Are You Part of the Solution, or Part of the Problem?

Makati Skyline
The Philippines: How can we contribute towards its progress?

The day immediately after the Philippine Presidential elections of 2010, we witnessed the start of congratulatory messages posted on many Facebook sites for the apparent winner of the presidential race, Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. Many went on to enumerate what they thought were needed to turn around the country from the grip of corruption, and some even put together checklists that seem to imply the expectation of wholesale changes overnight, as if we’ve voted superman into the presidency.

Though the new president is indeed responsible for “putting everything together” (to put it in simplest of terms), the entire job of moving forward and making things happen really falls upon the citizenry. Change starts from the very basic building blocks of Philippine society which is each and every person who calls himself/herself a Filipino. We cannot merely vote a person into office, then stand back and let him do all the work. We need to get up, roll up our sleeves, and make these changes happen — both within us, and around us.

What can we change in ourselves, in other people and with everything around us to help propel the country forward? So, allow me to list some of the ways. Some items on this list have been a part of everyday life that a few may not even realize it’s wrong:  When stopped for a traffic violation do you bribe the police officer? Corruption goes either way my friends. If you do, you are part of the problem. The blame is not entirely on the police officer. Guess what? Half the blame goes on you!

Did you pay your professor to pass your last examination? If you did, then you not only cheated society but yourself as well. Doing so made you a part of the problem.

How did you dispose of that last candy wrapper, cigarette butt or barbeque stick? If you just tossed it on the street then you are part of the problem.

When driving, the STOP sign really means just that, stop. Many drivers in the Philippines do not follow this simple sign, most cars do not even slow down! Start obeying traffic signs and make yourself part of the solution.

When crossing the street, do you look for a crosswalk (pedestrian lane) and cross the street there or do you merely just cross the street wherever it seems ‘convenient’? In addition to breaking the law, this is a dangerous undertaking. Remember the signs: “Nakamamatay”. Be part of the solution and use the crosswalk.

When buying something at the drugstore, do you get in line or is it free-for-all (“gulangan”). This is probably the most annoying of all. Be part of the solution and get in line.

Did you get your driver’s license by actually going through the tests? or did you pay someone to get your license? I know this is probably the holy grail among many young aspiring drivers in the Philippines. The truth of the matter is that the Philippines has a vast number of drivers who never went through a driving test. The hideous traffic in the country will never change unless better drivers are put on the road. If drivers get their licenses without passing the qualifying examinations, we are simply drawn into this cycle each time with no end in sight.

During the recent elections, did you sell your vote? The right to vote is guaranteed under the constitution. Selling your vote meant that you sold your rights. What’s next? Selling your freedom of speech?

Do you earn an honest living? If you have a job, can you say that you worked hard for the money each time you come home? If you don’t have a job, do you look for one each day or do you just sit around the house doing nothing productive? or worse, hanging out at the corner store being the neighborhood drunk?

We just voted for a new administration, and your candidate did not win. Are you now campaigning so the newly-elected officials fail? Then you are part of the problem. Democracy is a system where the majority prevails. If you keep insisting on who you think should have been elected, then you are going against what democracy is all about. You are part of the problem no matter how you slice it.

Are you consistently late to anything? It does not matter whether it is an appointment, a party, a get-together, etc. ‘Filipino time’ only brings the country down. Being late is being unreliable and it tags you as such among your bosses, co-workers and friends.

Though not the catch-all of lists, it is clear that we have a lot of work to do. We cannot just stand back and watch the flowers bloom. We have to work, sow the seeds, water the plants and then enjoy the product of our labor. Such is true with our beloved country. We cannot simply ask the government to provide, or the next administration to perform and end all our troubles. We need to work together for a better future. Let’s do it for us, let’s do it for our children.

So, which one are you. Part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Though the new president is indeed responsible for “putting everything together” (to put it in simplest of terms), the entire job of moving forward and making things happen really falls upon the citizenry. Change starts from the very basic building blocks of Philippine society which is each and every person who calls himself/herself a Filipino. We cannot merely vote a person into office, then stand back and let him do all the work. We need to get up, roll up our sleeves, and make these changes happen — both within us, and around us.

What can we change in ourselves, in other people and with everything around us to help propel the country forward? So, allow me to list some of the ways. Some items on this list have been a part of everyday life that a few may not even realize it’s wrong:

When stopped for a traffic violation do you bribe the police officer? Corruption goes either way my friends. If you do, you are part of the problem. The blame is not entirely on the police officer. Guess what? Half the blame goes on you!

Did you pay your professor to pass your last examination? If you did, then you not only cheated society but yourself as well. Doing so made you a part of the problem.

How did you dispose of that last candy wrapper, cigarette butt or barbeque stick? If you just tossed it on the street then you are part of the problem.

When driving, the STOP sign really means just that, stop. Many drivers in the Philippines do not follow this simple sign, most cars do not even slow down! Start obeying traffic signs and make yourself part of the solution.

When crossing the street, do you look for a crosswalk (pedestrian lane) and cross the street there or do you merely just cross the street wherever it seems ‘convenient’? In addition to breaking the law, this is a dangerous undertaking. Remember the signs: “Nakamamatay”. Be part of the solution and use the crosswalk.

When buying something at the drugstore, do you get in line or is it free-for-all (“gulangan”). This is probably the most annoying of all. Be part of the solution and get in line.

Did you get your driver’s license by actually going through the tests? or did you pay someone to get your license? I know this is probably the holy grail among many young aspiring drivers in the Philippines. The truth of the matter is that the Philippines has a vast number of drivers who never went through a driving test. The hideous traffic in the country will never change unless better drivers are put on the road. If drivers get their licenses without passing the qualifying examinations, we are simply drawn into this cycle each time with no end in sight.

During the recent elections, did you sell your vote? The right to vote is guaranteed under the constitution. Selling your vote meant that you sold your rights. What’s next? Selling your freedom of speech?

Do you earn an honest living? If you have a job, can you say that you worked hard for the money each time you come home? If you don’t have a job, do you look for one each day or do you just sit around the house doing nothing productive? or worse, hanging out at the corner store being the neighborhood drunk?

We just voted for a new administration, and your candidate did not win. Are you now campaigning so the newly-elected officials fail? Then you are part of the problem. Democracy is a system where the majority prevails. If you keep insisting on who you think should have been elected, then you are going against what democracy is all about. You are part of the problem no matter how you slice it.

Are you consistently late to anything? It does not matter whether it is an appointment, a party, a get-together, etc. ‘Filipino time’ only brings the country down. Being late is being unreliable and it tags you as such among your bosses, co-workers and friends.

Though not the catch-all of lists, it is clear that we have a lot of work to do. We cannot just stand back and watch the flowers bloom. We have to work, sow the seeds, water the plants and then enjoy the product of our labor. Such is true with our beloved country. We cannot simply ask the government to provide, or the next administration to perform and end all our troubles. We need to work together for a better future. Let’s do it for us, let’s do it for our children.

So, which one are you. Part of the solution, or part of the problem?

___

Photo credit: Makati skyline, some rights reserved.

Ben