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Filipino Pride

By: Kairos dela Cruz

I am not pertaining to a boxing match, actually, I kinda am.

The Filipinos have a big delegation in the 2014 Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum in Kuala Lumpur but unlike other nationals we tend to be aloof with one another. Not that I fancy talking to people all the time but this delegation could use more glue.

The reason does not require long pondering, it is plain and simple.  We came from different organizations. There are representatives from the government (national and local), international NGOs, local NGOs, academe, and development agencies. We have different missions and sometimes those clash and we end up acting like boxers in a cage match with no referee.

Yesterday, I was invited to sit down for a lunch meeting among the Filipino delegates. I am thinking “finally, we might have a good chance of doing something substantial.” It was a fun lunch, we all know we love good food but the happiness between a spoonful of spicy beef salad and sautéed chicken was interrupted when someone raised the question, “what’s next?”

I hurried to finish my lunch, got up to get a cold glass of water, breathed in, and buckled up. Here we go.

We spent more an hour talking about personalities and offices that are not doing their job in pushing for a solid adaptation plan in the Philippines. The offices present got the chance to defend themselves and talked about how the Philippines can be green again. Local representatives boasted about how the national government always fail to match their readiness. CSOs and academe consistently played the role of oversight and support. I sat there listening, wanting to claw my way out of the meeting simply because I have seen it too many times. I know how it will end up and I wasn’t proven wrong.

I am more sad than mad. I know these people, most of them are good and reliable, but it doesn’t change the fact that we could have done better. I feel bad for the front liners to climatic impacts. I can’t imagine saying to them “we acted like boxers instead of focusing on the job that requires that we work together.”

Maybe this is just a stage in a process that we need to go through until we realize that our work is not about the organizations, personalities, and institutions that we represent. That this is about people, and that it is about time that we bring discussions over to the side of contributing our resprective strengths rather than dwelling on the deficits of other, which often degenerates into sniping.

The problem is far bigger than all our efforts combines and so it requires nothing less than sustained cooperation. Government agencies need to act with unity. Turfing serves no one except short-term self interests. It’s the same message for civil society.

Let’s get things moving, people. Focus on the work ahead. So we can say together, let’s bring it on.



Image from: http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2014/037/7/8/philippine_flag_splatter_by_schizophrenique-d75bx3s.jpg

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