"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

A Cause Greater than Ourselves

Thirty years ago, I left my beloved Philippines disheartened that our country was still under Martial Law and the voice of democracy silenced by the corrupt Marcos regime. I carried with me the sad memories of the failed struggle to bring genuine democratic reforms and the martyrdom of countless men and women who offered their lives and lost their freedom so that tyranny would not prevail. Never giving up hope, I embark on a journey to achieve the American dream so that when the fruits of hard labor became a reality, I can come back to share the blessings to my fellow Filipino People.

Several decades later, with the blessing of the Divine Providence and the guiding support of my hardworking and dedicated wife, that dream has now been realized. I have reached the peak of my career where I have received the respect of the medical community in the treatment of the mentally ill. We have raised four wonderful children who have done well in their chosen careers. Yet despite these successes, there has been an increasing longing on my part to serve the land of my birth and the reservoir of many happy and sad memories. The calling has been more profound after seeing our country continuing to decline, beset with corruption at all levels of society and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

I recalled a man who on August 21, 1983 came back home after 10 years of imprisonment and exile with a vision of restoring democracy and social justice. He was a man of great courage who made a journey back home despite the fear that death awaited him. He counseled those fears with the belief the Filipinos are worth dying for. On that day when he set foot on our soil, his dream was cut short, gunned down by the cowardly assassins of the corrupt regime. This Filipino hero was Ninoy Aquino. His brutal and tragic death brought tears to my eyes and profound grief to our nation.

Three years later, the courage and resolve of our people to the repressive hardship and through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Marcos dictatorship was overturned and democracy finally restored.

Twenty years after the People's Revolution, the dream of a just, caring and peaceful society became more out of reach. Corruption has infiltrated all levels of our society that a great majority of our people have become cynical, questioning the value of honesty and fairness. Poverty continues to rise with the poor being exploited by political leaders who offer no sustainable program to pull them out of their misery. The middle class under heavy burden of taxes is gradually eroding.

The expanded economic growth which the current and prior governments see as their crowning achievement is not felt by most of our people. Sadly, the recent rise in our economic growth is the product of the blood, sweat, and tears (hard work) of our fellow Filipinos who go abroad to find jobs that can give food and decent shelter to their suffering families. However, the price of such sacrifice has been too steep.

Families are dislocated with broken homes and broken hearts. Some spouses due to feelings of loneliness and absence of companionship became unfaithful. Some children left behind become defiant, quit school, and resort to alcohol and drug abuse. Countless domestic workers have been abused, mistreated, raped, and even killed.

Tragically, our politicians from both sides continue to offer no comprehensive solutions to out nation's ills. They continue to present the same failed solutions by placing their hopes in one leader yet that leader has no clear vision and integrity is in question. It is in this spirit that our nation needs to be awakened and that our people need to make a stand. Enough is enough. Change is now and by all. While we need to make great efforts to elect public officials who have integrity, honesty, and competence, we also need to transform ourselves. We need to have a movement that addresses the ills of our society and place the major responsibility in each and everyone of us to find the solutions.

The corruption that is now endemic in our government is a product of unchecked executive power since the birth of our Republic with too much authority in the control of the executive branch of the government. We need to place more authority in our provincial and city governments where there can be better access for transparency and accountability. Such accountability can be further enhanced by creating provincial assemblies so that there will be an adequate representation from small towns and cities.

We need to also examine our legislative and judicial systems. Instead of engaging in blame and finger pointing ,we need to find common ground to make the legislative and judicial branches be more effective and relevant to the needs of our people. We need to lessen the burden of the Supreme Court by allowing the lower courts to have finality on issues that are not national scope in nature. We need to ask all sectors of our society; the business community, the labor unions, the military, the mass media, and the Catholic Church to transform themselves into institutions that speak the truth, seek truth and justice with courage and have their governance be also subjected to the same accountability and transparency that we demand of our government.

We need to ask ourselves whether we are poor or rich, Christian or Muslim, Chinoy or Malay, on how we can build a better society along the principles of compassion and fairness devoid of any prejudice whether it be race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. We need to make a concerted effort to keep human life sacred and the pursuit of any goal must be achieved through non-violence.

We need to dedicate our lives to transform this nation into a nation that cares for one another. We need to uplift poverty from our society through basic education,adequate health care and job creation so we can have genuine economic prosperity. It is for these reasons that we need a movement that calls for renewal of our FAITH. First with our God, by having a living commitment to His 2 great Commandments, but also the belief that we have the capacity and resiliency to solve our nation's ills.

We need to have an honest reassessment of our social and cultural values that hinder our growth and maturity as a nation. We need to examine and address the ill effects of distorted values such as, 'utang na loob', 'hiya', and 'bahala na' that take away virtues of initiative, honesty and righteousness in our lives.. It is a movement that challenges every one of us to seek growth on a higher level whatever position we hold or whatever sector we belong to. The poor has to find ways to free themselves from dependency and apathy. The wealthy should share their blessings through supporting programs that will have significant impact to relieve illiteracy, malnutrition, preventable diseases and poverty in our country. The press needs to be more vigilant in pursuing the truth and to remove from its ranks members that use their leverage of communication to gain personal favors and money.

The Church needs to continue support for the vulnerable and the poor but in doing so, makes concerted efforts to devoid itself from politics, respect the separation of church and state, and initiate transparency and accountability in all sectors starting with its own. The movement is called FAITH Philippines. FAITH stands for faith, accountability, integrity, transformation and hope. It will strive for these goals, as well as advocate for our children, addressing the issues of malnutrition, preventable diseases and illiteracy. It will seek for the protection, respect, and safety of our domestic workers. The guiding principle of this movement is respect for human life and human rights and that resolution of differences are accomplished through dialogue and respect for each other.

I know the task is difficult if not overwhelming. I know the skeptics and cynics will find such goals impossible to achieve. However with the help of our God, the love for our fellowmen, and resiliency of our people, we will overcome the insurmountable obstacles. With a renewed sense of hope and sustained commitment, we will have a just and compassionate society.

By: Jessy A. Ang, M.D.,
Faith Philippines
Founder and Convenor,
Global Filipino Nation

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