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Be the change

March 04, 2011 22:43:00
Ramon del Rosario Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

ASIDE FROM the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of our People Power Revolution, 2011 also marks the centennial of De La Salle University. While these two events do not have a direct link, the relevance of a Lasallian prayer struck me as I read the reflections related to Edsa 1, with not a few expressing disappointment at the lack of progress and change in our country since 1986.

The prayer goes:

Let me be the change I want to see, to do with strength and wisdom all that needs to be done . . . and become the hope that I can be.

Set me free from my fears and hesitations, grant me courage and humility, fill me with spirit to face the challenge, and start the change I long to see.

Today I start the change I want to see.

Even if I’m not the light, I can be the spark, in faith, service and communion.

Let us start the change we want to see, the change that begins in me.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

These sentiments surely guided the De La Salle Brothers when they decided to stand by former President Cory Aquino when she called for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the aftermath of the “Hello, Garci” revelations. In spite of opposition from some of their own alumni, and ridicule from some religious orders who criticized the Brothers’ stand as impulsive and impractical as GMA would not resign anyway, they stood their ground. They believed simply that their role as teachers compelled them to take a stand when the nation’s highest official was found to have cheated in the presidential elections. Their convictions told them that they could not effectively preach honesty if they turned a blind eye when confronted with it at the highest levels of government.

The Brothers, like many of us, yearned for change, especially in our country’s governance. They could have folded their arms like many others and convinced themselves that nothing they did would make a difference. Or they could stand for what they believed and start the change they wanted to see.

For years it seemed like President Cory might have become a spent force, with her calls no longer having a major impact. But then, when she passed away on Aug. 1, 2009, it was as if the dam of emotions burst with the outpouring of respect, admiration and love for the one who always provided us light, especially in our darkest moments. So powerful was this outpouring that its momentum led to the election of her son as president on the strength of his promise: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”

President Cory’s steadfastness was not in vain. Her constant pursuit of the truth, her unshakeable moral courage, her intense patriotism—all these inspired Filipinos in the 2010 elections to reject discredited politicians and go for real change. Her courageous moral stand against an illegitimate president five years earlier, supported by the De La Salle Brothers and a few principled organizations, while described by GMA supporters then as a failure and a sign of President Cory’s loss of influence and support, turned out in the end to be a critical building block for the fresh start that we would gain in May 2010.

Today, some eight months into the term of President Noynoy, we are again hearing voices of impatience, crying out that 25 years after Edsa 1 and eight “long” months after his assumption of office, things have not changed.

But things have changed. We now have renewed hope. We have a President whose legitimacy and integrity are unquestioned and who enjoys the widespread support of Filipinos. We have a Cabinet filled with men and women of competence and probity, including a foreign secretary who risks life and limb to look after the welfare of our OFWs. We have a road map that establishes our nation’s priority social, economic and security concerns as embodied in the legislative agenda unveiled at the Ledac meeting early this week, whose content impressed even the veterans from Congress. And for the first time in a decade, we are again able to use impeachment as a powerful tool to rid ourselves of corrupt and incompetent government officials.

Of course, much more needs to change, and it is right to be impatient as our people’s needs are crying to be addressed. But perhaps it is time for our impatience to now be transformed from outrage at our government to a commitment by each of us to do our part, to be the change we want to see.

What can an individual do? Get involved in fighting corruption! The Coalition Against Corruption is looking for hundreds of volunteers all over the Philippines to monitor pork-barrel spending and to participate in bids and awards committees involved in the procurement of goods and services for the Departments of Education, Health, Public Works, National Defense, Energy, and others. The commitment needed is only a block of three to four hours a week, and training will be provided. Interested parties may e-mail Edward Gacusana at e.gacusana@gmail.com.

Let us start the change we want to see, the change that begins in me.

Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is the chairman of the Makati Business Club. E-mail: rrdelrosario@hotmail.com.

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