Thursday, March 8, 2007

Will I Leave the Philippines? A Follow Up Open Letter to All Filipinos

Dear Fellow Filipinos,

Magandang araw sa inyong lahat!

More than three weeks ago, I wrote an Open Letter entitled, What would make me leave the Philippines (if you have not read it, you may visit my site at ). This open letter has elicited much attention from Filipinos here and abroad and up until today, I still receive an average of 80-100 emails from Filipinos worldwide. I wish to thank all those who wrote to me and whether you agreed with me or not, I think the important thing is that the letter was able to spark discussion among Filipinos on the upcoming elections and hopefully, awaken in most of us an earnest desire to act in our own small way towards making our nation Great once more :) I thank as well all those who posted my open letter in their different blogs and websites, again, whether the comments that you gave me were good or bad, I'm happy that you took the time to read my letter and to share it with your friends. In all honesty, I did not really expect this much attention to be given to this open letter. Like I said in my interviews over Mornings at ANC and TV Patrol last week, I sent this email only to people I personally know and egroups that I belong to, the main intention was just to share my personal insights and opinions about where our nation is headed. For those who read my email and were offended by it, I would like to extend my heartfelt apologies.

Many people have now begun to ask me which candidates will I be supporting and what are things that they can do to help in my cause. I am very sorry to all those who have emailed me these questions and have failed to receive an answer from me, like I said, I wrote this without any agenda or ulterior motive and thus, I was totally caught off guard with the many emails I receive each day. For those who continue to ask whether I will stay or go when the 7 things I wrote down happen, my answer is YES, I will STAY in the Philippines even if the 7 things do happen. But for me, the more fundamental question is not whether or not one should leave the country but rather to ask ourselves what can we do in our own small way to contribute towards Nation Building. I personally don't think that any Filipino has the right to complaint and put down people if s/he has done nothing at all to help our nation grow. Ang problema ng marami sa ating mga Pinoy, we love to criticize, complain and shout to high heavens what is wrong with our government and leaders yet, we don't do anything at all to become even just a small part of the solution to all of our problems.

Now, after reading all the insights, comments and suggestions of those who emailed me, I took some time to reflect and discern upon all these. I realized that most of us are sick and tired about the usual politics and usual traditional politicians that runs our country. Some Filipinos have also given up all Hope of one day seeing a better Philippines that is run by good people committed primarily to genuine public service. Thus, I'd like to invite all of you to be part of Bagong Pag-Asa, a national movement that will aspire for New Politics and a New Brand of Filipino Leadership. I sincerely believe that every Filipino in our own small way can be a changemaker for this country thus, through this movement we will work together towards these changes that we have long aspired for and hopefully help millions of Filipinos make better choices on whom to elect in this coming elections. I'd like to believe that based on the responses that I have received from people, Filipinos are longing for positive change and better leaders, thus, I think the time is now for ordinary Filipinos to work together and make these changes happen. Let us not wait anymore for our leaders to do this for us lest we all wait in vain.

If you are one of the many Filipinos who are sick and tired of Traditional Politics and is seeking better leaders for our country, then I invite you to join me in this movement.

If you would like to help me in educating our fellow Filipinos on the right candidates and leaders to elect this coming elections, then I invite you to join me in this movement.

If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute in your own little way towards building a better Philippines and better Leadership in our country then I invite you to join me in this movement.

If you decide to accept this invitation and join us in moving towards a better Philippines, please email your complete name, email address and contact information to . It doesn't matter if you are in South Korea , San Francisco, Saudi Arabia, San Juan or Sulu, any Filipino who still believes that we can make this country great again can join this movement. Together let us make this the Beginning of a National Awakening that will hopefully change the landscape of Philippine politics for the better!

To end let me share with you a famous quote by Margaret Mead which goes....

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Again, to all my Kababayans that have read and shared my open letter to others, thank you very much for your time. If you believe in all the things that I wrote down in this letter then feel free to again share it with all your friends and kababayans. Now, it is our time to do our own share and be the change that we want to happen in our country.

Thank you very much and may you have a good day! :)

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas at Mabuhay ang Mamamayang Pilipino!


Harvey S. Keh

Harvey S. Keh, 27, is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University's School of Government and a Fellow at the Asian Institute of Management's Mirant Center for Bridging Societal Divides. He is also the Executive Director of AHON Foundation, an organization that helps promote literacy by building public elementary school libraries. Harvey was chosen as one of the 20 Young Leaders of Asia by the Asia Society, an organization based in New York that aims to strengthen relationships and deepen understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States of America.

Friday, March 2, 2007

PDI: Youth Leader to leave RP if 7 things happen

Youth leader to leave RP if 7 things happen
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer 02/28/2007

Link to Article:

MANILA, Philippines -- The state of politics in the Philippines is becoming so bad that even the most patriotic of Filipinos like Harvey Keh is considering migrating.

If that happens, it will certainly be a big loss.

The credentials as patriot of the 27-year-old Keh are impeccable.

In an open letter posted on the Internet, Keh said that in spite of his love for his country, there were seven possible outcomes of the coming elections that would make him consider leaving the country.

1. If former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of "Hello Garci" infamy wins in his announced bid to become congressman of Bukidnon province.
The opposition says a wiretapped conversation purportedly between Garcillano and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is evidence Ms Arroyo stole the 2004 presidential election. Ms Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing.
"We would really be the laughingstock of the whole world if we allowed a man with the reputation of Garci to be one of our so-called 'Honorable Gentlemen,'" Keh said in his open letter titled "What Will Make Me Leave the Philippines."

2. If "Dancing Queen" Tessie Aquino-Oreta reclaims her Senate seat.
"I hope that all of us would still remember that dance that she did during the 2001 impeachment hearings after they voted to overrule the decision of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Let us make sure that people like her never make it to the Senate again," said Keh.

3. If actor and comedian Richard Gomez is elected senator.
"What does he know about making laws? We already have the likes of Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid in the Senate, and their performance, or the lack of it, would be reason enough not to elect another actor who has no prior experience in government to the distinguished halls of the Senate," the letter said. \n\n

4. If former senator Gregorio Honasan wins a Senate seat.
"I cannot believe that just because someone is charismatic, we will just elect him to become one of our senators despite the fact that he has time and again caused so much instability in our country," Keh said. "If we want a military junta similar to that of Thailand, then let's all vote for this guy."

5. If Manny Pacquiao becomes congressman of General Santos City.
"Everybody loves Manny the Boxing Champ, but Manny the Lawmaker? Let's be realistic here, Manny is our hero, but I think it takes more than just great boxing skills and a desire to serve to be able to make appropriate laws that would help uplift the lives of the many Filipinos who live in poverty," he said. \n\n6. If Sen. Lito Lapid is elected mayor of Makati City.

6.Lito Lapid as city mayor of the country's finance and business center?! Do you really think he is from Makati and has good plans for the city?" he asked.

7. If Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson, who has long been linked to illegal gambling, is elected.

Deluge of concern

Keh's short e-mail has reached the farthest corners of the world, triggering a deluge of responses from Filipinos -- most of whom share his fears.

"Since I sent the e-mail on Feb. 14, I have been receiving at least 80 messages a day," Keh told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "I spend about two to three hours in front of my computer just answering my mail.

"It seems that the letter has really circulated and penetrated almost every Filipino e-group all over the world," said Keh.

Keh said he was compelled to write an open letter because of the news that Garcillano was going to run in Bukidnon.

Keh, however, said in another e-mail sent following the huge response generated by his first letter that there were still reasons to stay in the Philippines, and Filipinos overseas could do their share by investing in education.

Invest in education

It is in education that Keh finds a brighter future for the Philippines.\nAnd how much does it cost to invest in the country's future?

Not much, according to Keh.

Just $60, he said, could send a Filipino youth leader to a training seminar to help develop better leaders; $100 can buy a complete set of reference materials for a public elementary school library for 2,000 students, and $200 can help send a student to college for one year, as provided by Pathways to Higher Education, which Keh helped put up.

"As long as there are many more Filipinos who are willing to take a risk and invest in our country's future, then indeed there is still much hope left in the Philippines," he said.


Keh is the former executive director of Pathways to Higher Education at the Ateneo de Manila University, an organization that helps less fortunate students gain access to quality higher education in the Philippines.He is one of the 20 Young Leaders of Asia cited on the 50th anniversary of the Asia Society, an organization founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III to strengthen relationships and deepen understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States.

He is also one of the inaugural Fellows of the Asian Institute of Management's Mirant Center for Bridging Societal Divides and executive director of Ahon Foundation, which aims to increase Filipino literacy by building libraries across the country.

What's wrong with this picture?

He was also concerned about the unusual makeup of the two major political alliances fighting over the 12 seats in the Senate.

The Team Unity ticket of President Macapagal-Arroyo has former senators Sotto and Aquino-Oreta, who accused Ms Arroyo of cheating their then standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. during the 2004 elections.

On the other hand, Senate President Manuel Villar, who as House Speaker was instrumental in the impeachment of former President Joseph Estrada, is now part of the United Opposition, which is led by Estrada himself.
"Now, if you don't see anything wrong with this picture then you must be one of the many Filipinos who have accepted this very sad reality that there is indeed no permanent ideals that our government leaders stand up for, but rather, they just go where their self-interest can best be served," Keh said in his e-mail.

"It is this kind of politics [that explains] why I no longer wonder why good people like Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City or outstanding Bulacan Gov. Josie de la Cruz will find it hard, or worse, never be elected to national positions," Keh said.

Be more vigilant

Keh appealed to his fellow Filipinos to do their share to shape the outcome of the elections in May.

"I think it is time that Filipinos became more vigilant and critical in selecting our leaders for the sake of our future and the generations that will go beyond us. So I appeal to every Filipino who asks what can I actually do for my country, choose and vote for the right people in the coming elections," he said.

He appealed to Filipinos in his open letter not to be influenced by candidates on the basis of a catchy jingle or a cute poster.

"Let us choose leaders who have a good track record for service and who are genuinely committed toward serving our country," he said.