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    Sow Seeds That Last

    15 March 2017

    Speech at the Invest in ME Forum on Good Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility San Beda College

    They prepared as speech for me, um, while I was seated there, I was already very tempted not to read the speech. Um, you know when I arrived, um, it was quite an emotional moment for me because just three years ago I was a student here. Um, when I was a member of the House of Representatives, when I was a Congresswoman, I was a student of the San Beda Graduate School of Law and I was here most Saturdays.

    Pagdating ko sinalubong ako nila Dr. Jo, kinukwento ko na sa kanila na dito ho ako dumadaan, nandiyan ang classroom ko sa taas, ito ang classroom ko ng first period, diyan ako kumakain.

    You know, um, even when I was already a member of the Congress I come by the LRT. Iyong back gate na sa may LRT na. So sumasakay ako sa, sa Gilmore, bumababa ako dito. It was very convenient. Kumakain ako every lunch time sa cafeteria. So this is really a sort of a homecoming for me.

    I have received a number of invitations already to come, pero ito ang first invitation na napuntahan ko kasi the previous invitations parating may conflict of schedule. And I think medyo, medyo ano, medyo ano siya, I think destined din na pumunta ako ngayon.

    Unang-una, the only organization I belonged to sa UP when I was still an economic student there, was Junior Finance Association, JFA iyon sa amin. So sabi ko, ito pala iyong parang, parang sister organization. And I don’t know what’s with today, but right after this, I’m also, I’m also transferring to another Benedictine school sa St. Scho, kasi there is also a student forum there, um, in line with their celebration of their foundation anniversary and women’s month celebration so sabi ko parang pinagka-tagpo-tagpo.

    Siguro hindi ko nalang babasahin ang speech, senyasan ninyo na lang ako. Ayaw ng mga staff kong hindi ako nagbabasa ng speech because I tend to speak very long, mas gusto nilang may speech kasi may oras lang.

    But feeling ko naman, Dean, makikipareha naman ako sa inyo mag-claim ng kabataan. [Laughter] Hindi naman kini-claim na bata [Laughter]. But, anyway, um.

    You know, I, in my Office, um, I am the oldest or I think I am one of the oldest. Binibilang ko kanina, of more than a hundred people in my office I think we have only about four who are 50. Siguro another four who are over 40. A number who are over 30, but most of them are in their 20s. The average age of the people in my office is siguro mga 26-27.

    Talagang I am in a group of very young people. And being with you today gives me the same sort of energy that I get whenever I am in the office. Um, and there is one thing, you know, you know when I was, when I was trying to organize, after I won, I was trying to organize the workforce at the OVP.

    Um, many, many of the, many of my advisers, were, were against my getting an all-young staff. Sabi nila, you need, you need people who are much older, much more experienced pero matigas parati ang ulo ko, siyempre hindi ako nakinig.

    I, I decided to get a very young staff. My Chief of Staff, USec. Philip Dy is 32? Is 32. Ano na iyon, siya na ang pinaka Chief of Staff sa office. Um, kasi I, I always believe that the future is in your hands. Kami patapos na kami. Aasa na kami sa inyo.

    And the 8 or 9 months that I have been in Office, was enough proof that we can already depend on the young people to be very creative, very passionate, very creative, very, very, very committed, very innovative.

    Marami kaming ginagawa sa Office na kung siguro kaming matatanda nakapag-isip, hindi namin naisipan. But we have been doing a lot of innovations because of the very young minds that have come together.

    But um, your, your topic today is corporate social responsibility and it is really in line with everything that we’ve been doing at the Office of the Vice President.

    After I won, the first thing I did was look at the budget of the office to give me a sense of what the office is all about. And when I, when I saw the budget of the Office, it gave me the impression that for a very long time, the Office was just um, focused on its ceremonial and political functions.

    Kasi kung titingnan natin ang Constitution, you have your Constitution, parang the Vice President does not have very specific functions other than, other than be there just in case something happens to the President and that will be a total waste of 6 years.

    So when, when we entered I told my really young staff that we need to reinvent the office. We need to make sure that we will be doing something really relevant. Um, so that we will give the office more vibrancy, we’ll give it more relevance, we’ll give it more life. And because of my history also we decided to craft an anti-poverty advocacy program.

    Alam ninyo po I’m a very new politician. I only, I only entered politics in 2013 after my husband died because of the plane crash. It was my husband who was a, who was the politician in the family.

    I married very young, huwag ninyo akong gagayahin. I married less than a year after, ay hindi naman pala, one year after graduating from college. I was only 22. My husband was 29, much to the frustration of my dad.

    Kasi ang daddy ko um, was a lawyer, was a long-time judge, I the eldest in the family. His dreams for his eldest daughter was to follow his footsteps. Pero mahaba ang aking pinagdaanan, you know when I was, ewan ko kung sino ang mga probinsyano dito, pero ako probinsyanong probinsyano. When I entered UP, I did not know a thing about Manila. Pumasok ako mahiyain etcetera, etcetera. I was very apolitical. I was not very active, in, in, in school events until Ninoy Aquino was killed. Parang noong binaril si Ninoy Aquino that was my political awakening.

    Sabi ng nag-introduce sa akin, mayroon siyang political awakening, my political awakening was, was the death of Ninoy. Because after the death of Ninoy, I saw, um, many Filipinos, um, already coming out of their shells.

    I saw many Filipinos who were silent before, but are, were already very courageous in making known their sentiments. It was a difficult time before. There was martial law, um, we had an authoritarian leader.

    And kung titingnan ang mga leaders noon, karamihan mga batang-bata. Konti lang iyong matatanda, karamihan mga batang-bata. And because I became aware of the atrocities, because I became aware of the abuses of the administration, I became more involved.

    I joined mass actions, I joined street demonstrations. Um, I joined school rallies etcetera etcetera. And then EDSA happened. Um, I graduated right after EDSA. I graduated in 1986.

    And even if my life was already planned before, sabi ng daddy ko, pag graduate mo ng Econ, ECon, papasok ka na ng law school. But when, when I graduated right after EDSA, I felt that I had to do something.

    Pakiramdam pa ng magulang ko ang bata bata mo pa, wala ka namang matutulong pa. But you know I convinced my dad, just give me one year. I want to work for government, I want to try government. And he said, okay, you can work for government pero one year lang. After one year, mag law school ka na.

    So, my first work was in a government agency in Naga. It was called Bicol River Basin Development Program office, economic researcher ako noon. Pero ang boss ko iyong asawa ko. [Laughter].

    And um, to, to make the long story short, less than a year after I first entered the office, I was already married to the boss. So hindi na natuloy ang aking law school.

    Kinasal na ako etcetera etcetera. But when my husband was asking for my hand in marriage, may dad wouldn’t agree at first. Sabi niya, hindi pa puwede mag-asawa ang anak ko kasi mag-aabogado pa iyan.

    But you know my husband said, my husband was 7 years older than I was. Sabi niya, kahit po mag-asawa na kami sisiguraduhin kong makakapag-abogado pa din ang anak ninyo.

    But I had to work. I had to work because my husband already entered politics. Um, he ran for mayor a few months after we were wed, won, and magkano lang naman ang sweldo ng mayor.

    We wanted to raise a family already. So sabi ko kailangan ko na magtrabaho, I, I can’t work for the same office anymore after we got engaged. So nagturo ako. I was a full-time economics professor at a local university. So I was teaching during the day, I was a law student at night. Paunti-unti.

    Pagkatapos ng matagal ng panahon, ano nalang ako, part-time student, I was raising children already, I was the wife of the mayor, I was a teacher during the day, I was a law student at night—natapos na din.

    But you know because I was exposed already, from the time I was still at the university to the time that I was already the wife of my husband, when I passed the bar I was so sure what kind of lawyer I wanted to become.

    Um, and that is to lawyer for the poor. My very first work was with the public attorney’s office. I was lawyering for, for, um indigent clients, who did not have enough money to, to pay for their own lawyer and then I discovered a non-government organization called SALIGAN. SALIGAN is short for Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal, ang haba.

    Pero it’s an NGO of lawyers working with the most marginalized, farmers and fisherfolk, laborers, and indigenous peoples, urban poor, women and children, iyon ang trabaho ko for a very long time, until my husband died.

    So I was a human rights lawyer for so long, I was working with the poorest of the poor, iyon ang mundo ko dati, ako iyong abogadong hindi nagbe-blazer, ako iyong abugadong parating naka-tsinelas kasi nangdoon kami sa mga communities nagtratrabaho.

    But after the death of my husband, I was forced into this. It was not something that I sought for, it was something that I was trying to hide from, pero sadyang siguro ganoon iyong buhay, lalo kang tumatago, lalo kang hinahanap. And I was thrust into this.

    When I joined Congress, I told myself that I cannot, I cannot not continue the advocacies. So most of the bills that I filed were for the sectors that I had been working for all along. Women and children, farmers and fisherfolks, etcetera, etcetera. But there was one area where I wanted to concentrate also, and that was the passion and the advocacy of my husband, and that was good governance.

    In all the years that my husband was mayor, he was mayor of Naga for, for, ilan ba iyon, binibilang ko lang, almost 20 years, 3 terms, then another 3 terms, so he was mayor for six terms, and you know that he was mayor of Naga, he really advocated for good governance.

    Alam ninyo, lately, ang Naga is very small, much much smaller than Legazpi, it does not have any of the advantages of Legazpi, wala kaming Mayon Volcano, walang magandang pupuntahan sa Naga, ang Naga airport is not in Naga, we do not have a port, many ironies.

    But you know, because of good governance, nalagay sa mapa iyong Naga. Because of good governance, Naga has been on top of all the, all the competitions between local government units.

    For the second straight year, Naga has been awarded as the most competitive component city in the Philippines, and that is not because it is wealthy but it is because of good governance and I’m just so happy when I saw your topic for this forum. Kasi iyong good governance napakahalaga.

    And, and it, the Dean could not have put it more appropriately: That good governance is not about government. In fact the formula for good governance for my husband, three elements. Accountability of public officials, transparency of government processes, and the most important thing is people participation in government.

    And I think what spelled Naga’s success was because it was able to institutionalize people participation in governance. We are the first local government unit, up until now, that has a people’s council.

    And our people’s council works in parallel with the city council in the sense that it is composed of a combination of, of, of non-government organizations, people’s organizations, all the other organizations working in parallel with city government, trying to fiscalize all of the decisions of the city government, etcetera, etcetera.

    Kulang iyong oras ko so hindi ko na iyon bubuuin, but my point here is, the reason why Naga prospered was that it was confident enough to open spaces for people participation.

    Parating sinasabi noon when my husband was still alive, it is not enough that the government official is good. There has to be, diba, institutions which will force him to be good. Kaya sa Naga, because of the presence of the people’s council, napilitan maging matino iyong city officials kasi hinayaan niyang panoorin siya ng mga tao. Alam ng tao lahat ng considerations for every decision. So iyon iyong element of good governance.

    So when I became Vice President already, we were thinking, how do we merge all these things? Iyong good governance advocacy of my husband and my anti-poor advocacy, and we thought of putting up an anti-poverty advocacy program which we’re calling now Angat Buhay.

    Iyong Angat Buhay, we decided to, I’m telling you this because again it’s connected with corporate-social responsibility. We decided because, because the Office of the Vice President is the office with the least um, budget. Wala siyang budget for programs.

    So sabi namin, paano tayo makakatulong sa mga mahihirap na wala naman tayong budget. So Angat Buhay was conceptualized in order for our office to be a conduit of these poor communities to the private sector. So ano iyong ginawa namin?

    We tapped into the corporate-social responsibility programs of our private corporations. So we invisioned it to be, alam niyo iyong speed dating? Diba iyong speed dating na online? Na parang nag-ma-match kayo, ilalagay mo ang mga hinahanap mo sa mga lalake. Yung mga lalake naman nilalagay ang mga hinahanap niya sa babae tapos yung administrator ang nagmamatch, kami ang administrator.

    Our adopted local communities and have chosen the poorest, farthest communities, we did a series of forums with them visited them analyzed what they would need kinuha namin ang listahan ng lahat ng kanilang pangangailangan so yun yung isang party sa speed dating.

    On the other hand, we approached private corporations, development partners, nongovernment organizations, tinignan namin kung ano ba ang programa niyo. Nilista din nila ang mga programa nila and then we linked them all together we launched the program October 10, last year 2016 and during the day of the launch we were able to gather 720 projects, 720 matches, so masaya siya and it has been a wild ride for us so far. Two days a week we spend visiting our communities and we have discovered so much.

    Halimbawa, have you heard of a town called Agutaya? Agutaya is in Northern Palawan. The only way to get there is a ten-hour boat ride from Coron. Siguro yung Coron narinig niyo na iyon pero Agutaya is still 10 hours by boat from Coron. Pumunta kami doon.

    Noong pumunta kami doon, nag-iiyakan ang mga tao. Bakit sila nag-iiyakan? Kasi apparently that was the first time that they are visited by a national government official.

    Wala pa silang kuryente. We visited a school, pagpunta namin doon, sira iyong school building, sabi namin kailan siya nasira? Sabi nila noong Yolanda pa po, that was four years ago. Hindi pa din naaayos hanggang ngayon kasi siguro hindi nakikita. And iyong mga school children pinalabas sa classroom siguro iyong mga grade 5 kasing tangkad lang ng grade 1 and the doctor we were with was saying that because these children were stunted and stunted, stunting is an irreversible condition. It is not just physical stunting but also intellectual and many other disabilities. Wala lahat. Walang maayos na health center.

    So diba parang, kung hindi kami pumunta doon sino yung tutulong? Papaano iyon malalaman ng mga private corporations na mayroon palang mga pangangailangan doon and that is where we come in.

    And in all our trips we have been inviting people who are interested to go with us. If anyone of you is interested you will be very much welcome. Because, we think it is very important that you go as near to the ground as possible. Iyong binabasa, ibang iba sa nararamdaman pag pinupuntahan.

    Pag may mag solicit sa amin, parang hindi mo alam iyong urgency. Pero pag ikaw pumunta, that’s when you develop empathy. And empathy is very, very different from sympathy. Iyong sympathy, iyong nag-sy-sympathize ka lang.

    Pero iyong empathy, you allow yourself to go into the chaos of another. Diba? And that’s mercy. That’s what gives rise to a deep relationship with the people that you want to help. So that’s what we’re doing now. We try to reach, reach out to the smallest, farthest, and poorest communities. We have been everywhere. We discovered a town called Siyaian, in Zamboanga del Norte.

    Next week, we’re going to Lanao, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, doon namin hindi kayo iimbitahin. Kasi pag may makidnap sa inyo, wala kaming ransom. Um, pero, pero, iyon.

    You know, my point here is, you can do so much as young people. Um, being young is not an excuse for not being engaged. Because being young is actually an advantage. It gives you your idealism, what is essential in your passion and in your commitment. All, all, all the available spaces for engagement, be involved.

    Corporate social responsibility, they’re looking for volunteers. Many corporations are looking for volunteers. Involve yourself. Because it is only by, again I will use this, by going into the chaos of yourself that you develop empathy. And when empathy is there, you cannot not do anything. Hindi mo pinipilit iyong tulong. Pag nangdoon iyong empathy, kahit wala ka, maghahanap ka ng paraan para tumulong kasi nararamdaman mo na iyong kahirapan.

    So that is the essence–mahaba na ako, mapapagalitan na ako ng staff, so that is the essence of my, of my message to you today. As young people, we invite you to engage, to be involved, because there are so many out there, there are so many kababayans, there are so many out there, wanting our help. And any help that we can give is always a great thing for other people.

    Hihintuin ko na dito kasi mahaba na. Pero congratulations to JFINMA, congratulations to the student council, congratulations to the debate society, and the entire arts and sciences department for this wonderful activity and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you this morning to be with you.

    Magandang umaga, maraming salamat.

    Posted in Speeches on Mar 15, 2017