The country: My first love

 Love of community is love of country. 

At an early age, most of us have experienced what many call as "puppy love." This is widely considered as a sign of adolescence. In my case, it was different. During my high school days, I was pre-occupied with making new friends and studying. Forming a social consciousness was far from what I envisioned for myself at that young age.
 
It was in my second year in high school that I met a professor in English, who engaged us on various social issues. He would often neglect his lesson plan to stir up discussions on pressing national issues. During that time, the impeachment proceedings against former President Joseph Estrada were ongoing. As the hearings were nationally televised, I got the opportunity to listen to the most brilliant minds to have ever spoken in the august halls of the Senate: Sen. Raul Roco, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Atty. Estelito Mendoza, Former Cong. Wigberto Tanada among others. To this day, their words and thoughts remain timeless in relevance. Due to my professor’s influences and with an increased awareness on the country’s political environment, I realized that being engaged in social issues was the main parameter in gauging one’s love of country.
 
Thirty-two years after, I find myself working in the private sector and armed with previous experiences in the public sector. Whether I was in the public or private sector, my love of country never waned nor wavered. My concept of love for country even deepened after being exposed to different situations and environments.
 
For many, their concept of love for country is based on one's commitment to serve through the public sector. I beg to disagree. Love of country can be expressed in many forms, and can be shown in all aspects of life.
 
Love of family is love of country. I love my family as they embody the most basic unit of our society. Without a good family, one will never develop into a well-rounded individual.
 
Love of partner is love of country. As a man, I honestly believe that women are of no lesser gender than men. History reveals how women suffered greatly from discrimination. Women of today have overcome discrimination in order to be change-makers in our society. It should be our commitment as men to respect women- their bodies, work, and honor as human beings.
 
Love of work/profession is love of country. Work is not only a means for us to live and survive. It is also way for us to contribute to society, no matter how big or small. Working in the engineering/construction sector gives me a sense of pride that I’m able to contribute to building infrastructure that would positively impact the lives of many Filipinos.
 
Love of community is love of country. We must not consider our neighbors as enemies. Our neighbors and barangays can be our network of support in many aspects of life. The development of our respective communities will also positively impact our lives. Hence, we must encourage all individuals and families in our barangays to get involved and be active.
 
Love of country does not require us to leave the comforts of everyday living. Though it requires a certain amount of sacrifice, it does not mean we must totally turn our backs from our respective families, partners, professions and communities.
 
Love of country was my first love. Today, even as I'm away from public sector work, I can honestly say that I continuously demonstrate my love of country in my personal, work and community life.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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