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Youth

Uh, How Much Did You Say You’re Worth?!

by Lang Chamorro
Westchester County,
NY, USA

Does the country even understand why it’s important to report the net worth of their elected leaders? I find it strange that while these mindboggling numbers are being published no one seems to THINK about the significance of those numbers. Just how can an individual relying on a government salary end up a multi-millionaire?!

 Mr. Salceda, for example, reported a net worth of 51 million. Seriously? How’d that happen? What was he worth when he first sat at his desk? I think that’s a reasonable question.

This is what I do not understand about the Philippines... people are like zombies. Or sleep walkers. We have a very apathetic society, a culture where anything goes, and everything is forgiven. Nothing and no one is outrageous enough for Filipinos. Not the little guy who is accused of enriching not just himself but everyone in his family and sitting every single family member in public office, save the dog and the cat. Not the ex-president who was tried and convicted of plunder and still managed to win an election and ‘serve’. Not a family who was shooed out of the country in the ‘80s for plunder only to come back and get elected again to positions of trust. Trust. Does this word even mean anything in the Philippines?

Apathy, lack of education and participation, exclusion. No wonder the country has gone to the dogs. Poverty is to the roof, ignorance is a way of life and elections are a circus show for the world. It is terrible. For a Filipino-American like me, it is aggravating and embarrassing. The world must think we are all dumb folks who get robbed blind and still thank the robber for a job well done.

Thank goodness for Pacquiao. A self-made man who earned everything that he has. A real hero. He put the country on the world map-- and brought pride and dignity back to the nation. Before him, Marcos put us on the map of shame. Estrada put us on comedy central. And Binay and his family? You tell me.

I think the corruption problem in the Philippines is a people problem. And in that manner, it is complex as it is serious. There is a need to get down to the basics if you are to address it. The country is in a collective decline, and it isn’t enough to just mete out punishment to those who do wrong. We need to build values in the fabric of our society, in our consciousness, in our families. We need to cultivate unity and collective purpose. We need to take pride in the things that we do, and take accountability for our actions. We need to show responsibility towards our nation, and develop self-respect. Heck, we need to actually LOVE the Philippines, not just ourselves.

People often say there’s no solution to the corruption situation in the Philippines. Oh I think there is. And it starts with you.

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