Some people go into a pilgrimage with the end view of uplifting and deepening their relationship with God. Each of us has our own way of doing this taking into account our religious faith, personal beliefs and traditions.
The Muslims for instance are required as much as possible and at least for once in their lifetime to make a Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, a place considered holy under Islam doctrine. The same is true with Buddhists and Hindus. The Hindus believe that the Ganges River is sacred and so they visit the said place at least once a year to join in a holy ritual with the pure intentions that they will be saved and forgiven of their sins and eventually go to heaven when they die. I had also the chance to see the Ganges River and observed the ritual when I was in India years back. I remember it was getting dark when we dropped by the place on our way to New Delhi and coming from Agra for the grandiose Taj Majal. There were chanting of prayers and songs and floating of candles and flowers on the river. Unfortunately, I was not camera conscious at that time yet and so I had no photos of my own of the said unique place and experience. (Sorry, next time maybe!)
The Buddhists have their own way of doing some sacrifices too. They engage in so-called walking pilgrimage, a backbreaking task as the said walk is not only for one day but most of the times could take months. I have read this article in one of the blogs I visited about Buddhist monks. It was very interesting as this particular monk in his twenties recounted the ordeals he had faced which he described it as one of the “most difficult things” he had done in his life. It was a 35-day walk from Nepal to India with only one bag carried on his back and detached from material possessions and other things which could probably provide ease to the muscle and joint pains or even foot sores due to severe walking. Most of the times these pilgrimages are arduous and the pilgrims do not only offer their sacrifices for themselves but also the intentions of their loved ones, friends and for all mankind.
For Catholics, October is the month of the Holy Rosary. The Holy Rosary is one of the vocal prayers in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. During this time of year, some catholic pilgrims and devotees of the Blessed Mother would organize both local and international pilgrimages. Some would opt to visit nearby local churches named after Our Lady either on foot or by car and reciting the Holy Rosary meditating on the life, joys and miseries of the Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ while they were on Earth. For those who can afford to join in a foreign travel for a pilgrimage, they could participate in a group for a Marian Pilgrimage either to Holy Land or to any sacred places where the Blessed Mother is venerated and recognized as the Mother of God.
This month, our local parish community had a one-day Marian Pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Washington, New Jersey. It is where the National Headquarters of the World Apostolate of Our Lady of Fatima is situated. The group was fortunate to have a priest (Fr. Richard M.) with them who served as the spiritual director. Having a spiritual guide is deemed important as he or she would be able to guide the group, keep them focused and walk-through them on the intent of the pilgrimage. While on the bus, the group recited and pondered on the Holy Rosary. Upon arrival, they did a meditative Way of the Cross on the hills of the Shrine and finally a Holy Mass was officiated for all the pilgrims.
( young couple who joined the pilgrimage)
Similarly, other groups organized a Rosary Congress and one of which was held this month in North Carolina. The said congress was attended not only by Marian devotees but also those who are interested to know about the Blessed Mother's role in the Catholic faith.
Local churches have likewise celebrated the feast of the Holy Rosary this month. In honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, some of them especially choir groups would wear their native costumes as they considered it a special day for Our Lady, and they even took a snapshot with Her. Cool guys!
As the month of the Holy Rosary has finally ended, I hope that each and everyone of us may have a change of heart, regardless of our beliefs, and be able to realize that little or big sacrifices through prayers, meditations and pilgrimages could help not only in uplifting our spiritual life but also in our relationship with God.
Fall and Winter seasons of the year are entirely separate and distinct from each other. Fall is sort of a prelude to winter. It provides everyone living in temperate climates an opportunity to prepare for the coldest time of the year.
In the U.S. for instance, people would start changing their wardrobes, storing their summer clothes and dusting off their boxes of old and relatively new but unused winter clothing. Some older people who can afford to move to warmer places would opt to spend winter time in the said places, whereas those who have no choice for lack of affluence in life, have to struggle and learn to adapt to the situation.
The same situation happens in plants and animals. They have have their own way of planning and saving for the “rainy days”, so to speak. Because of their natural instincts, some animals like birds during fall would start migrating to other warmer places so they can survive. While other animals like the squirrels would remain and hide in any kind of winter shelters with their food which have been gathered during the late summer and fall seasons. Even plants too. In fall season, leaves of most of the trees wither and disappear, leaving only the trunk and branches which are most of the times covered with snow and ice during winter time.
Today, the east coast of U.S.A, experienced an unusually winter-like weather in fall time. It is a rare occurrence as normally snow fall specifically in New York does not happen, especially in the month of October, which is approximately still 2 months away from the first day of winter time which is on December 22nd. This happening may not appear strange to some but for me, there's some sort of a weird feeling. Not sure if you've read my blog in March this year, entitled “The First Taste of Summer in Spring Time….(see link http://www.myusefultips.com/?cat=439), we likewise experienced a summery feeling on the 18th of March, which was still winter based on the 4 seasons' calendar. Thus, for this year alone, we have effectively encountered an early summer and an early winter! What a mere coincidence! An amazing experience indeed!
Nevertheless, I simply loved watching the heavy snow flurries this morning falling down on my umbrella. It was beautiful to look at as they danced gracefully to the tunes of the wind and rain!
While the snow fall in NYC was pretty friendly, it was a different case in other parts of the east coast which were badly hit by a powerful snow storm.
In any case, for whatever scientific explanations there might be about the said rare occurrences, let's just hope that it yields positive results for all of us.
Based on weather forecasts, the temperature in the days ahead would be normal again, hopefully in its 50s!
Take care everyone and enjoy your Halloween night!
Education is one need in life which is close to my heart! Is it simply because I don't have anything, but this?
Education plays a crucial role in shaping a person's career path and professional growth with the end view of becoming successful someday, i.e, getting better jobs and earning more.
However, most of us know that even in the field of education, obviously there is a rising social class and inequality. Talented students whose parents can afford to send them to top-tiered schools would have better job opportunities and potentially could be accepted to occupy managerial posts in multinational corporations and other large organizations vis-a-vis struggling but equally talented and conscientious students who could not afford to go to the best schools due to limited funds, left with no choice but to go to a low quality school, be contented with a non-bachelor degree course and if lucky enough would land probably in an entry level technical position.
This is also true in elementary and secondary schools where the said gap between the rich and poor are being experienced particularly in developing countries, where affluent families send their children to private schools with good teachers and comfortable state-of-the-art facilities compared to certain public schools where classrooms and facilities are most of the times dilapidated with no repairs or maintenance, no field trips for students, no smart boards and most of all insufficient good “quality” teachers, and all of these are due to lower budget allocation for public education.
The sad reality these days is that an educated man with higher learning would absolutely have the competitive advantage over another who have not been able to reach high school or college, in so far as access to employment are concerned. However, there are exceptions naturally to the rule where quite a few willingly college drop-outs obviously make it big in the outside world such as the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs who became very successful in their endeavors because of their business acumen and technological know-how. Their decisions to pack up their bags out of college could have been in effect a blessing in disguise! It was considered an opportunity for them to pursue their dreams and do what they would love to do. As I said, these people and incidents are exceptions to the rule. It is not applicable to all, unless you have the necessary technological skills and that the same kind of opportunity knocks on your door.
For poor people, education is the only available weapon to battle the misery of poverty. It paves the way for majority of them (even middle class families especially in these trying times) to uplift their standards of living. As such, poor (and uneducated) but responsible parents who got no large tracts of lands , no money in banks and no businesses to give away to their children, would very much would like to see their children go to school, earn an education, be employed someday and save them hopefully from the bondage of poverty. To them, that's the best gift for their children, same thing for the latter to their parents. Thus, they would exert best efforts to go out of their way to look for ways and means to resolve the problem. Some would go to small lending institutions or even resort to “loan sharks” (this is the sad part), i.e. obtaining loan at an exorbitant interest rates but where small amount of loan repayments could either be made on a weekly or monthly basis. These families would also engage in small businesses, as food vendors and the like or join farmer, fisher folks or cottage industry cooperatives, just like what Lydia did, the widow in “my useful tips” earlier post about “Conditional Cash Transfers”, (check this link: http://www.myusefultips.com/?p=2453). Despite their hard work and patience, they are still faced with the problem on how they can sustain and cope up with the rising cost of education and related expenses particularly when their children reach high school, college and beyond.
But not all poor parents are high-principled like those which I have described earlier. There are some poor parents who do not regard education as one of their basic needs. Looking for food for them to survive is absolutely what is in their top most agenda. For most of them, education is secondary and only if it is offered to them for free, a decision will then be made on whether or not to send their kids to school. I think this is one aspect where Government and private sectors' investments are needed, primarily to help educate first the parents themselves on the importance of education for their off springs, that is from early childhood, to tertiary and so on. Empowering the parents as decision makers (e.g. sending their kids to school) will eventually make them feel part of the society as a whole.
This is precisely why there is importance in investing in education. Obviously, policy makers these days are being encouraged to re-assess and re-consider the subject in view of present policy discussions on poverty alleviation. Investment in education from both the Government and the private sector including non profit organizations is being regarded as a tool to increase productivity and thereby help build a strong economy. It is envisioned that Governments, particularly those in third world and developing economies and where budget for education is scarce, are inclined to partner with the private sector to offer “quality” education to all students, rich or poor.
Initial talks on private sector participation (PSP) in social services such as education under the third wave of privatization have been broached many years back, as such this so-called investment in education is not new. However, further discussions on the subject were either postponed or set aside due to some oppositions and resistance from certain stakeholders. As a matter of fact, one study prepared by an investment bank was placed on my table for review when I was still a public servant. I recall the consultant's findings and recommended strategies were elevated to concerned policy makers for consideration but the said recommendations were freezed to attend to some more important matters. Apparently, the consultant's recommendations were not seen as a possible solution to the country's problem on education at that point in time. It was seen to be politically incorrect and a bad policy to test the same given the wrong timing considering that it was an election year.
While the said proposed PSP recommendation could have resulted to better education system, it was seen as a bad move (anti-social) as the said proposed policy reform may not be embraced by majority of the people in the streets. The proposed strategy was not even a complete privatization of the education sector but only a portion of its operations, how much more if it was a full privatization. As such, partial or full reforms such as this could be shelved due to resistance from certain sectors, including the Government itself, primarily due to lack of political will.
Since then there have been emerging privatization strategies for the education sector considering that most Governments are of the view that an improvement in this sector would have beneficial impact on the life of the poor. As such education reforms have been adopted in various parts of the globe even in developed nations. In the U.S. for instance, there are parts of the country which have attempted considering the voucher system although it has not gotten to be successfully implemented, but some have adopted the so-called “charter schools” which have actually been helpful in a way based on studies undertaken by experts. It is seen as one way of bringing better education to under privileged group and a help to over crowded public schools.
Other developing countries are likewise making moves to fix their poor educational systems. Governments are placing more emphasis on education, finding all kinds of investment forms from all stakeholders as an alternative approach to privatization, mainly to enhance educational standards. One strategy on how to market these education-related programs and attract possible investors is to hold conferences, seminars and fora to provide a birds-eye view of a particular Government's plans and programs.
For instance, I got this invitation from the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev, formerly Ayala Foundation USA) thru its President Victoria Garchitorena to attend the forthcoming forum to be held on November 7th in New York to discuss on possible strategies regarding private sector participation in education and which of these are applicable to the Philippine setting. Briefly, PhilDev is a non profit organization based in U.S.A. and the Philippines (check phildev.org for more info.) of which its main thrust is "building an ecosystem of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation for social and economic development in the Philippines."
For some who is not familiar about the Philippines, it is a small country in South East Asia, but it already ranked as the 12th most densely populated country in the world, approximately 99.9 million. While majority of its citizens can read and write, there are still plenty of improvements to be undertaken for its education sector.
Based on Phildev's account, the Philippines is one of the countries with lowest investment in education and “ranks very low in terms of global competitiveness”. As such the said forum is expected to be attended by people in Government, academe, business, non profit organizations, philanthropy, and other interested private individuals (non-Filipinos included) to explore ways and means to thresh out the issues and come up with doable solutions, e.g. looking for funding to strengthen education in science and technology or the so-called “strategic giving” for this endeavor, focusing on the strengths of its peoples, their technological skills specifically in science and math subjects at all levels.
Some of us may still have reservations about further investments in education but we all agree for sure that education is one of the keys to open our doors to economic recovery. Present administrations of both advanced and developing nations are formulating policy reforms that are geared towards investing in education, among others, as it has been found out that this is an effective way of lifting up our poor brothers and sisters and for them to get out of poverty, to make them competitive in the outside world, and contribute to build a robust economy.
For now, I shall leave the rest to our economists and scholars to formulate economic models and continue studying on the subject, particularly to show some analysis on how said investments on education could impact a particular economy as a whole. But even without the economic analysis/econometric models, I still believe (in hindsight) that pursuing investments in education, either from the Government or the private sector, would have a positive impact not only on a poor man's personal growth but also on the whole country's ailing economy. Thus, this is a global call for all Governments to stand up for this policy reform endeavor.
The world-renowned University of the Philippines (U.P.) Madrigal Singers (a.k.a “Madz” ) had a series of performances in the U.S. this year's fall season for about two months (September-October) that culminated two days ago in Queens, NYC, and after having two presentations in NYC (one in Manhattan and another in Bronx) and in New Jersey which were all jam packed with crowds of all kinds of people.
I have known the Madz several years back in the entertainment field and since then I have so much admiration of their renditions of all kinds of songs. Every time Madz deliver their songs, it is always with “class” and elegance. Their members who are not only exceptionally talented leaders in the field of music are also gifted with powerful vocal chords such that when they start to sing particularly the “bassers” and “barritoners”, it reverberates through time! A music lover myself, I am simply amazed of how the choir members and their “maestro” sing with so much confidence and their voices so powerful that it could knock down a dome to pieces!
What is amazing and unique to Madz is the singing style ("singing while sitting") their founder (Prof. Andrea Ofilada Veneracion) had introduced and which is still being adopted up to now by the new choirmaster (Mark Anthony Carpio). Yes guys, you've read it right! They can sing and belt out pretty well while sitting. People will notice that at the center's stage where Madz would be performing, there would be chairs in a semicircular formation as the choir members together with the choirmaster would sit on those chairs during the performance. Normally in choir groups, the conductor would stand in the middle while the members would likewise stand in any assigned formation. In Madz' case, they are all seated with the conductor at the left-most end of the semi-circle who gives cues to the group when to start and end the song. I understand this kind of specialization in choir performance is likened to the Renaissance musical style where “singers and guests would gather around the table during a banquet to sight-sing and make music together”.
For an ordinary choir group like ours to adopt the same method, we would need a lot of breathing in and out and controlling to do it. I would always tell my choir mates to stand straight so as to sing and perform much better. But in their case, it appeared normal and effortless. I was awestruck with their kind of discipline and dedication to their craft and that is why I kept on applauding at the end of each song accompanied with a loud “Bravo”!
Last Friday's performance repertoire include some of my favorites such as Caritas et amor, De Profundis (a local choral works), everything about the opera and broadway musical pieces which include the ABBAcappella, a medley of ABBA songs from the broadway musicale “Mama Mia” and the Circle of Life from “The Lion King” ( love to hear the mimic sounds of the forest and animals), the funny and entertaining “Rain” songs and the local love song “Sana'y Wala ng Wakas”. Note that these were done “a capella”! But it was just frustrating that the repertoire had to be changed in midstream to exclude the song "Imagine" as I would have loved to hear their version of the famous Beatles song.
With the Madz members' sheer talents, commitment and support from all sectors, there is no doubt that most of the time, they'll bag the prize in prestigious and toughest international competitions. They have already been labeled as perennial winners! Recent awards received were their victories in the 35th Florilege Vocal de Tours, France and the European Grand Prix for choral singing held in Arizzon, Italy. They were also honored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Artists for Peace, specifically for their promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and culture for peace ( still in line with myusefultips blog advocacies!). Madz' members consist of students, faculty and alumni from different colleges of the University of the Philippines, the top educational institution in the Philippines and I should be proud to say this! Mark, the choirmaster, is presently a faculty member of the college's Choral Conducting Department.
(Note:Photos below are not for reproduction and consumption. Thanks)
The Madz performance last Friday was memorable on my part. My choir friends were fortunate to have a photo-op with them before and after the show and during the dinner!
I got lucky enough to have a picture with the choirmaster himself and get his signature with dedication of course for mementos sake! Woohooo!
But this guy won the gold! He had a stolen singing moment with the Madz! tsk, tsk….
I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so, I decided to start over”, are excerpts from the speech of Steve Jobs, entitled, “You've Got To Find What You Love” at the 2005 Stanford University commencement exercises. When he delivered the said address, he had already the incurable cancer which he was probably afraid of but actually have learned to face his fears head on, as he talked about it with courage and preparedness, knowing that his life on earth was already limited. Still, he was fortunate to be given 7 more years to live and compose the best that he could do, perhaps for himself, his business and family.
I don't know Steve Jobs personally. I am a small time "David" and he was a "Goliath"! I don't belong to his circle of moneyed friends. As such, I don't have a single idea who he was, as a son, a student, a friend, a lover, a husband, a father, a boss and most especially his spiritual life, his relationship with His Creator. All I simply know is that he is the CEO of Apple, the company that engineered the state-of-the-art technologies such as iPhone, iPad, iMac and iTunes. Believe it or not, it was only today while I was about to open my mail box when I learned about his death and began researching who he really was. His personal background, especially his younger days, struck me the most, as he appeared to be a self-made man, born from immigrant parents, an adopted child by a middle class family, having no affluent and powerful connections but because of his ingenuity and extraordinary talent, he was able to make it to the top. As I said, I don't know the man but I had this gloomy feeling that made me decide to share the sentiments and expression of sympathies of the many via www.myusefultips.com for his loss, the man who pretty much revolutionize technology, the man who was always responsible and visible to introduce computer innovations.
(Steve Jobs – 1955-2011)
“I had been rejected, but I was still in love…” is being referred to by Steve Jobs during the time when he was fired from his own company due to some “power play” in his firm with his former colleague John Sculley. He got removed from his post, frustrated and devastated, but was able to pick up the pieces and start all over again. He used this as an opportunity to build another successful business empire, an empire which gave him accolades, especially now that he's gone, he had no idea, that he just did leave a mark, a legacy which will live on forever, particularly to the young tech-savvy people and the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to be like him, wanting to turn their passions into lucrative business. He would no longer be able to witness and hear the said accolades from throngs of people, young and old, with or without Apple products, about his immeasurable talent and his being a technological visionary.
“I had been rejected, but I was still in love…” could serve as an inspiration for all of us, particularly for those who are currently facing rejection and difficulties in life. That despite the problems that we're into (e.g. bad economy, unemployment issues, family, love and health problems, etc.) there is always hope to reach what we've been longing to aspire, especially during times when we are still strong enough to go through the rigors of our daily lives. And thereafter, we would be able to realize that there is always joy in living
“I had been rejected, but I was still in love…..” could serve as a reminder for all of us that life on earth is not permanent. That we don't own our lives, we are mere temporary migrants commanded to propagate what is good and as much as possible avoid bad things. Despite of our weaknesses and shortcomings, we have God who loves us unconditionally, always ready to welcome us, to forgive us for what we've wrongly did. It is not too late for us to renew our lives, do good and go back to Him. As Steve Jobs said, "Death is very likely the best single invention in life…..it clears out the old to make way for the new….".
To Steve Jobs, may you rest in peace. Amen.
Here are some positive, funny and interesting comments I saw on the web:
" He is Steve Jobs restless waiting to reincarnate and will be back on planet earth for iphone 10. He'll be back".
" Can we have Flash on the iPhone now?"
"….. thanks for my Mac and saving me from the dark side, Windows"
"You will always be the apple of the world. May God show you a better life that you deserve".
"….If his man could have run the country the way he ran Apple, America would most likely be a better place to live in right now…"
"….imagine what woul've happened if he never created apple…"
The latest buzzword in town for some Governments begins with the word “Open”, such as Open Government, Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Communications, Open Solutions and what have you! As a matter of fact, the World Bank website has started a new blog category called “Open Development” which serves as the Bank's monitor in the pursuit of openness and transparency on its various initiatives. Google's office in NY likewise also participated in this endeavor, hailing the “Power of Open” throughout the globe. However, we raise these questions: What is it to Open? With Whom? How Open Is It? How Open (willingness) Are They To Open Their Information?
Normally, when we hear the word “open”, what comes to mind is something made public, that everyone is welcome to go inside and explore what's in there, something to see with our own naked eyes, something that is relevant and useful, and most of all, that it is open to everyone regardless of age, race, rich or poor or any status in life. Similarly, when we welcome expected or unexpected visitors in our respective homes, we widely open our doors so they can come in comfortably and experience for themselves the warmth and amazing things in there.
What will be briefly featured in this post is neither about opening doors to our visitors, nor about museums or parks being opened literally to the public but the so-called “Open Government Partnership” (OGP) which was recently launched in NYC by its 8 founding-member countries ( United States, the UK, Norway, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, and Brazil) and being spearheaded by the U.S.
Policy talks concerning the promotion of transparency, fighting corruption and harnessing new technologies from all sources, drew the said Government leaders to come together, sit down and discuss on the said global partnership project.
Open Government Partnership was launched primarily to bring together various sets of powerful intellectual minds from different parts of the globe, so to speak, to particularly address the aforesaid policy issues confronting Governments, in a transparent manner with the highest level of probity. As such, it is a multilateral enterprise that is expected to obtain solid and doable maximum commitments and deliverables at the highest levels of Governments, in so far as transparency and governance related matters are concerned. Based on OGP's pronouncements, the said initiative was launched on the 20th of September this year, in collaboration with the UN General Assembly. It was also on the same day that the OGP's Declaration of Principles, action plans and commitments were signed and endorsed by the said founding members.
I see nothing wrong on what our respectable leaders did. In fact, that was something to be proud of especially if your home country's leader was one of those who bravely stood, supported and strongly committed for this laudable project. But guys, haven't we heard this same old story before? Isn't this a mere duplication of previous pronouncements? We've encountered several studies and initiatives undertaken relative to the said governance-related policies (transparency, accountability, full disclosures, etc.) during the past decade. What happened to governance and corruption related strategies instituted by multilateral institutions such as the World Bank? How about the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), a comprehensive blueprint of reform, signed and globally agreed by 140 countries? How about the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) “Transparency Standards” on trade and investment which was endorsed by the said member-leaders? How about the World Economic Forum anti-corruption task force where CEOs of more than multinational corporations have agreed to a zero tolerance policy and principle? How does OGP complement with the present UN-Millennium Development Goals? Oh, I could go on and on enumerating the many related initiatives which have already been done before. But for an ordinary man, he/she would like to know what's the status of these programs, where are they now? Were there better results?
Have our respective Governments learned something from the said experiences? Have they seriously considered the real whole gamut of issues and problems besetting the world economy? Probably these are the same questions in the minds of some of the senior-level representatives of other 38 countries ( Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uruguay) also present in the said OGP launching. Maybe it could have been the reason why these countries were still hesitant to “go all the way” in this endeavor, just at first glance! Maybe some of them at the back of their minds were thinking that this move could be the same pronouncements made as before which could have just been archived, without much progress and positive outcomes. Or perhaps, these countries could be those not willing and able to entertain the idea of opening their “books” to everyone, specifically those information labeled as "confidential".
While the OGP objective appears to be a rhetorical device of previous similar policy pronouncements, I thought the OGP has salient features which could be an innovation. The think-tank staff responsible on this provided a new flavor to it, placing importance on the word “open”. So far, we've heard and implemented various government partnerships with the private sector, civil society and other non-government organizations but there was no emphasis on “opening” the same to all stakeholders. With the OGP, it is envisioned that there will be freedom of information, fiscal and budget transparency, asset disclosures for public officials and empowerment of not only selected stakeholders but also ordinary citizens. The OGP serves as a platform to empower people to make their voice heard especially on major national projects.
An online forum regarding Open Data Access sponsored by the WB late last year was held which could possibly triggered the OGP launching. I was one of those who have expressed about value formation among the stakeholders, not only for government employees but also those in the private sector, specifically people's attitude towards change. From the government side, there are people out there who regard information as powerful, which is actually true. With the correct information, you can go around wherever you want to go. As they say, information makes the world go round. The more they keep to themselves certain important information, the more powerful they are. There are advantages and disadvantages of concealing information and it depends on what kind of information and to whom the same can be disseminated and communicated in a transparent and accessible manner.
I recall one time, one of my former colleagues in Government was super cautious in releasing information that even her staff inherited her ultra conservative ways. At first, it was understandable since the transactions were so large that any careless move could have adverse impact on what is being undertaken. As part of the rules, her office technical staff would have to see to it that press releases are limited to some general information, memos and letters have to be kept after use, drafts have to be properly disposed of to keep away from the wandering eyes of media people and other outside parties who may have vested interests on the subject. But at the end of the day, the said process was becoming amusing and at times bothersome and irritating to some staff as draft reports ended up being rehashed (e.g. some data are being deleted, etc.) and the staff themselves couldn't even access anymore some vital information for their use. This is true and it happened! And this could also be true in both private and public arenas, whether in developing and developed economies!
I do recognize the merits of the OGP's proposed programs and policies but whether Governments can make use of it to the fullest and soonest, the fact remains to be seen. As mentioned in my previous blog posts, there is always hope and a cure for some sicknesses (e.g. corruption, etc.) in Governments and it only takes a change of attitudes and values of the people in the workplace even if the said sickness is already embedded in the system, in their minds and hearts. This OGP initiative could help but there are no assurances, we can only hope for the best!
I just hope that this initiative is not undertaken and supported to obtain “handsome” points for political gains or for some other selfish ulterior motives. I hope too that the heads of other Governments will follow suit for the sake of better Global Government!
Guys, come on join me, let's challenge our respective Governments to participate in this endeavor!
On a lighter note, it would be interesting to know which of these countries shall submit a formal letter of intent to participate in this OGP initiative at its next summit in Brazil next year. Any guess/guesses ???