November Travel Advisories
What should we make of the recent travel advisories issued by no less than 6 Countries warning its citizens not to travel to the Philippines due to serious risks of terrorism or violent crime?
First of all, let us respect it for what it is - an exercise in prudence.
This is not likely to be a conspiracy. There is always a certain risk. And it fluctuates according to certain things.
It is an intrinsic responsibility of any undertaking of Country to ensure the safety of its citizens. All Responsible States are duty-bound to extend to their citizens the protection of their laws.
From the point of view of those issuing Countries - the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France - it might be that there is nothing amiss here.
It is good to look at this in the first instance, my fellow Filipino compatriots, and realize that we must also be doing the same for our own citizens bearing in mind and heart that we have a very large Filipino diaspora living abroad.
In my view, this is the first and foremost thing we should learn from this incident.
Now, it might also be reasonably argued from our point of view that there is something here that is amiss. I myself am perplexed by the issuance of these warnings because there really is nothing to suggest that anything was "imminent". I am, of course, speaking from conclusions I may draw only from the information available to me as a citizen-at-large.
However, I present to you, my fellow Filipino compatriots, that things are NOT as out of control as we are somehow inclined to think. People here in the Philippines are indeed crying foul but not so much because of the fact that those 6 Countries issued warnings to their citizens but because of the helplessness we felt when they did. Our tourism industry will surely take a hit.
But I should like to remind us all once again as a Republic undertaking of Country - we are all that we need as a Nation to succeed in this endeavor of our generations. Only the Filipino can love the Philippines in the way no one else can - in the way that we must.
We just have to believe again, O my nation, without compare in who we are as a nation distinct but not apart from the one family of the nations of Mankind and work to bring out what we love about our native Philippines and realize it in our own time.
We can and we must come out of this better for enduring it with persevering grace.
Now, it might also be said that those 6 Countries overdid themselves and acted on either faulty or hastily prepared premises but that should fall squarely within the competencies of their own pertinent institutions to handle. What we have is what we have and we must work with the tools we are given to expand upon and improve on our own. And indeed, we have much work to do.
Let us also bear in mind the climate of these times and that all undertakings of Country, Republic or otherwise, are together allied to peace and its meaningful realization.
Let us bear in mind our friends. But let it all begin here - with us.
When water gets murky, our foremost requirement would be clarity:
I would not ask these Countries to reverse their conclusions out of sheer good will. But I will assure them of the things we are capable of doing in our own Country and then convince them of our determination to follow through on our own good will with decisive action.
Indeed we have a responsibility to keep the stranger safe in our own lands as well. Towards this end, Bantay Turista, is a good start. Towards this end, it should also be meaningfully dedicated.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! God bless us all.