No change until we learn
Our distress during this pandemic has not only been caused by the increase in COVID-19 cases while the vaccine is still not developed. It is even worsened by our frustration in the kind of government we have. We are desperate for a cure, not only for the virus, but also for our leaders who do not perform their duties the way they should.
In mainstream and social media, we see images of our countrymen who suffer hunger, unemployment and helplessness. The tears we see are only from a small percentage of the real number of Filipinos who experience the same hardships. I assume there are a lot more undocumented.
Calling out the administration when we see anomalies, indifference, politicking and incompetence has become a reflex. Some of us call out these officials for our predicament, because instead of providing a smooth quality of public service, we witness political play even during this time. Some of us wonder where our taxes went.
But most corrupt and incompetent politicians get elected only because of their popularity. Because of them, many of our people remain poor and suffer even more. This cycle should already stop. It is ironic too that most of the poor support the same faces and elect them to seats they do not deserve. Hence, we blame the ordinary citizens who live in poverty for making unwise decisions for the majority. Without their votes, afterall, the crooks cannot stay in power.
But as we dig deeper, we need to realize it is unfortunate that a lot of our countrymen probably do not have the adequate amount of knowledge to see what is really going on. Some of us embarrass them and mock their supposed stupidity. We spend time to debate with them and pamper our ego, but did these ever make a difference? Does our situation become better?
For those of us who think that we understand better, we need to keep this in mind: every election we get a promise — regardless how these are phrased — that change will come. Perhaps, it won’t come if we rely on politicians alone as if they are superheroes. Indeed, the vicious cycle of electing inept officials affect us whether we accept it or not. But instead of spitting mud to one another, we can try a different course of action. Some of these things can be done now, but some can wait when the pandemic is over. Nevertheless, we need each other to do these things.
The wealthy and privileged ones, the employers engaged in big business, must continue to offer jobs with decent pay. When we teach people not to rely on the government alone for personal survival, we can direct our resources to more important expenditures. Also, when the people’s empty stomachs are fed, it is more possible for them to think rationally. But this is just one area we can improve on. A bigger change for the better relies heavily on education and being an intelligent nation.
Our public education is free, but still, some of our children, especially those who live in far-flung and depressed areas, do not receive the education they need. The private sector can walk the extra mile to ensure that we have quality education in schools if government funds are not sufficient to build more schools and facilities. Let us ensure that our youth are not only thinking about getting their diplomas to work for a company; they also need to think critically. We also have to support our teachers and continuously help them get an upgrade.
Most of the time, the poor do not have access to information the way rich people do. How many public libraries do we even notice in our communities? Some children cannot even read newspapers on their own or read stories that sharpen the mind. How can we demand critical thinking if our youth do not even have enough books? We need to build more libraries or donate books in poor households to give them at least an opportunity to love learning. Even the countries whose children topped the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA have a household of readers where parents value reading and constantly converse with their children about what they read or about current issues. We need to build a reading culture.
Some children cannot break free from poverty because they lack role models. They tend to follow the lead of people in their homes and in their community. Not that the jobs of their parents are not decent, but they persist to believe that these jobs are small, and they pity themselves. We therefore need to teach them not just to dream high but to dream deep. We should instill in them the conscious desire to play a role in society. Or we can visit communities, and tell our stories and expose these to different possibilities. We can print biographies of successful people who rose from the bottom and reached success by hard work, which can echo that anything is possible. We have to show children how they can do the same and help them choose that track.
We can tap TV networks to have free reruns of our historic films, educational shows and documentaries. Put these on a timeslot when all people can watch. We have to appeal to our broadcasters and anchors to continue being objective on looking at issues and help their viewers understand the issues without bias, and speak in a language that the majority can understand. We have to work hard to stir up the consciousness of our people and the sense of nationalism needed for a stronger nation. Let us not get tired of promoting values.
We should also encourage our own writers to compose more stories and poetry for children and adults, and make these masterpieces reach as many Filipinos as possible. We need to infect our students with the passion to love history and literature, to better understand the world and ourselves. We also need to support our young scientists to keep on producing innovations.
If we want to peel off the rotten portion of our nation, we have to join hands, roll up our sleeves and educate all Filipinos the best way we can. It takes a village of hopeful citizens to make radical change. When we get a more educated citizenry, there will be a better chance in 2022 or anytime in the future.
Instead of complaining and attacking those who have opposite views, let us divert our energies to something more productive. We support officials who still sincerely and quietly do their job and equip future leaders for nation-building. Aside from them, when we were hit by this pandemic, we have already witnessed the work of a long line of heroes, and there are more of them.
Khristian Ross P. Pimentel is a public school teacher from Antipolo City. After earning his education degree from Philippine Normal University, he pursued further studies in the University of the Philippines where he received his masters in Education, and majored in Educational Psychology. Coco to his friends, he loves to write, read, travel and teach. He has previously written for the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “Youngblood” column, and now hopes to continue his advocacy for learning through INQUIRER.net’s “Love. Life.” column. “As a teacher, I believe in the power of education to effect change,” he said. “And that’s what I still argue in my work.”
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Posted by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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