The Philippines: Leaders of Integrity Desperately Needed

The Philippines: Leaders of Integrity Desperately Needed

By: Janet Root, Contributing Writer   |   Posted: May 17, 2005

In attempts to right the wrongs prevalent in the political history of the Philippines, Flegel Andaya assumes responsibility as a Christian to ward off greed and corruption and fight for a just legal system.

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Their very names conjure up images of political corruption and human-rights abuses perpetrated by the couple's 21-year regime in the Philippines. The couple left a black eye on this Southeast Asian country's political landscape that still remains today. In April, when Filipinos went to the polls to choose their latest president, the election was marred by spectacle complete with unexploded bombs, a movie star turned presidential candidate and accusations of voter fraud. With such a legacy of political corruption, where should the 86 million Filipinos look for their leaders?

Those in Compassion-assisted projects in the Philippines believe they have a role in filling this leadership vacuum. One project in particular, the Paglinang Student Center (PH-216) in Manila, exemplifies how the ministry can take naive youth and assist them as they become adult Christian leaders.

All Politics Are Local

Enveloped in the stench of rotting garbage, Paglinang is a poor squatter baranggay (community). Created by dictator Marcos as a dumping ground for Manila's ills - the community has a history of gangs, violence, child abuse and drug use - little has changed over the years. Its problems reflect an inattentive local government leadership.

Like every other community in Manila, if Paglinang residents want anything to change, they must go to the local baranggay leadership - a hands-on governing body for the neighborhood. But despite many pleas from residents, the local leaders haven't been the most responsive to their neighbors' needs. That may soon change.

Flegel - A Phoenix Rising

From Paglinang arose 18-year-old Flegel Andaya. This son of an electrician once had a goal of just growing up, getting married and then dying. Thanks to his experience with the Paglinang Student Center and its Director Pastor David Beltran - himself a formerly sponsored Compassion child - Flegel has higher aspirations.

"I encouraged (Flegel) to run for office in the baranggay last year," says Pastor Beltran.

Flegel became a junior member of the baranggay. One of his first projects was to help his community's youth by overseeing the local fund-raising beauty pageant. The pageant was marred by rain and people ridiculed him for the bad weather and a soaked sound system but Flegel emerged victorious. He helped raise enough money to continue this community's basketball and volleyball leagues and even to buy a printer for the baranggay council office.

Flegel says he is praying that other children from Compassion-assisted projects will get involved in local politics and someday help lead the Philippines into a new era of Christian leadership.

"I think the country will be better because when you graduate from a Compassion project, you're already a Christian," he says. "And I think when you're a Christian you will not (get into) graft and corruption. (With Compassion's) guiding, you will be a great president, a great mayor or a great governor."

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