In December 2005, I read an article by the late Philippine Star editor Max Soliven about his chance meeting with Atty. Alexander Lacson (A Filipino of faith, BY THE WAY By Max V. Soliven, The Philippine Star 19 December 2005). In the article, I was struck by Atty. Lacson's generosity, humility, and most especially, his love for our country. Through his book, “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country,” he is able to send his message to us Filipinos. His list is so simple, you’d think it's not going to make any difference. But if you really think about it, if everyone will follow each one on his list, it actually makes perfect sense. I then thought of getting my own copy if ever it reaches the bookshops.
After a few weeks, my former boss who is Pinoy, came to the office carrying a stack of bright orange books inside a clear plastic bag. It turned out that these were actually the "12 Little..." book. My boss gave me a copy (for free) and told me that he's planning to invite Atty. Lacson as guest on the next monthly lunch he’ll be organizing for other Pinoy bosses. I told him that I read about him in the newspaper and it's a good idea to have him come over. I guess my boss felt I was also interested so he invited me to join them. Wahoooo!!! I'll get to meet the man everybody's talking about.
The book contains forewords written by former president, Corazon C. Aquino, and by Eugenia Duran Apostol, Chair of the World Wide People Power. Mrs. Aquino described Atty. Lacson as one who continues “to be very positive about our country" and that he "believes that the answer to our problems lies in each and every Filipino." Mrs. Apostol was so impressed (Atty. Lacson sent her a manuscript and requested to write the foreword for the book), she even made her own 12 little don'ts about the book.
When I read it, my respect and admiration grew for this guy. For each of the 12 things, he gave concise explanations, noteworthy examples, and easy to understand English, even for the simple Filipino. Whew! What a read…but at the back of my mind, is he for real?
The day came Atty. Lacson was guest of honor. He started out by letting us know that we can all call him by his first name, “Alex.” He then proceeded to explain his background, his experiences, the reason why he wrote this book, and his other plans. As he was talking, answering questions from the group, what struck me this time was that he's such a very soft-spoken person, hindi mo iisipin na lawyer ito. He was speaking most of the time in malalim na tagalog and he wasn’t touching his food. He was dead serious about what he was talking about. So serious that he wasn’t smiling much.
One guest suggested that this should be translated to tagalog and should be given out to jeepney drivers, taxi drivers, practically to everyone in the streets. Atty. Alex told us that he’s planning to do just that but he’s still looking for sponsors so the book can reach the masa.
Questions for myself: Am I up to it? Can I do it?
I think I am up to it but if I do it alone, I don’t think I am going to make a difference. I will just be a small black dot on a sea of white. But a small black dot on a sea of white is better than just a plain sea of white, right? As the late Max Soliven puts it, “When you study them more closely, they are difficult to do. But all of us, together can do them.” So let’s all be a small black dot. Are you up to it?