IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 14 of a series)
By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN
Founder, Buklod National Political Party
In the earlier parts of this Commentary Series, I dwell on the more important reforms and actions that the government must do to make the lives of the Filipino people much better, achieve higher economic growth and improve public governance.
To help achieve all these goals and maintain and sustain such achievements, it is necessary that the Filipino people themselves imbibe some essential cultural values that we still have yet to acquire.
The first among these values is giving respect to the rights of others. We tend to assert strongly our own rights but conveniently forget that the fellow citizens we live with have also the same rights.
When we break into a waiting line, we are blatantly ignoring the rights of others. When we drive against the flow of the traffic, we are creating danger and inconvenience to others and delaying their own travel. There are many occurrences of disrespect to others like these in our daily lives.
If we are able to inculcate in ourselves this trait of respecting the rights of others, we can create not only a more cohesive society, but also a more orderly and therefore efficient nation.
Maintaining cleanliness in our physical surroundings is another cultural trait that we must acquire. It makes living in our community pleasant and will help keep us healthy. This means we must avoid throwing unneeded things around and keep rivers and other bodies of water clean. Doing so will also save us the cost of cleaning our environment if it is otherwise.
Punctuality is also an important behavioral trait. This applies not only when going to work or school, but also in many other human activities, like attending a business or social meeting; going to an appointment to meet with another person; and meeting an obligation on the date and time promised. Punctuality makes doing work and carrying on our daily lives more efficient by saving time. It also gives respect to others for not keeping them waiting.
Doing one’s work with a strong desire to produce the best result, whether it is a material object or service and whether it is for commerce or private use—to produce or create something to perfection, if you will—is a cultural trait we must acquire. Our vocabulary abounds with the term “puede na”. The consequence of this tendency clearly shows in the things that we produce and create in our daily lives. They generally are wanting in good quality–in workmanship, substance and form.
We must erase that term from our language and replace it permanently with “pulido”. If we do, we can be more competitive in our own marketplace and abroad; and produce beautiful things that we ourselves and others will admire.
If I were the next President, one of the first things I will do is to take steps in acculturating the foregoing values and other similar traits in our society and make them ingrained among the present and future generations.
Initially, I will make a formal announcement about this endeavour. Subsequently, I will reiterate to everyone to embed these traits in themselves during the regular periodic radio and television broadcasts I plan to hold. Additionally, I will get the appropriate government agency to produce materials propagating these values and present them in regular radio and television programming. These activities will continue until the desired results start to become evident.
Similarly, I will require the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education to prepare appropriate materials for providing learning and practice of these traits at every school and college level in Year 1 of implementation.
In addition, I will also require DepEd to prepare the necessary materials for permanently teaching and demonstrating these cultural values in the form of regularly conducted study courses at the appropriate elementary school and high school levels.
Moreover, to the extent that there are laws that may help develop these values, I will use police powers and the barangay system to enforce them. For example, I shall get anti-littering laws enforced strictly by the cities and municipalities. And so with dismantling obstructions in sidewalks that are used for personal comfort or commerce. Doing so will provide convenience to the general public by using the sidewalks and avoid danger when they use the streets instead.
Altogether, I will engage the city and municipal mayors to keep their respective geographical area clean and their rivers and other bodies of water practically free from pollution.
The overriding objective is to inculcate continuously these desirable cultural values in our society and make these values as part of the Filipino character.
I will continuously emphasize to our citizens that they have their own responsibilities and obligations to fulfill to help make the Philippines not only economically well-developed, but also a more enjoyable and pleasant country to live in.
Yes, we will get our citizens to be actively involved in the pursuit of national happiness and economic wealth.
Benjamin R. Punongbayan, Founder of the Buklod National Political Party, is an experienced and successful public accounting practitioner who started the Punongbayan & Araullo accounting firm 33 years ago.