Resibo and Abonado

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

| Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

This May 2022, elections are bringing out the best in Filipinos if we focus on the beauty and power of volunteerism. The crown jewel among Filipino traits is bayanihan, this attitude, and behavior of caring and sharing is reflective of the spirituality and nobility of our race. Bayanihan is not only about people helping one another for a common goal, it is also a fusion of sacrifice and festivity. When the objective is fully accepted by everyone, acts of sacrifice can actually be celebratory as well.

Different from bayanihan is to do similar services but with payment as a condition. In many ways, Filipinos segregate what they willingly give from their hearts versus what is merely a transaction or an exchange between service and money. One is personal, the other is commercial.

One is termed “abonado”, meaning spending one’s resources to give a service or commodity without asking for anything in return. The other is termed “bayad”, meaning to do the same but on the condition that one is paid, oftentimes at a profit.

It is so uplifting and inspiring to see the spirit of bayanihan and volunteerism so alive in this current campaign. We have to be thankful that one particular presidential candidate, Leni Robredo, is such a powerful trigger for that spirit to suddenly and powerfully grace a political process. Politics divide and elections divide even more. They still do now. But it is not a total loss this time because millions of volunteers in pink are contributing very positive energy.

Definitely, that is the reason why the Filipino youth are so visible and dynamic in the Leni campaign. As volunteers who spend for their goods or services offered to the campaign, it has got to be totally personal and not commercial, abonado and not bayad. For that to happen, young volunteers have to see their interests in harmony with the interests of Leni. If idealism is natural for the young, then they see idealism in the heart and character of Leni.

Beyond elections, let us consider the importance of young voters, those from 18 to 35 years old. This same age group, a generation of their own, will manage the Philippines for 50 years. I must concede that the last two generations have bungled things quite badly. Since the 1950s, all the accusations of wrong-doing and mismanagement have become the forefront of election speeches. Platforms of governance have been a formality, old rituals which were never valued highly, much less remembered.

“Definitely, that is the reason why the Filipino youth are so visible and dynamic in the Leni campaign. As volunteers who spend for their goods or services offered to the campaign, it has got to be totally personal and not commercial, abonado and not bayad.”

There are many grandparents like me who, in discussions with our own peers, openly and sadly admit our fears for the kind of country we leave behind. I repeat, our fears and our guilt. While we may not have been motivated with malice or greed in our collective behavior, the fact remains that impoverished people and a corrupt culture were perpetuated. In some cases, they worsened or deepened. The conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses may deserve the brunt of the shame, but we must accept our tolerance of it as well.

Now, looking at our children’s generation, we are actually awed by their response to the mess we are leaving behind. When my classmates and fellow senior citizens talk about our children, the overriding quality they display is honesty. We are proud of the fact that they are much more honest and less tolerant of corruption. There are, of course, those in our children’s generation who are as corrupt or more than their parents. What is important is that there are more who have resisted, and continue to do so.

It is no sudden miracle that the younger voting population today is asking for resibo, meaning receipt, to demand accountability. Even more striking is their willingness to be abonado, to contribute their share or more without being paid. It is actually the continuation of our children’s generation who chose to be honest instead of going with the flow of corruption. Our children are teaching our grandchildren what we did not teach well enough. Our children are making up for our shortcomings, and our grandchildren will make us even prouder.

The bar for citizenship is being raised by the battle cries of abonado and resibo. Our children and grandchildren will demand in stronger terms the need for accountability, for the resibo, demanding that the truth be our moral and operational baseline again.

“The stirring of young hearts and minds towards what the divine design of humanity has embedded in our souls is a wondrous thing to witness. It is still only the tip of the iceberg but sharp enough to pierce the walls of the titanic corruption that grips our society today.

We have to thank the fake news orchestrators and their mercenary trolls for decimating the truth to a point that most of us today will join a crusade to fight fake news. We do this in conjunction with other nations experiencing fake news, too. Soon enough, those engaged in blighting the minds of the gullible will be exposed and shamed. I anticipate the anger of those they fooled when their hour of realization comes. The long arm of karma and divine justice may take time, but it never stops.

The stirring of young hearts and minds towards what the divine design of humanity has embedded in our souls is a wondrous thing to witness. It is still only the tip of the iceberg but sharp enough to pierce the walls of the titanic corruption that grips our society today. The young energy enhanced by mind-boggling technology is a grave threat to the current web of disinformation and exploitation. A new age is rising and will be a painful cleansing agent.

I worry more about Leni’s victory than I worry for our nation’s future. A win or a loss by Leni will not stop this momentum for truth, honesty, and accountability. As president or private citizen, Leni will continue to be a leading light and inspiration for the young generations as they fulfill their role to change the nation’s moral and material landscape. She can be the most powerful capacity builder as president, or the face and the heart of a radical revolution.

The resibo generation has arrived. Its willingness to be abonado, as well, guarantees the most powerful promise of nationhood by far.

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