Ode to the Oligarchs

Once we know who the rich are and how they encourage a certain amount of following for their positive contribution to society, we are constrained in a spirit of charity to praise and encourage them to do some more. This is the least we can do for they also have screens around themselves to shield them from perjury and injury from remarks inimical to their person.

On the praise side, we can mention their contribution to sports in the community and in the elementary schools. For many years, open basketball courts that are also used by the farmers to dry newly-harvested palay is a signature contribution of the well-off and their colleagues in the local governments.

Big businessmen also build school buildings complete with amenities that send a trend, in terms of the design, to the school-building programs of government, including frugal costing that goes with the children-friendly design. I worked closely in the past with a federation of Chinese businessmen who saw fit to complement government in the school building program. They source materials and builders locally. Productive timelines and deadlines were strictly followed and the inauguration was done with a simple turnover program attended by both the LGU and DEPED and the children and their parents.

I never saw the end or termination of this laudable project, but when you pass by school plants the signages were drawn on the end side of the buildings for all people to see. Emulative practices unfavorable, nontheless, the signal given by the federation in the school building is worthy of admiration.

The parent-teachers association has a different tack. But they also serve the purpose of improving the classroom atmosphere and provide teaching materials where lacking. But this is mass contribution and in an oblique way, contributions come from the rich in the community.

What we want to see at this point is more civic involvement by the rich of the community in the design, build-up and maintenance of public parks and common recreation areas that aren’t in the plans of the LGU. We are thinking of a philanthropic involvement by the well-meaning and learned class because the community needs to steer the old “clean and green” program towards a park-building program.

Such a program can complete the malls and central business districts in a way never tried  before. Malls have become a way of life in urban centers, but a new tack for parks and walkways that are adjunct to or accessible to the malls can improve the overall. This is rather an oxymoron because malls and parks are synonymous. But the owners of malls can help park developers to green adjacent areas that benefit their business and the city or town.

There is an encouraging signal in the capital towns and major cities in Northern Luzon for undertaking this park development program. Two things can propel the program. One, get  landowners to donate a two-hectare lot and allow government to negotiate the terms, the build-up of services to support the project and integrate an amount that can be equitably shared. Second, a plan from day 1 to the succeeding year can be integrated. A nursery and water system can be incorporated with a small funding from the big taxpayers of the town or city. The administration of the park can be at the expense of the mall owners.

This modest proposal can impel new development in people empowerment through the rich who can find satisfaction and fun in this project next to their SUVs and meritorious lifestyles.





Ode to the Oligarchs

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