A flag, an anthem, a national ideology | Inquirer Opinion

A flag, an anthem, a national ideology

During the Ramos administration, a few days after the president’s arrival from a state visit to Tokyo, news broke out that seven reporters who were accredited with the official news pool covering the visit had disappeared and were presumed to have joined the underground army of illegal aliens working in Japan.

So instead of dwelling mainly on the benefits that the trip brought the country, there was also talk about how seven Filipinos took advantage of their own president without considering the repercussions their actions would have on the country and our people. The gossip also mentioned the incompetence and corruption that made such a situation possible.

In applying for their visas, the Japanese Embassy must have been informed, possibly with a note verbale, that they were official news representatives assigned to cover the state visit.


Apparently, not all on that list were legitimate media personnel.


This was probably the first time that a presidential state visit was used as a cover for TNT (tago-nang-tago) operations. In 1984, several of our cyclists disappeared after the Los Angeles Olympics just as a number of low-level government bureaucrats sent on training seminars also failed to return home after the conclusion of their training.

The whole embarrassing Tokyo episode served to highlight what I have always felt was a critical situation that required serious attention. This was the imperative to reorient, reemphasize and reinstill among our people, simple, old-fashioned basic values such as love of country and people, respect for our flag, upholding community interests over individual rights and certainly a strong sense of personal discipline. Incorporating all these values in one statement of national policy would help to bring about a sense of nationhood, setting aside the destructive kanya-kanya mentality that often rears its ugly head.


One of the things that impressed me most during my stint in Indonesia was the spirit of nationalism of its people. For one thing, there were no endless queues at the Dutch Embassy applying for an immigrant visa. While I am certain that a number of Indonesians were looking forward to migrating abroad, not necessarily to Holland, the figures would not come close to the number of our people applying for visas at the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard. I recall then Minister of State for Science and Technology B.J. Habibie mentioning during a visit to his aircraft manufacturing complex in Bandung, that the Indonesian government had a policy of sending out annually hundreds of promising young students for technical training overseas, and there was rarely a problem of some not returning to Indonesia or of moving on to greener pastures abroad after serving time at home.

Perhaps, part of the explanation stems from the fact that Indonesia has a national ideology known as the Pancasila (a combination of two Sanskrit words: “Panca” meaning “Five,” and “Sila” meaning “Principles”). It was first articulated by President Sukarno in 1945, in his belief that the state should be based on these Five Principles, namely:

1) Belief in one God; 2) Just and civilized humanity; 3) Unity of Indonesia; 4) Democracy brought about by deliberations in a search for consensus; and 5) Social justice for all.

Since independence in August 1945 and for more than 70 years, this national ideology has been drummed into the mind of every Indonesian child from early school years all through college. In all these years, there has been no change, no let-up, in its emphasis and dissemination. I recall that many of the programs officiated by the Indonesian president would start with the recitation of the Pancasila by a group of young people, and this would set the tone for the rest of the day’s activities.

Years later, Singapore also decided to come up with its own ideology with Deputy Prime Minister Go Chok Tong spearheading the move in 1988. After much debate about the form and substance of such guidelines, they came up with something brief and simple, like that of Indonesia but tailored to Singaporean requirements. They called the national policy “Five Shared Values.” They were: 1) Nation before community, society above self; 2) Family as the basic unit of society; 3) Community support and respect for the individual; 4) Consensus not conflict; and 5) Racial and religious harmony.

Remember Alex Lacson, the young man who 12 years ago came out with a little book that took the nation by storm?

“12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country” told us how simple, little things — not the great, dramatic activities — could impact positively on the lives of our people and change the nation. He ran for public office at one time, but didn’t quite make it. He has not lost his idealism and spirit of service, and continues to support many advocacies that
benefit our people.

Alex believes in the need for an official and standard set of national core values that will help us develop a sense of national or cultural identity for us as a people.

He proposes the following as our Three National Core Values in the 21st Century:

• Kapatiran. Magkakapatid bawat Pilipino. Kapatiran is loving God in action by loving others as our brethren, hopefully in the same manner and measure as we love ourselves.

• Common good. Kabutihan sa lahat, hindi lang sa sarili natin.

We need to show people, especially our leaders, that when we pursue the common good, almost everyone gets satisfaction, resulting in greater harmony. If there is national harmony, there will be peace and order in society.

• Pagkakaisa. Kapag sama-sama, uunlad at lalakas ang bansa.

We must be able to persuade our people that to achieve unity, we need to surrender to the common good some of our freedom and vested interests.

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Indonesia has its Pancasila; Singapore, its Five Shared Values. The Three Core Values of Alex Lacson is a mighty step in the right direction. Let us all support them, and contribute our efforts in making them the foundation of a national ideology.

TAGS: Alex Lacson, nationalism, Ramon Farolan, Reveille

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