In the business of hope
I believe it is time for all of us to get into the business of hope. There is just too much hate going around, not only in our country but all over the world. And the very impersonal social media has helped multiply the hate. I have made the mistake of trying to use social media to promote key issues and concerns, and have come to realize that it just isn’t a platform for constructive dialogue. Dialogue happens best around a table of individuals willing to hear each other out, or in town halls where community spirit is still encouraged and nurtured, or in small meeting rooms where a boss listens to his team, or during courtesy visits when leaders listen as much as they speak. I wonder why many of us have tried to tap into social media when the traditional media have failed society many times by highlighting dissonance rather than resonance, simply because bad news sells more.
But what is this alternative of the business of hope? I believe it is in everyone’s best interests to promote hope rather than hate. A society of hope can inspire and motivate. It can move our predominantly young population to dream and chase their aspirations more aggressively.
In social media, we can choose what to share, what to simply ignore, or block. Today, for example, I scrolled through dozens of posts on the Senate hearing last Thursday on extrajudicial killings, but what jumped out was a post by Bea Querido on the Filipino American Young Leaders Program (Fylpro). Ten young Filipino Americans have been chosen again this year by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, together with Fylpro “alumni” volunteers, to visit the Philippines. Their weeklong immersion will include meeting the country’s most inspiring and influential people and learning more about their cultural heritage.
Bea wrote in her post: “The mission [of Fylpro] is simple, provide access and advocate for the advancement of the Philippines and the Filipino communities in the U.S. I was blessed and honored to be selected in 2013 and the experience of being in Fylpro changed my life. As an average woman of color, with limited resources except for what my wonderful Filipino parents were able to work hard for, I never thought I would have a voice at the table with key decision makers and leaders helping the Philippines and Filipino communities around the world. Fylpro made this happen.”
What is truly amazing about this program started by our previous ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisia, and his wife Vicky Cuisia, is that the business of hope goes way beyond the weeklong immersion: These young leaders build projects and pursue initiatives that pay forward or expand further on the Fylpro goals.
The business of hope is also about corporations and nonprofits in the Philippines just continuing to build and support more and more positive partnerships. I recently attended the program launch of Restart Micro-Enterprise Inc. or RestartME. The organization, also supported by the Philippine Business for Social Progress and USAid, provides lending assistance to micro-enterprises devastated by calamities through a revolving loan fund that will be accessed by micro-finance institutions for lending at relatively easier terms and conditions. The program assures micro-entrepreneurs that even though disasters may come, they can restart their businesses immediately and even build back better. Micro-entrepreneurs from Leyte and victims of Typhoon “Yolanda”—Adela Mora, Rina Catre, Edna Ablan and Esmeralda Castanares—were assisted by the program’s precursor, the Midas Fund. Their stories are indeed inspiring stories of hope in extreme adversity.
The business of hope is also about the Church and the private sector working together to address poverty and support the ongoing campaign to address the proliferation of illegal drugs and the growing number of addicted persons. Through the Bishop-Businessmen’s Conference, partnerships will be forged between companies and parish communities to identify possible inclusive business initiatives patterned after successful models like those of Jollibee and Nestlé. Similar partnerships will also be pursued to develop a working parish-based rehabilitation and support program for the thousands of drug addicts who have surrendered to authorities. Recognizing that, indeed, the problem is so much larger than many thought, the Church and business are coming together to do their part.
The business of hope is, as Ka Pepe Diokno taught us, all about building a nation for our children—a nation with food and freedom and jobs and justice. The business of hope includes groups such as Alyansa Agrikultura, which has been assertively clamoring for all sectors, especially the government, to prioritize food security through genuine support for our farmers and fishers. It includes the Commission on Human Rights and the Free Legal Assistance Group as they continue to strive to protect the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every Filipino. It includes the Kapatid Program of Go Negosyo as it strives to expand micro-entrepreneurship across the archipelago. It also includes the multisectoral Judicial Reform Initiative that is helping our justices pursue genuine reform that must, as a matter of urgency, lead to justice for all.
This business of hope is everybody’s business. Rather than continue to pursue the things that divide us, let us choose hope.
Peter Angelo V. Perfecto is executive director of Makati Business Club and president of Integrity Initiative Inc.
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