The 6th Global Filipino Networking Convention would have been held in Cebu towards the end of January next year. This gathering of overseas Filpinos, mostly from the US and mostly members of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), plus OFWs and activists from Europe, Asia and the Middle East would have discussed common problems and opportunities in their adopted countries, but the main event of the convention would have been a forum with the 2010 pres idential candidates.
Those plans may be all wet now – literally submerged by our concern for the victims of the multiple calamities that have hit Metro Manila and Northern Luzon. Even our co-organizers in Cebu, the movers of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS) have conceded that holding the 6^th Global as scheduled may not be advisable in face of the national emergency.
On second thought, holding the meeting of overseas Filipinos, along with concerned community groups in the Philippines, early in 2010 may just be what our country needs.
For sure, our people need relief from the devastation caused by the natural disasters. But, just as importantly, the country needs reforms in the face of the plague of politics, the erosion of ethical and moral standards, pervasive mediocrity and incompetence, the rape of the environment and the general feeling of helplessness and hopel essness afflicting the Filipino people.
Much of what need to be done obviously have to be undertaken by the people in the Philippines. They need to get over the self-pity and the habit of blaming everyone and everything but themselves for the countrys ills, and take responsibility for their destiny.
But we overseas Filipinos must accept our share of the responsibility for mobilizing relief and for instituting reforms in the country that we continue to regard as our homeland, where our friends and relatives live, and where many of us would prefer to have our earthly remains interred.
It was in this context that Rodel Rodis and Viki Bamba, chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the organizing committee of the 6th Global, Dr. Eustaquio Boy Abay, prominent neurosurgeon and recent recipient of the 12^th Filipinas Magazine Achievement Award for Medicine, and myself have begun to work on the details of a retooled 6^th Global convention that would promote a Global Filipino Relief and Reform Movement.
I kicked off the process with a paper entitled, Now is the time for all Global Filipinos to come to the aid of the Motherland! The paper reads:
We propose to retool the 6th Global Filipino Networking Convention into a massive movement of Global Filipinos answering the call for help of the Motherland.
The worst typhoon in memory has just vented its fury on the Philippines. But, worse yet, the Motherland has been suffering from the cancer of corruption, incompetence and opportunism that have mired the Filipino people in poverty and hopelessness and have kept them in bondage, under the heel of political, c riminal, dynastic and business overlords.
It is not enough to raise money, donate food, medicine and clothing and rebuild the shelters of the victims of the flood. We are now being given both the challenge and the opportunity to help our Motherland BOTH in rising from her ruins and in recovering from her lingering affliction.
Shall we help rebuild the country from its temporary devastation or should we take on the greater challenge of excising the cancer and restoring the national health? The answer should be an unequivocal Yes!
The presidential election in May 2010 offers us this historic challenge and opportunity. The biggest challenge is choosing a president who will effectively, diligently and honestly lead our people in the process of national rehabilitation.
What should we do?
* Under the umbrella of the 6th Global Filipino Networking Convention, launch the Global Filipino Relief and Reform Movement.
* Hold the 6th Global in San Francisco instead of Cebu.
* Call on the delegates, who would otherwise spend thousands on the overseas trip, to donate generously to the relief fund.
* Call on the most influential Filipino community leaders in the US, starting with the Filipinas Magazine Achievement awardees over the past 12 years, to get involved in the movement.
* Involve recently launched Philippine-based reform movements (Ako Mismo, ABS-CBNs Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo, Moral Reform Movement, etc.) and ask them to participate in the convention.
* Harness the US and global capabilities of ABS-CBN and GMA Network to telecast the 6^th Global worldwide.
* Harness New Media (Google, Facebook, Twitter, video streaming, etc.) to involve Global Filipinos in the event.
As the core activities of the 6^th Global:
* Mobilize relief for t he calamity victims:
– Mount a massive fund-raiser, tapping resources beyond the Filipino community; the idea of a concert and a telethon should be pursued.
– Address the issue of sustained recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the face of health threats, loss of property, destruction of crops and an imminent food shortage.
– Launch the national socio-political and economic reform movement
– Raise awareness of the stakes in the presidential elections, the issues, the qualifications, the track record and the commitment of the candidates.
– Invite the presidential candidates to the convention (given the limitations on premature campaigning) to express their views on the problems of the Philippines and the most effective solutions as envisioned by them.
– Kick off a massive, worldwide and sustained voter education campaign to:
– Reignite the Spirit of People Power in both Global Filipinos and voters in the Philippines.
– Help put in place the mechanisms to protect the integrity of the ballot.
– Harness the resources and influence of Global Filipinos to fund the voter education campaign, guide relatives in the Philippines making the right choice of candidates, and support a corps of IT experts and international observers who will help ensure the integrity of the ballot.
– Mount a parallel voter education and information campaign in the Philippines, harnessing the resources of the Philippine advertising and marketing industry (make a presentation at the Philippine Advertising Congress in Baguio this November).
– Mount another parallel campaign in the US to create awareness among US leaders and persons of influence, in media, the academe, Corporate America, the state houses and legislatures and in Washington DC of the high stakes in the presidential elections.
Revive the theme of the 3^rd Global Filipino Networking Convention (which we held in Cebu in January 2005) as a call to all Global Filipinos to come to the aid of the Motherland: A Gathering of Heroes.
Pagbabalik Ng Mga. Bayani!
Maybe were trying to bite off more than we can chew but we think its worth a try.