By Liwliwa Malabed
We live to disagree. A forum would be such a bore if everybody just keeps nodding their heads. Mulat Pinoy’s Kapihan on Government Sources and Population Dynamics held last January 23 at Bo’s Coffee, Glorietta 5, Makati City proved to be an exciting debate that stirred relevant issues and provoked strong opinions. We owe this to the presence of our candid resource persons.
Dr. Zelda Zablan of the UP Diliman Population Institute (UPPI) is a lady with a bagful of insights on the workings of government fund and its allocation to a growing population. And why not? With years of experience in research, she is well-versed in population and development issues. She was the director of UPPI from 1985 to 1987 and a writer of many books and articles on population program evaluation, reporting and the referral system tailored for fertility, reproductive health, mortality differentials and trends of family planning practices, among others. This social scientist was also the recipient of the National Research Council of the Philippines Achievement Award for 2005. Dr. Zablan is easy to spot in a crowd: she is usually the one in red. I hear she is also a sassy dancer. She reminds me of an aunt who doesn’t care if you’re just a kid. She will listen to you and talk to you like you’re an equal.
Rep. Raymond Palatino of the Ang Kabataan party list was an equally remarkable presence in the Kapihan. Mong Palatino is not only the first youth’s representative in Philippine Congress, but also the first blogging politician in the country. As a young congressman and president of the Ang Kabataan Party, he is the voice of the youth on several issues. At 30, Mong already has a long list of notable achievements. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Youth Leader for Advocacy on National Concerns in 2004, as awarded by the United Nations Association of the Philippines. He is also the prime mover for several youth organizations, such as Filipino Youth for Peace, the Education for All (e4all) Movement, the Youth Action Network Against Electoral Fraud and Violence, the Estrada Resign Youth Movement, Youth Demanding Arroyo’s Removal (Youth Dare), Youth Against Tyranny and Charter Change (Y-Chat) and the Kabataan Kontra-Kartel. His online presence is strong, and he believes that technology can equip the youth with knowledge and mobilize them. A columnist, an editor and a writer for several online publications, he says “change is bound to happen if and when the youth strives for it.” And that is exactly what he is working for.
Rep. Palatino and Dr. Zablan both provided sound opinions and shared experiences when discussing the allocation of government sources in relation to population. Palatino expounded on the failure of the pork barrel system to be translated into actual services and the ‘loyalty game’ a congressman has to play in order to avail of it, while Zablan redefined equitability, saying that proper allocation of funds must be based on population and density. Their passion for their ideas and work incited equally passionate responses from other participants of the forum. We hope they can make it to the next Mulat Pinoy Kapihans.
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