Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Citizenship


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.

18 comments:

jef said...

How true! As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the Art of Wit”… I admire people who could convey their ideas and deliver it with utmost simplicity.

Mr. Lacson indeed presented the most mundane and utterly ordinary “steps on how-to…” in a fresher perspective. He’s absolutely right! Why bother with the complications of the government or meddle with the idiocy of politics if we could focus on something that “we” could actually have control with…like being a better citizen.

Very enlightening Bong; you should know that I always read your post first. Keep on writin’ and I will keep on readin’.

gabriel allon said...

Hey dude!

There should be a thirteen rule..

13. Do not run for public office as you will be forced to lie, cheat and steal.

pinoy said...

So how do we make it work?

pinky said...

Yeah, isn't it true. Most of us think that something drastic has to happen first before anything good can come out of it. We have forgotten the wisdom of the saying "little things count a lot."

Prophetic Farmer said...

I couldn't agree more with the attitude you have towards these issues. I think these things should apply to all Americans regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, belief, etc., whatever. I like the way you think.

vic said...

12 little things to do to help the country seem so simple,yet not as simple because it has never work in the country. To make it work, I suggest it got to have some incentive or deterrent for the citizens to fulfill them as their solemn duties. and here are why where I'm posting this comment it works and the reasons why. Now if you bear, may I start?

1. Obeying traffic rules. Yes, we obey traffic rules, because otherwise the consequece is so expensive. I was speeding 2 am thinking the cops were all sleeping, only to be handed by a $350. ticket + 6 point demerit and imagine the next insurance premium increase. If I can get away from all of these, I'll just love to zoom and get to my destination faster and feel the high at full speed.

2.Receipts. Yes we got one everytime because the vendor will be charged if they don't issue one. Yes there are a few under the table deal, like home improvement from free lancers and baby sitting maybe, but not enough to affect the total economy.

3.Smuggled goods are way,way much cheaper. What do you expect from the populace who could barely afford a decent income? Instead get rid of smuggling, and the government will benefits as well from taxes. I remember when cigarettes prices were so high compared from accross the border that every one we popped were the smuggled stick and the govt. reduced the taxes on cigarettes to match the smugglers cost and it disppeared (smuggling) overnight.

4.Talk positive about the country. How about Honesty? you can not just try to hide your dirty laundry that way.

5. Respect is a two way street. We respect our police officers because we know the risk their butts to save ours. And our soldiers, while I'm typing this, one has just lost his life in Afganishtan so I'll be able to sleep and continue my postings.

6.We do segragate our garbage because we are provided with containers and they are pick up regularly and we are fined heavily if we litter. And If we see somebody throwing their garbage we politely tell them "excuse me, I think you drop something" and you'll get an embarass reply "i'm sorry".

7. We have freedom of belief and religion and it is our very own business and no one else.

8.You just don't do your solemn duty during election, but all the time. Politics is 24/7 and you have to be on your toes just as well or you're get caught napping.

9.Miss this one

10.Pay your taxes.. wo wo wo.. evade your taxes and not only that you'll get to jail but you'll pay a fine + surcharge + interest and the revenue people can impound your assets. otherwise I'll rather use my tax money on a cruise trip and a winter vacation to sunny places.

I better stop here. But the resons why we do all these little things and more because we will gain nothing by not doing them. and the reasons why the Pilipino citizens do not have the propensity to do them because they gain so much. We just don' do things out of duty or obligation, but the combinations of them plus paying the consequence for not doing. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

dear bong,
Here's another letter that hits a raw nerve the way your letter did for me... please read "Youngblood: First bribe" in today's Inq7.net (30-March-2006)...

edwin
dubai, u.a.e.

Anonymous said...

you're right gabriel all politicians are like that with no exception.

Anonymous said...

Naks Vic speaking like a true Canadian citizen wooohooo

Anonymous said...

does the author have any plans of selling the book online? i'm sure it will be supported by the overseas Filipino community...

reg said...

As expected...it seems that your blogsite gets just as many hits as some poorly-marketed porn sites (which is good because even they get around 1,000++ visitors a day siguro)...

Anyway...pay my taxes? Adopt a child? A bunch o' other stuff? Yeah, it sounds fancy, but I DO need to graduate first. That's why I rely on #7...Hahaha. The book sounds like it's a good read, though. I'm planning to do as many little things as I can, starting with #5...perhaps a fear in the "truth" that people in our generation have a 70-year "warranty" (because of smoking, all dem shabu, etc.) led me to think about making things better. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Amen and thank you, Atty. Alex and Bong! I am not embarassed (even at my 40-something age)to admit that at present I could barely meet half of these listed "things", but after reading this I am going to start working hard to be better.
Re your comment that we tend to be awed by or admire people who can talk or write beyond our comprehension. I don't do that anymore, siguro because at my age (again) I've gained the right and have decided to choose who or what I read or listen to. When one famous columnist started to make me feel stupid each time I read his "intellectualizing", I stopped reading him. When a bumbling news reader starts to make an inept, partisan analysis, I reach for the remote control and turn to CNN or Disney Channel (haha). Enough of the crap! I deserve better service, I want to hear more positive things that will inspire me to do more.
Thanks for your blog! --MommyJo

Anonymous said...

Amen and thank you, Atty. Alex and Bong! I am not embarassed (even at my 40-something age)to admit that at present I could barely meet half of these listed "things", but after reading this I am going to start working harder to be better.
Re your comment that we tend to be awed by or admire people who can talk or write beyond our comprehension. I don't do that anymore, siguro because at my age (again) I've gained the right and have decided to choose who or what I read or listen to. When one famous columnist started to make me feel stupid each time I read his "intellectualizing", I stopped reading him. When a bumbling news reader starts to make an inept, partisan analysis, I reach for the remote control and turn to CNN or Disney Channel (haha). Enough of the crap! I deserve better service, I want to hear more positive things that will inspire me to do more.
Thanks for your blog! --MommyJo

cagliostro_fireclown said...

Atty. Alex Lacson for President - what do you think????

That guy obviously talks more sense in simplicity than PGMA and all the "leaders" of the so-called "United" Opposition.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, MommyJo! We deserve better!

lateralus said...

help your church?

since when did it become mandatory to have religion? jeez. these pathetic christians really need a good strong strike to the head to realize that they don't own this country.

tintin said...

hi bong! i saw the book and have browsed through it. come to think about it, atty lacson's suggestions are really simple and should be easy to do, if we reall want to help our country. sana nga people who read it (including me!) will take it to heart.

Anonymous said...

Well, it would be fantastic if the vast majority of people in this country would follow Mr. Lacson's rules. However, it might be necessary to write these rules in a number of other dialects/languages, since many of i.e. the traffic offenders don't speak English and probably don't have the proper education to even read a book.

Mr. Lacson of course knows that his rules are basically naive .. obey the traffic rules .. why not start by having mandatory training for new drivers first, where they learn about the traffic rules. Most drivers in Manila just bought their driver's license and don't have the faintest idea about how to drive in a civilized way.

Respect your policeman .. cool idea .. but it must be supported by higher salaries, better training of these so called policemen, and severe punishment for violators.

The 12 rules are cool, and Lacson seems to be quite clever, but he also seems to be quite scared to fully adress the problems.