The Prospects & Limits Of Citizen Power

Paul Brandt once said; “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” – His quote is a very fancy way of emphasizing the idea that, as individuals, we should not hinder our capacity as humans in the belief of the presence of a limit. However, one must face the inevitable reality that a citizen’s power in his/her own state actually has certain limits. It it obvious enough to say that, currently, the Philippines is enduring countless dilemmas from social and environmental problems to the political arena. Hence, as a citizen of the country, it is in my best interest to be able to conduct and engage in any particular initiative which could do good for the country. Although everyone is free to join in the “club” of citizens who want to help our the country, as individuals, especially young ones, this poses a huge limit towards us because the best we could do is to increase awareness.

For the past few weeks, we’ve engaged relations with Clean Air Asia, particularly Partnership with Clean Air, the Philippine counterpart of a huge Non-Government supported agency which aims and envisions the belt of Asia to have clean air to breathe. Regarding this environmental problem of smoke belching around the Metro, it is very evident that this cannot be solved within a snap of a finger. Hence, the question which we (my team and I) asked ourselves is what we could do? We also addressed this question to the Partnership with Clean Air Coordinator, Ms. Juliet Manlapaz, so that she could fill us in with her knowledge on what young people could do to engage in a specific initiative to save the planet; stop smoke belching. Surprisingly, her answer was simple; awareness. After our meeting, she wanted us to continue spreading the knowledge which she imposed and influenced us with because by that, people will grow to be, indeed, more aware of what is happening to our environment. Her suggestion was very much true, as individuals, we needed to inspire the rest of the youth, the young leaders of tomorrow, to continue being educated so that they may be aware. Although awareness is essential, it is nothing without action.

As a citizen, one could be aware and filled with ideas. However, he or she cannot simply create a thought out plan and ask a budget for the government; it doesn’t simply work that way. There is a limit to our flow of ideas because it still the government which has control of the things which could and should happen. A great idea could simply be a clouded thought if the government doesn’t really notice it. This, basically, indirectly reveals the importance of certain actors in the state like the Non-Governmental Organizations because these are the institutions which we can empower in order for our ideas to be heard or voiced out.

Nevertheless, let us never forget the prospects of our power as citizens. The best way one could describe the prospect of a citizen’s power is the great idea of cooperation. Although our power could be limited to simply increasing awareness, this still take in effect which could prospect cooperation among united ideas of individuals in the future. In other words, by increasing awareness which could be done by our power as individuals to influence other people in he socio-political arena, we can urge and heighten the chances of cooperation within the community. Hence, action can be done. Individual awareness, indeed, limits our capacity as humans. However, this awareness among people can influence their very own unity. Thus, allowing all of their big ideas to create one stable and specific plan-of-action which can be conducted that would definitely help the country in the future; the simple but significant effect the tandem between awareness and cooperation has thrust upon.

The Avengers Initiative: Clean Air Asia (Non-Governmental Organization)

Non-governmental organizations play a vital role in the shaping of a right and just society. Each state possesses a government and these states probably have one particular thing in common; they are very much aware that society involvement in solving problems are very essential.  The possibility of a nation’s downfall or deterioration is enhance to the point of disintegration or self-annihilation if its people do not participate or hold initiative. In fact, according to http://www.stwr.org, “In countries where we have plenty of volunteers working through various Non Governmental Organizations, we tend to discover less problems and less human suffering”. Moreover, in accordance to a class in Introduction To Global Society, it has been mentioned that a state serves for itself as the main actor in the International Global Society scene. However, modern theorists have come up with a sphere which reveals that even Non-Governmental Organizations actually pose effects towards other states which means that they are also a participating actor in this global society. In other ways of understanding the matter, a state’s main government does not necessarily mean to serve as the one and only main actor.

These knowledgable perceptions on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have definitely created an impact on my experience with Clean Air Asia; an NGO which aims and strives for clean and healthy air to breathe in the various countries around Asia. It was a great challenge to conquer my fear of stepping out of the comfort zone as I went beyond my call of duty as a citizen to participate and engage in this initiative to, in the bigger picture, save the planet. Although this NGO only focuses on increasing human awareness so as to promote cleaner air, it is a very remarkable step in saving Mother Earth. There are countless way to deteriorate the planet’s resources and the identified matter is indeed one particular issue which greatly affects its resources and to the extent, putting an end to the lives of millions of its species (humans and animals).

With those facts, it is safe and doubtless enough to say that saving the planet is not a “one time thing”. Doing so would mean offering a lifetime’s worth of effort and dedication; not an instant cook-up for a solution. In the process of getting to know the NGO (Clean Air Asia) and engaging conversation with a number of its staff members, I have come to the point of educating myself and gaining simple, but very significant and true, insights; these insights focus on three simple aspects; the timetable, the government and the system cooperation. These are three very simple key aspects to which I have gained insights on. However, they greatly affect the entire system of what it is to be running an NGO heat-to-head.

Non-Government Organizations are usually criticized for being illegitimate and simply money-seeking agencies which make the people believe that they are actually onto something. They are censured with the idea that they are only doing this much when more could actually be done. These perceptions are very much limits of what the public may see at the very moment. This is where the concept of the timetable comes in. One may see that people have the tendency to immediately denounce NGOs for only being able to do this much. Citing an issue encountered by the Partnership with Clear Air (the Philippines’ Counterpart for Clean Air Asia), they were only able to provide the city of Makati with two functioning electrical transportations; which the public may, of course, use getting to places. The immediate limit of this is that they could not supply it for the entire day because these functioning transportations are said to be running on electricity. Hence, there comes a point during the day when it has to be recharged causing it to be no longer available for use after that point. Moreover, the number is an issue because only two are available. However, Partnership with Clear Air mentioned that they are currently trying to gain resources in order to power more of the said vehicles which they see possible in 2016. The insight here is that NGOs are not necessarily incapable of functioning. These organizations could actually be under a timetable which they must undergo in the process of gaining resources to achieve their mission and vision; they simply need time. The people’s immediate judgement does not help because instead of empowering these institutions, the public tends to even cause their destruction.

Th second key aspect is; the government. By the government, this particularly focuses on the idea of policy-making. Of course, as Non-Government Organizations, it would be a big step to be able to contribute to the policy-making in order to achieve one’s mission and goals for the country. It is even more remarkable for an organization whose support is to save the planet. Citing from the Partnership with Clean Air Coordinator, Ms. Juliet Manlapaz, she mentions that “The problem is not ‘not having ideas’. The problem is more on implementation by the government”. This line struck be because it is true, we humans, especially Filipinos, are very much capable and intelligent enough to create ways to help our world. There is simply an on going issue which reveals a lot of flaws in our political system. Hence, not making it very efficient for certain matters. I have come to realize that we have ideas, they just need to be voiced out. We have the capacity, it simply needs to be applied.

Last but certainly not the least, the system cooperation. A question which we always asked as a team was; “What Can We Do?”. As young citizens of the country, of course there are limits to the things we are capable of doing. We cannot simply think of an idea and ask the government for money so that this idea could be funded for launch. At times, as members of the youth generation, the best one could do is to spread awareness and start with ourselves. The PCA Coordinator suggested to us that we should, of course, start sharing everything we’ve learned in our experience with them to our block mates so that these people could further share it with others. Hence, increasing awareness. Also, she mentioned that we should, by ourselves, conduct ways on how to support Anti-Smoke Belching campaigns in the country. I have come to realize that the system does not work with one individual power having enough resources to fix or clean up the dilemma. It starts with everyone and its success depends on the initiative and cooperation of each and every individual to serve the country.

Promoting Clean Air: What Do We Hope To Achieve?

Smoke belching is growing to be a serious offense around the many cities found in the Philippines. Indeed, it is one of the vast problems that our world faces. Not only does it pose harm to the health of the very citizens of the country, it even destroys the natural resources that support Filipinos for their everyday livelihood. Furthermore, this problem highly contributes to the feared phenomenon which is Global Warming. Although the idea of the problem is very basic, its results and consequences are very mind-blowing and seriously irreversible. As one nation, every Filipino should participate in this Global outreach in order to save the planet. One way in doing so is to improve our self-system when it comes to protecting the environment; an aspect that the country must focus on is none other than the dangerous smoke emitted by vehicles around the metro. 

As a team, we decided to focus on this particular advocacy due to the fact that it is a very evident problem in the country, particularly around Metro Manila. Realistically speaking, as a team of college freshmen, we cannot simply terminate and eliminate all smoke belchers present around the city. This would be a long term goal that we plan to attain by educating the public and molding them to exhibit proper decorum when it comes to taking good care of the environmental factors. We plan to achieve a community where the people are highly aware of the causes and the effects of smoke-belching. Hence, motivating them to be more knowledgable over the problem, as well as disciplined with their actions. 

In order to address the stated matters, it is a requisite to gain knowledge and target the causes of this global predicament. There are various causes of smoke belching; the most common reason of such problem is the improper maintenance of the vehicles causing the mobile’s engine to emit unnecessary smoke in the air. Second, improper driving is also a factor which can contribute to smoke belching due to the fact that a person’s driving affects the vehicles functioning. Hence, a wrong manner of doing so may cause the emission of unwanted smoke. In addition, the motor oil and type of fuel used is also a major factor in contributing to smoke belching because these are the substances burned during combustion. As one may observe, all the main causes of vehicle’s smoke emission primarily depends on the responsibility of the owners (drivers). Clearly, it is a must for citizens to be equipped with the proper knowledge so that they may exhibit preventive ways of smoke belching; i.e. regular motor oil change, use of high quality diesel/gasoline, regular vehicle tune-ups, air-filter cleaning and the like. 

In order to achieve our goals, we can take the opportunity of tying up with Clean Air Asia (NGO) as we suggest to the Land Transportation Office to include in one of their programs an orientation/seminar which will educate people (particularly drivers) on the causes of smoke-belching and its effects to the human race in the long run. Although a seminar may only include a number of people at a time, this doesn’t mean that the spread of knowledge takes a halt there. That way, they will also be able to share their new findings with fellow colleagues. 

Furthermore, regarding the preventions or possible solutions to reduce smoke belching, although this may be addressed and taught to the people, there is usually an obstacle because most drivers cannot even afford to maintain their vehicles. Taking this for instance, tricycle or jeepney drivers (non-corporation) may not be able to support their own maintenance given the situation that they have families to support as well. This could be a great program suggestion for Clean Air Asia (NGO) so that they may conduct activities which could fund repairs/maintenance for these vehicles. 

Given these causes, possible ways of educating the people, feasible solutions and potential non-governmental programs to aid the Anti-Smoke Belching campaign, it is no question at all that the chances of eliminating or reducing the problem truly exists. It is simply a matter of concern from the citizens which is why their awareness must be increased as they are equipped with the proper knowledge regarding this global dilemma. Until then, we are slowly losing our chances of saving the planet as time passes by. 

Anti-Smoke Belching

A person may hear and read so much about campaigns urging the public to gather as one in order to protect and save the planet Earth. It is, indeed, a phenomenon to question why humans should even be concerned by this particular matter when there are a lot of other concerns to address; economic crises, state wars, incapable political leaders and various recurring social problems within and among countries. The simplest explanation about why the environment even matters at all is that, as humans, the environment – Mother Earth – is our home. This is the place where we live and breathe. Hence, our entire life support system depends on the well-being of the planet and its species. 

Nevertheless, despite that fact, it is very evident that humans are causing the destruction of the Earth system as they pose a threat to environmental degradation. There are many factors present which can deteriorate the country’s natural resources. In a very modern human world, one of which that highly contributes to the said dilemma is polluting the air we breathe. It is very bothersome to witness the public’s ignorance regarding the importance of the stated matter as many of the country’s driving citizens contribute to the smoke emission (casually referred to as smoke belching). 

“Save The Planet Earth” – A simple and easy catchphrase that contains good moral intentions. Yet, it appears as if the citizens of our country are very reluctant on understanding this. As a result, the public tends to fail on realizing the true significance of this thoughtful reminder. Although saving the Earth cannot be done in an instant manner, there are many ways of which one may be able to contribute in order to preserve the planet. One way to do so is to stop smoke-belching which is considered to be the number one major contributor to air pollution. 

As a citizen of the country, an inhabitant of the planet Earth, this pressing issue bothers me a lot due to the fact that the chances of destroying the planet and possibly annihilating every life form is heightened whenever citizens smoke-belch. In the long run, this critical problem will be the cause of diverse problems to the environment. First, this may bring increased smog which will act like black blankets over cities which will make the skyline view blurred. Second, smoke belching also contributes to producing acid rain. Acid rain occurs when the chemical composition of the water changes due to the chemicals from pollutants (smoke emitted). Hence, the water becomes very acidic causing the droplets from the rain harmful to forests and bodies of water. Last, but certainly not the least, smoke belching also contributes to increasing global warming. Global Warming is also caused by air pollution which occurs by the excess of carbon dioxide in the air. Through smoke belching, those chemicals from the smoke emitted by vehicle engines reach the atmosphere and eventually causes the distinct change in ozone levels.

The protection of our environment is important for human health which means that the ability to breathe clean air is fundamental for our welfare. In addition, our natural resources are also affected heightening the chances of environmental degradation. Many of our resources are non-renewable which means that when they run out, humans will be forced to search for alternatives in order to continue surviving in this world. No human being would have desire to even reach that point.

The identified problem is very huge and substantial and it cannot be solved in an instant manner. It is a process which involves the entire human race working together in taking care of the planet. Unless the public’s eyes are opened to this reality so that they may be able to change their actions, they should not complain when the times comes that Mother Earth can no longer sustain any life forms. The people have the freedom and the knowledge to decide on their actions which means that they must utilize this power and privilege wisely. Hence, the old catchphrase continues, “Save The Planet Earth”.

Votation System Flaw

Political Science, casually referred to as “the Art of the Government”, is, indeed, a very complex and crucial field in the Philippines for it strives to decipher the prevailing problems that are present in the country. The success of this endeavor is, of course, largely in the hands of the said country’s elected political leader. With that, it is definite that the process of voting must be highly regarded and conducted wisely by each and every Filipino voter. Nevertheless, the existence of imperfections in the system are inevitable; a very remarkable flaw, in this case, concerns the Filipino convention of electing political leaders who will govern the country’s administration. It is very bothersome to witness the public being blinded and falling into the trap of fame, artsy advertisements/commercials, catchy jingles and the like.

“Don’t Forget To Vote Wisely” – A simple and easy catchphrase which contains good moral intentions. Yet, it appears that many Filipinos have been reluctant on understanding this. As a result, the public tends to fail on realizing the true significance of this thoughtful reminder. It is quite unconventional that there is a large count of popular individuals who are being voted into different positions. However, come to think of it, there is nothing wrong with famous people who are deciding to run for office. Given the idea that they possess positive endeavors for the improvement of the country, there seems to be no reason at all to even hinder them from being elected. Technically, if a person is wealthy or famous, he/she should not be discriminated for it because each citizen of the country who decides to run has equal rights. Furthermore, there is also nothing immoral when members of the Filipino society vote for their respective choices as political leaders. 

Although the stated matters are not the issue, one must not be imperceptive of the true recurring dilemma of which many Filipinos are too easily persuaded to vote for people who are hyped up by the social media without truly knowing the candidates’ profiles. To simply put it, Filipinos have a tendency to overlook the authentic career backgrounds of the political candidates as they are effortlessly captivated by the charisma of celebrities running for office and/or candidates who are simply well-known to the public. The idea of this existing phenomenon is completely infuriating because given the current problematic situation of the Philippines, the Filipino mass still neglects the agenda of appointing leaders who can truly offer service. Hence, reducing the country’s burdens.

The question of why famous celebrities decide on running for office is always being asked. Obviously, their probable incapability could hurt the country’s state even more. The serious question would simply be; why is this occurring in our country? As mentioned earlier, one cannot blame a famous person for running for he/she is legal to do so. In addition, one must not also blame a voter for he/she is just exercising his/her right to vote. What we must be conscious of is the fact that many of our country’s voters are not sagacious or sensible enough to realize that each of their votes go a very long way in the political industry. The true question that should be asked is why the Filipino mass being outsmarted by, possibly, publicity stunts being conducted by these individuals?

As a citizen of the country, this pressing issue in the society bothers me a lot because the chances of a catastrophic government is heightened when people elected are possibly not capable of running the country. Each and every one of us who are citizens of this nation will have to face the harsh and uncalled for reality that the country is in a crisis. Given that situation, how much more can we afford to elect political leaders know noting about the science behind running a government? Everyone should be upset by the fact that we are the ones causing our own downfalls. 

Unless the public’s eyes are opened to this reality so that they may be able to change their existing standards of selecting candidates, they should not complain if the situation becomes any worse because they are the ones who selected the set of leaders to govern the country. The people are given the right to select who will and should lead the country which this power should be utilized wisely. Hence, the old catchphrase continues, “Don’t Forget To Vote Wisely”.

Questions re: Social Entrepreneurship

What are the targeted social problems that your social entrepreneurship plans to improve/solve?

How does this social entrepreneurship plan to help the needy/poor? Specific instances.

How do you visualize the situation of the different communities with the long term effect of this social entrepreneurship?

Formative Assessment: The Future