Editor’s Note: Speech delivered by Engr. Eric B. Manalang, president of Kapatiran Party; chief executive officer, Global Packaging Suppliers Corporation during the 71st Commencement Exercises of Adamson University on November 6, 2008, PICC.
However many would probably say, but what can I do? Individually, no one can change the dangerous course our country is into—a national disaster awaits us all if we keep denying our duty to serve by changing the way politics is practiced. We can not anymore leave our country to us the baby boomers as we have not taken good care of it.
<Rev. Fr. Gregorio Bañaga, university president; Rev. Fr. Gerardo Vibar, assistant parish priest, St. Vincent de Paul Parish; Rev. Bro. Henry Escurel vice president for Academic Affairs; Mrs. Nilda Ibanez, university registrar; Rev.Fr. Francisco Magnaye, vice president for Academic Affairs; Mr. Julian Camacho, president of the Adamson University Alumni Association; Mr. Joel Mendoza and Mr. Ralph Dimaano for their address of petition and thanks giving; Mr. Dennis Morales and the Adamson University Band; Ramon Maniago, vice-dean of the College of Engineering; the other deans, department chairpersons, faculty members, administrative staff, other honored guests, parents, and relatives of the candidates for degrees, and graduates—good morning.>
When I was in my grade school, one day a priest visited in order to speak to us about priesthood. I was, as a young boy, interested. And when I got home I waited for my father, and told him that I wanted to become a priest. He rejected the idea and told me in so many words that he would not allow me. That was the end of it, but it was my first experience on aspiring for a vocation.
I grew up, life went on for me. But from time to time thinking he may have been correct, but I also had doubts.
Upon reaching my senior year in high school, I now needed to define my future. Indeed not an easy task, considering my father had been injecting into my mind to take up a technical course. But I was not convinced.
My grandfather, a medical doctor, had exposed me while he was alive, to look into microscopes, petri dishes, and pictures of parasites, people afflicted by leprosy and his many studies about pathology and tropical medicine. I was fascinated and thought of following his footsteps.
This time I was determined.
My determination was translated to taking the entrance exams in the University of the Philippines (UP), my grandfather’s Alma Mater, the recognition of his receiving gold medal from UP titillated me. To make this story shorter, I passed the exam, but learned of it only after a few months of waiting, also long after I started my engineering course. This time, my mother, in her desire to protect me from hazards of university hazing, decided to keep my admission letter from me because that summer a young student in UP died from fraternity hazing.
The end of my college education saw my father’s dream come true. I became a technically trained person, an industrial engineer from this University. After college, I did explore medicine again, but the pull of employment and earning a living succeeded.
My after-college life is eventful as compared to most of my peers. My first employment got the best 23 years of my professional life. I did excel much to my surprise, in the field of Packaging. My next 2 employers appointed me to most senior positions in two very exciting consumer products.
But I really found more meaning in family, service to community, and a calling to help make a change in our country always present. To translate this meant being engaged in a Catholic Community, with anti-dictatorship groups, and even anti-smuggling in some part. These activities attracted me.
Reflecting back, I realized that I had several callings as I stumbled through life, a priestly call, brief but creating a lasting impression, a call to serve, maybe an a-la CSI as a medical pathologist, a call to have a big and strong family, also an extended family by a call to the youth ministry, where my spouse of 34 years, and I served for 14 years.
And now I can see a very strong call to serve my country. In 2007, not knowing that I would take a more responsible position after the elections. I am sharing my life experiences because of the impact what social responsibility, individual, and corporate, had in my journey to what I am doing now in helping to evangelize politics, our country’s biggest moral problem. We are still a poor and powerless people and as pointed out over 11 years ago by the CBCP in a Pastoral Exhortation, it is because we have allowed politics to be debased and prostituted to the low level now.
It has gone from bad to worse.
Several political cancer cells have to be excised. They include a lack of understanding of what politics are all about, an absence of responsible and accountable political parties, and a loss of the sense of common good—ang kabutihang panglahat.
Politics have a moral dimension which can lead us either to good or evil; politics is not necessarily dirty. They can be good. But bad politicians defile them, and we the people allow it.
But what can the youth do? Are you important as a voter?
It seems that politics is not a subject too popular with the youth. The participation of the youth in any election speaks for itself. In many academic institutions—Adamson included—the level of voters turnout had been at best in the 20 to 30 %. Have our institutions of learning failed to imbibe us to be not only good student citizens, but also as Filipinos promote ring and defending democracy?
The Ang Kapatiran Party is the only national political party that believes political education is an important empowerment initiative, even before one can engage in politics. We are against trapo politics where patronage, personalities, big money, big guns and goons, and media hype are its tools.
But what does this all mean to you the young graduates raring to go out and create a name, establish a career, a business maybe?
The challenge is to genuinely love your country and serve your country as you would serve God and man.
However, many would probably say, but what can I do? Individually, no one can change the dangerous course our country is into—a national disaster awaits us all if we keep denying our duty to serve by changing the way politics is practiced. We can not anymore leave our country to us the baby boomers as we have not taken good care of it.
The youth, the future is in your hands.
The youth can make the difference. You are actually the only ones that can change your country.
But why do I say this?
In 2010, the estimated voters turnout—if much of the youth would still avoid voting—would be around 19 to 20 million. As estimated by the Youth Vote Philippines group, 9 million new voters could be voting for the first time in 2010. This is almost half of the current combined votes estimated for 2010 or at least 30 % of the total if all new voters registered and voted. The same group estimates that about 30 million voters would fall into the 18 to 40 years old age bracket. This was also the same findings of a famous marketing group in 2007. In this room, probably the 18 to 40 years old belong to the 56 % considered as young voters.
But many don’t register and yet many more don’t vote even if they are qualified.
The Ang Kapatiran Party has 2 major initiatives to address the indifference of typical Filipinos to politics.
The education component is being addressed by many teachings and soon by a book that will be coming out within December 2008. This is called Passport for a new Philippines.
It is a small book of about 60 pages about the party: its vision, mission, platform,