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Final tests

By Sophia Isabel J. Estrella
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:32:00 06/12/2008

Filed Under: Social Issues

The Philippines has gone through a lot of changes throughout its history, from colonization to independence. Even the national anthem has gone through its share of changes?from ?Marcha Filipina Magdalo? to ?Lupang Hinirang,? the literal translation of which is ?The Chosen Land.? Our national anthem was created not just for the sake of having a national song but to express the early Filipinos? defiant declaration of and ardent longing of what was rightfully theirs?the freedom they were deprived of during 300 years of Spanish rule and oppression. Our independence and freedom today is a prize our forefathers paid for dearly.

I strongly believe that the Philippines is still a work in progress because she gives hope to the hopeless, she gives reverence to the people who worked for freedom, and finally she gives reverence to ?You? as citizens of this country. This country is our chosen land and living out her name we must choose! We are her chosen people who will live for this country and die for this country. As citizens, we have our own needs and wants as individuals too. The government is there to guide us so we do not live separate ways and suffer a country torn apart by selfish desires.

We all learned in school that the Philippines has a democratic government, specifically a representative democracy. A democratic government has two dimensions: the governors, the ones who are responsible enough in implementing and carrying out good governance, and the governed, the ones who practice responsible citizenship. The two dimensions are required to function in harmony to make democracy work. The elements of good governance are: participation, which gives all men and women a voice in decision-making; accountability, which means that the leaders are accountable for their actions to the citizens; equity, which gives all men and women equal opportunity to become involved; and transparency, which is built on the free flow of information. These elements are required of the governors and the governed to make a good and effective government.

We complain that our leaders today are incompetent and irresponsible. But as citizens, have we ever tried to do our part to make the government work? Democracy means ?for the people, by the people, and of the people.? Democracy does not mean electing a president then going out to the streets to rally and then impeach the president, and then elect a new one, and then repeat the cycle all over again.

Our leaders may be irresponsible, corrupt and not hold themselves accountable for their actions. But this problem is not solved by impeaching presidents over and over and over again. It is a whole culture that has to be changed and the change starts within each one of us through communal action, which does not mean another burst of people power on the EDSA highway. Communal action means starting the change in each one of us so that we may set aside our differences, work together behind the leaders, not against them, to make major decisions for the country.

As a child, I was told by my parents to tell the truth even if I had done something bad. The truth will always come out and it will hurt us, or even kill some of us, but it will always set us free. This has been said many times over but we never seem to act on it unless it affects us personally. However, while we are ?safe,? we choose to do nothing. The country will always and forever be our home and the people in it will always be our family. The leaders today are our parents and the citizens are our brothers and sisters, so we might as well be open to everybody so as not to hurt and eventually divide our bigger family. The truth that may eventually come out from the government may be the hardest thing to accept. It hurts to accept certain truths, our national pride may be tested, and so will our respect and trust for our leaders. The trust of the citizens in their leaders may be vanishing but the respect should always remain because this is the value that will push us to tell the truth. This may be the only thing that will help us enable our leaders to make better decisions for the country.

Redefining nationalism is one thing we constantly have to do because as we go through everyday life, we are challenged by things and people persistently. Nationalism is the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity. It also means that nationalism is the attitude we have to acquire to give the leaders and our fellow citizens the respect we all deserve.

We, the citizens of our country, must do our share in making this country effective once more and in making this country stand up for what is the truth! Our leaders are our parents in this nation we live in and, therefore, they deserve our respect and our trust in order to make them constructive leaders of the nation. In addition, they are also accountable to all of us and so they are called to serve our nation, to be rooted in the values they once learned, to keep the respect and trust of the citizens and finally, to speak the truth for the betterment of our one and only country. James Bryce once said, ?Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.? What are you willing to sacrifice to keep this country intact and strong?

Sophia Isabel J. Estrella, 17, is a fourth year student in Assumption College.

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