Sunday, December 17, 2006

Long Overdue

This blog is long overdue.

The events these past days have compensated for whatever I missed pouring thoughts in this blog and in a number of yahoogroups that I belong to. What transpired these past days is an absorption of thoughts and reflections over life ans society. Especially when Reming hit Bicol, and with no electricity and internet connection for the next five days after the typhoon, I had no 'choice' but to slow down and start looking at things in various perspectives.

But the holidays (and the usual break that goes with it) would surely offer more time for me to now pour out my insights in the past weeks of hibernation. So expect a number of posts talking about the events of the past, including the typhoon, my own insight on the dead ConAss, and perhaps even the winner in the Pinoy Dream Academy. :) So brace yourselves for that.

There will also be a bonus in the coming weeks. I have just made arrangements with Bicol Mail, a local newspaper here in the region, to tackle what works in the world of business and entrepreneurship in Bicol. Dubbed as "Business Unusual", we will to talk about exemplar businesses and entrepreneurs who are creating impact in the Region. I will try to post the articles published therein in the blog.

So that's all for now. Since I do not have anything much to 'download' at this time... will just hope to hear more from you and read your blogs for more insights.

Have a spiritual Christmas... because surely, it will be joyous, merry and peaceful.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Oragon?

The renowned Bicolano historian Prof. Danilo Gerona once wrote about Oragon as a virtue. A word, in which Bicolanos are known and are assocaited with outside of the Region. But while the word would most of the times (since at times it would have a negative connotation) bring pride to us Bicolanos, it is being endangered today.

In the first district of Camarines Sur, the oragon politicians and political families gave a new meaning to oragon by offering the seat as the district representative to the presidential son, Dato Arroyo in golden platter, with all the garnishments at the sides (this is how one businessman describes the situation). What the Andaya's and their allies did was to invite Dato to run for Congress and offer not to run against him. They said that having Dato as Congressman would ensure that benefits from Malacañang will surely flow to the district. I say that they are not of thinking anything else but themselves. What development? For whom?

For them. They think that to be oragon is to be able to create a situation wherein one could amass great wealth, and at this time, by making Dato run for Congress.

Echoing a sentiment from a punong barangay from the 1st district, this will go down in history that our politicos sold out the 1st district to the monied and the powerful non-bicolano. More painfully, it will be a stigma that will rob our young of the pride of being Bicolanos!

This is also TraPo at the highest level. A politics of patronage and not of platforms, character, capacties and track record.

But the fight is far from over, though. Some groups are now going aroung the 1st district to talk to capable and promising individuals to stand up against this blunder. We hope to stage One Big Fight inspired by the story of David and Goliath.
By the way, if we don't do anything now, congressmen from Albay may in 2010 sell-out some districts to Luli Arroyo or Mike Arroyo.


If you have thoughts on this, and if you know of persons whom you think we can ask to run against dato, please send me an email at dbercasio@gmail.com or post it as a comment.

Dios mabalos po.

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A Vision for a Better Philippines (2)

The second side of the coin.

In the few months that I had been vocally expressing my views on the need for a vision, a seeming strong objection is our current political situation, particularly the ability of the various political groups to sit together and start talking about that vision. While at the onset I was growing more convinced that indeed it is difficult, a midnight caucus with Bam Aquino, Gilbert Remulla, Ayi Hernandez, Dennis Eclarin, Martin Lopez and Roby Alampay brought out the idea that if old politics would not be able to transcend present issues to define a desired state, we could make this as a "generation battle," one in which young societal leaders would sit down and, while passionately resolving immediate concerns (issues like the legitimacy of GMA presidency, land reform, globalization) a consensus will be drafted so that no matter whatever is the outcome of said issues, we should all agree that this should add up to the vision.

The question that I posed was: can Gilbert Remulla, Chiz Escudero and Mike Defensor sit together to agree on where we shoudl be as a nation in the next 20 years or so? This, of course, means that young leaders from various stakeholders, such as business, academe, culture and arts, military, civil society would sit with them in crafting such vision. When, in said meeting, I got a "YES" answer, then I think more concrete steps should be undertaken to attain this end.

What i think is needed therefore is upscaling and mainstreaming for past efforts towards a visionary Philippines. Upscaling by engaging wider constituency and working with similar groups espousing the same cause, and mainstreaming by making major institutions (more than leaders or representatives) buy-in to the processes and outputs.

The time has come therefore to start identifying concrete activities and taking steps to attain the goal. I would therefore request everyone to contemplate and thereon suggest approaches and processes that we can undertake to do this right. What easily comes to mind are models developed by Adam Kahane and his colleagues and a more recent initiatives to talk about conflicts in China and Tibet. Secondly, another next big thing is to find and channel resources to such initiatives. I can see brainstorm sessions, meetings and fora taking place to start the ball rolling.

Its never late.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Vision for a Better Philippines (1)

I can feel that we are going there.

Over the last two years - at separate times and at different contexts, I was introduced to three groups separately working towards a better Philippines. Allow me to introduce first them to you.

First is Tindog Pilipinas! Sometime in 2004, Mr. Nicanor "Nikki" Perlas and I met in one of the fora on Sustainable Development in Tagaytay and in one of the informal chats during the forum, nikki shared their initiatives with Tindog! What he was saying during that time is that there is a need to share the good stories that are happening in our country, to inspire us to work more for the betterment of our country. True enough, for two years now, Tindog was instrumental in the conduct of the Karangalan Conference held at CCP. I browsed over Tindog's website and here' what I found

CALL TO ACTION
CREATING A VISIONARY PHILIPPINES
2004
Tindog means to "stand up" physically and also for one's principles. It means to be inwardly upright as a basis for standing up against abuses in society and a moral foundation for a better Philippines. Tindog Pilipinas! is the name of this national movement which seeks to transform Philippine society. The word "Tindog" is used widely in the Visayas, Mindanao, and parts of Luzon.


In almost the same year, I met a group of energetic fellows headed by Mr. Jay Tabaña who was spreading the same good news of a better Philippines. He was representing a group espousing the Pearl Principle. A year after, the person instrumental to the growth of the principle and the founder of the Center for International Education in Cebu, Prof. Nelia Cruz-Sarcol, visited Naga and addressed a gathering of people from various sectors to look at how we, as individuals, can play our role towards a better Philippines. The legendary, Mr. Onofre Pagsanjan of the Ateneo de Manila University also inspired those present with his 'walang-kupas' stories. Here is a quote from CIE's website on the Pearl Principle:

The Pearl Principle - Generative Leadership, Initiate Change From Within

...The truth of the matter is that solving the problems of our country is a Herculean task. This process of transformation will take some time. However, by accepting this fact, we would have won half the battle. If only we will accept such, then wa can plan better what to do next, so we can move up to the next step, instead of "band- aid" solutions will get us nowhere.

Own spheres

This truth led us to the Pearl Principle. To be able to solve the problems of our country, we need to individually take it upon ourselves to change for the better. And as we evolve and reach out to people within our spheres of influence, somethings will spark!

This concept must first be embraced by a good number of the middle class and must be led by the middle class. The elite and captains of industry of our society have been givenmultiple chances to lead this change, but it just won't take off. However, if all people from all strata of society will embrace it, well and good. However, I personally believe that the middle class must led- for they are still within reach by those from below and can trully feel for the great masses. The middle class have not lost their dreams (yet) and they can inspire others to hope. They can show how dreams can be fulfilled and that dreams can still be fulfilled. They can be the bridge to our future as a people.

It will only take one ordinary person to start the spark and spread the flame until it becomes big enough to tough others and move them to the same direction.

This is the mission of the Pearl Principle. To awaken the resolve from the majority that each has a hand in creating the true Philippines...

Thirdly, with my work with the Naga City People's Council, I had the chance to work with Dr. Jesus Estanislao and his team with the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. With their Public Governance Scorecard system, theyr were able to rally behind local government units and national sectoral groups to define roadmaps for 2030. The initaitives of ISA is the closest so far in putting faces to our ideals to where we want to be.

I am writing all these things because, going back to my first line, I can feel that the monent for our nation to be better is coming. I believe that my introduction to and participation in the various groups is providential.

I will be writing letters to said groups in the coming days to explore the possibilities of sitting together and looking at what we can all do to hasten the process of becoming the nation that we all want.

On the last note, let's envy South Korea. As early as now, they have already agreed what they want to see in 2030.

Let's dream. Let's act. It will happen.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogging and Leadership

One of the sessions during the recently held Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in Seoul talked about alternative media, including of course blogging. What was agreed upon during the discussion was that blogging is a powerful tool not only to record accounts of personal thoughts and feelings, but to reinforce traditional media by allowing people to present real stories and analyses as they happen.

Another thing that a blogger shared was the need for a blogger to actually allocate certain portion of time - each day - to blog. It was at that point that perhaps I designed my blog wrongly, therefore conceptual changes had to be made.

Since at the onset Imade it clear that I want this to capture my reflections on leadership, I realized that are a lot more things that need to be tackled which may not directly concern leadership but nonetheless acts as milestones in synthesizing leadership reflections. And of course... this will be fun!

Deciding on this was not that difficult especially after going through the blog of Senator Willy Prilles, Jr (reading through his blog will tell you why he is a senator) and I saw that you can actually categorize your posts.

Enjoy reading and blogging!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Leadership Versus Corruption

I was privileged to attend an earlier conference sponsored by the US Embassy in the Philippines called Tagytay Seminar 2006 and the theme revolved around what individuals and groups can do to combat corruption in the country.

One striking question that struck in the whole process of the sharing was the sharp question on the extent to which i am willing to take a stand, display my leadership in the fight against corruption. Since there are real stories of deaths due to this cause, i asked myself if i would be willing to make the decision, and say 'yes' i am willing to die for what i believe in.

A while back, the session on the moment of truth, brought back this question. But what struck me most was the need to have real hold of oneself, including making the needed preparations, perhaps, to prepare for that moment. While no concrete one answer is floating at present, and given that a participant came to me and suggested a reading called "defining moments" by Joseph Badaracco, i will have more time looking into this.

But the question remains, am i willing to sacrifice my life to fight against corruption or even just my liberty to fight for a change in the Philippine Government.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Philippines 21 Taking Lead Towards National Transformation


Philippines 21 would be the most logical mechanism to have the frameworl realized.

For one, and with the support of the social capital of Asia 21, critical leaders could be invited to sit together to talk about the things that they are doing for the country. It could also sponsor a forum among asian leaders on the efforts of the various groups working for a better Philippines.

Furthermore, the inaguaral batch of Phil 21, representing various groups, can very well rally their sectors toward the process.

Economic Framework for Philippine Development

At the onset, allow me to admit that largely, the title was constructed as such so as to attact attention and interest in this article. Secondly, this is a very raw draft a direct translation of the ideas that are floating in my mind.

I am not an economist, the closest to me in being one is the units that i took in college on Introduction to Economics and Agrilcutural Economics. Anyhow, the ideas contained herein are inspired by a earlier inputs from the sessions we had earlier. I am, by the way, currently exchanging with other leaders from asia-pacific in the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit here in Seoul, South Korea. The model is also inspired by the talk earlier delivered by Korea's Prime Minister, Han Myeong Sook.

If Korea was able to develop its economy in decades, perhaps the Philippines can too!

Here is my model, and I hope that economists will take time to look closely and as a collective, come-up with the best solution to move forward.

The model is of a ten-year economic development (of course, i am not certain if this possible within the suggested time frame). Anyhow, here are the components:

1. Human Resource Development.

As discussed during the sessions that Asia, as an economy will still post growth in the coming years. This means that these economies will require additional skilled workforce. What the Philippine should do is to focus on developing the needed workforce to meet the demands in the coming years.

Taking the example of the butchers that we sent to Australia early this year. Many of them, despite their training, were sent back because they could not communicate well in english! So now, as i learned from people from DOLE, there is a fresh job order for the workers to be replaces. Therefore, there is a need for us to make our workforce demand driven and competitive.

Along this line of thinking, we should, in the next five years or so, remove Domestic Helpers as part of the workers that we will be sending in other countries. This is not to demean DH as a job, but since our DH are prone to abuses, and at times receive low salaries anyway, it is better that we train them as skilled workers.

There are numerous opportunities, like outsourcing (transcription, call centers, etc), factory workers, engineers, miners, etc. Let us understand where the world economy is going and let's prepare out human resource to supply the demand that will be created.

2. Develop Industries

During the next five years, the Philippine Government, in partnership with the private sector, should start bringing in the industries in the Philippines, either by attracting foreign investors to relocate or by convincing local business people to invest in needed industries. It would be at this point that we can start bringing home our workers abroad.

We can bring in our car engineers or mine engineers, for example, for us to develop here either our own cars or serve as production facilities for asian or western cars.

3. Agricultural Development

There is a more rational and viable track to pursue agricultural development. Social workers (including farmers groups) and the private sector, with lesser government intervention, should start working towards agricultural development.

4. Sustainable Development

The strength of Filipinos, as a people, is the adherance to basic human values. What should be done therefore is to bring together industrialists, environmentalists and social scientists to work together in defining the parameters for development. If we can develop our mining industry, and stopping foreign companies from exploiting our resources, then there will be a better push in the economy.

5. Vision for a Better Philippines

Underlying all these assertions is the assumption that leaders and stakeholders of the country could be invited to sit together to define the Philippines that we want in the next ten years or so. There are groups like Jess Estanislao's ISA, the Karangalan Festival, the Pearl Principle Movement, Gawad Kalinga, among others, that are working towards a better Philippines and it is better for them to be invited to sit together to look at areas where they can harmonize approaches.

Secondly, there is a need for political blocks to be made to sit together to define political agenda beyond the political crisis. It should be assured that we do not allow politics to be a hindrance to development.

6. Operationalization

a. Education reform. There should be a more urgent attention to making our education, particularly public education, responsive to the demands not only at home but to the rest of the world. A focus on english and skills development should be strengthened and aligned with the demands.

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This will have to end here for now, as the group has already reconvened for the small plenary sharing. I will be back with more thoughts on how to operationalize these things.

However, at an onset, I think that Asia 21 and Philippines 21 could be instrumental in making these things happen. This could be an exciting project to undertake.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Filipino Leader within the Asia Pacific Context

The role of the Filipino Leader towards the development of the Asia Pacific Community could be appreciated in four different areas covering the capacity of the Filipino to inspire, rally and convene people towards a cause. This role is essential in uplifting the situation of the Philippines and promoting greater cooperation among Pacific Rim countries toward an essential cause.


Peaceful Revolution. In 1986, the whole world was inspired and learned from Filipinos that a major political change (or revolution) is possible through an active and non-violent way. The EDSA Revolution has became a symbol of an empowered people claiming their stake in democracy, which later inspired other countries to pursue the same track in asserting popular democracy. The Filipino leader should inspire other leaders from the Asia Pacific community to constantly pursue active non-violent means towards societal change, and thus, imprinting the need for the leaders of other nations to make sure that the interest and voice of the people remains at their top concern.

Making Sense of Things. With the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) serving as the mechanism for countries within the Pacific Rim to improve economic and political ties, and with the major role that the Philippine plays in said gathering, the Filipino leader is in strategic position to influence multi-lateral economic relations and trade agreements. The Filipino leader could engage leaders from other countries belonging to the Cooperation to look into trade agreements such as the GATT-WTO and validate its impacts to smaller and developing nations, and through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). These initiatives will make sense out of these multi-later agreements.

Elevating the Philippines. An important role of the Filipino leader is to make sure that the Philippines become a viable destination for investment and tourism. Alongside, the Filipino Leader should mobilize the Filipinos toward becoming a competitive human resource pool for the demand from Asia Pacific countries. The Filipino leader should maximize the potential of the outsource market available to Filipino workers. Taking the case of digital animation, for example, where Philippine-based universities and colleges are producing world class animators, the Filipino leader should bridge needs abroad (i.e., Thailand, S. Korea) to the capacities back home. Bringing investments locally shall prove to be more economically and socially beneficial than sending our workforce abroad.

Bridging Cross-National Divides. The Filipino leader should mobilize other nations in the Pacific Rim to look into essential issues facing developed and developing countries. The Filipino Leader should assert that the countries within APEC should holistically look into the situation of the region so as to able identify areas convergence to ensure greater economic equity outside of present approaches of multi-national corporations and business organizations. The Filipino leader should be able to rally the Pacific Rim countries to adopt clear outcomes like the Millennium Development Goal and collectively be accountable for it. This will rationalize existing trade relations and agreements. ~oOo~