Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blood in our Hands

Our mother is suffering.
She is dying.
She is tortured and raped
By hands who are without guilt.
Burnt and wounded,
There is no end in sight.
Her anguish can be heard,
But no one listens.
Her pain seethes through the heart,
But which hadn't moved a soul.

Our country is our mother.
She gave us life.
She is the air we breathe,
Our reason for being.
Her bosom is our rest.
Worthy sons and daughters
Have come and gone.
Left are vultures
Pounding on her flesh.

She suffered once the torture of a despot.
Mercifully resurrected by the death of a hero.
The power of the people has triumphed.
It not only can but it should, again.
Twice the power was seen
And twice it prevailed.

Yet our country is still down on its knees.
We are perceived to be one of the most corrupt in Asia.
Our people feel hungrier than most of the world.
Many live in desperate conditions,
Yet they remain unseen,
Under the bridge,
Below plain sight.
People die in hospitals,
Poverty is their only disease.
Babies cry for help.
Yet vultures pounces on.
It's politics as usual.

But the most important question is,
The one that would haunt us the rest of our lives...
The question we must ask ourselves is...
Where are we in all of this?

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

By doing nothing,
We not only have not done anything.
We allow injustice to prevail,
Inequities to happen.
Not only is it our responsibility
but our moral duty to God and country
To fight against tyranny,
The tyranny of poverty.
If we do nothing,
We are unredeemed.
We have blood in our hands.

But everything is not lost.
We have what it takes.
We have triumphed in the past,
Not once, but twice.
We can do it again, albeit differently.
We can do something.
The possibilities are endless.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Busyness is no excuse.

Let us do what we can.
Read. Learn. Listen.
Get involved.
Talk. Shout. Demand.
Choose. Move. Change.
Join. Unite.

-- Lead Philippines

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Expanded Initiative

I am suggesting to expand the target activities of Lead Philippines to include the following...
  1. Produce radio programs (Public Affairs and News Programs, like BBC's "Hard Talk, Fox's "Oreilly Factor", and NBC's "Meet the Press", but on radio) that will provide equal and fair venue for all potential leaders of all political colors wherein they can voice their views and opinion.
  2. Produce a series of advertisements in the tri-media and other venues that will stir the people to positive and patriotic action.
  3. Publish a newspaper that chronicles the country's search for its leaders
  4. Produce a pop and rock concert and produce a corressponding music CD which main theme is nationalism and call to action.
  5. Produce and popularize a televised song-writing competition with positive nationalistic themes that would touch the heart of the people and stir them to positive action
  6. Produce a multi-artist recording of a song with nationalistic theme (similar to what is done in "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" recorded right after the 1986 People Power revolution.
  7. Produce and popularize a televised search for national leaders, much like the American or Philippines Idol, but for leaders rather than singers, wherein the people can participate via SMS.
  8. Produce and popularize a series of televised/radio debates and leadership forums in universities and other venues nationwide.

Of course, not all of the above can be done, but there is no harm in trying. Earlier, the only activity targeted is the 7th activity suggested above which is to be patterned after the Lead India movement. However, the country needs more than one event each of which could set the stage for the other. In a war, and we are in a war against our culture of corruption, there should always be mass media component. This is what happened in 1986, when the ongoing People Power activities in EDSA and elsewhere was in part galvanized by the voice of June Keithley, first at the Radio Veritas and then at the so called Radio Bandido station. At this time, there are many different movements but none really target the mass media.

Indeed, to get this going, we will need all the help we can get.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Lead India Video

Last month, I attended a meeting by the Convergence_Team who is hoping to produce video clips to increase the awareness of the people on national concerns. In the meeting, they showed this short video which is one of those produced by the Lead India initiative...

Although the video is in Indian language (it seems), the story behind it is easily discernible. In the video, there is a tree fallen on the middle of the road. Everyone starts to fret about it without doing anything. Then a child started lifting the tree in spite of the rain. One by one, the on lookers started to help until everyone helped and the obstructing tree is successfully removed....

At the time everyone is helping, the rain stopped and the sun started to show itself. Surely, no task is big enough if everyone do their share.

In a nutshell, that is what I am trying to do here. I have not done anything before in my life that helped the country... As far as "helping" is concerned, I am still a child. The tree that lay on the road are the problems that faces us... Corruption and Poor governance among them... I have started pushing the tree by myself. I know I cannot do it alone. But still, so few are helping... the tree is not budging. The rain has started and it is getting stronger... I wonder, when will the sun shine on me?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Question on Credibility

The success of Lead Philippines depends on its proponent's credibility. We have seen too much of politicking and various political gimmickry that we do not want to fall victim to another movement who in the end will only use us. The question is: What makes a person credible?

The question though can be answered only by the people themselves. It is a judgement that would be made later on, but which judgement will result in the success or failure of this initiative. At this point, we can only guess what makes a person credible.

A person is credible if he/she does not have any conflicting interest. For an initiative such as Lead Philippines, politics is THE conflict of interest. For example, if I am running for a national position, or if I am pushing for a candidate in 2010, I may may not be a bad person but there is definitely a question on my motives. Is it important therefore that proponents should be disinterested in running or pushing for anyone in 2010?

What if the proponent is running for a local position, say as a town councilor? Is there conflict of interest in that situation? Some will say there is. We do not want anyone using this initiative to make a name for himself for use in future elections.

And it doesnt stop there. Should the proponents be banned from running even beyond 2010? Are we not eliminating a lot of good people if we ban any present or would-be politicans from joining a worthy movement such as Lead Philippines?

Even defining who the proponents are and who should be subject to elimination of conflict of interests is a tricky subject. Lead Philippines may be registered as a non-profit organization and we therefore need at least 15 trustees. Definitely those 15 trustees must be as credible as can be. However, there would be people who would work for Lead Philippines. There will be officers who should have the same credibility. There will be a secretariat which employees should be subjected to the same standards. Or should they?

Lead Philippines will also be hiring talents. Lead Philippines will also accept donations and sponsorships. Should those talents be subjected to the same standards? Should donors and sponsors, including corporate sponsors, be asked to abstain from running or endorsing a candidate? Should donors/sponsors be asked even not to nominate anyone from their ranks to join in the Lead Philippines leadership search itself? What if the Rotarians, or the Lions, or the Jaycees support this initiative and they donate money, should we ban them from nominating a candidate for Lead Philippines?

To answer all of these, I have the following suggestions:

1. All members of the board of trustees and all the officers and direct hired employees of, and those who volunteer to work with Lead Philippines should be asked to sign a written statement that they are not running or endorsing or helping any candidate, local or national, in 2010. If in case they run or endorse someone in 2010, Lead Philippines as a group should openly discredit those persons.

2. Lead Philippines may accept donations and corporate sponsorships but such donors and sponsors should be asked to sign a waiver that they will not try to influence the search process. Corporate sponsors should not be able to nominate anyone to Lead Philippines. Non-profit organizations may nominate their leaders, but their donations if any should not be used in anyway to make sure their nominees are accepted or selected. Lead Philippines should make it a point for everyone to know that it has nothing to do with donors and sponsors who endorses future candidates.

3. Lead Philippines should hire talents known for their independence and credibility. If in case those talents will later run or endorse candidates, again Lead Philippines should have nothing to do with them.

It may be ironic that Lead Philippines is asking people to do what they can to help the country, to join in the political fray even, and then to dissuade people within itself from politics. But I believe that Lead Philippines is too good an idea to pass up and I think it is worth a bit of a sacrifice if you can call it that. I believe that there are many good and able Filipinos and plucking a few them away from politics is worth it. Some of those good Filipinos should lead the country in politics. Some of them are destined to be on the sidelines.

Some might think these conditions are too harsh. Is there a better way to do this? Are there any other suggestions?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Survey Results: The 3 Most Respectable Filipinos

After almost a month of gathering responses on this small survey, I came to a realization that indeed answering the simple question is quite a task. Among the friends that I surveyed through SMS, many complained to me how hard to answer the question. Some promised to get back to me but hasn't up to now. Some even asked me back: "Are there any?" as if I am dumb or something, or "Why?" and "What for?" as if I am making life hard for them.

Also, some responded with jokes. One respondent include "Kris Aquino and James Yap". One even includes "Hope Centeno". One responded with "Marcos, MacArthur and Rizal". A lot answered their own names. Some include their mothers.

There is one person who said that the most respectable are the soldiers, the OFWs and the teachers. Of course, I cannot include them as I am only asking for the 3 most respectable individuals. But if we think about it, especially the soldiers, those people could indeed be the most respectable groups yet least appreciated.

And among those who answered seriously, many answered only 1 or 2 names. In terms of counting and naming respectability, 3, it seems, is a hard number to reach. Many of the answers also are unique (about a third). Of course it would have been different had this been a bigger survey. Surely though, it shows how different we see respectability is and who among Pinoys deserved to be included.

There are also basically two groups of people I surveyed: Those who are politically involved and those who has nothing to do with politics. Among those who are involved in politics, the leading answers they gave include Padaca and Panlilio - both surprise winners in the previous elections and non-traditional politicians. Meanwhile, for those not involved in politics, the people often mentioned are Former President Cory Aquino, Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Former Senator Jovito Salonga, and Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Among the politically inclined however, many also included Aquino, Salonga and Puno in their responses that is why those three are the leading names. I wonder what the results would be had I asked the poor, who forms the majority of our population, the same question.

In any case, based on the few responses so far (more than 40 respondents), the 3 most respectable Filipinos alive today are as follows:

1. Former President Corazon Aquino (18%)
2. Senate President Jovito Salonga (8%)
3. Chief Justice Reynato Puno (6%)

(Note: If I receive more responses to the survey question, I will post the corresponding set of results. However, we should keep in mind that those new responses could be affected by this initial result. Of course, we have to keep in mind too that this is not a scientific survey and the results therefore are easily arguable. However, regardless of the results, I think this survey has succeeded in getting everyone thinking within ourselves who the leaders of our country at present are and what qualities do we all look for in our leaders.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

SURVEY: The 3 Most Respectable Filipinos

Lead Philippines is now conducting a small but serious survey... Lead Philippines asks:

It is amazing how hard it became to answer this question. In the few samples surveyed so far through SMS and e-mail, the results are:
  • 50% did not answer at all
Meanwhile, of those who answered:
  • more than 50% said they "do not have an answer"
  • 20% gave 1 or 2 names each only
  • 15% answered themselves or their family members
  • Only 15% mentioned 3 names each...
The survey has become more of a challenge... Can you suggest the names of 3 of the most respectable Filipinos alive today?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lead Philippines (?), A Primer

Lead Philippines
Lead Philippines is an initiative still in its early conceptualization stage. It aims to be a popular search for future Filipino Leaders. Lead Philippines is based on the belief that the country needs a new set of leaders, away from traditional politics. Lead Philippines believes that a new breed of Filipino leaders abounds in all regions of the country but these leaders are not given national prominence. Lead Philippines aims to become the platform where these new leaders can express their views, for them to be able to discuss the issues and present their solutions and ideas directly to the people.

The State of the Nation: A Leadership Crisis
Our country today is experiencing a leadership crisis. With all of the scandals that beset the country, correctly or mistakenly, many question the legitimacy of our President. Meanwhile, everyone is feeling hopeless because of the failure to identify an alternative. We now ask ourselves: are there no more leaders the Philippines can produce? We all believe that there is graft and corruption in government that we become impatient when nothing is done about them. Meanwhile, we still, sadly, send Filipinos abroad, to work away from our families. Back home, no amount of good economic data uplifts the situation of the poor who becomes even poorer.

Selection of Leaders
To correct the situation, many are pushing for another People Power movement aimed to unseat the current leaders. However, we realize that in the past, such action does not guarantee a brighter future. We have twice been in that path and our situation did not improve or, some could say, even worsened. Therefore, only a few, even among the youth, heed the call for new street action. The proponents of People Power now ask: Has the Filipino succumb to apathy?

Meanwhile, everyone still look forward to a successful national election, the next of which will be in the year 2010. However, the people have become tired of traditional politics that begins to permeate this early. We all cannot help but notice that giant billboards and announcements from various politicians are now seen everywhere. Lead Philippines does not make judgments on these politicians, but the fact that we know that there will be no real discussions of issues nor solutions and that there will be no debates nor real interviews, we all expect that there will still be the same vote buying mechanism or in some areas intimidation in this elections. For those with money and access to people in control of the process, vote adding/shaving or dag-dag bawas will still be the name of the game. The expectation is that we would all end up with the same breed of leaders, perhaps of different faces but of the same creed, way and means, if not worse.

Lead India
In India, a similar call for a new breed of leaders, was initiated by the Times of India, that country’s largest circulation (and the world's for that matter) English newspaper. The Times of India published ads stating some facts as to where India is right now. India is a land of more than one billion people yet they have not achieved prominence in worldwide affairs, the ads said. Indians felt that they could do more in the world's center-stage. They thought they prosper not because of their leaders but despite their leaders.

What started out as a call for new set of leaders became a popular search much like the American Idol, not for singers but for leaders. Amazingly, they received more than 34,000 nominees or applications from potential leaders which they were able to, even hesitatingly, trim down to 8. Near the end and still similar to the American Idol, people are asked to send their votes through text messaging as to who among the eight deserve to be the winner. Finally a winner was proclaimed - RK Misra, who is now deemed to be one of possible contender in the future for the prime minister's post.

Read more about Lead India on their website:

The Philippine Version
Aware that the “American Idol” and local equivalent talent searches have gained recent popularity in Philippine TV programming, the proponents of Lead Philippines thought that a local version of Lead India is worth a look. The fact that we consider ourselves as the “texting (or Short Messaging Service) capital of the world” also presents an inviting opportunity to create something similar. If Lead Philippines was able to generate, through marketing, enough interests among the people, and if the ratio of respondents in India is taken as an example, we might, perhaps, be able to target at least 1,000 applicants or nominees from all regions of the country. Surely the natural tendency of people to get excited on political debates and the same tendency of capable people to want to help would also contribute to its success. Through Lead Philippines, it is hoped that real issues will be popularly discussed and debated, that capable people will be emboldened to participate, and in the end, the country will have a new pool of leaders to choose from.

Interest in talent Search + Texting Capital of the World + Excitement on Political Debates/ = Issues openly discussed/debated = New set of Leaders to choose from

Still, there are questions remaining: Even if Filipinos are able to identify a new set of leaders, should they participate, and if so will they win, in elections marred by cheating? Lead Philippines cannot answer that question and all the other similar questions. Lead Philippines is an avenue for discussion but it does not have the answers before hand. The new sets of leaders themselves shall be posed those questions, and it is for everyone to understand and stood firm on the answer that they believe.

A Question of Credibility
In order to generate interest, Lead Philippines should be able first to establish its credibility. The people now are wary of movements where hidden agenda will only surface in the end. Many times, the same traditional politicians maneuver actions for their own needs. Therefore, the proponents of Lead Philippines should publicly declare that they are not interested in elective politics themselves, to the point of humiliation in case they change their minds come election time. Also, Lead Philippines should be backed by personalities who have transcended themselves beyond politics. They may come from the churches of all religions, academicians from all schools/universities, and leaders of different institutions, even former politicians, with absolutely nothing at stake in the coming elections. Each of these proponents and named backers shall accept that the Goal – the Search for New Leadership – is more important than each of their Roles in the initiative. It is only through these open minded action can a bold initiative such as Lead Philippines could gain ground.

The Goal is more important than the Role

- The 17 irrefutable laws of Teamwork, John Maxwell

Next to be considered are the concepts that Lead Philippines should espouse. Lead Philippines should be non-partisan – not for the administration nor for the opposition. Of course, people from both sides will be slighted every time Lead Philippines call an action away from Traditional Politics. To do so shall not be its aim. In fact, Lead Philippines may and shall find from among the administration and the opposition, supporters, backers, even proponents as long as the initial set of credibility conditions above are followed. Lead Philippines should also be open to all groups, religions, creed or leanings as long as those groups believe in peaceful discussion and resolution of issues. Participation from Christians and Muslims (and from all religions) and from all people from all regions should be encouraged. Support by businesses, by individuals, by students, practically by everyone should be sought. It is a movement that crosses boundaries to encompass all the ideals of the entire Philippine nation. It should not be limited only to where the resources are. Lead Philippines should find ways to ensure these philosophies.

The Lead Philippines Program
The grand vision of Lead Philippines is to bring together all citizens of the country to work towards a common goal of looking for a new breed of leaders. It is then hoped that these new set of leaders will tackle the issues head on and somehow in participative or elective fashion shape a better future for the country.

The Lead Philippines proponents will first organize itself to gather support from prominent leaders and groups to establish its credibility. This is the crucial first step, for Lead Philippines cannot prosper without the credibility required. Lead Philippines shall then look for ways to finance the program through donations, even corporate sponsorships. The next step is then to get the awareness of the people on the country’s need for a new set of leaders. This will be done through simultaneous advertising media promotions (on the internet, outdoor, TV, radio, and print) which enjoin everyone to work for the country in whatever capacity. It is hoped that at this time, Lead Philippines already has established its credibility and the people will accept the truths behind the concept.

Next, lead Philippines will start asking the question directly to those who would listen: Why leave when you can lead? It will be an urgent and ardent call for capable people to lead the country if they can. It will be an honest call for participation, invoking nationalism. The call will be sounded in all regions of the country, in all churches, in all schools/universities and establishments, for everyone to think and offer their talents for the country. Organizations will be asked to nominate persons that they know. A panel of Lead Philippines proponents will seek to call on these people, until a few leaders capable of handling national issues would have been selected and would rise up to the challenge. Those who rose up will then be asked the issues and toured around the country, while the issues are tackled one by one. It will then come to a mass media stage where the discussions will be watched and heard nationwide on TV and radio. Eventually, the people will be asked to decide who among those that rose to the challenge has the most reasonable answers and capability to lead the country in the future.

Obviously, many other details of the program should be identified and worked out. For example, we do not want traditional politics to join in the search. The Trapos already has their ways and means of seeping through Philippine society and they do not need another platform to do it. The ways and means by which Lead Philippines will select the nominees should somehow filter the intrusion of the old ways. This is where all the sectors of the society can join in, by suggesting ways on how to improve the process. Still, how to generate all the support and the interest of all sectors of the society is in itself a major question the initiative still has to answer. Lead Philippines shall welcome all ideas from everyone.

Search for Funds
In every endeavor, there are indeed costs involved. Although Lead Philippines believe that there are so many people who wish to help the country and on short notice can contribute their talent and money for the cause, the cost involved may require big corporate donors to chip in. Some sectors will caution that big business might require something in return for their sponsorships. Donors with such requirements should readily be dismissed. An individual donor who will contribute his/her hard earned Peso should have the same importance as a corporate donor who contributes millions worth of support and facilities. Here lies the challenge Lead Philippines will face, how to market the initiative to corporate entities giving them reason to justify their investment but not sacrificing the very core of Lead Philippines' intent.

Lead Philippines has something going for them though. Business is driven by profits and revenues. Also, businesses clamor for a more level playing field. Business would surely want to do away with graft and corruption in government. They want less government intervention and smoother registration processes. Businesses are ready to pay the right taxes as long as everyone does.

Nothing drives profits/revenues for businesses better than the country’s good economic condition. A better economy is always good for business. With economic and other business issues discussed openly and eventually with a wider leadership pool, strategies on better economic governance will soon surface. Meanwhile, business leaders themselves are raring to help the country. Within their ranks may be a pool of future leaders of the country as well. Also, it is not uncommon to find businesses supporting different foundations and initiatives that aim to help the poor and underprivileged. All of these indicate that businesses may be open to the idea of supporting, with their pockets, initiatives such as Lead Philippines.

With the pure aim of Lead Philippines to find a new leadership pool and discuss issues that largely affect businesses as well, and with the added incentive of good advertising and a venue for giving back to society, businesses may be open to support it. Still, credibility of Lead Philippines proponents and leaders will rightfully be scrutinized by business leaders. The importance of establishment of credibility, the crucial first step for Lead Philippines, cannot be overemphasized.

From Here On
As earlier mentioned, Lead Philippines is still in its conceptualization stage. In fact, even the name “Lead Philippines”, is something that can still be worked on. The ideas presented here are just some of the general ideas gathered in the few weeks that this initiative was discussed with a few groups. Obviously, many details as to how to do the smallest things are left out because those details are still open to review and improvement. Lead Philippines could surely benefit from all the opinions and inputs, practically from everyone.

For suggestions, please send an e-mail to: lead(dot)philippines(at)

Or please visit:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is this the time to ask Questions?

We are all Filipinos and we love our country. But there are questions we now must answer…

Why do we all want our country clean, tidy and flood-free then we throw our trash just about everywhere we go? Why do all our drivers complain of heavy traffic and then we cut lines and not follow rules? Why do we lament graft and corruption when we ourselves prefer to bribe our way than pay our dues? Why do we lambast the failing quality of education while we let our kids watch even meaningless supposed real-life reality shows?

Why do we all talk about how bad our country has become and then turn a blind eye on those little children begging or sniffing rugby on the streets? Why do our doctors let our public hospitals rot while our poor countrymen die even from avoidable diseases? Why do our best lawyers and politicians argue just about everything while we all let injustice prevail? And why do our businessmen feel sad about our economy, when we all rather bring our money abroad?

How can we feel proud of our own honesty when we all fall in line to praise our leaders who cheat? How can we all sleep so well on a rainy night when we all know children and old people under that dingy little bridge could die? Where are the graduates of our prestigious schools, Ateneo, La Salle and UP? Are you leading our country the way you should? Where are the religious of our churches, are you showing us the way or are you too busy arguing with one another?

We say we are a country of the bests, of Manny Pacquiao and Leah Salonga. We are the country of heroes, of Ninoy, Rizal and Bonifacio. We are the world’s best debaters and the best teachers, the best nurses and caregivers. But where are our mothers? Who are they caring for? Why do we push them out our country, call them heroes, while our children are left astray?

Perhaps, it is time to stop asking questions. Now is the time to act.