By: Tonyboy G. Gilana
This is in response to the thesis put forward by Bulaneno in his article, “The Culture of Corruption in Bulan”
In 2005, the Local Government Unit of Bulan called forward for all our people to see, and emulate, several ordinary Bulanenos, who displayed that wonderful virtue of honesty and fineness of heart.
Mr. Alex Francisco, a young man, a lowly padyak driver who earns barely a hundred pesos daily found a package containing 600,000 pesos which was left in his vehicle. He returned it to the owner.
Another padyak driver, a young family man with four malnourished kids, also returned 75,000 pesos to the owner-teacher who left her wallet in the pedicab. The money was intended for medicines.
Mr. Andres Gojar, of Barangay Palale, who was a former barangay kagawad, and later, one of our employees at Sabang Community Park, found a service pistol and wallet containing cash, left by a policeman while in Sabang. It was returned to the owner.
Mrs. Elsa Besmonte, a BHW of Aquino found cash amounting to 5,000 pesos. She returned it to the rightful owners.
Five Bulan Integrated Terminal porters and service boys were likewise honored in 2008 for returning CPs, cash and many other items lost by passengers in the facility. And at the Terminal itself, we have several unclaimed items either lost or left by our passengers.
A few days ago, Mr. and Mrs. Reynoel and Arlene Guan of Zone 3, returned to some RGCC students CPs or cash left in their small eatery. And the students were all overwhelmed at such display of honesty.
For me, honesty is already a theological virtue. It stems from the person’s decision or choice to return to the rightful owner what is due to that person. In a way, it is his sense of justice, and ultimately, his virtue of love that compels him to do so.
And we have thousands upon thousands of Bulanenos who practice it. It comes rooted from our own culture which we inherited from our forefathers, and most especially from our deep religious faith. Of course not all these acts of people are publicized daily. It is not a rarety, to say the least.
Even in the local government unit, in the academe, in the various professions, among our students, among the poorest of the poor, we always find that precious bond with conscience, which is practiced outwardly , and is called honesty. In our local dialect, they express it something like, ” Dire bali magdila o magsuda sin asin, dire lang mangloko sin kapuwa.” or, ” Mao yuon an tukdo sa ako san ako pamilya, ni mamay, ni papay…”
Of course, what is often heard or read today are dishonesty and corruption. They make the news– which gives us the impression that people, especially government leaders, or politicians, are evil. We know that this is a fact, a reality of life, and dishonesty permeates every level of society, the government, the private sector, the church, the media… since time immemorial. And there is reason to giving more emphasis to condemning wrongdoing of people in government, especially our leaders, since they can make or unmake the destinies of our communities.
The irony of it all, however, is that there are people who condemn dishonesty or wrongdoing but excuse themselves from it even if, by their own introspection, they themselves cannot be excused. This is hypocrisy.
I cannot but smile at one political opposition leader, who was elected in 1995 here in Bulan, who was consistently decrying and shouting corruption and dishonesty by the incumbent administration. But he was never looking at himself at how he was accused of allegedly encashing and pocketing a measly P2,000 intended for the riprapping project in one barangay. If he cannot then be trusted with a small amount how can he now be trusted with the whole local government funds? And yet, that same person is now very active again in telling Bulan people that this administration is corrupt because of the Bulan Terminal. I think Bulaneno knows who that politician is.
In a smaller perspective, it happens daily to family members or neighbors.
Honesty is a moral choice. It is also a gift. But all human beings are endowed with that freedom to accept that gift or not, but once we do accept we make a confirmation on the inherent goodness that is in every man.
That is why, when Bulaneno decided to publish his article on the “Culture of Corruption in Bulan”, assuming that he was only singling out the De Castro Administration on the Bulan Terminal Case, it was as if he was condemning everybody else in Bulan.
When you refer to culture, it is a way of life. It refers to communities, to that collective psyche present in every generation. Culture refers to that character of a people. Nobody can therefore prevent me from also telling everybody on the culture of honesty inherent in us as a Bulaneno community.
Reading between the lines of the Bulaneno article, one can already see the partisanship in him. He was simply propagandizing an issue that, again, falls within the ambit of our courts — be it a question of facts or a question of law. He was right in many of his quotations of many laws and their provisions, but ultimately, all these have to be proven in fact and in law. (I think, Bulaneno knows these, because by the way he writes he either must be a lawyer or a student of law).
So there is really no use of continually imputing guilt of graft and corruption against anybody, more so against Mayor De Castro, unless her innocence is proven otherwise. Although in the bar of public opinion, nobody can prevent Bulaneno or company from continually bombarding media or the internet with their partisan propaganda. But let our courts decide, even if it may take long. Let civility and decency in our communities and in our institutions take its proper course.
And going back to the issue of honesty. Let it be said that we have an honest people, a community that treasures the golden values and virtues of our religion and of our forefathers. Let us insulate our community folks from such sweeping generalizations, because they don’t deserve it. Let us refrain from using our people, or its culture, to further our own personal interests and goals.
We are a good, decent, civil, honest community, and we have always proven it. /