“Duterte for President!” exclaimed an eleven-year old boy with his right fist punching the stratosphere.
I thought Davao City Mayor Duterte had declared that he wasn’t interested in running as Philippine president in the 2016 national elections. This boy didn’t read the news, I said to myself.
Then I saw the September 27 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer stating in one of the headlines, “ Supporters pledge P1B for Duterte.” Ooops, it was I who didn’t read the news.
The lead paragraph said, “They are not expecting anything in return, not even publicity. All they want is a crime-free, drug-free, corruption-free, and rebellion-free Philippines.”
Is this hope or hopelessness?
I’m an incurable romantic so I choose to believe that this is hope. We’re holding another national elections in 2016 because we continue to dream and hope for better things.
The eleven-year old boy roots for Duterte because he hopes that a tough man will be his defender and hero.
The Duterte supporters pledging P1B to seduce Duterte to join the presidential race hope that a President Duterte will rid the Philippines of crime, drugs, corruption, and rebellion through a tough-guy leadership style.
So where does Illac Diaz fit in this article? Who’s he in the first place? Please bear with me.
Lately, I’ve been reading up on public trust and I read in an article published by the Social Weather Station that a sincerity survey it conducted this year revealed that the Office of the President enjoyed a very good sincerity rating of positive 54. On the other hand, the Bureau of Customs was kicked down the cellar with a very bad sincerity rating of negative 55!
We give our trust to a person or an institution we perceive to be sincere. In an election, we give our vote to the person whom we believe to be sincere and trustworthy.
Is Illac Diaz more sincere and more trustworthy than Duterte?
I won’t bash Duterte because I don’t wish to dash the hopes of my 11-year old house guest. I hope to get him to like Illac Diaz and have a change of heart.
The first time that I heard Illac speak was during an assembly of Sun Life Insurance Advisors at the Mall of Asia Convention Center in August 2015. (Yes, I have re-invented myself as a Sun Life Insurance Advisor.) It was my first time to hear Illac speak and hear about Pier One, My Shelter Foundation, and Liter of Light.
Dressed in a t-shirt with a Liter of Light logo, jogging pants, and running shoes, Illac went up the stage and told his story. (I’m paraphrasing.)
“When I was in grade school at the Ateneo de Manila, I always helped out as a volunteer whenever there were floods, typhoons, and other disasters. I was a rice boy. I’d put 4 cups of rice in a plastic bag, then others in the assembly line would add 2 cans of sardines, and so forth.
“I did the same thing in high school. And the same thing in college. After graduating in 1995, I asked myself if I could apply my Ateneo education on more creative, people-empowering solutions to disaster mitigation.
“I immersed myself in an evacuation site and asked the people what they needed. The women told me that they needed to wash their clothes but there was very little water. Invention number one: My friends and I invented a bicycle-powered washing machine made of empty water drums. (See this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogZX5hGOFNA)
“Part of the rehabilitation effort in any disaster area is re-building schools. Even if well-meaning people are willing to donate cement, steel, and hollow blocks, transporting them to isolated islands is a logistical problem.
“So I looked around and saw that there was an abundant supply of bamboo. Why not use bamboo? It’s typhoon-proof. I spoke with the old folk and I learned that bamboo can be made termite-resistant by treating it with ‘siling-labuyo.’ It’s a kind of really hot pepper which is also plentiful in the area. And that’s how the Bamboo School was born.”
“Darkness is another problem during disasters and even on normal days. There is no light. In crowded and thickly-populated areas, it’s always dark even during the day. Houses are built side by side so that sunlight cannot go in. Because electricity is expensive, many crowded areas are unlighted at night. Darkness breeds crime. There must be a way to bring light into the darkness.
“There’s plenty of sunlight in the Philippines. And plenty of discarded plastic bottles. So using the technology invented by Alfredo Moser, my friends and I experimented with one plastic bottle. It worked!
(See this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkUUyxYZGsY)
“Today, the solar water bottle is lighting up homes, streets, and sari-sari stores in electricity-poor places in the Philippines and around the world. We run workshops and teach local people how to do it. It’s fairly simple and inexpensive. We have uploaded video tutorials on youtube. We are multiplying ourselves and empowering women, children, the youth, and jobless people.
“Let’s keep on dreaming and taking action.”
So why am I rooting for Illac Diaz as Philippine president? (He’s probably too young right now.)
First, he’s not a poverty pornographer. He does not condescend on the poor and use them as a political prop to win an election. He has applied his education to truly empower the masses.
Second, he will not go around with a begging bowl to ask for foreign aid. He has shown that he has the ability to use what’s locally available, environment-friendly, inexpensive, and income-generating.
Third, he’s CREATIVE. He turns old solutions upside down. He looks for the solution in the problem. He thumbs down expensive solutions imposed on developing countries by mainstream market leaders.
Fourth, he’s sincere. He’s not a politician. He’s a thought leader. We must think and create so we can crawl out of the darkness.
Fifth, he’s a great role model for the youth. He’s young himself and he is the right 21st century leader for our young population, half of whom are 25 years old and below.
Sixth, he’s a looker (nephew of former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz) who makes social entrepreneurship sexy!
Finally, imagine what he can do with P1B!