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Listening to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, gave me a chance to reflect on a sad Filipino mindset that’s been plaguing our country lately. The hubbub and general excitement the SONA incites among Filipinos here and across the world has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

I know people who know me would tease that I’m just being sensitive because I  happen to like our current president and how he’s been dealing with the campaign against corruption.Well, I do like it when they go after corrupt officials and civil servants. They should! For too long we’ve sat back and let the corrupt, greedy bastards in past administrations get away with cheating our country out of change and our people out of true democracy.

We should be grateful for this administration’s dedication to searching for the truth, for its work towards providing justice. It’s a forward movement, a change that might not be readily felt but is gravely needed and crucial for the greater good. I mean, this is what we want right? The greater good? It’s not just abou you or me anymore, fellow Filipinos. It’s for all of us, so that our democracy can start anew with a clean slate, no corruption and with proper accountability.

But that’s not my point here. Really, it isn’t. And I do have one.

I’ve always been irked by the opinionated ravings of people – political pundits and average citizens alike – who just talk their faces off without having any real dealings or experiences with trying to make change. Each time we have a SONA you see politicians showboating, citizens complaining about things that only affect their own personal lives and critics bragging how they can do better. But these so-called concerned citizens do not do anything personally, as individuals, to make change.

If this were high school, you would call them posers.

They put in such a huge effort into putting down the people who ARE doing their jobs, but no effort whatsoever in actually initiating change, establishing community projects or volunteering for NGOs and programs. So much for all that hot air.

You might be raising your eyebrows, wondering where the heck do I get off spouting such nonsense. But you know what? It’s true. And it’s pretty simple to grasp.

If you want change, help make it, Filipinos.

There are literally hundreds of NGOs out there that could use your help to build up our nation, to give aid to the underprivileged, to protect and conserve our natural resources, to better education and to give support to Filipino arts and culture. Yet, programs and organizations lack volunteers, even while the majority is clamoring for that so desired change.

I joined some students earlier today in a Gawad Kalinga (GK) build and it was there that you could see proof of what one individual  can do, if they decide to make a change.

They were doing their part for our country’s welfare and none of them were grumbling about their own sacrifices. They gave up a Saturday morning – time they could have used to sleep in or go out – to help build houses. They gave up hours where they could be working on school work or spending time with loved ones. They poured out sweat and got clothes muddied. To build houses for people they don’t even know, with the idea that they were helping fellow countrymen and touching lives. These houses will be home to families. It is a fresh start on their lives with the security of a place to call their own. It is a chance to have a stable foundation onto which they can build their lives.

We didn’t get to do a whole lot this morning because it rain clouds arrived and it suddenly rained heavily„ but for the first hours under the blistering heat of the sun, we managed to make a dent, have an honest-to-goodness impact on the state of things. Small as it might be, it’s the effort, the willingness and the optimism that counts.

It’s the hope that this little part by one person when collectively taken can mean a big difference. Not only for one person or family, but for countless lives that will be touched directly or indirectly by the difference you’ve made.

Seeing these kids in action, you have to wonder what about all the innumerable others who seek change, a better future, but aren’t doing a damn thing about it? Where are all these supposed nation-lovers? Where are they when the country needs them the most? They sure weren’t at the GK build I was at.

So, really guys, don’t just sit there & complain.

In these students working with GK, or in volunteers – young and old – for other NGOs, civic groups or environmental organizations or even in the simple kindnesses people do, you’ll find the true, goodhearted values of nation building. Not the literal nation building, but the concept of developing, fixing, “building up” one’s motherland through various plans, projects, good deeds, ideas and seemingly easy acts done by individuals.

Piece by piece, little by little, we’re building a nation.

Building it up for ourselves, for Filipinos, for the future generations.

You know why? Because it’s personal.

Yes, President Noynoy Aquino said it right when he said anti-corruption was personal. Frankly, it and ALL issues affecting democracy, our people, our nation, should be personal.

Not just to him, but to us as a people. It’s personal when it’s our money that’s being stolen. It’s personal when it’s our countrymen being silenced, killed, victimized. It’s personal when it’s our choices, our votes, being trashed. It’s personal when it’s our resources being exploited. It’s personal when it’s our people being deprived of truth, justice, betterment and a democracy.

With that, we should also provide solutions on a personal level. Do your own personal bit for the good of the nation.

So before you start giving opinions left and right, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I doing for my country?”…Because to put it bluntly, it is just plain annoying when people mouth off when they themselves aren’t doing anything. And it’s ignorant to assume that change can be done easily – instantly – if you haven’t even TRIED effecting change.

We can’t leave all the hard work to our officials, we have to pick up the slack, too. Walk the talk, quit your whining & go initiate your personal contribution to changing our nation.

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