Extract from a speech at the University of the Philippines, Diliman
2 March 2009

I had fears that people may not accept the little things or small acts as a way of introducing change to our country, considering that it is in the nature of man to be impatient, to look for instant answers, for big solutions, for immediate change, for dramatic reform. But based on the warm reception that our people gave to the book, I could sense that there is a hunger for this kind of patriotism – a kind of heroism that parents are willing to teach their children, because it is a type of heroism that does not kill the hero. It is a kind of patriotism that finds application in our daily lives.

Maybe this is what appeals to many of our people. Our people want to help our country. They want to do something.

For instance, there was a story that came out in the front page of Philippine Daily Inquirer last February 14, 2009, Valentines Day. The story is about some 2nd year high school students of Muntinlupa Science High School in Muntinlupa City. These 2nd year high students, averaging 14 to 15 years old, also government scholars, decided to adopt 2 scholars in Palawan. Apparently, two years ago, their history teacher (Ma. Celine Callado) was able to read the book “12 Little Things” and discussed the book with the students when they just started as first year high school. The teacher challenged them to do one thing from among the 12 little things. The students decided, by a vote, to adopt 2 scholars in the province under the program of World Vision. Last year, they did all sorts of things to raise the funds to keep their 2 scholars at school. This year, for the Valentines Day, they sold flowers and chocolates at school. In addition, they offered to take the photos of the crushes of their classmates and friends, for a fee. This one became the bestseller. The students were able to raise in one day the money they would need for the whole year for their 2 scholars in Palawan.

There are other stories, of course, like the story of a rich businessman who offered to adopt 100 scholars after a talk I gave before their group in 2006. There was also the story of the franchisees association of the one of the biggest food chains in the country, which offered to adopt 2,300 scholars after one of their officers read the book. Many school and university papers have made their own versions of 12 little things – Ateneo de Manila University came up with “12 Little Things Every Atenean Can Do For Ateneo and for the Country”. St Paul College, Xavier University, Isabela State University, and Urios University made their own versions of the 12 Little Things. Many schools and universities have also included the book as required reading for their Citizenship Training courses. In some airports and highways in the provinces, there are huge posters and billboards about these 12 little things to help our country, posted by people most of whom I do not know.

We should have faith in what we are doing for our country, however small it may seem in the eyes of other people. In the last 3 years, I have seen greatness in various sizes and shapes and colors from many of our people. Many of them thought they were just doing small things. But when they performed these little things with great love and great faith, their small acts started producing big results. The little things or the small acts that we do, if performed with great faith, will slowly but surely help in bringing about the big change we all want to see in our country.