We, at the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), started introducing Good Filipinos to our friends, family, and colleagues just after the May elections, which marked our entry into rather interesting times. In a generation, this seems the most politically divided we have ever been, and we thought, what does this mean for our advocacy of good governance and good citizenship? But as a non-profit institute whose role is to advise public sector institutions on what paths to take throughout the next five or 10 years, there was only one thing to be done, and that was to take our own advice.
When our partner government institutions are in doubt, this is what we tell them: go back to the heart of governance. This means a return to values, which are the very foundations of transformation. And at the end of the day, we remain committed to serving the common good, loving our country, and doing what we can from our position in society. Good Filipinos is a result of our reflections on these values, which have held us together and pushed ISA’s work forward for more than 15 years.
If there is anything these past few months have shown us, it is that many others—as demonstrated by those who have been supporting ISA and Good Filipinos—share these guiding principles. We cannot say it enough: thank you to everyone who has pledged to act on these values, not for any political gain, but for our country and our people as a whole.
ISA envisions Good Filipinos to be its citizenship arm. While our daily work consists of helping to strengthen public sector institutions, there must be a simultaneous effort on the part of citizens to participate and to create a welcoming environment for change. There are many ways to do this and we certainly look forward to hearing your ideas. I can be reached through e-mail at email@example.com, while our president & chief executive officer, Alex Lacson, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. But we feel that it all begins with learning what it means to be a good citizen, and then actually practicing what we have learned in big and small actions, so that we can, in turn, become role models of who the Filipino truly is and what he can do to serve the country and the world.
All of these ideas are beautifully captured and magnified in the person of Vice President Leni Robredo, whom we launched as our Good Filipinos Ambassador at the historic Kalayaan Hall in Club Filipino on Wednesday, October 12. We paid her a visit at her office in August, and she encouraged our initiative, which advocates more aware and more involved citizenship, particularly in support of good governance efforts in the public sector.
We really could not have asked for a better endorsement. Since she assumed office, Vice President Robredo has been widely recognized as a symbol of inclusivity and positive action. Those in the margins can look to a much better future through her five-point plan framework for public health care, hunger and food security, education, rural development, and women empowerment, which she unveiled earlier this week in the Angat Buhay Summit.
Those in power can look to an exemplar.
In the middle of all these, she has also reminded us of the importance of family. Hers is an example of how a Filipino family should love our country—simply, joyfully and together; but in difficult times, willing to lend each other to a nation in need.
It was our great honor to welcome her to the advocacy, and to hear her thoughts on how each of us can help build a better country. She articulated the need to be “a little more patriotic and a little less focused on self” and ended by saying, “Being a Good Filipino need not be done in a grandiose manner. Goodness flows from the simplest of gestures.”
We hope to find many more who can stand with us as we form stronger ties—open, inclusive, and non-partisan—for a country that deserves all of our love. Next Tuesday, October 18, there will be more dialogues about this advocacy at the Dream Philippines Fair, which features a great line-up of institutions and representatives of the public sector, private sector, youth and schools, and civil society, all wanting to do more. (The program and tickets are still available through: http://bit.ly/DreamPHFair2016.)
We look forward to another opportunity to recognize effective initiatives and ways to work together toward good governance and good citizenship.
Dr. Francisco T. Duque 3rd is the chairman of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA). He was formerly Secretary of Health and concurrently president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. To learn more about his work with ISA in civil society, visit isacenter.org.