Category: Filipino Pride

What Have You Done Today to Make You Feel Proud?

This is a refrain from a song in my ipod shuffle, which I hear a couple of times a week when I’m out biking or running. I often ponder on that song and wonder what I have done to make, not only myself proud, but my parents, and the people around me? I wonder if people ever ask themselves what they have done to be proud of this country.

I had planned on posting this on June 12 in celebration of independence day, but as usual got caught up with a billion things. Delayed as it is, I think we should all ask ourselves that question. As a human being, as a God fearing Filipino, does my existence contribute to the general welfare of the people around me, my country? Do I complain about what’s wrong with this country before asking myself what have I done to make it better?

It’s a serious question but depending on your mood, you can answer it lightly or with as much as serious thought as you wish to put into it.

I’m choosing to answer this from a personal point of view, as in what I am personally proud of, and also collectively, as in my views on what we as a people can be proud of¦

1. As a mother, I am proudly raising my two daughters to be responsible citizens who care about others and the environment we live in. During the summer, I had each of them list their energy-saving tips and ways of saving the environment (subject of a future blog). I try to expose them to all aspects of Filipino life, so they understand that there is still so much poverty around us and that each of us can do something to make a difference. I want them to be cognizant of the fact that life is tough for many. Their baby brother Gabriel did not have an easy life. He could not breath without assistance, could not eat without a tube in his mouth.

So every year, we celebrate Gabriel’s life with a 12-hour fundraising and awareness multi-sport event for the benefit of children with disabilities (www.gabrielsymphony.com). I hope my daughters will grow up to be compassionate Filipinos who care about the well-being of others.

2. We Filipinos take pride in our love of family and respect for our elders. We take care of our parents and grandparents. We are proudly the best caregivers in the world, from doctors to nurses to caregivers; our professionals are sought worldwide. But government must not lose focus on the fact that as we supply the world with our human health care professionals, we must also plan on how to take care of our own. These were some of the issues I have been working on locally and abroad, most recently at the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Cape Town last April (future blog). We need to focus on improving access to healthcare for our own people.

3. I am proudly promoting the cause of health and fitness. I cannot talk enough about how important it is for each one of us to be responsible for our own health. It does not come for free. One must eat well, exercise and live a healthy life. For more on my health agenda, visit my official website www.senatorpiacayetano.com

4. I am proudly fighting for a greener cleaner Philippines. We are working on the passage of the sustainable forest management bill. We are also trying to increase awareness and compliance with our solid waste management law (RA 9003). More and more Filipinos are aware of the need to segregate waste. And yet according to Ecowaste Coalition, of the 42,000 barangays only 2,000 have a segregation program and an MRF (material recovery facility). Is there one in your barangay?

5. We were all born into this country that is rich in natural resources. I am proudly sponsoring bills to declare many of these areas as protected areas. I have called on Filipinos to vote for Tubattaha and our other natural treasures on www.new7wonders.com. But what have we each done to contribute to the preservation of these Philippine wonders? There are rivers and mountains that need to be restored and rehabilitated all over the country. You can each take up a cause close to your heart. (there are a lot of causes, more on these in future blogs)

6. I am proudly working towards the attainment of our Millennium Development Goals in 2015. We need to decrease our infant, child and maternal mortality rates. Today, there are still many women in the rural areas who die of childbirth, simply because they do not have access to a childbirth attendant (a certified midwife, nurse or doctor). Many newborns are underweight, malnourished and sickly because their mothers did not have pre-natal care. Access to prenatal care is vital.

7. I am proudly promoting breastfeeding. Many mothers still do not know that they are capable of exclusively feeding their baby for the first six months with their breastmilk without the need of supplementing with formula milk or food (visit my breastfeeding blog on www.bestforbabies.wordpress.com)

8. Filipino women are the bedrock of our homes and our society. I proudly support women empowerment thru my Pinay In Action programs. Every year, we celebrate Women’s Month in March with an all-women’s run and expo. My team, headed by national team tri champ Ani de Leon goes around the country giving talks on empowerment to young girls and teaching them how to run.

9. I proudly support the Philippine teams that compete in international competitions. These athletes work hard, despite the limitations in training facilities, financial and sometimes even moral support. They persevere and excel..and bring glory to our country.

10. I love to race. I join triathlons, duathlons and marathons whenever I can. It is my pride and privilege to carry the Philippine flag.

I could spend a whole day on this list. But the point of this exercise is to get people to think, just as the song goes, “what have you done today to make you feel proud?

My Seatmate…Senator Juan Flavier

Attending session is like going to class. We have a bell that rings reminding us that session is about to start. We start every Monday with a flag ceremony, every session day with a prayer. Right after that is attendance, when we are all scrambling to be on the floor to be sure we are not marked ABSENT or LATE.

Like the nerdy school girl I was, I sit in the front row, next to Senator Juan Flavier, on his side is the majority floor leader Kiko Pangilinan.

My seatmate is never absent nor late. He is always the first one there. When I arrive, he always greets me with a warm smile and in return, I give him a kiss on the cheek…

Then I sit down and he says “how are you young lady”?And like a girl in need of a father, without further prompting, I pour my heart out to him, sharing the highs and lows, the joys and trials of my day.
He listens patiently, laughs heartily, shakes his head compassionately.

Today, my seatmate, along with some great men the senate has seen, Senate President Frank Drilon, Senator Jun Magsaysay and Senator Serge Osmena graduates from 12 years of serving the people in the Senate.

I will miss him so dearly. In many ways, he was the father of a girl who sorely missed her father. He was the mentor of a neophyte senator both in the political arena and in the legislative field. He was an attentive listener to her sometimes, nonsensical babbling.

He protected me from the naughty boys who sat in the back. You know how boys are. They have nothing better to do some days but joke about my breastfeeding bill or the color of my dress or hairclip. But that’s just the way they are. He would give them a stern look every now and then reminding them to stop bugging me.

When I confided in him about the frustration of dealing with certain groups who refused to see the other side of certain issues, he would say to me, “hayaan mo silang kumisay. When I explained that some people are impossible to deal with because they expect me to adopt their entire position en toto, he says sabihin mo, pwede nilang gawin yun, kung sila na ang senador. Of course, only he could get away with saying that. But he always gave me the reassurance I needed to hear that after studying an issue, he trusted the decisions I reached and would always, as he did, support them.

One other thing I loved about him, we both dislike long circuitous speeches and debates. Sometimes debates would go on and on for days. I would tune in and out and at some point say to him, the last I heard , ganito ganito ang pinagdedebatihan, may bago na bang pinag-uusapan? And he would, say wala, ganun pa rin, buti pa magmerienda ka na lang at growing girl ka pa.

But close to my heart, of course, is when he shares his memories of my dad, his former colleague, the late Senator Rene Compañero Cayetano.

Ayy, I feel so sad that my seatmate has graduated. Its like your best friend transferring to another school. You know you can still see her, you know you can have lunch dates anytime but it’s just not the same without him by your side (especially kung hindi marunong mag-text, email or ym).

To my seatmate truly the Honorable Senator Juan Flavier, doctor to the barrios, senator of the Filipino people, it has been my pleasure and utmost privilege to work with you, laugh with you and share my life with you.

I know he will now be busy in the Mr. Bean Watchers Club, where his granddaughter Kia is the self appointed President, his grandson Pio is the Vice President, Migo, the Treasurer and he is well, just a member. What does he say about that?

He says, Who could ask for more?

FN: I copied that Mr Bean story without his permission from his autobiography, From Barrio to Senado.