At a business lunch meeting of HRM professionals today, I had the wonderful privilege of personally meeting and then listening to Atty. Alexander Lacson talk about his book "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country."
I first came across Atty. Lacson’s name in an email that circulated late last year. That email was actually a soft copy of a Max Soliven column where Soliven narrated how he was rescued by the author in the middle of a Makati thoroughfare during rush hour when his (Soliven’s) car broke down. Soliven’s email went on to talk about Lacson’s book, which at that time, was not yet available at National Bookstore and was being sold out of Lacson’s house. (It was already available at National when I went there last week, so naturally I picked up a copy. I finished it in one night. But the experience of reading a book does not quite compare to hearing its author talk about it – there is just something amazing that happens when one is able to put ideas and person together).
Lacson is a soft-spoken man; he did not spew fire and brimstone, and did not indulge in vocal histrionics that many people confuse for profundity and authority. But this is a man whose every word dripped with the kind of wisdom that can only come from someone who truly speaks from the heart. What is more, this is a man who speaks from that special place called "noble intentions" and thus comes across as "believable."
Lacson’s prescriptions are actually quite simple and easy. I know that in these country these things do not automatically translate to "doable," but I am sure they can be done just the same.
Take the first of the 12 things he prescribes: obey traffic rules. His logic is simple and astounding precisely because of its stark simplicity – we should follow rules, and begin with the simplest and most basic of them all, which happens to be traffic rules. After all, if we can not obey and respect even the simplest of all rules (i.e., traffic rules), how else can we be expected to follow and obey the more difficult and complicated rules of this country?
The 12 "little things" are:
1. Follow traffic rules, follow the law.
2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, ask for an official receipt.
3. Don't buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.
4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
7. Support your church.
8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
9. Pay your employees well.
10. Pay your taxes.
11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
These 12 things come under one label that many among us have seemingly lost in the din and dynamics of political partisanship and ideological clashes: citizenship.
It is the one thing we Filipinos desperately need to reclaim, particularly in these confusing and confused times.
What Lacson is saying is this: saving The Philippines is our collective duty as responsible citizens of this country. It is something that we can not abrogate nor entrust to just one or two people in government. There is something we – each of us- can all do, and they need not be big gestures or grand actions. They can be seemingly little things that when added up produce big results.
This becomes even more relevant when we consider that today, too many among us are engrossed with playing out an updated version of the children’s story "The Emperor’s New Clothes" – there is just too much analysis and counter-analysis going on, too many complicated prescriptions and obfuscation, too much duplicity and intellectual pretentiousness –all of which may be farthest from the truth. Somehow, people seemed to have fallen into this trap of thinking that just because someone can quote Kant or Nobokov, or because someone’s English requires a dictionary to understand - that person must be saying something intelligent or profound or wise or true. This is not necessarily true of course. It doesn’t take a genius to make the simple complicated, even a troll can do that.
Sadly, a lot of people do get away with this kind of intellectual trickery because it seems people do have inherent admiration for things that are beyond their comprehension. Consequently, when someone comes up with a seemingly simple idea – people easily dismiss it for being, well, simplistic.
Well, Alexander Lacson has just saved many among us from that trap. 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country is a simple book. It is so simple, it is brilliant. It is so simple, it can work.