Sense of community

Covid-19 is teaching us to care more and count our blessings more. It is also teaching us to go back to the practices of the generation of our parents: to help one another, take care of each other and nurture one another.

Note: This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on October 13, 2020

The generation of my parents had a sense of community. Respected leaders in the community became informal leaders and, later, persons to run to in case of some problems or if one needed assistance. Their generation cleaned their place and their environs. They told us not to wantonly throw our garbage whether it be a candy wrapper, fruit peel or Tetra Pak. It was a generation that disciplined their kids with a stick or a belt. Corporal punishment was not child abuse. It was instilling discipline. We could not watch television while we studied. Meal time was mandatory for all, and cooking was bonding time. It was a generation that experienced the hardships of war and knew how to value resources.

My generation learned a lot from my parent’s generation. We knew how to be very basic in our life but adjusted to the consumerism that welcomed our professional years. Still, we respected authority, we valued family and we studied to ensure a good future. We learned as we worked, and we didn’t have merely a single employer, knowing when we had learned enough and needed to go to another level as we built a career. My generation is the transition generation to technology. We knew pica and elite referred to typewriters, and Snopake was a liquid eraser, used for errors in typing. In high school, we were taught to sew, to paint and make art in general — a holistic approach to education and learning. Playtime was piko (hopscotch), tumbang preso (can knockdown), patintero (block and catch), taguan (hide and seek) and the like. We were digital immigrants, but were are not stuck to gadgets, apps and screens.

If people have not understood what the new norm is teaching us, let it be clear to all that it is teaching us to take care of our environment, clean our households and communities, and be our own neighborhood watch in order that we help our local government in protecting our families. Covid-19 is teaching us to care more and count our blessings more. It is also teaching us to go back to the practices of the generation of our parents: to help one another, take care of each other and nurture one another.

Thus, to laugh at teachers for erroneous entries in modules created is really not in the order of things. Mothers are the first teachers, and they become important today under a blended learning protocol because their role in the formation of the kids is extended; mothers check their work, enhancing what has been learned online and explaining further the lessons of the day. It has been said, “Home is a child’s first and most important classroom.” So, for students to ridicule modules and to cuss Education Secretary Leonor “Liling” Briones is really uncalled for because DepEd is doing a herculean task with more students going to public schools than private ones. Teachers, whether in private or public institutions, will have to steer learning in this pandemic. Imagine if parents are able to work with teachers in moulding a kid? Imagine if the collaborative effort results in better modules for the future? Then, we can come out of the pandemic with kids who are gentler and kinder than the threads we read in social media on how they view persons in authority.

Sense of community also covers our elected leaders. When they treat public funds as their own kitty and when we taxpayers realize that we have continually been conned and shortchanged too often, we lose our regard for them. It is revolting because on an annual basis, we have heard a lot of stories of elected officials milking us dry. The funny part is we see these elected leaders show off their new wealth, act like they are mightier than the voters and, worse, use the Bible as their refuge. When can we have a leader we can be proud of consistently and year-to-year?

Because of some elected leaders, we have millennials, who do not have respect for authority and believe everyone is dipping their hands on the spoils. We see daily what an author characteristically has pointed out: “[A]nti-government rhetoric appears to offer a vision of greater efficiency, self-reliance and personal freedom. (For obvious reasons, it also usually enjoys greater financial backing and better organized support.) Unfortunately, this rhetoric ignores what has historically been most valuable about our skepticism toward government — the emphasis it places on personal responsibility from all citizens. Instead, it argues against the excesses of government but not against those of the marketplace, where there is great power to disrupt the lives of workers, families and communities. It even argues against the basic protections the government extends to the well-being of individuals, families and communities without offering an alternative way of safeguarding them. In fact, its extreme case against government, often including intense personal attacks on government officials and political leaders, is designed not just to restrain government, but to advance narrow religious, political and economic agendas.”

The youth of today asserts their rights in a very crude manner, believing all they see in social media as the truth. They say it is their right to insist about their ways. They believe they should be vocal and confront power and authority everyday in words truly unbecoming in civic engagement. With anonymity and personalization, they just say their piece without much concern for facts. They go with the herd and feel elated if they get instantaneous fame. That, to them, is a measurement of being known.

If we keep our foundations strong and our sense of family alive, it will be easy to reboot and rebuild our nation post-pandemic. That sense of belonging, of being able to be part of the solution rather than being part of the proverbial problem, then we can uplift more. We are all in this together, from a 4Ps beneficiary, receiving P8,000 a month, to a legislator, who is given P2 million pabaon (provision) because of a session break. The two narratives have been with us since time immemorial. And the patriotic ones among us will just have to often remind these two poles about our collective need to work together and for the poor and the greedy to do some introspection on how they can envision the country first.

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About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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