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In my new publication entitled “Book of Virtues and Values,” I recognized the fact that the good values in a society can be fostered with the assistance of several institutions: first and foremost, the family, then the schooling system, the business sector, civil society, and mass media. I asked for the collaboration of my colleagues at the University of Asia and the Pacific and elsewhere. A novel feature of the book is the inclusion of guest articles by specialists from a wide range of disciplines, very much in line with the mission of the new Center for Research and Communication which has gone beyond its original reputation as a leading economics think tank to a research institute devoted to multidisciplinary studies. CRC has become a forum of multidisciplinary research and conferences that combine the best minds of academe, business world, government, and civil society in addressing the most relevant social issues facing the Philippines today. Since the nurturing of virtues and values is a cooperative task of different specialists, I have asked my colleagues at the UAP and outside to contribute essays to this book. Dr. Paul Dumol, noted playwright and historian, addresses the very important question of how to nurture the virtue of citizenship, which is just a form of the virtue of gratuitousness, among especially the youth. Dr. Antonio Torralba, a leading educator now specializing on imparting the appropriate education on human sexuality to adolescents, has contributed an essay that explains how to help teenagers to live the virtue of chastity, which will prepare them for stable and lasting marriages. Dr. Zenon Udani, who used to work at CRC and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Macau, focuses on the importance of values and virtues formation to the most strategic part of a business which makes it a human organization: people management or human resources management.
After the family, the most effective institution to impart virtues and values is the school. Dr. Severina Villegas, an educational consultant of a good number of both public and private institutions, focuses on the important challenge of connecting with adolescents who are going through an unstable and unpredictable stage in their young lives. She maintains that civic education in the classroom could be used as a core topic in communicating the importance of virtues and values to adolescents in a manner that relates "motherhood statements" such as patriotism and love for country to very real and down-to-earth experiences that the youth usually undergo during their teen years. Dr. Veronica Ramirez, a multi-talented educator and social scientist and my closest collaborator in managing the CRC, writes about the school as a caring community that can strongly complement, and in some extreme cases, replace the family, as a cradle of virtues and values. Since some thirty percent of Philippine households are headed by parents who are unable to provide for the minimum economic needs of the family, it is extremely helpful if the schools in which their children receive basic education are able to compensate, even if partially, for the shortcomings in imparting values of their poor and harassed parents.
One of the greatest challenges to the public sector during the first decades of the twenty first century is to introduce a culture of integrity in Philippine society. As in many developing countries all over the world, rampant corruption leads to significant wastes of much needed funds for development. Institutional reforms are necessary but more urgent is developing a new breed of leaders in both private and public sectors who practise the virtues of honesty, justice and charity. Mr. Ramon del Rosario Jr., Chairman of the Makati Business Club and CEO of the PHINMA group of companies, writes about "Building a Culture of Integrity," in which he suggests a combination of monitoring systems to minimize if not totally eliminate corrupt practices in the public sector, such as in the procurement processes, and the individual pledges of corporations and executives to set personal examples of integrity or honest behaviour in their business transactions. Another experienced top executive, this time in the field of integrated marketing communication, Mr. Herminio Ordonez, retired chairman of Publicis Manila and a free-lance journalist, completes the list of guest writers with his ideas about how to make use of media to strengthen the good Filipino values through advertising and marketing communications. He especially rejoices that most added values in advertising are those related to fostering strong family ties. Mr. Ordonez was personally responsible during his long years as an advertising executive to convince business people, especially in the consumer-oriented sectors, to include in their advertising messages the importance of good parenting and the creation of bright and cheerful homes.
The articles I have contributed to this volume were mostly columns I wrote for the Manila Bulletin during a space of three to four years, coinciding with the economic trauma of the Great Recession which had its worst effects on the advanced economies of the U.S., Europe and Japan. It is no mere coincidence that the hardest hit countries--where unemployment rates rose to as high as 20%--were those suffering from the loss of family values and the scourge of consumerism, a lifestyle based on the belief that what is important to human happiness is "having" rather than "being." For this reason, I have grouped the articles into sections entitled "The Value of Doing Good in Business," "The Value of Living the Virtues," "The Virtues of Icons, Role Models and Personalities," and "The Value of Spirituality." All these point to the truth that happiness on earth and in the life hereafter (for the believers) depends on what you are and do rather than on what you possess or accumulate in this world. Doing the morally right things and being people of virtues will not only redound to the integral human development of each person. It will also lead to sustainable economic development.
I end the book with an integrating article entitled "Filipino Values: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," in which I tried to present the strengths and weaknesses of what we can call the Filipino culture. Predictably, I gave much importance to the deep Christian faith demonstrated by millions of Filipinos; the high priority they assign to strong family ties; their openness to other cultures; their willingness to invest in education; and their well known optimistic and cheerful disposition. On the other hand, I have identified what I consider the areas where most Filipinos need improvement: their lack of the virtue of order and discipline; their lack of attention to details and little things; their relative backwardness in technology and productivity; their lack of patriotism and commitment to the common good of society; and the lack of individual initiative among the ordinary citizens or workers. My listing is not exhaustive but only suggestive of areas in which we can build on our strengths and remove our weaknesses through the appropriate values formation practices in the family, school, work place, Church, and community.
Finally, let me acknowledge my greatest intellectual debt to Pope Benedict XVI, whose best-selling book "Values in a Time of Upheaval" served as a framework for this present work. As the inside jacket of his book state: "Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) offers a coherent vision of the Christian faith and its place in a world of competing values and ideas. As a theologian, university professor, archbishop, now pope, Benedict XVI has contemplated the major issues of modern life, and he has sought to understand how faith and human reason can work together to address those issues. "Values in a Time of Upheaval" is a brilliant overview of his analysis and a concise presentation of his solutions to many of the problems faced by the modern world." Hopefully, thanks to his inspiration and constant guidance to the Roman Catholic flock to which I belong, I have made some modest contributions in presenting solutions to some of the problems faced by our beloved country today. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.