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(Bullying screen grab from Senado Federal's YouTube video)
(Bullying screen grab from Senado Federal’s YouTube video)

Aggressive behavior has spread on a wider scale in our country and has already involved younger groups every passing year. To stop the unwanted intimidation and to save ourselves from further physical, mental, and emotional torment in the future, MB Life opted to consult someone who is strongly against bullying on a wider scale.

rafael alunan

On May 6, 2016, former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Rafael Alunan III – commonly known as “Raffy Alunan” – visited Manila Bulletin’s Integrated Newsroom for an interview in “MB Hot Seat”. While we left heavy political issues in the hands of MB editors, MB Life took on the lighter side and asked him about a problem that a lot of kids face today: BULLYING.

At the age of 68, Alunan has already been through situations that earned him a lot of wisdom in terms of defending not just ourselves, but our country as well. He’s one of the leaders of the West Philippine Sea coalition who strongly oppose China’s “bullying” due to territorial disputes.

Here are some pointers he gave on how to defend ourselves from the baddies (from everywhere!):

1. Invest in credible deterrence.

That means prevention. Like how the common saying goes: “Prevention is better than cure”, we must keep our guards up whether or not we are being tyrannized by the higher ups or the toughies around us. Just like how Alunan puts it on a wider scale—in terms of China’s “bullying”:

Whether or not we are being bullied, whether or not China is a threat, any self-respecting nation must invest in a strong armed forces. Look at tiny nations like Singapore, Israel, Switzerland – these are very very good examples where they take national defense seriously and that’s because they have a sense of nationhood. “

2. Adopt a sense of nationhood.

The sense of universal brotherhood. And therefore… a unity in diversity mindset because we’re made up of many cultures, but we are Filipino — except that being Filipino’s one thing that escapes us many times,” he explained. “So the way we are today must change to be the kind of Filipino we have to be tomorrow. And that will require everybody’s engagement, participation. Young and old, rich and poor.”

If we are one, then why do we need to torment the people around us? If there’s brotherhood in the nation, there will be no need to implement a strong-arm at anyone. Maybe we can all just get along, right? He’s right.

3. Get involved in nation-building and security issues.

Once the youth knows how hard it is to be involved in security issues and to solve such problems on a national level, perhaps we’ll all realize that inflicting pain upon others only cost unnecessary effort over unnecessary things. This brings us back again to brotherhood and everything that connects with it.

Getting (the) youth engaged early in nation-building and security issues to build up their patriotic fervor,” pointed out Alunan when asked about what the youth should do. “I’m going to bat for the restoration of the ROTC but on condition that the Armed Forces only send the best of the best to manage the program because the reason why the program failed at some point was because they’re sending the worst and they were bad models for the kids.”

4. Develop love of country.

Love of country is very very important even if you don’t have enough resources to defend yourself with but it’s with that love of country and commitment that’s critical. That’s what will drive you, ‘eh. You’ll use anything that you find to defend your community, your family, yourself, your country. So we have to develop that fervor – at home, in school, and in the workplace and in our communities,” he reminded.

Love your country, love your countrymen, love yourself. Sounds easy?

5. You can always file charges.

“You can always file charges but kids must be supported by their parents, of course. If they’re in school, school authorities have to be responsible enough and proactive to prevent bullying from taking place because that’s a form of violence,” Alunan said as he explained how the kids and the youth should respond to bullies.

Bullying may not necessarily be physical. It can be mental, emotional, and it can affect a child. So therefore, school authorities and parents must be… PTA must be very much involved in protecting the rights of children,” he stressed.

6. Internet bullying? Legislation and discipline.

In the case of Internet bullying, I suppose perhaps [there must be] legislation… We’re also talking about freedom of speech. But then again, we’re talking about self-discipline, we’re talking about oversight so if the people involved are young, are minors, then parents still have a role to play,” he said. “If for example, the person – an adult – persists in using the Internet to libel somebody, well, he’s open to libel charges. He has to face the legal consequences.”

7. Ignore the baddies.

When asked if it’s advisable to fight back once anyone receives any form of bullying, Alunan tells us to just ignore them… “unless you just want to make him pitik, you know.” That’s a slight form of fighting back in a classy way! Otherwise, just ignore.

With the rampant cyberbullying this campaign period, Alunan also shared his thoughts about the continuous intimidation of overly-aggressive political groups online: “There’s a lack of discipline, a lot of irresponsibility going on and that doesn’t speak well about the quality of our education. I have this saying ‘many are schooled but few are educated’.”

It’s also worth noting that Alunan lauds Tony Meloto’s idea of social entrepreneurship. Meloto is the founder of Gawad Kalinga – a Philippine-based poverty alleviation movement – and Alunan wants to bring the same approach to the Senate if he wins this May.

“(Meloto’s) building the kids to have a social entrepreneur mindset, starting them early to fend for themselves and he’s bringing big business, academe, young entrepreneurs abroad… all for the common good and nation-building in mind,” he said.

For a better Philippines, Alunan said he will be bringing the same example with him and engage kids in ways that will give them a social entrepreneur mindset for nation-building.

Alunan served as the DILG secretary from 1992 to 1996 under the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, and also served as the Department of Tourism secretary from 1989 to 1992 under Cory Aquino. Despite the gap in his political service, Alunan is back to continue what he’s fighting for as he takes on the Senate. He’s running as an independent candidate this upcoming election.

READ: When disaster strikes, who you gonna call? Dick Gordon!

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