We Are One Filipino

We Are One Filipino
Monte Carlo Hotel, Las Vegas, USA
30 April 2011

Sa ating mahal na Bise Presidente, Hon Jejomar Binay. Sa kay Tito Tony Meloto, founder and heart and soul of Gawad Kalinga. Tony Olaes, founder of WeAreOneFilipino. Sa kay kapatid na Efren Penaflorida, Jay Jaboneta at sa iba pang mga espesyal na speakers. Sa inyo pong lahat, mga kapatid at kapwa ko Pilipino – Tunay po na isang malaking karangalan para sa akin ang maimbitahan na magsalita sa harap ninyo sa napaka importantent okasyon ngayong araw. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Truly, it is my high honor to be part of the program of this wonderful event today.

I am sure many of us have come here to Las Vegas for many different reasons. But apart from the very obvious reason, I am sure that there is at least one common thing in our hearts that brought us here. From my heart to yours, I am sure we are all here today because each one of us is looking for a way how to make the Filipino a little better, a little taller, a little greater, and a little more respectable, in the eyes of our world.

LIKE ALL OF YOU, I desire respectability for the Filipino. I desire for the Filipino to be respected, not as a second class citizen to any race or specie in our world, not to white Americans, not to Japanese or Singaporeans, and definitely not to the Malaysians or Vietnamese, and definitely not as second class citizens in our own Motherland. I desire for the the Filipino to be treated, and given opportunities, in the same measure and in equal manner as any of these peoples. I desire respectability for every Filipino in every corner in every country in this world. I desire it with all of my heart. Often, I desire it more than I desire for my most favorite food. I desire it for my children. I desire it for my parents, and for my brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces. I desire respectability for the every ordinary Filipino, wherever he or she may be in the world today.

But respectability cannot be demanded from other people. It can only be earned.

Sun Tzu, author of the famous book “The Art of War”, said – “in most cases, respectability is earned only in 3 ways.

First, by achievement of something laudable, of something great. In 1986, the Filipino people earned the high respect of the world when we as a people toppled a dictator thru peaceful means, thru people power. But even this form of respectability is fleeting. Today, many in the world have already forgotten what we contributed as a people to democracy and peace.

The second way to earn respectability, according to Sun Tzu, is by prosperity. Our world respects prosperity. If you are prosperous, you will have a lot of admirers.

The third way is by honor. A person of honor is always admirable. A people who have a strong sense of honor will always have the respect of the world. Sun Tzu said honor is the foundation of true respectability.

But Sun Tzu said, if you combine honor and prosperity in a people, you earn a lasting respectability in the eyes of the world.

My dear countrymen, mga kapatid at kapwa ko Pilipino, you may be wondering why I am saying all these. The reason is simple. If we want to build a lasting respectability for the Filipino in the eyes of the world, we must build our honor as a people, and we must build prosperity in our Motherland.

This is my belief.

Unless we are able to build a wolrd-class Philippines in our Motherland, the Filipino, as a whole, as a name in the world, will never be seen as truly world-class by the world. Yes, there will be achievements here and there by some Filipinos. But they will remain as achievements by individuals, not by a people

Unless we are able to abolish poverty in our land and replace it with prosperity, unless those who have in our society learn not to leave behind those who do not have, unless the strong in our midst learns to take care of the weak in our society, unless those who have been blessed learn to be a blessing to least in our land, our Motherland will never become a world-class country, and the Filipino will never be viewed as someone world-class in the eyes of the world.

But to be able to do all this, to be able to achieve all this, we need to come together as one people, as one family as a people. We must be united. We must have unity.

This is my belief.

If we have unity, we will achieve prosperity. If we have prosperity, we will be able to achieve our common destiny, as a people and as a country.

Truly, as John F Kennedy said, “United as a people, there is little we cannot achieve. But divided as a people, there is little we can achieve.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said – “All our strength is in our unity. All our weakness is in our lack of unity”.

At this point in time, my fellow Filipinos, please let me ask this question – Why is it that many of us say that we Filipinos, as a people, have difficulty working with one another? Why is it that we are not united as a people?

Truly, this is one of the big problems we face as a people today.

Two years ago, I was in Toronto, Canada to visit my brother and his family. I learned that there were around 250,000 Filipinos in the city of Toronto alone. But I was also told by friends that, despite that number, the Filipinos there could not elect even just 1 Filipino to the City Council or parliament. Why? Because our 250,000 kababayans in Toronto are not yet united.

I heard the same story from friends in San Diego, USA, where around 300,000 Filipinos reside.

The joke that I always hear is this – that if there are 100 Filipinos in a community, expect also a hundred Filipino organizations to sprout, because each one would want to have his own organization.

Why is this so? What is the root cause of all these? Where is all this coming from?

Please let me tell you a story. I hope you will find some answers to these questions, as I do, from this story.

In 1994, Lee Kuan Yew, the father and builder of modern Singapore, was interviewed by TIME magazine. In one portion of the interview, Lee Kuan Yew was asked about the importance of culture. “How important is culture?”, he was asked.

Lee Kuan Yew said – “Culture is Destiny”. Your culture is your destiny. Your set of beliefs and habits today will determine who and what you will become 30 years later. They will determine your destiny, how successful you will be in life, how far you will go on earth. If you believe you are a failure, you will be a failure. If you believe you are great, most likely, you will be great. Lee Kuan Yew also said, culture can be improved. It can be enriched. If you want to excel, you must build a culture of excellence. If you want to become great, you must build a culture of greatness.

Lee Kuan Yew said, this principle applies not only to a person. It also applies to a people. The culture of a people will determine the future or destiny of that people.

You may wonder, how is this related to our unity or lack of unity as a people? Please let me explain.

We were a colony of Spain for 333 years, which ended only in December 1898. For 333 years, the Spaniards in our country did not treat our people kindly. In fact, they treated our people harshly, violently. At the height of its power in our country, there were just around 40,000 Spanish soldiers in our country, controlling and subjugating almost 7 million Filipinos. The Spaniards conquered and subjugated our people physically, through superior weapons. But more importantly, they conquered and subjugated the spirit of our people.

The Spaniards called our people many bad and demeaning names. They called us Juan Tamad, or lazy Joe, and made us believe that we are a lazy people. Even inside the churches, in the pulpits, the Spanish Friars called us – tanga, bobo at tamad. They ridiculed the Filipino as dumb, dull and stupid. This they did continuously, often with violence, on our people, for 333 years. Until it killed the spirit of many of our people – the spirit to fight, the spirit to aspire, the spirit to excel, the spirit to aim high and dream big.

Napoleon Bonaparte said – the best conquest is the conquest of the mind and the heart.
Saint Thomas Aquinas said – the worst form of slavery is slavery of the spirit.

To ensure that the almost 7 million Filipinos will not be united in a revolution against the 40,000 Spanish soldiers, the Spaniards sowed disunity and division among our people. They adopted the divide and conquer strategy to subjugate our people. This they did as a policy. They sowed intrigues and disunity among our people – families against families, clans against clans, provinces against provinces.

This the Spaniards did to us for more than 300 years when they colonized us.

In December 1898, when the Spaniards left our country after they sold us to the Americans, the 2 biggest problems the Spaniards left us as a people were these – first, the Filipino lost his faith in himself, his self-respect, and his self-confidence. The Filipino had a very low and negative self-image of himself. Second, many Filipinos did not trust their fellow Filipinos. Many Filipinos could not work in unity with other Filipinos.

Clearly, the Spaniards succeeded in destroying our ancestors’ faith in the Filipino, as well as in dividing and disuniting us as a people.

Today, more than 100 years after the Spaniards left our shores, these 2 big problems are still very much with us as a people.

Marami pa rin sa atin ang mababa ang tingin sa Pilipino, ang walang tiwala sa kakayahan ng kapwa niya Pilipino. Marami pa rin sa atin ang naninira sa kapwa niya Pilipino. Hanggang sa ngayon, ang kulturang umiiral pa rin sa marami sa atin ay kultural kanya-kanya lang, kulturang pami-pamilya lang, at hindi ang diwa ng pagkakaisa at pagiging isang bansa.

Most of the corrupt leaders in government and politics in our country say that they do so for their families. Many big business people in our land build empires for their fmailies, but pay very little to their employees.

Truly, there is a need – urgent and strong as ever – to rebuild ourselves culturally as a people.

There is a need to start the true healing of our hearts and our minds, so that we may eventually become one people and one nation.

There is a need to rediscover the beauty and strength within us, so we and our children may fall in love with ourselves again. So we may have faith, love and respect for the Filipino. So we may learn to love, respect and have faith in our fellow Filipinos. So we may learn to trust and work with our brethren Filipinos.

This is my belief –

It all starts with love and respect.
If there is love and respect, there will be harmony.
If there is harmony, there will be unity.
If there is unity, there will be development and prosperity.
If there is prosperity, we will be able to reach our common destiny, as a people and country.

This is the nature of man. This is natural law.

If we hope to start uniting ourselves as a people, if we hope to become one nation, the very first thing that we must do is to learn to genuinely love and respect one another, starting with the members of our household, then extending them to our neighbors. We need to listen to one another more, we need to talk to each other more, we need to find ways to reach common ground.

It is in this context that I truly and deeply admire the efforts of the group pf WeAreOneFilipino of Tony Olaes, Marcel Ocampo, and many other young Filipinos here in America, for this wonderful event today, in their desire to bring us Filipinos together, for us to learn our common history together, so we may also learn that we have one destiny as a people.

Truly, what they are doing is to help repair the brokenness of the Filipino people, to help heal the wounded spirit of the Filipino.

Truly, what they are doing is to help bring out the true beauty of the Filipino, one who is loving and caring of other Filipinos and his fellowmen.

Truly, what they are doing is to help bring out the true greatnessof the Filipino, one who is a bayani or a hero, in ordinary times or in the most trying of times, wherever he or she maybe in this vast world.

Truly, what Tony Olaes, Marcel Ocampo and the company of WeAreOneFilipino are trying to do is to help make the Filipino great and respectable in our eyes, in the eyes of our children, as well as in the eyes of the world.

BOOK –

Mga kapatid kong Pilipino, at this point in time, please let me talk about how we can apply in concrete terms our unity as a people.

One the wonderful things that I love about the marines is their attitude during battles or war – walang iwanan. No one should be left behind in the field. That’s what they are. That’s who they are.

My fellow Filipinos, there is war that is raging in our Motherland. It is the war against poverty.

For so many years now, we have been losing this war. Why? Dahil marami sa atin, kanya-kanya ang pag-iisip. Marami sa atin, nang-iiwan. Marami sa atin, hindi nakikilahok at sumasali sa giyera o laban sa kahirapan. Many of us think only of themselves and their families. Many of us leave others behind. Many of us do not even join the fightor the war against poverty.

This is my belief.

Every Filipino, wherever he or she may be in the world today, is part of the whole. Every Filipino is part of the answer, part of the solution, and part of the hope of our Motherland.

At this juncture, please allow me to present to you this new book entitled – “12 Little Things Global Filipinos Can Do To Help Our Motherland”.

This new book is intended for Global Filipinos – those Filipinos who are citizens and permanent residents of other countries, as well as Filipino contract workers working overseas.

The list of 12 little things includes specific areas where Global Filipinos can help our Philippines — like livelihood, houses, scholarships, children care, classrooms & public libraries, good governance, environment, investing in the Philippines, effective practices on how to help your family and relatives back home, and helping unite the global Filipinos.

In this book, I tried my best to make it easy for you to help our Motherland.

For instance, if you want to help create a livelihood for 1 Filipino and his family, there are ideas in the book. If you want to help build a home for 1 homeless family, or to build a classroom or public library in one remote area, there are ideas and contact organizations in the book.

Each of the chapters includes a list of NGOs, foundations, cooperatives and similar organizations that are known, credible, and performing in these specific areas, including all their contact information, for easy reference by the reader of the book.

This book will make it easier for you to help our Philippines, in the area where you want to help.

Mga kapatid kong Pilipino, many of you have been a wonderful blessing to out Motherland in the past. But God wants to use you more. God wants to continue using you wonderfully for our people and Motherland.

You are who you are because God wants you to be a blessing to this world. You are who you are today because God wants to use you as a blessing as you are. You are Filipinos because God wants you to be a blessing to the Filipino people.

The respectability of the Filipino and our Motherland tomorrow will depend on what we, her sons and daughters, do today. The respectability of our Filipino children and grandchildren tomorrow will depend on what we parents do today.

“Every little thing that we do is crucial. The little things make possible for the big things to happen.”

“Ask not what your Motherland can do for you; Ask what you can do for your Motherland.” – If I may paraphrase John F Kennedy’s famous speech line in 1960.

Mga kapatid kong Pilipino, before you leave Las Vegas, please get yourself a copy of this book, and try to see for yourself if you can do a little more for our Motherland by doing 1 or 2 little things in the book. Please also buy 1 copy and give it as a gift to your relative or friend. When you do so, you also give a gift to our country by pulling one more hand to help our Motherland.

ENDING –

I have always believed in the Filipino. I have always believed that we, as a people, have the power to build a beautiful country and a beautiful future for ourselves.

I have always believed that the Filipino is one of the most brilliant and creative minds in the world! That the Filipino has one of the most loving, generous and faithful hearts among mankind!

As a people, we are more than our archipelago of 7,107 islands. We are far richer than ll the minerals deposits in our land that make our Philippines among the richest countries in the world in terms of mineral deposits. We are far taller than all our tall mountains and hills combined. We are deeper than our Philippine Deep Sea, which is considered as the world’s deepest abyss. And our beauty is as varied as our Tubbataha Reef, which is considered as the world’s richest deposit of marine life biodiversity.

We are great. We are Filipinos. We are a beautiful people.

We must believe it. For it shall be done only according to our faith.

And only then will the world see the full measure of the beauty and greatness of the Filipino.

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

I wish that God will bless you and your family with so much more.

I wish that God will continue to use you mightily and wonderfully for our people and our Motherland.

Finally, I wish that your generation and our generation could bring the Filipino to its destiny – a future of greatness and respectability in the eyes of the world, but more importantly so, in the eyes of our children and of our Lord.

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