, January 20, 2005  (STAR) WORDSWORTH By Mons Romulo-Tantoco - When the quality of life seems to be not improving in our country, when a calamity strikes, when a lot of our countrymen go overseas to seek greener pastures because of lack of job opportunities here, when thereís a brownout in our neighborhood and even when our personal business is not doing well, the first thing we do is blame the government.

Itís always easier to sit back and conveniently blame public officials. But wouldnít it be nice if instead of just watching and remaining passive, we try to do our share in helping our country get through its problems?

Being the start of the year, this is the best time to ask ourselves what the one positive and realistic thing we can do for our country, and start helping now instead of waiting what the government can do for us. Our country needs all the help we can give and itís never too late to start.

E-mail comments and suggestions at monsrt@info.com.ph.

Pam Pamintuan, vice president, Masterminds-Asia Communications Inc.: Positive is the operative word! This year, I plan to help the country by always keeping a positive attitude; by spreading all that fabulously positive energy around me all year round. Iíll also make sure I use that same positive energy to guide all my projects and ad campaigns this year. I believe that with all the terrible things going on around us, we must do our best to focus on the good things. We need unbounded optimism in these trying times.

Dr. Brenda V. Fajardo, professor, UP; co-founder, Tindog Pilipinas: The one good thing I can think of doing for the country is pray that all of us will strengthen our inner resources, enabling us to discern between true and false, be conscious of what we are doing and act accordingly.

J. Randell Tiongson, financial planner: One of the main reasons (aside from politics and economics) why the country remains poor is that Filipinos are lacking in financial literacy and do not have the right mindset when it comes to money. As a financial planner, I would like to discuss with the average Filipino the rudiments of financial planning (investments, economics, etc.) through a series of forums and even through the Internet. The specific group I would like to reach would be OFWs, primarily because they must be financially literate and plan well so that they can retire early from working abroad and be integrated with their families and the society at a much earlier time. The sooner Filipinos become aware of the need to plan financially, the sooner there will be financial freedom for us. I think that will be my best contribution to the country in 2005 and for every year after.

Pia Young, co-owner, Crucible Gallery: Iíd like to help by being more active with charity work, specifically with projects involving street children. I recently participated in a soup kitchen project. After pouring arroz caldo into a little girlís bowl, she pointed at the pieces of chicken and innocently asked me, "Ano yan?" It turns out this was the first time she would be eating chicken. It was sad, apart from shocking! If children are the hope of the future, weíd better feed them well.

Paolo Trillo, sportscaster: I want to help the country through sports development; itís a healthy alternative for the youth and is something that can instill national pride.

Dr. Mina M. Ramirez, president, Asian Social Institute: At a time when majority of Filipinos are suffering from poverty and from a sense of powerlessness to fulfill their basic needs and aspirations, I would like as president of the Asian Social Institute (ASI) to harness ASIís organizational resources to contribute to something bigger than itself. Specifically, I would like to put ASIís integrated academic, research and social development programs in service of movements towards justice, peace and integrity of creation. This year I will motivate ASI administrators, faculty, staff and graduate students to intensify efforts to give all-out support to the Archdiocese of Manila in sustaining its campaign towards fullness of life without exclusion through "Pondo ng Pinoy" (saving 25 centavos daily for education, housing, health and livelihood projects for the marginalized). The other movement which ASI will participate in, as part of a network, is Karangalan: Mobilizing Excellence for a Visionary Philippines to be held on Jan. 21 to 23. In October 2005 when ASI celebrates the 40th year of its School of Social Work and Social Development Dept., I wish that ASI would bring together 8,000 people (like what it did for Pondo ng Pinoy in 2004) at the Folk Arts Theater. There, grassroots leaders will speak about best practices in building and sustaining community enterprises and other initiatives. This time, institutional leaders will listen attentively and commit their support to basic sectorsí social and economic initiatives. Through ASI, I hope to contribute towards the enhancement of the spirit of solidarity not only in moments of crisis but in normal as well.

Angelito Nayan, principal assistant, Division 1, Office of American Affairs, DFA: Helping OFWs through the Department of Foreign Affairs. I would like to focus on economic diplomacy and extend assistance to nationals.

Bernadette Allyson (with daughter Icee), actress: The one positive thing I can do for my country this year is to be a better and more helpful citizen by being more active in helping our less fortunate people and sharing even just a little of our blessings. Imagine if all of us would vow to be better individuals, then we probably wonít have as many problems as we have now.

Joseph Yeo, basketball player, De La Salle Green Archers: Being aware of our economic and political issues in our country, I am willing to help our government and NGOs in any project like taking part in fundraising events that will help uplift poverty.

Nicanor Perlas, president, Center for Alternative Development Initiative: One of the most important positive things that I can do for the country this year is to ensure the resounding success of Karangalan 2005, the 1st National Conference and Festival on Mobilizing Excellence to Create a Visionary Center of the Philippines from Jan. 21 to 23. Itís a large-scale attempt to dispel the sense of hopelessness that has crept into the psyche of the nation. We will do this by showcasing the diverse talents and accomplishments of globally and nationally recognized Filipinos from all walks of life who are already building the foundations of another, much better Philippines. The success of Karangalan will send a strong message that we have what it takes to rebuild the Philippines into a disciplined, self-respecting nation which can contribute to national and global progress. (For more about the movement, log on to www.truthforce.info.)

Ces Drilon, TV personality: Thatís a tough question. I will have to answer given the unique position I hold as a TV presenter. For me, the single most positive thing I am doing which I believe will have the greatest impact on the country is the advocacy of family planning, population management and womenís reproductive rights. It is the greatest sin to bring into this world babies who, as they grow up, will have no chance to enjoy the basic rights of food, shelter and education. Many Filipinas think they do not have a choice and as an advocate, I want them to be able to make that choice.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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