Building the Filipino Spirit

Building the Filipino Spirit
Bantayog Center, Diliman, QC
6 June 2011

To all dreamers of a better Philippines, to all seekers of a beautiful future for our people, to all of you, my brothers and sisters in the National Transmission Corporation family . . .

I speak before you today with so much faith in the Filipino, with so much faith and confidence in ourselves as a people, that we Filipinos have the power within us, as a people, to eventually find the answer to the many questions in our country, to eventually find the solution to the many problems in our nation, and that we will eventually be able to bring our people and our nation to the path of progress and prosperity.

I firmly believe that we Filipinos, as a people, have within us the same powerful spirit that moved the Americans of yesterday to build their America of today, the same powerful spirit that moved the Koreans of the 1960s and 70s to build their South Korea of today. We Filipinos, as a people, have within us the same powerful spirit that moved our neighbour Singaporeans and Malaysians of yesterday to build the kind of countries they have for themselves today.

I firmly believe that the Filipino possesses deep within himself the same powerful spirit. The Filipino is no less great than these peoples. The Filipino is as great as any of the great peoples in the world!

Today, please let me talk to you about this spirit – this power from within.

There is an old Chinese saying that goes – “You will only be as great as the spirit that lives within you.”

This spirit could be found in a person. It could be found in a family, or in a group, in an army, or in a people.

In a person, we usually refer to it as the person’s passion, or determination, or burning desire. For instance, many boxing analysts say that Manny Pacquiao is different from other boxers because of his discipline, his determination to practice more, his burning desire to learn more, to perfect his plan and his execution. This discipline emanates or springs from something deeper within – a powerful spirit that is within Manny Pacquiao.

Two weeks ago, when I received the invitation to speak to you today from Linda De Guzman, I was actually in New York, launching and promoting my new book. I was on my way to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, to join my wife and kids for a short vacation.

When my family and I were at the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld, I went to a Hall that showed a 20-minute video entitled “The Spirit of America”. The film was a pleasant surprise to me. In that video, they showed the spirit of the great Americans of yesteryears – in fighting for liberty and equality, in fighting for the kind of America their Founding Fathers dreamt for the American people. They showed those Americans who, despite their many problems, pursued new ideas that changed and brought science and technology to completely different levels; those Americans who pioneered great inventions that changed how the world lived, among many others. Truly, it was one of the best videos about the spirit of a people that I had ever seen in my whole life. It was one of the most effective tools for indoctrination, morale-boosting, and patriotism-seeding that I had ever watched.

There was a line in that film that I could not forget. It goes like this – “Only if this spirit of greatness remains with us, that we can remain to be great! Fly high sons and daughters of America! Continue to fly high in the sky!”

They refer to this spirit as the spirit of greatness – the spirit to dare and to be bold; the spirit to seek for new frontiers and pursue new ideas that could change the world for the better; the spirit to aim high and to dream big; the spirit to conquer the sky and to do great things.

They call this as the “Spirit of America.”

Believe me, if you were an American watching that 20-minute film, you would come out of the mini-theatre definitely proud and happy as an American.

I believe that this spirit of greatness is also within us Filipinos as a people, residing deep in each one of us. But whether that spirit is alive or dormant is another matter we should try to answer.

But before I go there, let me share with you another story.

When I was in the US for the whole of May last month, I read this book entitled “Start-up Nation: The story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”, written by Dan Senor. Israel is just 64 years old as a country, with almost zero natural resources, with around 7.3 million people, located in the Middle East, surrounded by countries that want to obliterate Israel from the face of the earth. But despite all these handicaps, Israel today is one of the richest economies in the world, with more companies listed in the Nasdaq (the world’s stock exchange) than those all of Europe, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Singapore combined. The Jews in the world are among the wealthiest today. So what are the secrets to Israel’s economic miracle?

Dan Senor, the book author, said there are intangible factors that are very important that created this economic miracle in Israel. One of these intangible factors, he says, is the spirit among Israeli people. Dan Senor observes that among Israelis today, their people’s love for their family is normal and natural. You can see it and you can feel it. But their people’s love for their country is also as normal and natural as their love for their families. Dan Senor says it is almost 50-50. Their love for their family and country is almost 50-50, 50% for their family and 50% for their country. With that formula, with that equation, they are able to ensure the survival of both, the survival of their family as well as the survival of their country Israel, which as we all know is surrounded in the middle east by countries that want to obliterate Israel from the face of the earth.

The spirit among them, or the culture of the people in Israel, is that they love their family and their country in equal measure. While they promote their business, they also promote their country.

This is a spirit of greatness, the same spirit that I saw in the film – “The Spirit of America”.

This is the same spirit of greatness that the Japanese people showed after World War II. After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which killed a combined number of almost 120,000 Japanese people within a month after the bombing, the Japanese showed the same fervor for their families and country. Their love for their family and for their country stood almost in equal measure, at 50-50, 50% for their family, and the other 50% for their country, although there were so many stories about some Japanese who showed greater love by sacrificing more for their country. The story of SONY, the world-famous company that produces electronic gadgets for the world market, the story of how it was founded is a prime example of this great love for their country. SONY was founded by a group of soldiers who served and fought during World War II. After WWII, when Japan was defeated, they became depressed. When the founded SONY, the vision they crafted for the company was not for wealth or money, but to make the Japanese respectable in the world again thru the quality of their products. It was their love for their country that moved and motivated them to elevate their works and products to perfection, to excel in the world market.

You may be wondering why I chose this topic in my speech with you today.

I am a great believer of the Filipino

Let me say it very clearly – I am a great believer of the Filipino.

I believe that the Filipino is as beautiful and as perfect as God created him, because God created him as His child, out of His perfect love.

I believe that the Filipino is as great as any other people on earth, no less than the Americans, the British or the French, or the Japanese or the Singaporeans.

I believe that the Filipino has the power, within him and around him, to build for himself and his people, a beautiful future in a beautiful country where God planted Him.

But we have to awaken that great spirit deep within us. For adults, for the young once like you and me, we have to awaken from deep slumber that great spirit that I believe is inside each one of us. For our children and the youth of our land, we have to develop and feed that spirit so it may become a great spirit for our country and people someday.

The question that we must ask now is this – how should we do it?

How do we develop and feed that spirit of greatness among our children, among our youth, so someday the same spirit of greatness would make them patriots and heroes for our country? How do we feed patriotism in the hearts and minds of our youth? As for the adults and young once, how do we inspire and remind our people about the nobility of the Filipino and greatness of our being as a people?

I am sure there are many ways how to do it.

But today, I have only one idea to suggest.

As I mentioned earlier, I was in the US for the whole month of May, promoting my new book in LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Florida. In those times that I was free and not promoting my new book, I visited the museums in these States. When I was in Chicago, I visited the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Museum in Springfield, Illinois. When I was in New York, I visited the George Washington Museum. When I was in Washington DC, I visited the FDR Memorial Park, the Lincoln Memorial Park, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Park, as well as the American History Museum. In all these museums and memorial parks, they keep on talking about this greatness of spirit of the great Americans – leaders, inventors, artists, writers, activists. You would not miss it. You can feel it.

Right there and then, I realized the important role these museums and memorial parks play in the life of the American nation.

They help develop and mold that spirit of greatness among their students and youth.

These museums and memorial parks water and nourish that spirit of greatness among their people. At the very least, they are a very good reminder of the who they are, of what they are, of what their country America is all about, of what their founding fathers and leaders fought for and dreamt for all American people.

(Unfinished portion – do an Impromptu delivery)

You and NPC could be that instrument to awaken the spirit of greatness among the Filipino people!

I love being a writer

Before I end my speech, please allow me to say this.

I once dreamt of becoming a military officer, so I studied at the Philippine Military Academy or PMA in Baguio City. But apparently, God does not want me to be a soldier, so He took me out from PMA and brought me to UP Diliman. While in UP Diliman, I dreamt to become a lawyer, and I did become a lawyer, finishing at the UP College of Law and eventually taking a summer course at Harvard Law School. But I was not happy being a lawyer. Then, at the age of 40, I dreamt of becoming a writer, a book author. So in 2005, I wrote one and became a book author. Today, I tell you, I am happy being a book writer. In the last 3 years, I have not been much of a lawyer, as I spend almost all of my time as a writer, and sharing the message of my book. Today, I brought 2 books for you – the first was the one I wrote in 2005 entitled “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country”. That book is intended and very appropriate for Filipinos here in our country; the second book is entitled “12 Little Things Global or Overseas Filipinos Can Do To Help Our Motherland”. I wrote that book 2 months ago, and it is intended and very appropriate for Filipinos living or working overseas. That book contains a list of 12 simple ideas on how Filipinos abroad can help our Philippines, wherever they maybe in the world today. I launched and promoted that book last month of May in New York, Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, Washington DC and Florida. If you have relatives or friends who live or work abroad, please consider this book as your gift to them. When you give that book as a gift to them, you also give a gift to our country. Truly, each one of us is part of the answer and part of the solution. Truly, every Filipino is part of the hope of our nation, wherever he or she maybe in our archipelago or in the world.

My 3 wishes for all of you

Before I conclude my speech, let me bid you with 3 wishes –

I wish that God will use Rotary Philippines, its vast network and tremendous resources included, in a mighty way, to build a beautiful future and a beautiful country for our people.

I wish that all of you from National Transco, all your officers and members, would be used by God in a wonderful and powerful way, so that in our time, your generation and our generation could bring the Filipino to its destiny, the destiny that God wants us to achieve – a life of prosperity and dignity for every Filipino in the land and country where God planted him.

Finally, I wish that God will grant all the dreams and desires of your heart, and may the Lord bless you and your family with so much more.

God bless all of you, mga kapatid ko.
Pagpalain nawa kayo ng puong-Maykapal.
Mabuhay po ang Pilipino!