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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why I am staying in the Philippines (1)

I received this email with an attached forwarded message a couple of days ago. It's subject read: What will make me leave the Philippines ... An Open Letter to Every Filipino so I opened it ahead of everything else. The contents were compelling enough for me to write a response soon after I read it.

I'm posting the letter of Mr. Harvey Keh and then my response to his letter.

Dear Fellow Filipino,

Good day to all of you! Before I begin my letter... just a disclaimer, for people who know me they know that I love the Philippines very much and I am not really one who rants and complaints to high heavens about what is happening to our country and does nothing about it, in fact, I feel that at my relatively young age of 27, I have done much service to the Philippines by setting up Pathways to Higher Education which has sent more than 500 poor but deserving students to college and AHON Foundation which has already built two public elementary school libraries that have benefittedmore than 3,500 students. Yet, after seeing how events in our nation havetranspired the past few weeks and talking with some friends, I feel the urge to share with you my own thoughts and feelings.

Over the weekend, we saw the completion of two major political alliances for this coming Senate Elections that has just began here in thePhilippines . Now we have two political forces with familiar faces nonetheless on opposite sides of the fences. On one end, you have Tito Sotto and Tessie Aquino-Oreta who were two major stalwarts of the opposition and the FPJ Campaign in 2004 hobnobbing with the woman (Pres. GMA) whom they claimed to have cheated FPJ in the last Presidential Elections. On the other side of the fence, you see Manny Villar, the former House speaker who was actually responsible for impeaching Erap now part ofthe United Opposition who is led by no less than... Erap himself. Now if you don't see anything wrong with this picture then you must be one of the many Filipinos who have accepted this very sad reality that there is indeed no permanent ideals that our government leaders stand up for but ratherthey just go where there self-interests can best be served. It is this kind of politics why I no longer wonder why good people like Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City or outstanding Bulacan Governor Josie Dela Cruz will find it hard or worse, never be elected to national positions.

It is with these in mind that I'd like to share with you what are events this coming May elections that will make me consider leaving the Philippines :

1.) If former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of Hello Garci famewins in his bid to become Congressman of Bukidnon... seeking to replace a good man no less in incumbent Cong. Neric Acosta... We would really be the laughing stock of the whole world if we allow a man with the reputation of Garci to be one of our so called "Honorable Gentlemen".

2.) If Dancing Queen Tessie Aquino Oreta reclaims her seat at the Senate...I hope that all of us would still remember that dance that she did during the 2001 impeachment hearings after they voted to overrule the decision of then Chief Justice Davide... let us make sure that people like her nevermake it to the Senate again.

3.) If Richard Gomez becomes a senator... what does he know about making laws? We already have the likes of Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid in the Senate and their performance or lack of it would be reason enough not to elect another actor who has no prior experience in government to the distinguished halls of the Senate.

4.) If Gringo Honasan wins again.... have we not learned our lesson? I cannot believe that just because someone is charismatic then we will justelect him to become one of our senators despite the fact that he has time and again caused so much instability in our country... if we want a military junta similar to that of Thailand ... then lets all vote for this guy...

5.) If Manny Pacquiao becomes Congressman of General Santos City...everybody loves Manny the Boxing Champ but Manny the Lawmaker? Lets be realistic here, Manny is our Hero alright but I think it takes more than just great boxing skills and a desire to serve to be able to make appropriate laws that would help uplift the lives of the many Filipinos who live in Poverty.

6.) If Lito Lapid wins for Mayor of Makati City... I don't like Jojo Binay as well but Lito Lapid as city mayor of the country's finance and business center?!?! And do you really think he is from Makati and has good plans forthe city? The Arroyos asking someone like him to run just goes to show you how much love and concern this government has for our country.

7.) If Chavit Singson becomes a Senator, Illegal Gambling = Chavit...enough said.

Now if all of these 7 things happen during this coming elections then don'tbe surprised if I decide to leave this country that I love dearly. Like I said during the first part of my letter, I feel that I have done much forthis country but I think its time that Filipinos become more vigilant and critical in selecting our leaders for the sake of our future and the generations that will go beyond us. So I appeal to every Filipino who asks what can I actually do for my country...

Choose and vote for the right people this coming elections, huwag na tayong magpaloko sa mga kandidatong maganda lang ang jingle o gwapo lang sa mga poster. Let us choose leaders who have a good track record for service and who are genuinely committed towards serving our country. Manindigan naman tayong lahat para sa ating Kinabukasan at para sa Kapakanan ng ating Bayan!

Thank you very much for your time in reading this letter.

Harvey S. Keh
Email: harveykeh@gmail. com

My response:

Dear Mr. Keh,

Thank you for converting into words very succinctly the fears and worries of many like-minded Filipinos who love their country (some of whom love the latter more than their own families and their own lives). It is true that a seemingly dire future awaits all of us should these "undesirable" candidates do get to be elected. And since we are plagued with the slooooow process of evolving into a better electorate, chances are great that what you fear will become reality.

My appeal to you, if I may be so brazen, is this: if indeed, these undesirable candidates do get elected, please stay. You have more reasons to stay than leave. If clowns who make a mockery of people's lives and interests get to seat in the arena of power, then the ordinary people at the grassroots level should all the more band together and effect the change which may be slow in coming because of them.

Staying doesn't mean we condone and turn a blind eye to the inept government we have. It is actually because of our realization that the government IS inept that we choose and we will choose to stay: imagine, young people such as yourself, doing government's work of sending people to university or building libraries in underserved areas. If we bailout, just as the holes in this seemingly sinking ship start to gape wider, it somehow negates all the good that we have done and robs us of the great opportunityto be of service to more Filipinos.

I come from a middle class family where all my siblings and both my parents have to work for us to make ends meet. I am a 27-year old physician doing work with an NGO while teaching in a medical school within a state university. I can very well choose to join the mass exodus of health professionals towards greener pastures. The honoraria I receive from both "jobs" hardly pay the bills but I choose to stay because I believe that for this country to rise from poverty and its state of broken-ness, a generation must be willing to think less of themselves, give more for others, so that there will be enough for all. I believe you and I and a whole host of other kindred spirits are willing to take up the cudgels for our country.

I join you in your crusade for a better Philippines, starting with responsible voting. But regardless of the outcome of the elections, please stay. The country needs all of us right here, right now.

God bless us all. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!


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