April 2007
Faces of change / Changeless places

Same old, same old

And so we have come full circle. If you remember, we started the local governments series in January by focusing on good local governance. This month, we go back to best practices, although this time around we do so only in part, and we focus on some local officials who have been touted as “faces of change.”

The other part of our series will take you to changeless places, or what we call in Tagalog as those that have been pinag-iwanan ng pahanon, left behind by time. Unfortunately such places can be found even within the most successful of cities or towns or provinces, and one can only wonder why. (At least for the examples we picked for the series, the reasons will become apparent — we hope — to the readers.) There may even be more of them if not for the fact that there are legions of Filipinos working abroad whose remittances have transformed their hometowns, although much of the changes may be just cosmetic, with problems of all shapes and sizes still percolating below the surface.

Of course all those peripatetic Pinoys may well be starting to bring home fresh political insights and to influence their townmates on what they should demand from their leaders. The increasing influence of media could also be enabling more people to make informed choices instead of voting on the basis of a neighbor or relative’s recommendation. That’s assuming the media are giving people the information that they need to vote wisely; otherwise, all that vaunted growing influence serves only the media outfits and not the public they profess to be in service of. We’re also assuming that our overworked countrymen abroad have had time to look up from their desks, chopping boards, or mops, to observe how their host societies are run.

With just a little over a month before the elections, it’s easy to be pessimistic not only about our country’s politics, but about our country itself. But the reason i Report has brought faces of change and changeless places together to the table is not to have more Filipinos packing their bags to join the hordes heading overseas. It is to show that for change to take place, the right leaders have to be elected, and the people have to make the right demands on them.

For far too long, we have placed challenges only before the politicians. It is time we challenge our own selves to create the country we deserve.