Reflecting on what the Philippines can be: A Discussion on Good Governance

On August 20, 2021, WeGen’s Social Transformation Department in close coordination with the Human Resource Department and the Employee Engagement Committee held the first of a planned series of reflection/discussion activities on good governance.

The Bawat Isa Mahalaga (B1M) movement for national transformation was invited to give direction to the discussions, and the head of its voter’s education program Tamang Kandidato 2022 Pastor Caloy Dino was the lead facilitator.

Pastor Caloy is a Christian advocate for good governance and social transformation and well-experienced in mentoring and equipping youth leaders for social good. He has 15 years of experience in senior leadership in Christian non-profit organizations.

As for the B1M, it was founded in 2018 by former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno with the support of various churches, faith-based organizations, cause-oriented groups, and like-minded individuals with the aim to pursue national transformation along godly lines.

As Pastor Caloy explained, organizations working with B1M have pledged to stay the course on a path that values humanity and honors God.

“We aim to help in efforts to address the nation’s problems; we all want to create a better society for the next generation. We commit to love our country and work for her welfare until it has attained its destiny as a blessed nation,” he said.

Policies Guided by Principles and Love of Country

The Social Transformation initially conceived of the plan to launch a campaign on voters’ education as a reaction to the different developments-- specifically the worsening global climate emergency and in the Philippines, the continuing barriers to the popularization of renewable energy, especially solar energy and the attendant environmental and social issues that come with them.

The ST Team asked themselves, “How can changes be made, how can social transformation and ecological conversion take place if we do not inform the largest number of people about the necessity for them? And if and when we have succeeded in doing this, what will happen if our government leaders do not support genuine social transformation efforts that aim to help both people and the environment?”

It was then agreed that WeGen—through its ST Department – will do its small but sincere part to help the Filipino public analyze current social developments and to encourage them to be the ones to demand changes in government. This is how this voter’s education campaign came about.

“The issues of human rights – economic, civil, and political -- and environmental rights – the rights to clean water, air, and a thriving ecology -- are intertwined, and citizens must demand these rights be observed and respected by government. Can this happen if our government leaders from the barangay level and up are corrupt, or indifferent to the issues of the climate emergency, ecological degradation, and worsening human rights?” they said. “We need to elect leaders who are more responsive to all these issues and concerns.”

Reflecting on the Preamble of the Constitution

The activity was primarily meant to be a reflection session. Pastor Caloy began the session by reading the Preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and called attention to the fact that it emphasizes the sovereignty of the Filipino people, and the affirmation of the Philippines being a nation led by the Almighty. He also called attention to specific words in the Preamble itself, among them “love.” This, he said, is something that makes the 1987 Philippine Constitution unique among all others in the world.

The rest of the activity was comprised of three breakout sessions wherein the participants – some 59 WeGen employees and officials – reflected on the Preamble, guided by questions about what it says about the Filipino identity, the current plight of the country and its problems, and finally about what the potential for progress, peace, and justice there is if only the country’s leaders abided by what is stated in even the Preamble alone.

On the whole, the reflections from the participants were very insightful and as some said, inspiring.

The different groups said that the Filipinos should remember and reaffirm their belief in God and make sure that they are guided by what God represents – goodness, faith, love – when choosing the candidates, they will support in the May 2022 elections.

They also said that that if only government leaders and elected officials would be true to what is stated in the Preamble, they can be better leaders and serve with honesty, eschewing corruption. From the discussion of one group, the participants said, “Filipinos should follow the rule of law and the Constitution. We have the responsibility to have discernment in voting for the right leaders for our country. The preamble also states that we Filipinos are the foundation of our country, and we must do what we can to have justice, equality, peace, prosperity in society.”

Some of the words in the Preamble that stood out for many of the participants are “Love”, “Sovereignty” “Democracy”, and the phrase “Common Good.” As one of the participants said, “If there is love, respect and peace will follow. The country will not be in chaos, there are no conflicts, and all are equal.”

Pastor Caloy also asked the participants to discuss what they thought the country’s problems are, and this is a discussion that revealed that WeGen employees are not at all indifferent to the issues affecting society. As expected, everyone is concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic and the problems it had created, (joblessness, overflowing hospitals, overworked healthworkers, closed businesses) as well as the problems it exposed when it comes to different government leaders’ responses and solutions to the pandemic.

The biggest problem – everyone agreed – was deep-seated and widespread corruption in different levels of government. To address this, participants said, the country must have leaders who will put the welfare of Filipinos first.

As one group said, “Good leaders are those who serve the people first before thinking about themselves. With leaders who promote love, equality, freedom, patrimony, justice, and peace, Filipinos can achieve a better understanding with each other and work together to solve our country’s problems.”

Rekindling Love of Country and Hope

In the end, the reflection/discussion was a meaningful success for all the participants. As written by WeGen’s Vice President, Investor Relations and Financial Planning Josaias T. dela Cruz (Sir Jody):

“When I saw this activity in my calendar, I really did not expect much, as I thought I wouldn’t learn anything new about voting; I thought this session would probably benefit the young, new voters more.

What I did not expect was that our reading aloud the Preamble of our Constitution would refresh the sense of ardent nationalism and the idealism that I have held since my youth.

I did not expect that the fires of patriotism will quickly be rekindled in this heart that has seen many a season of movements and counter-movements, of exciting upheavals and disappointing downturns.

I saw and felt from the discussions among the participants of all ages, that we continue to uphold the same values and that we all still aspire for a future built on the virtues of our Creator.

All this despite the disillusionment wrought by many leaders and the systemic corruption built over the years.

After the pictures were taken and the participants had all left, I found the tears welling up, as hope sprang anew in my soul.

Please thank Pastor Caloy for affording us this unexpected privilege. If only all Filipinos can be given this same opportunity, then the future of the Country that we all dream about will indeed be bright.”

The next reflection on awakening Filipinos’ civic duty so they can demand good governance is already being planned. #

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