April 18, 2005, 9:12 a.m.

The Philippines, My Home

This blog originates from the Philippines, an archipelago in the western Pacific ocean, comprising about 7,107 islands, 84 million inhabitants that use several languages, including English and Filipino (Tagalog largely), and a melting pot of several cultures. We have it all here. From the ordinary to the extraordinary; the holy and profane, the beautiful and the not so beautiful. After all God made it a nice place to live in, and a nice place to visit.

Because the Philippines is surrounded by the Pacific, it is heaven for water and sea lovers--several beaches to surf in or just appreciate. The well-known beaches of Boracay and Palawan are hotspots; but a lot more people seek the not so popular ones (e.g. Bohol). The ones at Bicol and Ilocos regions are good surf machines. I heard it from a cable news item that we have here the most ecologically diverse of all marine ecosystems. Scientists and environmentalists are welcome here to also give their support in protecting all these treasures, which are sadly being destroyed from pollution and some illegal fishing (including dynamite and cyanide fishing).

Other sites are the caves, mountains, volcanoes (especially Taal and Mayon, not forgetting Pinatubo with its mineral-rich lake), waterfalls, and various historical spots.

The best resources are the human resources. The people are creative, hard-working, patient, friendly and kind. But don't push your luck, people have a sense of justice and fair-play. Abuse, plunder and disrespect are not tolerated. Previous wars have proved this. Although our military equipment is lacking, we have the best warriors and soldiers in the world. The U.N., the only legitimate international force at this time actually seeks Filipino peace-keepers all over the world. One unfortunate thing happened (April 14) in Haiti where one of our own (SSgt. Batomalaque ["large rock" if translated to English], the eleventh killed while serving as international peace-keeper) was gunned down while battling street gangsters. That incident didn't deter our nationals from the fight for what is right. While the citizens are nationalistic, we are not extremists or ultra-nationalists. While our love for the country remains, the bigger picture is maintained in the background; we all live in the same planet. Point at any place on the globe, and Filipinos are there; we are all over!

In the political realm, we may as well be placed in the Guinness Book. In all elections, no one candidate ever loses; can you imagine that? But how can that be, you may ask. Simply put, when the election is over, a few are proclaimed winners, while the rest are all cheated. No one ever loses!

As is the case in other countries, we tend to put our country in a bad light for some selfish motives. Some Filipinos say we are a dangerous place to be in. But the crime rate in New York or Washington is much higher than here. Some surveys fuel these speculators by publishing that we are a very corrupt country (way up in the list). I don't condone corruption, but I don't believe such pronouncements. They are counter productive. While not condoning the negative, we should show the positives.

An edifice you can destroy in just a few minutes; building it takes years and years to do. It is true also for institutions, countries and personal reputations. As a final word, all peoples should practice respect for each other. "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (Mt 7.12)." That is the golden rule.