It was one of those chilly days in January 2008 when I came to Abu Dhabi, UAE. I remember bringing only (maybe) five books to save on luggage weight and space at the flat (apartment) later on. I am so surprised to rediscover recently that one of the few books I brought is a 105-page tiny, sunset colored book authored by Alexander L. Lacson. It was a raffle prize during one of those corporate Christmas parties. I am quite sure about the details because I wrote it on the first page, dated 20 December 2005. It meant a lot to me because I used to be not so lucky in raffle. (Apparently, I won an iPad mini early this year.)
It took me a while to (re)figure the other reason why this book traveled with me. I had to flip through some pages to remember. Overall, it talks about the 12 things that every Filipino can do to help our country.
- Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
- Wherever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
- Do not buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino. (Ooops, not the person…)
- When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
- Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
- Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
- Support your church.
- During elections, do your solemn duty.
- Pay your employees well.
- Pay your taxes.
- Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
- Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
The 12 ‘little’ things may sound simple and straightforward. But the avenue of interpretation and implementation matters more. I remember 10 years ago when I read it, I thought it will take gigantic efforts to put all these into action. That it is quite impossible to spot real implementers. Number 6 alone will attract inconsistency in implementation. In this life, it is best to remember an old Christmas song’s lyrics about someone knowing fully what we think and do, if we have been bad or good.
Ten years after, I am understanding the list (with varying interpretations) within a wider perspective. Being based overseas and occasionally returning to our home country for vacation, I have witnessed Filipinos and non-Filipinos who are doing all these as a way of life, not to show off.
If each of the Filipinos (or any other resident and/or citizen in any country) could at least do a couple of these, particularly numbers 11 and 12, it will make a big difference.
I am reminded again that we do not need to be perfect. But to at least try to do what we can.