Filipinos Vote Mining Companies Off island

The Philippines should be a global superpower in mineral production: It sits on the world’s 3rd-largest deposit of copper and is rich in gold, nickel and zinc reserves.

The reason it isn’t yet is partly due to the successes of anti-mining activists in this mixed Christian and Muslim nation. This was pointed out in a Wall Street Journal article two years ago.

Here on, we have a more recent example. Philippine activists have started an online petition to fight one particular deadly mining project and many others they foresee coming down the line.

The Soul-Searching Filipino

Salagdoong Beach Siquijor, Philippines

There is much wisdom in these words from Ecclesiastes (Kohelet). “There is a time for everything under the sun.”

Those words echo in my head every time I read about “what’s wrong in the Philippines.” Quite a number of people have spoken to me about it. And I have read many of the same themes in blogsites.

Some believe it is cultural.

Some believe an oligarchy is to blame.

Some believe it is a moral question.

Don’t be surprised if the “why” has been asked. The rhetoric of course has been repeated quite often enough, generation after generation.

I can relate to the question.

I have pondered on the puzzle of why there isn’t any growth. In the six years that I have blogged, it was the central focus of my attention. Consider “State of the Filipino Nation,” as a conclusion to my own soul-searching of what’s wrong. It can be summed up simply as, “Incapacity breeds poverty.”

It was why the answer to the political calculus had to be the election of a second Aquino president. To being some sense of civility into our national life, however imperfect. It was to still the political waters, and in so doing give our nation a chance to breathe. And why that choice has given a nation an opportunity to dream again.

The Whys, and the Whats of the political calculus has been asked. They have been answered. The proper question, We the People must now ask is, “How to fix?”

To borrow the words of Elliot S. Maggin, “Our proper response to the inexorable march of progress that has brought us to this place, and time in the history of civilization is to find a way to confront it responsibly. Not modestly. Not unselfconsciously. Not with faith in a power greater than ours to descend from the sky and set things right despite our best efforts to screw up. We have an obligation to know who we are, and where we are, and what we can do. We have an obligation to understand the ramifications of the things we do, and to choose to do them– or not– with our eyes open.”

Which is why, the second part of the calculus must be, responsible citizenship. And this whole notion of Responsible Citizenship is an answer to that decades long question of what’s wrong with the Philippines.

It is what The Pro Pinoy Project at its core is all about. It is the ethos of 365Philippines, of Definitely Filipino, of Good News Pilipinas; of social enterprises like Rags2Riches Enterprise.

These are just a few responses to the call of citizenship.

It is why it is important for the future to have Better Internet.

It is why it is important for the future to have Reproductive Health.

It is why it is important for the future to have Freedom of Information.

It is why it is important for the future to have basic education.

It is why at the heart of each of these is the wisdom to empower people; to enable them, not to trap them in the past; to free them, not to enslave them; to let them live.

That is the task of responsible citizenship today.

There is a time for everything under the sun. The time for soul-searching is at an end. It is now time for responsible citizens to act.

Without doubt it is all easier said than done.

Without doubt all around us are questions of inequality; of instability, and a world so unsustainable that if we think about all the crisis we are facing today, on a personal level, and as a people, and the challenge we are about to face… it can be so overwhelming.

There is much wisdom in these words from Reinhold Niebuhr. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Photo credit: Salagdoong Beach Siquijor, Philippines by Storm Crypt

Requiem for Delicadeza?

Today’s editorial over at the Philippine Daily Inquirer reads as, “Requiem for delicadeza.”

To some, this is but a touching paternal gesture, but to most, it is nothing but political highhandedness, an indication of how delicadeza or sense of propriety has disappeared from the vocabulary and from the consciousness, of Filipino politicians.

Umm. Rumors of Delicadeza’s death has, for the longest time been true. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Requiem was held many years ago.

There is rarely a dishonorable discharge in government.

Isn’t this why Aquino won? To bring back a sense of propriety into our national life? To take the straight road? It made things better in a way, but his victory is just a step in the right direction, not the end of the journey.

To simply imagine delicadeza, resurrected just like that and just because the President has a better moral compass of course is to forget that the deep failures of the past are still there. Singson, Lacson,, are examples of things that must change. It can only change when we the people hold ourselves to a higher standard.

To expect the Singsons of the world to change stripe just like that will be a miracle. The only way to win, is to make their kind of politics and their kind of leadership, moot, and a thing of the past. That, dear friends doesn’t happen over night or in a decade, not even in a generation. But we have to start somewhere, don’t we?

BSAIII action plan on education

10 Ways to Fix Philippine Basic Education

Action Plan on Education

Philippine education is in crisis and we need not argue that point. What we need is a president with a basic education agenda, willing to make the hard decisions. This is what needs to be done.

12-Year Basic Education Cycle

We need to add two years to our basic education. Those who can afford pay for up to fourteen years of schooling before university. Thus, their children are getting into the best universities and the best jobs after graduation. I want at least 12 years for our public school children to give them an even chance at succeeding.

My education team has designed a way to go from our current 10 years (6 elementary, 4 high school) to a K-12 system in five years starting SY 2011-12. Kindergarten (K) to Grade 12 is what the rest of the world gives their children.

I will expand the basic education cycle in this country from a short 10-year cycle to a globally-comparable 12 years before the end of the next administration (2016)

Universal Pre-schooling For All

All over the world, pre-schooling is given to all young children as the first year of basic education. We don’t solve this deficiency by renaming day care centers as pre-schools. We need to build a proper pre-school system and make this available to all children regardless of income.

All public school children (and all public schools) will have pre-schooling as their introduction to formal schooling by 2016.

Madaris Education As A Sub-system Within The Education System

Our Muslim brothers and sisters ask for an education system that respects their culture while providing a technically sound curriculum in English, Filipino, science and math. Madaris education with subjects in Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education can be integrated in our public school curriculum as additional subjects with the view to keeping our Muslim Filipino children in school.

I want a full basic education for ALL Muslim Filipino children anywhere in the country.

Technical Vocational Education As An Alternative Stream In Senior High School

Half our high school graduates want to work upon graduation but do not have enough technical education. We need to provide an education alternative to better prepare students for the world of work. Technical, vocational education must be re-introduced in our public high schools with trade tests and skills rating (TESDA or other acceptable work standards) as the final examination for students looking at HS as their terminal course.

I will re-introduce technical-vocational education in our public high schools to better link schooling to local industry needs and employment.

“Every Child a Reader” by Grade 1

At the core of our children’s non-learning problems is the inability to read properly. By the end of the next administration (SY 2015-16), every child passing pre-school must be a reader by Grade 1.

Essential to this, we must build a library infrastructure in our schools, procure reading books (from our Philippine publishing industry to support local authors and publishers) and train our elementary teachers on how to teach reading.

By the end of the next administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1.

Science And Math Proficiency

We need a strong science and math curriculum that starts as early as Grade 1 with instructional materials and properly trained elementary teachers. To build a culture for science and math, I will bring back the science and math clubs movement with elementary and high school science/math fairs.

I will rebuild the science and math infrastructure in schools so that we can produce more scientists, engineers, technicians, technologists and teachers in our universities so that this country can be more globally competitive in industry and manufacturing.

Assistance To Private Schools As Essential Partners In Basic Education

Private education must be a partner in producing quality education in the country. I intend to expand GASTPE (Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education) to a target of 1 million private HS students every year through education service contracting (ESC) while doing away with the wasteful education voucher system (EVS) of this administration.

I will expand government assistance to private education. A strong private school system will strengthen our public schools by providing parents an alternative and not adding to the overcrowding.

Medium Of Instruction Rationalized

UNESCO has proven that young children learn best in their mother tongue before moving on to English in higher grades. I fully support the UNESCO-tried and tested formula on mother tongue instruction. From pre-school to Grade 3, we will use the mother tongue as the medium of instruction while teaching English and Filipino as subjects.

From Grades 4-6 (7), we will increasingly use English as the medium of instruction for science & math and Filipino for Araling Panlipunan (social studies). For High School, English should be the medium of instruction for science, math & English; Filipino for AP, Filipino and tech-voc education.

My view: We should become tri-lingual as a country.

  • Learn English well and connect to the World.
  • Learn Filipino well and connect to our country.
  • Retain your dialect and connect to your heritage.

Quality Textbooks

Poor quality textbooks have no place in our schools.

I will not tolerate poor textbook quality in our schools. Textbooks will be judged by three criteria: quality, better quality, and more quality.

Covenant With Local Governments To Build More Schools

We need to address our continuing classroom shortages. And if we are successful keeping more kids in school, the demand for more classrooms will be even greater. Here, we need a covenant with LGUs not only to build more classrooms but to establish more schools on land provided by LGUs. We do not need more overcrowded schools; we need more schools with smaller populations so that teachers, students, and parents can form a real learning community.

I will build more schools in areas where there are no public or private schools in a covenant with LGUs so that we can realize genuine education for all.

If we fix these ten concerns, we will fix most of the problems in our education system.

If we fix basic education, we fix the long-term problems of the country.

And if we fix the country’s problems, we will build a truly strong society we can proudly call the Philippines.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]