Kalayaan

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Philippine Independence Day Speech of Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental on June 12, 2010

Kalayaan I believe literally means Freedom. Although today, the official world we celebrate is Independence but let me focus on Freedom, and its two facets.

When we use the word Freedom and ask ourselves what kind of freedom – the next preposition would mean a lot. It is either we say freedom from or freedom of.

For example freedom of speech, freedom of religion. Today it is easy to celebrate freedom by anchoring our celebration on these principles for truly after more than a century – we all enjoy these freedoms. But the question I would like to pose is – what about the other side of freedom – such as freedom from ignorance, for surely our children who are not able to afford quality education are still enslaved by ignorance. Or freedom from want for surely majority of our people are still wallowing in poverty.

So today – let me share with you some little things I have started to do – small things – revolutions that we can start to free people – at least now from the real enemies that we face like poverty and ignorance.

Let me share the Bacolod IT Focus Team. In 2004, we worked together to develop strategies and programs designed to include Bacolod City and Negros Occidental among the growing centers of innovation in the country, specifically to pursue ICT- readiness and competitiveness as part of the Philippine Cyber Corridor.

Seeing the importance of actively engaging the private sector, we developed along with other stakeholders the idea of creating a bigger confederation of government, academe and business and private sector known as the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT) in 2007.

As a result of her initiative in creating BNEFIT, thousands of new jobs in the outsourcing and offshoring (O&O) were created in Bacolod by for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.

I happened to listen to Renato Jiao, the President of IBM Business Services, Inc and an HR Delivery Executive for IBM Asia Pacific. He says, the global economy is changing. The trend that we’ve been seeing for the past couple of decades is the shifting of economies from industry and agriculture to services.

India for example a diverse economy and while two thirds of the workforce still earn their livelihood directly or indirectly through agriculture, the services industry has grown and has been playing an increasingly important role in India’s economy providing employment to 23% of the work force.

Technology and the large number of educated people who can speak English has transformed India as the dominant offshore location for global outsourcing. They have successfully established themselves as the main hub for the global delivery of IT and services outsourcing.

China is currently seen as the manufacturing hub for the world’s needs.  China is said to be five to ten years behind India in BPO. In the next few years, government officials hope to close that gap. Similarly, the Philippines is also making a bid to increase its share of the offshoring and outsourcing (O&O) industry.

We need to develop an additional 600,000 workers in addition to the existing 320,000 workers in the industry as of end 2007. With our more than 400,000 college graduates per year, this number is mathematically possible. Education then becomes a fundamental concern that need to be addressed. The services or outsourcing industry is primarily a people business. The workers – or the talent and skills they bring to the table – are what can make or break the industry for us.

A workforce with the correct skill set is our competitive advantage to India, China and all the other countries who have identified the development of the services sector as one of their economic strategies.

To attain our country’s objective of becoming a serious global player in the O&O industry, we must focus on the development of our graduates so that they can successfully integrate themselves into and become part of our services workforce.

Having said that, let me go to my 2nd last part which is addressed to the youth who are the heroes of today just like when Rizal and Bonifacio where the youth and the heroes of yesterday.

When I was nominated as one of the Top 10 Young Leaders for 2009 under Philippines 21 Program of Asia Society Foundation to represent our country in Malaysia for the Asia-Pacific Forum of 200 young leaders around the world, I was asked this question:

As a leader, what is your vision for the country?

I envision a Philippines who is the seat of leaders who govern even for the sake of the Filipino children yet unborn, knowing and understanding that we lead today primarily because we want to make our country a much better country for the next generation, a Philippines that is the source of inspiration for all nations in conserving and preserving the earth for future generations, and a country that anchors its economic and social progress not on commercialism, consumerism and traditional politics but on sustainable development, environmental protection and transformative politics.

This is the same Philippines that our young heroes of the past dreamt of and died for. In their prime, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, Emilio Aguinaldo, and many others proved that their young and bold minds can subdue their fears to risk their own lives for freedom.

They have moved us forward and beyond the reins of foreign domination despite their youth because they were not complacent or afraid.

When Rizal spoke about the youth being the hope of the fatherland, he meant not only the future generation, but the young Bonifacio and the rest who were willing to sacrifice their lives to fight for a truly distinct and independent nation believing that the Filipinos deserve the respect and recognition in the world of sovereign nations, free to self-determine and self-actualize as a country of freemen.

I dream of the Philippines as a country governed and nurtured by its youth at a time when their ideals and ideas are at its most efficient peak.

 After more than a century, let us not succumb to mediocrity by leaving our nation’s growth only to the hands of our leaders.

Unfortunately and oftentimes unconsciously under this scenario, the most disenfranchised is the youth sector. Young leaders are oftentimes apathetic and isolated from the important decision-making regimes and bodies, depriving them of the chance to share what they think according to the present situation and to actively participate in the development of not necessarily their future, since they are very much a part of the present, but the future of the country.

The very traditions of complacency, subservience, laziness and apathy that our young heroes have conquered before slowly returned to bring us back to where we started – a nation chained by fear, poverty, and disunity.

This creates a continuum of retrogression rather than progression, when the youth, despite the huge amount of knowledge that they have accumulated through modern technology and their natural voraciousness for knowledge– are in the meantime, left to sit and watch in the sidelines as the senior leaders think, speak, and plan for them.

I pray that youth will be empowered to be key actors of the kind of nation that they want for themselves. There is so much untapped potential in the Filipino Youth that deserves to be harnessed and channeled towards achieving a Philippines that all Filipinos, without exception can be proud about.

We should be able to look at the country from the perspective of young leaders such as ourselves who see the world from where we stand.

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