that first step, Manny Bautista suggests that “we examine our aspirations as a people, our values and the issues that confront us—-what unites us and what divides us. Different groupings may have different aspirations, objectives and issues, but we can find commonalities also. There will be core issues and there will be peripheral issues. The core issues are the ones that have a strong impact—-those that will motivate the people to act in a collective fashion. These are the ones we need to focus on, for these are the ones that will unite us.” Again, this is an endorsement of the initiative behind the earlier segments of this book: they propose not only core values, but also strategic changes that we must bring about, as well as a few strategic priorities we need to pursue as a people. All these are set forth as an imperative on what we absolutely need to do, and what Manny Bautista suggests is for us “to find commonalities and then as a people act in a collective fashion.”
He recognises that this is not an easy undertaking with these observations: “we need to understand the Philippine societal structure. The basic unit of our society is the family. Families form a community, Then we have the barangays, towns, provinces, and regions. We have ethnic groups. Other than geographically based groupings, we also have sectoral groupings. We have the religious, youth, farmers, labor, teachers and the academe, to name a few. In many instances, these sectors form non-governmental associations, and each would have their own sets of visions, objectives, and concerns. Only by addressing each one of them can we collectively address that of the nation”. A tall order, indeed: and that is what DREAM PHILIPPINES aims to meet, with as wide and open a participation as possible.