When I was a teenager, I’ve had a sense that anything is possible in the Philippines. I believed that change could happen on a broad and massive scale. Transformation, for anything and anywhere, even for a nation is a realistic proposition.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve read the book From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, whose author- Lee Kuan Yew is considered the Founding Father of modern Singapore. The decades-long prime minister of the country shared how this tiny city state in the pacific with no natural resource, even a source of water, to call its own has become one of the most progressive economies in the world. This book, which I bought during my first trip to Singapore in the early 2000s, inspired me to believe the seemingly impossible for my country. It led me to attempt to do a bit of nation building work when I was in my teens, when I was a young economics student full of hope for the Philippines.
Like the first time I read the book, it has been years since I did anything remotely related to nation building. In essence, I’ve actually made a mental note not to care. In 2006 when I moved to New York, I decided to never look back. I tuned out of any news about the Philippines, didn’t read a newspaper nor showed interest in political affairs, information that I devoured when I was a student. I thought I would never be involved again.
But when I moved back to Manila last year, the first few weeks and months of my stay have been filled with numerous discussions and activities on nation building. Thanks in many ways to friends, both old and new, who have rekindled my heart for it. My friends BG and Jhoey Hernandez, who are heavily involved in rebuilding Tacloban and a group of UAP students (and a LaSallian!) who holds a sincere desire to see social transformation happen in this country, have greatly influenced me to hold onto hope again. I took part in organizing a TEDx event, went on an exploratory trip in Tacloban, and engaged in discussions about transformation. Admittedly, I was a bit hesitant to do it all, but ended up being more involved than I expected.
I’m no longer a teenager though and these days my definition and view of what’s possible has become limited. It’s taking a lot of effort to believe once again in the possibility of transformation, especially for a country.
But despite my little hope, there’s a nudge in my consciousness and peace that I couldn’t understand to take risk again. I’m having a “maybe, just maybe” moment, fantasizing that if I only believe again, hope again, I could make a difference.
After some soul searching and a few meetings with my employer, I’ve opted to let go of my full-time duties at work. Since Friday, I’ve begun the process of transitioning from the company. I’ll focus on pitching stories, both in the Philippines and elsewhere to make money. My goal is to generate enough cash flow through writing and some communication projects so I can do more public speaking and civic work. I’ll also begin looking through ideas I’ve written on nation building, some since I was 14 years old, that I could dabble with.
The road ahead for me is unknown at best and though I don’t have a concrete plan, the timing seems right and my heart is set to believe again. Because maybe, just maybe, if I do my part, and do it to the best of my ability, the idea of transformation, even for a nation, can once again seem like a realistic proposition.