‘Well, the year 2020 is about to end and what do we have? A pandemic that has infected almost half a million Filipinos, killed tens of thousands, and has brought financial difficulty if not ruin to millions more.’
THE other day, sitting alone in the study or library of my father’s house, it struck me: it’s been almost 30 years since 12 idealistic young men and I came together to form PILIPINAS 2020 whose most memorable “accomplishment” was to bring Dr. Alvin Toffler to Manila.
Nine of us were from UP: brothers Gigo and Roby Alampay; Louie Montalbo; Jijil Jimenez; Joey Ochave, Jacob Sacro; Junie Agcaoili, Chiz Escudero, and myself. Three were from De La Salle: Martin delos Reyes, Ricardo Villacrucis and Manolet Ramos. We had only one Atenean in the group, a political science student named Giancarlo Sambalido.
For our advisers we recruited Atty. Haydee Yorac, Prof. Solita Monsod, Prof. Randy David and Dr. Onofre Corpuz. Enrique Zobel served as more than an adviser as well.
After the Toffler project in August of 1994, the group didn’t last much longer formally, because each of the members had to focus on their careers. If my count is right, two ended up as chairmen of the UP Student Council while four were councilors: six ended up as lawyers; four became businessmen, one served the peace process during the PNoy administration and one joined the Air Force and then became a commercial pilot. I must be the only one who ended up a company employee since graduation.
We chose to focus on the year 2020 in 1993 due to two reasons: one, the number represented “perfect vision,” and we were hoping to initiate interest among our generation in the practice of visioning, for ourselves as individual citizens and for the country. But we also chose 2020, which was almost 30 years into the future then, because we knew that it takes at least a generation – or 30 years – for real change to take root in any society. We were brash enough to think that we would be “agents provocateurs” who would help spark something. That’s why we brought in Toffler who spoke to a packed Grand Ballroom of the EDSA Shangrila Hotel.
Since Fidel V. Ramos also had his “Philippines 2000” at that time, we were (or at least I was) confident that we were on to something here.
Well, the year 2020 is about to end and what do we have? A pandemic that has infected almost half a million Filipinos, killed tens of thousands, and has brought financial difficulty if not ruin to millions more. A government that was caught unprepared and has been playing catch-up from Day One, with a spotty pandemic response performance record at best. A people deeply divided, not just socially but also politically, and embracing new norms of governance, as well as decorum. And beyond our shores a world struggling to cope with an unseen “enemy,” with collective global action stymied by political differences among (and even within) the major economic powers.
Twenty-six years after Toffler told us of the Third Wave of change I know we are not where I was hoping we would be by now. And because many of today’s decision makers and opinion shapers are members of my generation (some even coming from the ranks of Pilipinas 2020) I find myself torn between a feeling of failure and one of a sense of responsibility, a desire to still try to do something while I/we can.
One of these days I will try to contact the guys and see how they feel about the present and the future. And if there is any interest to once again become agents provocateurs, then I am game.