People Power


The Power of the People & NaFFAA

In the rush to make good with our contract to perform our American, and American because Americanized lives, we forget the other side of us, we immigrants of this land that has, for better or for worse, graciously adopted us.

There is that wonderful myth that has kept us on our toes and has made us faithful to our civic duties, something that we can be proud of, really.

Sometimes we pat our back, and give ourselves some stroking, and say, Only in America can this thing happen.

Like going to the polls and casting our ballots so the candidate that has given us so much promise for a better life would have a chance at the presidency after years of decline of our democratic rights and democratized duties.

But there is one thing that is yet to be done by many of us Filipinos in the United States: to insist who we are and to resist the wanton ‘Coca-colanization’ and ‘MacDonaldization’ of our everyday lives.

The lessons of political empowerment is thus of paramount importance.

And this is where we locate—‘site’ is a more appropriate term here—the context of the National Federation of Filipino American Association, also known as NaFFAA.

NaFAA has taught us that we can be a political power to reckon with, that we are, in a way, our very own ‘people power’.

The lessons in people empowerment—of giving power to people who are ready to be responsible with this power, or better yet, to prepare them to manage what power can do to turn our lives into something that is not endlessly challenged by powerlessness or by the unjust distribution of power but by power properly distributed in keeping with the requisites of the social contract to do good and just and fair for all people—are lessons that are learned the hard way, always mindful of the inevitable challenge in the Lord Acton maxim that warns us that ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

Whether in the Philippines, as is the case of the coming presidential elections in less than two years, or in the United States, with the presidential contest in less than three months from today giving the winner the responsibility of running the affairs of the ‘most powerful country’ in the world, people empowerment is not about receiving power but equipping ourselves with the very power given us by the fundamental law of the land where we live, or where we live our everyday lives.

Rational power, the well-thought out because critical power is what empowers us—is what binds all of us not only as civic citizens of a body politic but citizens as well of our cultures, our languages, and our world.

The power thus of the people is in the people, is among them, is in their midst.

Because the lessons from NaFFAA are for empowerment, we take our hats off for their years of serving us by giving us a voice amidst the cacophony of competing political claims.

Editorial, Fil-Am Observer, Aug 2008

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