‘How to be a True Filipino’ (The Challenge of our Generation)

The election results from the recently held electoral exercise in the Philippines, particularly in the senate race, made me wonder why our fellow Filipinos gave their nod and voted into office all of the senatorial candidates supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.  None from the opposition Otso Diretso and no oppositionist candidate for senator were able break into the Magic 12.

I live and work far away from the Philippines.  My quick rationalization after learning the outcome of the senatorial race is that I am no longer grounded when it comes to the issues and concerns affecting the Filipino people.  Perhaps I missed the pulse of the people and that I no longer know what they feel and how they view the things happening around them.  I told myself that this was the reason why all the senatorial candidates supported by Duterte won.

The questions that I asked myself after I saw the early returns in the senatorial level race were very simple.  The bar that I set was not very high in the first place.

What did the voters see that made them decide and vote for these candidates who are in the Magic 12?  How could I miss what they saw from these politicians?  What was erroneous about my analysis and social assessment?

I asked these questions because I still wonder about the so-called magic or luck that paved the way for Imee Marcos, the daughter of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos who were politically ousted during the People Power Revolution in 1986, to land a spot in the senate.  Remember, even before this past election, she was accused of corruption and lying about obtaining her college degree from Princeton University.  The Princeton community have already spoken and stated that Imee Marcos did not graduate from their institution.  Her law degree and her being a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law was also questioned and held in doubt by many up to this time.

Lito Lapid also won handily without really campaigning.  He was a “nowhere man” during his earlier stint in the senate.

Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada who were also accused of corruption and plunder ran as senators but failed to make it.  But the dancing Bong Revilla magically danced his way to the Magic 12 of the senate race.

Revilla was another “nowhere man” as a senator, just like fellow actor Lito Lapid.  What exactly was in the mind of the more than 14 million voters who voted for Revilla?

I do not subscribe and definitely do not agree to the tag that many Filipino voters are “bobotantes” or ignorant voters.  I also do not subscribe to the general statement that the Filipino people are not “educated voters” and that they do not know the consequences of their votes.

What I believe in and what I urge our people to do is to go back to the simple lines that taught many Filipino children about the value and importance of love of country and patriotism.  I believe that it is time to go back and recite the “Panatang Makabayan” once more and this is not just for Filipinos who are in school (the adults and out-of-school Filipinos must do it too).

The Panatang Makabayan’s aim as I recall is to instill the love of country and to remind Filipinos about being responsible citizens— “Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan nang walang pagiimbot at ng buong katapatan” (I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully).

What has not been elaborated and explained fully to us Filipinos in the original version of the Panata is the last line which I consider to be very meaningful and important in building a nation— Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa” (I will be a true Filipino in thought, word, and deed).

How to be a true Filipino.  This indeed is the challenge of our generation.


Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.