Import #1 from my My Space: Commentary on the 10 Years Since the End of Apartheid in S. Africa

Because my little sister (only lately) asked to be added to my My Space friends list, I had the chance to revisit the thing and remembered I made three entries in its blog area. Here’s the second one (the first was just an intro entry):


Saturday, April 24, 2004, 9:26 am

South Africa 10 years after Apartheid: Parallax to the Philippines

It’s all over CNN: South Africa is celebrating 10 years of freedom.

I just caught a special report on the freedoms now taken for granted in S. Africa, like freedom of the press, a right guaranteed in their consti as much as ours. Prior to that, there was another presentation on the road to equality and freedom. Of particular note was their truth commission. I guess what struck me was the level of… closure the S. Africans as a people were able to derive from that exercise. Suffice to say, it has been considered quite effective in healing the wounds of a nation torn apart by a creed based on color.

Which leaves me to wonder: where have we gone wrong?

Of course, I’m not naive to think that those 10 years of freedom are picture-perfect. Even now, there is still much disparity between blacks and whites in the country, albeit mostly economical.

So what have we been doing wrong? Two EDSAs and neraly a decade later and it seems like we’ve not only lagged behind… but leapt backward. Way backward.

It’s so easy to say that our leaders have led us astray. It is now a common belief in moderate civil society that all our present problems have their roots on Proclamation 1081. Arguably, that’s true: Martial Law has horribly scarred the noble Filipino psyche. Then, intense politicking immediately after EDSA I further decimated the political landscape. It all reached a head with the Estrada regime, culminating in the second EDSA.

Now, especially with the elections just over a 2 weeks away, you regularly hear EDSA being bandied about, either as an affirmation or a tool of rejection. A political leader has either lived up to the promises of EDSA… or betrayed them.

To me, it actually beggars the question. True, the fate of a nation hangs in the hands of those few in a position to tilt it to one position or another. History is filled with individuals who have changed the courses of whole nations,and sometimes more than one nation. Nelson Mandela is one, joining, even while alive, an elite group in human history that includes Ghandi or Lincoln or Rizal.

But how much can one man truly achieve? Revolutions, whether the literl kind or the metaphorical one, is never about one man going rambo. Revolutions are about people realizing that that one man’s dream is THEIR dream, about a people realizing that it is in their hands to transform that dream into reality so they can forget the nightmare they are in.

I’ve often heard foreigners ask with thinly-disguised incredulity how such a noble, skilled and gifted race as the Filipino is where it is right now. Sometimes, I find myself asking that, followed by the question on why am I wasting all these years serving a people that doesn’t seem to CARE whether everything falls apart around them. Sometimes, I think, that the Filipino has been in adversity all his racial life that he’s forgotten how to excell in peace and quiet.

It’s US that’s the problem. US as a people. We’ve changed the world many times over and yet we’re the basket case of the most rapidly growing region on the planet, when just over forty years ago we were just second to Japan.

Was Mar Roxas that right when he said we’ve become a nation of incrementalists? That we’ve forgotten how it is to think big, to dream big?

I watch as South Africans relate their stories about the last ten years. What I find as the common theme among the myriad tales is one of idealism: the country and the people’s welfare must come first. Freedom and equality was MADE to work by the South Africans. They fought hard for it, now they strive so hard to make its dream become a reality.

Where are the Filipinos? How many look to foreign shores for a better life rather than staying here and trying to make things work? How many people bitch and gripe about the system when they themselves breach it at every turn? How many Filipinos think about the welfare of their neighbors and their country on a regular basis?

It’s so… annoying it hurts: a literate people with access to the latest educational systems, the highest technology, and the skills and gumption to use them. A felxible people, amiable and brilliant and agressively competitve. A people that is religious, generous, ethical at its core

Yet we’re a basket case.

Maybe… Maybe it’s time the Filipino people looked REAL hard at the man in the mirror. Before its too late.

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