The Answer Is Us

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

 

It is a different world out there now. It is not necessarily better, but we have to realize just how different it is from before, and more importantly, just how fast the changes are happening. The rate of change, after change itself, will determine the kind of environment we all live in – the individual environments and the global one. Those who plan the future of countries and those who govern and implement those plans must be keenly aware that the speed by which our lives are shifting demands an understanding that anticipates flexibility. Conversely, the rate of change today will wreak havoc on patterns that impose rigidity.

Change excites the young; in fact, their lives are anchored on it. That idealism accompanies change among the young sets a direction and an attitude that augurs well for the future. It does seem obvious that the younger generations are superior offspring in many ways. They are quick, smart, innovative and adept at multi-tasking. They see the world and life as moving targets, set goals and make plans accordingly, and then are quick to respond, less shocked at shifts and movements that were not anticipated – and more adjustable to them.

Change threatens the old. It alters the foundation they had built so carefully because their own offspring finds less value in it. Unless the older generation is in control of great resources, the younger generation will most probably be the one thinking and managing what common resources there are. Or, as may be the case for the majority, the young make and handle their own resources and the financial lives of their parents above 60. In other words, the majority of the population will have the older generation more dependent on the next generations than the other way around.

Change, then, will happen, and it will happen at the pace of the young. This is what politicians and bureaucrats will soon discover – to their delight if they can understand and keep up, or to their fear and resentment if they do not. As I mentioned earlier, unless members of the older generations are still in control of great resources, the young from age 25 to 45 will be setting the pace and creating new forms of whatever activities are important to society. While a few political personalities like from another generation may still be active and carry weight, they are fewer by the year and less influential.

Political dynasties, then, are not necessarily threatened if they allow the younger generation to set the pace. The game of power is more expertly handled by the older generation if they were the ones who built their power and resource base.  If the older ones will be able to combine their power and resources with the mindset and tempo of their children, they will be a powerful force to reckon with. Unfortunately, we can see powerful personalities without the kind of children who can influence them to change. Their dreams will mostly die with them.

The evidence of change has suddenly become apparent, less to many Filipinos and more to foreigners or foreign institutions who look for good changes around the world. The good changes spell opportunity for investors, especially today where even the most developed countries in the world are shivering in their own economies. In the midst of great uncertainty, it is an almost miraculous development that the Philippines is evolving to be a bright favorite of economic prospects – because of aggressive moves against corruption. The political will of President Noy Aquino, or P-Noy, with support from Congress, is gaining admiration and trust not just from a majority of Filipinos but from economic and political pundits globally.

Somehow, beyond that aggressive anti-corruption stance, there does not appear to be other superstars of performance. But there are powerful results, psychological and economic, that have been the bright fruits of that anti-corruption resolve of a new administration. The savings from the initial strictness applied on granting of contracts on major projects have reached many billions. These savings will translate to massive infrastructure spending in 2013 and more years to come.

Corruption is an established culture in the public sector. It has often begun at the very top, and that allows the cancer to spread very quickly. Among the world’s greatest thieves are former Filipino presidents –according to the Guinness Book of Records.  Pretty soon, another former president in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may join them. A 180-degree turn by P-Noy will not be enough to dismantle and neutralize the culture of corruption. It has to be sustained for one or two more decades by determined anti-corruption presidents of the future. Or, and this is the more effective, it has to be sustained by a citizenry that will demand honesty by being honest themselves.

Never in our history is potential as possible as today. It is less that P-Noy has started it, but that P-Noy himself is a product of that deep longing by Filipinos for change. As conservative as P-Noy is, largely an offshoot of being a good son to Corazon Aquino, his relative youthfulness is sensitive to the angst of the younger set of Filipinos. He should continue his practice of being with his nephews and nieces whenever he has time on weekends. That can ground him to the mindset of the young better than most of his Cabinet secretaries.

For us Filipinos, it is good to be encouraged by the actuation of P-Noy, but it is far better to realize that the answer belongs more to us than him. By 2016, P-Noy will not be president anymore but change will still be the calling of the day. From today until the end of our lives, we are citizens and the continuing driver of change, the continuing builder of the bright tomorrow we seek, the beginning and final answer to the challenge of change. The answer belongs to us because the answer is us.

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