Entrenching the spirit of bayanihan

Published August 8, 2019, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Dr. Jesus Estanislao
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

The main proponent and exemplary promoter of the “bayanihan” is ISA fellow and trustee, Gen. Manny Bautista. He not only reminds us that this spirit is embedded deep in our culture as a people: it is a spirit that we need to re-infuse into our work for the Philippines that we need to build collectively, such that the outcome in five decades will be a country more in line with the dreams and aspirations of our people.

General Bautista finds broad support from other governance advocates.

Dr. Fred Pascual is happy to note that “the spirit of bayanihan is alive” but he observes that it is lived and observed “in small circles, i.e., family, clan, barangay.” He suggests that these circles of bayanihan should be “broadened such that the involvement of many more, particularly those that can provide the time, treasure, and talent” for uplifting the lot of the poor” is secured. This is where “civil society leaders in towns, cities, provinces, and regions” should show their wares: this is where they can make a significant difference.

Both the PNP and the AFP are working hard to give substance to the concept of “bayanihan” and provide concrete guidelines for their units, scattered throughout the country, such that they work with civil society organisations, business chambers, and other groups that are equally committed to aggressively and more effectively fight the war against poverty, ignorance, and lack of concern for the common good.

For his part, ICD Trustee Pet Bautista gives a concrete example of bayanihan. He says A group of individuals have been working with him for nearly 20 years with 11 public schools together with DLSU to upgrade their curricula and provide higher schooling for teachers who teach in our big brother foundation project. “There we also have values formation, and in more than 20 years we have graduated over 2000 select students,” he said. The figure may look very small relative to the entire population: but that is what the bayanihan is about. Work in small groups, help a small group with special needs, but multiply the number of such small groups all throughout the country so that no Filipino is left behind.

For her part, ICD Trustee Ida Tiongson calls attention to the challenges that technology presents to governance. Again, working with others, she is putting into the forefront “digitalisation, robotics/artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotech, and neuroscience.” She and her group take into very serious account this statement from Thomas Rausche: “To meet the ethical challenges posed by the imposition of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, we have to better understand the driving forces of technical innovation (and develop) business opportunities of new technologies” (as well as) ensure that ethical norms and values should direct technical innovations towards serving socially (i.e. making business inclusive).”

Again, this is an illustration of a small group addressing special needs of a small set of individuals with special needs. But it also illustrates that the spirit of bayanihan, infused into a small group, can have a very big social impact. But in the words of Ida Tiongson, this can happen if we compete against machines with something unique, which will never allow machines to catch up with us”. And these unique comparative advantages we have are “values, independent thinking, team work, and care for others (social governance.” Ida ends the mention of her illustrative case on bayanihan with this quote from Pope Francis: “We have a grave responsibility to speak out and take action.” Let us not forget that the responsibility is not only for speaking out, but also for taking action, generally with small groups, addressing concrete needs of special groups of individuals with special needs. That is the concretisation of the spirit of bayanihan.