Thursday, January 20, 2005

Karangalan, gathering time

The boulders in our hearts will quake and break open, the shroud of grief will lift and the sound of wailing will drift away. I make myself say that and believe it will happen indeed.

A terrible season has just passed, a more terrible one we should not expect otherwise we would be mired in grief and hopelessness. But what is hope? It is not hope but mere passive waiting if there is no action, if there is no effort to restore the mountains that collapsed on us, or to find signs of life amidst the flotsam and the jetsam that were swept away and back into our lives. We cannot gripe forever in our comfort zones.

And so we go out and gather, otherwise we scatter.

Did the angels conspire and the gods inspire that now we see people gathering, bothering once again to seek solutions so that this obdurate and benighted nation would move forward and up? Does the Philippines have a future? Does the Philippines have a future with our generation?

The organizers of the Karangalan Conference/Festival ``are confident that the Philippines has a future.’’ When they say future, they mean good, bright.

After a litany of ills, hope comes hurtling: ``Amidst the anger and frustration, there is also the reality of the other Philippines. This is the Philippines of moral strength, courage, vision, initiative, compassion, integrity, political will, socially-oriented businesses, artistic competence, social entrepreneurship, achievement and excellence. It is a reality that is here, right now. It is something not far away but already here in our midst, slowly but surely re-shaping the future of our country for the better.’’ There.

This amazing future unfolds tomorrow, Jan 21. About 2,000 people are expected to join the three-day Karangalan Conference/Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This conference is also a festival because those who will come will feast because, according to the organizers, last year, the Philippines became one of the most globally awarded countries in the world. Individuals and groups won no less than 10 of the highest global awards for their work in global justice, journalism, environment, culture including music and areas of art, social threefolding as an approach to peaceful society transformation, sports, urban architecture, renewable energy and sustainable towns.

Spokesperson Nicanor Perlas said this will be the first time globally and nationally awarded Filipinos from the three key spheres of society—economy, politics and culture—are coming together to highlight and advance ``the reality of another, much better Philippines.’’ Perlas was a winner of the 2003 Right Livelihood Award, the UN Environmental Global 500 Award and the Outstanding Filipino Award.

I had to squint when I read the roster of speakers and the dazzling global awards after their names. Lahat premyado. Honestly, I’d also want to listen to a really outstanding barangay captain. And I could not help thinking whether Aeta leader Carling has been invited to listen, this G-stringed find from the foot of Mount Pinatubo who has himself done a lot of speaking and reaching out to the original nations of the world. But I digress.

Karangalan means having honor and dignity; it comes from the word dangal or honor.

The goals of the conference (take a deep breath) are: to highlight and celebrate the striving and successes of many Filipinos for a better way of life and country; to empower Filipinos, through an experience of dozens of exciting initiatives, with a sense of vision and hope for our country and our country’s future; to create a social space where diverse, prominent and little-known initiatives can come together and cross-fertilize each other; to enable participants and the larger public to have a glimmer of the present form and future possibilities of the visionary Philippines that is emerging in our midst; to encourage the launching of new initiatives for a better Philippines.

The participants will experience the reality of ``the other, more hopeful Philippines’’ through a lectures, workshops, exhibits and artistic performances. As far as I know, the convenor group, a mix of more than 20 NGOs and institutions, are not identified with any political party. Participants will have to pay a fee (at least P300 a day to cover costs) but students and the impoverished can get discounts. To know more, log on to

Karangalan is not the only gathering this season. ABS-CBN recently convened the ``Forum for the Filipino Future.’’ And today, the three-day Global Filipino Networking Convention in Cebu City begins. Its call: ``Enshrine yourself in the gallery of heroes. Join our stand in pushing our country forward.’’ It’s full-page ad in the Inquirer has a someone girl asking: ``Reklamo…puro reklamo. Pero, ’Tay, ano ba ang nagawa n’yo para sa bayan?’’ Aray. Two weeks from now we will have the 2nd Philippine Summit of the News Media (``Media Nation 2: Owning Up.’’)

I noticed that media and telecommunications biggies are sometimes sponsors of big gatherings. And where one media or corporate giant is a sponsor its major competitor is not likely to be there. ABS-CBN will not cover a GMA7-sponsored to-do and vise-versa. Incidentally, someone from ABS-CBN is co-emceeing at Karangalan. I hope the other networks will not excuse themselves.

Will this three-day Karangalan gathering go down to ground level? Yes, Perlas said, the participants will make ways to spread this awareness of ``another, much better Philippines’’ that is in all of us.

And so, to the future indeed. Here’s looking at you.