22 August 2006

"Dream cities" and the currency of hope

IN THE "Good News" section of the Inquirer's online version is a story about the "Dream Cities" initiative of the Institute of Solidarity in Asia (ISA), which to date has covered 15 of the 114 cities in the country. Naga of course is one of them, together with Calbayog, Cebu, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Marikina, Samal, San Fernando in La Union, San Fernando in Pampanga, Sorsogon, Tacurong, Tagaytay, Tagbilaran, Tangub and Toledo.

What binds these cities together is ISA's public governance system (PGS), which is drawn from the Balanced Scorecard approach developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton at the Harvard School of Business. On August 30, in a national conference at the Philippine Plaza Hotel, they will have an opportunity to unveil the initiatives they have drawn up towards attaining their respective visions by 2015 or thereabouts.

Naga's vision, as can be seen from this roadmap, is to become a model city for participatory governance in Southeast Asia by the time the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are supposed to have been attained by member-states of the UN. It is our "big hairy audacious goal" or BHAG in Collinspeak (after Jim Collins who wrote the bestselling Built to Last and Good to Great.)

Compare the bullishness and the gung-ho of these "dream cities" with the hopelessness pervading Imperial Manila and its wrecked superstructures and you will see two Philippines: one buoyed up by a strong currency of hope, mostly in the countrysides, and another plagued by the steady erosion of that precious capital.

I too was moved when Epoyz wrote that 23 years after Ninoy Aquino lost his life, he finally wept over a nation unworthy of that supreme sacrifice. But no, I am not throwing the towel just yet. As Teddyboy Locsin told the Ateneo de Manila graduates early this month:

The challenge is for all of us to keep believing, as though by a lifelong compact, that thinking straight and doing right, feeling compassion and doing charity, and seeing that justice is done in any case, require no conditions and admit of no compromise. Only so can we replenish the rapidly declining capital of hope, which is the real key to the wealth of nations.