If more people were willing to tilt at windmills, our country would be a better place.
I'd like to believe that people have their hearts at the right place, they just don't think there's much they can do as one person. I, for one, am guilty of this.
We are an optimistic people. As Filipinos, it is inherent in us to hope, for a better country, for a brighter future. But, as a wise friend of mine recently said, that hope must broaden into responsibility. To realize our hopes, we must also learn to become responsible for making them happen.
Not all of us are cut out to be heroes. But this does not mean that there is nothing more we can do.
Nina, freelance writer, blogger, and Team RP officer, has some suggestions on what the less heroic among us can do to make a difference. (I'm reposting her blog post in almost its entirety here with her permission. I've edited a little for brevity, but you can read the entire post here.)
7 Ways to Help Save the Philippines While Sitting Down
Whether you're an office worker glued to your desk for most of the week, a Net junkie who loves blogs and social networking sites, an overseas Filipino looking to connect back to home, or simply someone with something to say, the power to set this country right is within your reach.
In these times of social unrest, when media focus hops from one controversy and "crisis" to another, Filipinos everywhere are saying, "I don't want to condone these actions, but I don't know how I can help." They resign themselves to the fact that corruption exists everywhere, that their well-intentioned actions may not amount to anything, and that it's perhaps best to leave political action to the politicians. After all, they would reason out, politics is dirty business.
Maybe politics has become the dirty, bastardized creation that it is today precisely because we, the citizens, have let go of it. We left it up to the crooks, the unscrupulous, the malicious, and the ethically ignorant to take hold of it,thereby strangling us and taking the power away from the real state: the people. In a supposedly democratic government such as ours, we should be part of the political process and this doesn't end during elections.
We have the power to save the Philippines. And we can do it even while sitting down.
1. Be informed. The first step to conquering anything is to know what it is. Wherever you are in the world, stay in touch with the Philippines through online news sources. You can check out www.inquirer.net for comprehensive news articles, as well as podcasts and blog entries. Of course, a lot of us also read the Inquirer for its thought-provoking and often-controversial columnists. If you want meatier stuff, check out www.newsbreak.com.ph. This hard-hitting publication may have ended its print run, but its online presence shows that nothing will stop Marites Vitug and her staff from getting to the bottom of the news. If you want something with a dose of TV on it, log on to www.abs-cbnnews.com or www.gmanews.tv.
There are also some great non-news sites that offer bite-sized, thought-provoking content. My favorites include www.ted.com, our very own WhyNot? Forum (www.whynotforum.com), and ChangeThis (www.changethis.com).
2. Share your thoughts and ideas over the Web. Now is probably the best time in human history to be expressive and outspoken. The Internet has given us tremendous power, and we can harness it by broadcasting our thoughts and ideas over the Web - which is the most democratic space we have seen so far. If you want to develop your own "fan base" and position yourself as a thought leader, start a blog. (Just be a tad more productive than Brian Gorrell, please.) If you think blogging is too tiresome, post your comments to news article, features, blog entries, etc. People do pay attention to comments, so go ahead and make them.
3. Read other people's blogs. Tit for that: if you want people to listen to - er, read - what you have to say, return the favor. Technorati's Top 100 Filipino blogs include:
* Jessica Zafra's http://jessicarulestheuniverse.com/
* Manolo Quezon's The Daily Dose
* Inside PCIJ (www.pcij.org/blog)
* Jim Paredes' Writing on Air
* Butch Dalisay's Pinoy Penman
* Newsstand (www.newsstand.blogs.com)
Some other blogs that haven't quite made it to Technorati's list, but which I love anyway (aside from them being my friends' blogs) are Harvey Keh's and Benjie dela Pena's.
4. Participate in online discussions. Let's face it - whether you openly admit to it or not, you have political opinions, and would love to share them with others who would care enough to listen. Online discussions allow for a democratic sharing of ideas, encourage critical discernment on issues, and allow for an emergence of various viewpoints which are essential to critical decision-making. As a people, we need to listen to each other and consider each other's perspectives if we are to arrive at intelligent decisions and actions.
Now that 2010 is just around the corner, perhaps we should start discussing among ourselves what qualities we think are important for a true leader, and which of the public figures around us really do exhibit and live out these qualities.
5. Sign online petitions and campaigns. Online petitions and campaigns have the potential to wield great power over political and social action because they help educate people about issues and gauge public opinion. A successful signature campaign trains media's lenses on particular issues and forces public figures to make important decisions or stands on concerns that would otherwise be left in the back burner. It encourages discourse and debate, legislative action, and policy reforms.
For instance, we at Team RP have an ongoing signature campaign pushing for the Philippine Access to Information Law (PAIL). In our quest for truth, accountability, and reforms in Philippine government we saw that, while freedom to information is enshrined in our Constitution, there are no enabling laws that ensure this right. Whenever one goes to a government office to request for public information, the burden is left to the citizen to prove why he or she needs this information. It should be the other way around: government should offer access to public information, and the burden of proof should be on them if they do not make this information available. We are currently aiming for 10,000 signatures so that we can begin engaging media and incumbent legislators to file such a bill and enact such a law. Those who wish to support the campaign for PAIL may email email@example.com.
You can play an active role in strengthening Philippine policies by signing such petitions and campaigns. And it won't even take you two minutes.
6. Share information with your friends and online buddies. Don't you hate it when friends forward useless chain letters? I do, I really do, and I find it amazing that people actually believe that stuff like this works. I would rather forward information that people will find useful and relevant, such as news about new rules and policies that will affect their industries or their daily lives, information on breakthrough ideas or movements that will benefit a great number of people, new causes and organizations that people can support, or even trivia and tips that will make people think and, perhaps, help them make small but useful changes in their daily routine. Information is power, and it is something that we cannot take for granted. When you've got useful information, pass it on and spread the love.
7. Use the power of the Net to recruit members and solicit donations to worthy causes. There are so many great and worthy causes out there that need all kinds of support - from volunteer time, to material donations and in-kind support, to donations and financial support. Likewise, there are many of us who are looking for "something to do" or something to which we can contribute, but we just don't know where to look. We can do both cause-oriented groups and do-gooders a favor by patching them up online. It won't take much time or effort: simply forward messages about causes and movements to friends, family members, and online buddies, then let them build their "relationship" on their own. Who knows? Something great might come out of it someday and they'd have YOU to thank for it.
It really doesn't have to take so much of your time, energy, and resources to help save the Philippines. Each of us can realistically do only what is accessible and interesting to us, so take advantage of online resources to do as much good as you can with the least amount of effort. You'd be surprised at how the daily act of contributing and sharing information can make a big difference in a country that is still enveloped in ignorance and intellectual poverty. And you won't even have to get up from your chair.
I know that I, for one, am not made to tilt at windmills. But I do hope. I do care. And because I do, I choose to be responsible - even if it's only in my own little way. And that's the challenge to each of us.
"If each drop of water were to say, 'One drop does not make an ocean,' there would be no sea."
Collectively, our one drop can make a difference - no heroism required.
You are all invited to the first ever Team RP General Assembly on April 26, 2008, 1 pm at the Club Filipino. Interested parties can read more about Team RP and the event over here. Website and on-line forum are still being developed and will be coming soon. Wake up, fellow sleepwakers!