By Reggie Yu, Junior Chamber International Philippines Senator

Inspiring scenes of people taking the future of their countries into their own hands will ignite greater demand for good governance and political reform elsewhere in the world.
–William Hague

Amid a huge throng of VIPs—society’s who’s who from the public and private sector—who graced the formal launching of Dr. Jess Estanislao’s latest book, I was perhaps the only “undistinguished” guest to have had the incredible honor of being personally invited by the author to witness the debut of his most recent work, It Can Be Done (Bright Spots in the Governance Reform Movement in the Philippines).

The 220-page tome is an eye-opening anthology of a dozen true-to-life success stories culled from inspiring cases of national agencies and local governments that have found the political will to transform themselves and form positive relationships with their stakeholders amidst a general public impression of deadlock and drift.

“We want to affect a change in public mindset in the Philppines, where government as a whole is viewed as unwilling to take steps toward lasting reforms, or even as indifferent to the interests of the people,” Dr. Estanislao says of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s (ISA) decision to release the book. “Our true and concrete stories of success can stand as proof that there are public sector institutions that have been able to transform themselves to serve as models of governance for many others. We are showing that it can be done!”

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Reggie Yu with Dr Jess Estanislao during the book signing at the Good Filipinos Movement Launch in Bayanihan Center, Pasig City. Photo from Reggie Yu

Having been asked by Dr. Estanislao to sit as a member of public revalida panels responsible for evaluating meticulously designed systems to improve public services on quite a number of occasions, I have personally seen what ISA calls “the transformative power of governance as a positive complement to massive anti-corruption efforts undertaken by government.” This book is a testament to the remarkable efforts of all involved.

But more significant than the formal book launch was Dr. Estanislao’s call to action to effect good governance on all fronts. “Coming up with a book is easy,” said the author. “What is much more important is to do our own share as exemplars of good governance—to begin with ourselves.” To this end, he invited a few personal friends as well as many others known to be responsible citizens to form Good Filipinos, an advocacy of responsible citizens for good governance that is committed to help continue the work of ISA in the field of public governance reform. “People participation is the key to real change,” Dr. Estanislao concluded. “This holds every Filipino citizen to a higher standard.”

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Pictured from left to right: Lee Hecht Harrison Philippines President and CEO Mario Gatus, ISA Chairman Emeritus Dr Jess Estanislao, and JCIP Senator Reggie Yu. Photo from Reggie Yu

Dr. Estanislao is the founder and chairman emeritus of ISA, a non-profit committed to achieving public governance reform through multi-sector efforts. Recognized as the country’s foremost authority on good governance, Dr. Estanislao also served as the 6th Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and concurrent Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) from 1989-1990, and as Secretary of Finance from 1990-1992 in the government of President Corazon Aquino.

Dr. Estanislao has a doctorate from Harvard University, where he was also a Teaching and Research Fellow. He obtained his master’s degree in Economics from Fordham University, and was a summa cum laude in Economics at the University of San Carlos in Cebu. In 1992, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Philippine Legion of Honor; and in 2010 he was named “Management Man of the Year” by the Management Association of the Philippines. In 2011, he received The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) award in the field of good governance.

We wish him godspeed and success in this noble initiative.

Pledge to receive this book through bit.ly/GoodFilipinos

Learn more about JCI Philippines through jci.org.ph

To contact the editor of this story, you may email Marielle Antonio at mantonio@isacenter.org