Olsim: Cleaning up

The Eternal Student

THERE is a reason why leaders who promise change are expected not only to lead a clean government, but also a clean town. It’s the same reason why our parents trained us to clean our room before any order of the day, or why we clean ourselves before big moments. Cleanliness is not just a simple matter; it is actually the biggest step towards the right direction. It is the same reason why they say “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

A disorderly and chaotic area denotes mismanagement and inefficiency, and on the part of the people, disobedience and lawlessness. That is why Mayor Isko of Manila made it a point to clean the streets first before any other business of the day, or why many politicians pride themselves of their clean and orderly places, or why Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew made no apologies in penalizing litterers – for one, cleanliness reflects discipline and discipline is a most patriotic act. Obviously, the way our place looks reflects the people that we are.

That is why a “clean-up drive” is never beneath a supervisor or a head of office. Clean-up drives and cleaning is not only a physical activity but a symbol of ownership and love of place. It is a representation of hope and human concern. It is a devoted cry for order: “stirring our place away from the dogs.” Personally, I give the highest regard to volunteers who dedicate their time for these kinds of endeavors. Because who else will clean up our town but us, residents, ourselves? Who will take care of our country but us, citizens, ourselves?

I wish to thank our “VolunTourism” participants – these young volunteers who constantly help us in making our town cleaner and more orderly, these young leaders who care for their town and even offered their services on a weekday and holiday. Thank you! Salasalamat! Iyaman!


I am unable to function well in the past days, maybe in the past week. As a parent, I am traumatized by crimes against children – one-year-old murdered and raped, children abused like slaves, toddlers beaten like punching bags. Tragic news about children, both locally and internationally, have flooded my consciousness through the digital screen in the past week – what is wrong with the world mama? Makes me doubt the omnipotence of a higher being. Makes me doubt humanity in general. Makes me doubt the criminal positivist theory: that “man is not born a criminal but is occasionally subdued by a strange and morbid phenomenon (social and economic) which constrains him to do wrong contrary to his volition”.

Makes me actually believe that they are really demons in human skin. It is difficult to believe that these criminals started as children and toddlers themselves with those demonic and heinous acts.

These kinds of deeds cause people to throw away hope for human change; make them choose leaders who will “kill” criminals without any hesitation, cause them to distrust friendliness of strangers, make them withdraw from public spaces, in short, cause them to build their own prison, and relinquish part of their freedom because of the fear of “monsters”. Even so, monsters or not, this kingdom is ours to protect, our country to clean – we do not give opportunity for the criminal minds to thrive, after all, the law-abiding outnumbers these hell spawns.


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