#StoryoftheNation: Did APEC matter to the people?
MANILA, Philippines – What is the APEC’s purpose? Why even have a summit? What will the APEC do for ordinary people?
These were common questions going into the APEC week and which people continued to ask even during the summit. Many Filipinos worried about the effect the summit would have on their daily lives while others expressed their hope that the APEC’s results would benefit the Philippines in the long run.
For the APEC summit, Rappler’s civic engagement arm MovePH, crowdsourced the #StoryoftheNation to encourage Filipinos to share their thoughts on the APEC summit and send messages to the world leaders visiting the country.
With thoughts and feelings ranging from frustration to hopefulness, here are some of the most shared stories from the APEC week and the conversations they have started:
Gerry Lanuza, professor
Photo by Janica Regalo
“Kawawa tayo diyan, (We’re on the losing end there)” was how Gerry Lanuza described the APEC’s effects on the Philippines.
A professor of the University of the Philippines (UP), Lanuza criticized what he saw as “short-term” answers to the economic problems in the country. While the APEC summit would encourage “consumer rights,” he argued that the Philippine government would be “sacrificing the long-term capability…to sustain the economic development.”
Many of the picture’s 150 shares agreed with Lanuza, but some Facebook users took to the comments section to differ with him. One response, from Mirza Cabalteja, said, “From what I understand, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will be given focus in this meet, not just big business.”
Because the theme for the APEC 2015 was “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” SMEs were a critical part of the agenda.
Lanuza posted his own comment in response to his critics and called them out for having a sense of “false consciousness.”
Jerboe Ocampo, student
Photo by Rizza Gatpandan
One post reflected a common complaint among Filipinos leading up to the summit and even during the event. Jerboe Ocampo wondered why it seemed as though the government was trying to hide the problems in the country.
Ocampo’s question refers to the massive cleanup operations around Metro Manila: roads were closed off, flights cancelled, and the homeless were reportedly taken off the streets. (READ: Homeless out, world leaders in: Manila readies for APEC summit)
Facebook users then debated over whether it was appropriate for the government to put in the effort that it did for the dignitaries. They compared it to how one invites a person to their house: knowing that visitors would be coming means doing what is necessary to make the home presentable. (READ: Philippines as APEC host: Bending over backwards for VIPs)
Jonathan Lao, taking the side against the extensive preparations, argued that it was not right that the government would spend that much given the country’s economic state.
“If our country is filthy rich and has the means kahit hotel pa ipagawa natin. (If our country is filthy rich and has the means, then we could even build a hotel)”
Bong Garcia Reyes Jr, however, said other countries had to undergo the same level of preparations.
China, when it hosted the APEC in 2014, closed schools and gave out holidays. The country also tightened security around the National Convention Center and closed down factories in the area. Much like in the Philippines, citizens’ reactions were a mixture of irritation and delight.
Nancy Eleria, Ph.D.
Photo by Ericka Macarayan
Despite the inconveniences during the summit, some Filipinos still saw the opportunity to host the summit as an “honor.”
One of them, Nancy Eleria, a professor from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), considered the APEC summit as a chance to “show what we can offer to the world.”
Eleria echoed President Benigno Aquino’s sentiments when he told Filipinos “Let us show the best our country has to offer.” Aquino hoped that the summit would lead to an increase in foreign investments in the country, especially when they see the effects of the reforms implemented during his term.
A particular highlight for the administration were the Public-Private-Partnership program’s different projects.
“Now we are being offered large premiums by companies just so that they can build the infrastructure we need, because of their confidence in the potential for profit,” Aquino said in 2014. (READ: Aquino: APEC visitors to experience 'inclusive, growing' PH)
Felipe, company driver
Photo by Joyce Guiao
Hope was on the minds of many Filipinos as they looked forward to the possibilities the summit would bring. Though it may not be felt in an instant, they hoped the longterm benefits would outweigh the week’s difficulty.
Felipe was one of those who saw in the summit a reason to remain optimistic. For him, the difficulties during the APEC week would be worth it if it meant a better future for the youth.
Another submission, however, reminded leaders of their responsibility to make the people’s hopes real. Giulio Obviar, a student of BS Electronics and Communications Engineering, called on the APEC delegates to “Make it count, make everything count.”
Everyone has a story and the ability to tell it.
This is why MovePH encourages everyone to continue submitting to #StoryoftheNation. You can send the photos, captions, and relevant information to our email: email@example.com, through Facebook or Twitter, and through the Rappler app.