The Mayan calendar ended on December 21, 2012, suggesting that cataclysmic or transformative events would occur on or around that time. We have now officially survived the Mayans’ end-of-the-world prophecy for over a year!
Since then, the Philippines has faced a series of events that elicited a fusion of reaction from our countrymen – from shock and anguish to outrage and defiance. The past year has been one of the toughest in recent memory. Our country was devastated by natural calamities. Earthquakes shook Bohol and Cebu. Powerful storms lashed at large swaths of the Visayas. On the political stage, the pork barrel scandal rocked the nation and brought the level of public loathing for some elected officials to a new low. Over in Mindanao, the siege of Zamboanga cast a pall over peace negotiations.
Through it all, Filipinos have remained steadfast, resilient and hopeful. The youth, particularly, still feel that they can hurdle the challenges and move onward to a brighter future.
With all these catastrophes still fresh in mind, several college freshmen got together to create a list of the top 10 things that they want for the country in the coming year. Like it or not, it is our generation that will be running the country in the near future, and it is because of this that we must be aware of what is going on beyond our comfort zone. The following wishes for the new year were chosen based on the issues that we, as young citizens, feel need to be addressed.
1. We wish for more Filipinos to love and be proud of our country. The Philippines is highly visible on the international stage nowadays because of Filipinos who represent the country abroad — beauty queens, singers and athletes. When Filipinos see their kababayans competing or showcasing their talents onscreen, many show their full support because they want other countries to see the kagalingan or brilliance of the Filipino. Sadly, love for the country itself is dwindling. Due to factors that make the Philippines a Third World country (such as poverty), many people are quick to belittle our country and point out its flaws. Instead, more Filipinos need to understand that one way to show their pride is to find ways to fix these flaws. There are several ways to do so, but the most basic would be to be good citizens and to abide by the laws of the country.
2. We wish for education to be a right rather than a privilege by obtaining more funds for scholarships and subsidy for public schools (See http://budgetngbayan.com/summary-of-allocations/). It is a sad reality that a great percentage of Filipino children do not go to school because of poverty. For these children, it is a dream to even get a high school diploma. This should definitely not be the case, because education is a must in order to improve the state of the country. Last year, the Department of Education received the most out of the 2-trillion peso budget. We hope that this continues in the coming year, and that all of the money will be utilized to create more scholarships (for all levels of education) and to provide for increased subsidy for public schools.
3. We wish for people to have enough morality to choose to do what’s right and not only what’s legal. We wish that this year, people are guided by their own morality, or their own beliefs of what is right and wrong, instead of just working within what the law permits. The core of a society is its people, and this is why they should be able to make the right choices.
4. We wish for increased funding for livelihood projects. As the (overused) proverb goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This in itself explains why livelihood projects are important. These are the kinds of projects that the government should be spending on because they equip people with skills that they can utilize.
5. We wish for an increased push for vocational and technical courses instead of “glamour courses”. (See http://planetphilippines.com/migration/a-disastrous-oversupply-of-unemployable-graduates/) For quite some time now, the country has been seeing an oversupply of unemployable graduates because more students are taking up “glamour courses”, or courses for more “high-profile” careers such as nursing and hotel and restaurant management (HRM). The urgent need for in-demand careers like respiratory therapists and cardio technicians needs to be stressed, and more students need to be informed of the various opportunities that could come with taking these kinds of courses.
6. We wish for more awareness among Filipino citizens about issues such as the environment, the government, etc. With social media becoming an integral part of almost everyone’s life, it is almost impossible to be ignorant of the issues that plague our country from day to day. We say this, and yet so many people seem to stay uninformed. This coming year, we really want more people to be socially and politically aware so that they can make more informed opinions that can hopefully lead them to act on these issues.
7. We wish for a nationwide public transport system. Having an extensive public transportation would make it easier for both citizens and tourists to go to and from places. It would be nice if we could emulate the public transportation system (trains) of Japan and Europe, where a web of trains can take people to different provinces. Extending our current rail lines such as the MRT and LRT could help in achieving this. Improving the trains we currently have (and adding to them as well) would help make it a long term thing.
8. We wish for the public to make more informed choices during elections. This could be done through public discussions of issues during the election campaign (media could spearhead such move). If people were more aware of the issues, they would be more likely to vote for someone based on their belief systems, and not based on who the lesser evil is. The election of more highly qualified officials would contribute to a more stable democracy, one that is more dependent on the quality of its institutions rather than the officials elected at present. This system would indirectly contribute to all the other stated wishes.
9. We wish for proper relocation of the slums, better urban planning (exclusive to designers/urban planners licensed in the field) and planning for communities/provinces in light of increased risk from natural disasters. Originally, we wished for the relocation schemes currently being carried out in the country to be improved, and for our cities to be better planned in order to solve the awful traffic situation. This wish was modified in light of the recent typhoon Yolanda that hit areas in the Visayas region. Most of the towns that were hit hard, such as Tacloban, Leyte, and Guiuan, Samar, are almost completely wiped out. Though it is unfortunate that so many people lost their homes, this also comes as an opportunity to rebuild these areas in a way that addresses the risks posed by various natural disasters.
10. We wish for more Filipinos to open their eyes to the need for gender sensitivity, female empowerment and LGBT awareness. There are common misconceptions that we really wish would change in people’s minds — the downplayed role of women in society, the lack of opportunities for women job-wise especially in business leadership, and the misogynistic culture that still prevails to this day. Honestly, we have a long way to go before women’s rights in the Philippines truly become realized. The controversy over the Reproductive Health Law and the Divorce Bill says a lot about the rights women are expected to have. The same is true for members of the LGBT community, who are put in boxes and given predetermined roles in society (hairdressers, comedians) and are also deprived of rights as human beings.
Compiled by Gaby Gloria
Contributors: Olivia Villanueva (Ateneo de Manila University), Patricia Perez (University of the Philippines), Rocco Ongsiako (De-La Salle University), BP Valenzuela (ADMU), Camille Cervantes (UP), Miguel Gana (ADMU), and Gio Gloria (DLSU)