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 Friends in diaspora ~ Hearts and minds always focused on Pilipinas
 
page2 by
ARMANDO “Boy” RIDAO

Another high is watching locals enjoy the benefits of their own labor ( e.g., a hanging bridge [below left], a Level II water system [below center], and a public high school [below right]—one of the high schools we assisted was refused support by the national govt./DepEd, but the locals persisted, hiring teachers whose salaries they paid until others noticed what was going on and helped pressure our govt. to attend to its responsibility to support such school; it won the locals a Galing-Pook Award, which they used in other community projects, &c., I’ve lost tract, they’re on their own now)...  My consultancy was

originally to teach village folks how to do development planning & plan implementation, but eventually it extended upwards—to municipal, provincial, then regional level, i.e., bringing together local plans & aggregating them step by step at higher levels, and getting higher-up plans to be anchored on local plans; so we went to NEDA (above left) and got locals to present what they want, in flipcharts of manila papers, for regional officialdom to integrate into the national Medium-Term Plan, and inviting the President herself to go see the locals (above center) during her early years—but now, it seems she’s not our President after all but the late FPJ (or Noli, or Loren—if she succeeds in proving Noli also cheated in the last election), so back to the streets (above right)...

After GTZ, I was invited to help evaluate an EU project in the Cordillera for a few months, then do technical coach work with an EU project in Mindanao (which ended last June), then onwards to my current engagement with a World Bank project which, surprise, contrary to what I thought before, has done quite substantial good for many farmers in the study sites I’ve been to so far, across the country...  Despite GMA and the issues against her, rural folks, in ARCs I’ve been to, continue to carry on (e.g., build a post-harvest warehouse [below left], computerize local schools [below center], and tend to “exotic farms” like a crocodile farm [below right] where our crooks in govt. may be fed to crocs when the proper time comes), barely expecting anything from her administration...

From above exposures, with foreigners and Pinoys, bureaucrats and masa, ideologues of various colors and spiritual groups and denominations, Ilocanos, Pangalatoks, Ibanags, Macabebes, Taga-ilogs, Bicolanas, May-adas, Cebuanos, Ilongos, and IPs across our small country, there are many lessons/ insights which I learned, some of which you may not agree with from your far end.  Three of these are: one, our country, I’m sure, will not become a “failed state” (we are not Sudan with its Darfur, or Somalia —we will not kill each other either, like the Rwandans did, despite Palparan, and after the ND purges in the early 80’s), it—we, including you and others there in the US and elsewhere in the world—will “carry the Philippines (if necessary on our backs) forward,” and this country will “take off(for a very short while, it was poised for take-off during the time of Ramos, and for once, people at NEDA and ODA community thought about setting up a “Philippine Agency for International Development,” an initial, smaller version of USAID or GTZ, to bring aid this time to other countries less developed than us—in the Pacific, mainland Asia, Balkan peninsula, and Africa; but when Erap took over, our economy went on a tailspin... but all is not lost) within our lifetime (I have an aunt who just turned 87 but is still very, very, very active—I think she will reach and live beyond 100; whenever I see her, I also entertain the idea that I’ll reach and live beyond 100, which is quite a long, long way off, considering the fact that I just turned, let me see, 38? or 39?, two months ago... [okey, okey, I will recompute this when I get back to civilization, my mental computer does not work with several tagays of tuba already, in this quiet tamaraw country—tamaraws here, by the way, have re-generated in big numbers, much more than the eagles in Mindanao which still, in their own slow way, are also re-generating, so there is hope])despite GMA, juntas, People Power 3 and 4 and 5, and others who will assume power after GMA, &c. (I think you are getting a very dim but skewed picture of things here out there in the US—much as Manileños and people in Luzon get a very skewed picture of things in Mindanao [I brought 2 years ago a group of Luzon volunteers to Mindanao, to help train locals in good governance—they were afraid at first, citing things they read in the papers and saw on TV video footages, but when they got there, Mindanao {from Davao to Tawi-tawi, from Dinagat to Lake Sebu, even Basilan itself and the rest of Zamboanga Peninsula and Muslim Lanao} was as peaceful and quiet as a sleeping baby...] [in a similar vein, Roland, when he first came back here from London 3 or 4 years ago tried to go to my “base” in Quezon, hiring a taxi, he said, to do so—but he turned back to Manila after having traveled some 150 kms, when he was just 30 kms away from where I was based, because, he said, he passed by this just-ambushed/burned military vehicle—the ambush took just a few minutes, just a teeny-weeny fraction of a day, and the area was and is generally peaceful for 364½ days each year, before and after that ambush, but what stuck to our friend’s mind now is that negative image, which resembles what is happening to many Pinoys out there—including you?];  this is largely the bane of mass media, which zero only on “newsworthy”—all-despicable—events, to attract readers or viewers, raise circulation or ratings, and get pages of ads or hours of commercials, never mind if these edge out the real news, or spill [thanks and no thanks] into mostly inane TV shows).  (But don’t get me wrong, media should report on those inanities of government.  But not stop there.  There are many good things going on in our country which the media do not cover, because these do not generate ads or commercials, or raise ratings, etc...)

My favorite aunt who just turned 87, and once took care of me, now takes care of my daughter when my wife travels with me. She has seen more difficult times and believes the Phils. is increasingly moving “up,” despite the problems we have...

Two, the number one problem in our country, from my humble perspective, is not GMA but our rapid population growth (and by extension, the Catholic Church, which says a lot of nonsense about “natural family planning methods” and “sex solely for procreation,” &c.; as well as politicians, including GMA, who “toe these Church nonsense”—this does not mean though that I’m anti-Church now;  I still attend Sunday Masses and honestly enjoy the “holding of hands” during the singing of Our Father, especially if the persons I get to hold hands with, to my left and my right, are beautiful ladies... but, ok, where was I?  I believe the Church has important roles to play in our country, and one of these roles is advice parents, under threat of eternal damnation in hell, to bring forth only children whom they can properly care for and raise, educate, and feed—and not leave out roaming in the streets like abandoned kittens...).

And three, each Filipino, wherever s/he is, (whether in the boondocks, or in Manila, or in the Middle East, or Europe, or States, or Canada, &c.) has a role (whether as passive or active investor, “fairy godmother,” philosopher-king, opinion-shaper, advocate of change, &c.) in the shaping and development of our nation, whether s/he knows of it or not, and whether s/he likes it or has given up (tiyak yon, to quote El Shaddai’s Velarde; or historical determinism, if we go back to Lolos Kaloy, Vladi, & Federico)... even those who have acquired US or Brit, or Jap, &c. citizenship but continue to have umbilical links with kins and kith here in ‘Pinas (—which really means Joma et al. will not be able to bring about now what was possible during the time of Marcos;  but, they, in a real UF with others, [not just a “UF” with themselves, to quote Dr. Dodong Nemenzo,] across the full political spectrum from the Left to the Right-of-Center [count out the Right, they, til now, are still wrong], may be able to pull off something better than what the Tupamaros or IRA recently did in Uruguay and Northern Ireland, respectively... but you already know this, so I think what’s really missing is your coming back here to help forge that real UF [with others from UP, FEU, Silliman?] which, from thereon, will work for the advancement of our country and our people, with you as part of the near-future national Parliament, representing the May-adas?)...

ADB statistics say there are more unemployed Filipinos now than a few years ago—of course, with hundreds of thousands of new graduates joining the work force each year, the unemployed will somehow grow (there is no way GMA’s current “job creation” here [you know what GMA’s bright boys did to “create jobs” last year? they used money intended for farm inputs to pay for the 6-month labor of her barangay wards/leaders, “cleaning” roadsides even if no vehicles use such roads because they are far up the boondocks—but ok, that was fine, at least the money benefited the barrio folks, but after 6 months, where are the “new jobs created”? back to zero, but GMA’s statisticians do not deduct these from rosy figures they cite in public] will match our current population growth)—but Filipinos are a resilient lot, and we will make do with what we have (times are hard, and it’s not just because Gen. Garcia et al. stole our money and put these in US banks, or that GMA and husband took out jueteng money that should have circulated back to the poor and used it to build an apartment in San Francisco and stash the rest away somewhere, but because bishops and priests and religious manangs pontificate on the morals of GMA but not on the immorality of a ballooning population which casts out increasing numbers of young children to roam the streets of most of our cities, and even towns, instead of getting them to stay and study in schools [I do not even raise now as top problem the defoliation of our forests, or the destruction of our coastal/marine resources—I have seen with my own eyes that these are reversible {in as short time a time as a few years for coastal/marine resources, and at most ten years for forest resources}, fisherfolks in coastal communities have significantly reduced or stopped altogether illegal fishing, and there are studies by brods back in Diliman which show the fish have returned, corals have regenerated {yes, it will take decades for them to grow back to their previous grandeur if they have been dynamited, but they grow back, and declining fish catch has been reversed and is climbing up again in many parts, in many coves and bays, of our rich country –and these riches are being enjoyed by our small fisherfolk households who, unfortunately, from the perceived small bounty, proceed to produce recklessly many more children than they can really care for properly}...].)...

Let me intro-duce to you, by the way, FPJ III...

So there.  My humble view of things now and to come.  But when are you coming back?  (To take over, for a start, work begun and left hanging? by your Mayor in Villareal, i.e., that bayanihan on your road—instead of just aiming for a barangay captain post [I hope my daughter summarized this info from the Gugma han Samar cyber-newsletter right], I think you can win, hands down, the mayoral post of Villareal this 2007, and from there, a post in the fast-upcoming Federal State of the Visayas (or is it Samar-Romblon?), and eventually, a post in the near-future national Parliament...  I think it’s time.  Doydoy and Mara can remain in the States with their respectively families, and with Ate Lydia (who, I hope, when you come around, won’t develop the same amoritis my wife has).  Kung hindi yana, kelan pa, kung hindi kayo, sino?  (We’re tired of the same politicians parading around—Maceda? JV? Imee? Thank you. And then there’s that lady Gov. of yours in Samar who did something but seems to be doing a Gloria —I see posters cursing her when I travel to Davao thru Samar—but nothing will come off it if you’re not around...)  (So there, mahaba na ‘tong once-in-2-decades sulat koPwede na namang mawala for the next decade or 2.)

Let’s drink beer when I drop by NY or Frisco one of these days!

(One more thing pala: re JunPars whom you asked about, I have not seen him for over a decade now—the last time I saw him was sometime in 1988 or 1989 [he used to come to my small apartment in Quezon City to sleep for a few days there, then disappear for months at a time... still I hope to cross path with him when I pass by Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija one of these days...  He used to hang around a bit with Edwin Cuenco {who died a few years back} who built a house in Pagrai, Antipolo—remember that land settled by farmers from the Visayas which Bongbong Marcos et al. wanted to grab just before EDSA I, but Edwin and his RAM boys stopped?  It’s now a thriving community called Pagrai.  Jun and I each has a 500-sq m lot there given by the Pagrai pioneers there, in appreciation for our assist vs. Bongbong’s landgrab, but I did not accept it and Jun, I think, did the same.])

So now, okey, I have no more utang and perhaps I’ll write again after a year or a half-year or a decade... Or perhaps I’ll send you text or picture thru my daughter’s cellphone this Christmas...

Happy Halloween!

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