KARANGLAN: Sowing Hope, Harvesting a Nation

Philippine International Convention Center

From 21-23 January 2005, the nation will focus its attention on Karangalan, the First National Conference and Festival on, “Mobilizing Excellence for Creating a Visionary Philippines”. Thousands will personally attend the event at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Millions more will get a glimpse of the Karangalan event through TV, radio, and newspapers. (See article on “Tri-Media Discovers Karangalan.)

Karanglan represents a significant, dramatic attempt to renew Philippine society. Thousands, together with dozens of globally and nationally awarded Filipinos, will come together to highlight and celebrate the existence of a much better Philippines. This is the Philippines of moral strength, courage, vision, initiative, compassion, integrity, political will, socially-oriented businesses, artistic competence, social entrepreneurship, achievement and excellence.

With this event, participants hope to dispel the hopelessness plaguing the Philippines and point to the dynamic, living, and creative forces within our society, the karangalan or honor and dignity, that is already creating a better Philippines.

The Karangalan event is a large scale application of what scientists call the Pygmalion Effect. A figure in Greek mythology, Pygmalion created a female statue so beautiful that he fell in love with it. He prayed to the goddess of Love to turn the statue into a living woman, a request the goddess granted. So Pygmalion’s statue turned into a living women and became his queen.

Scientists from different disciplines have confirmed the reality of this self-fulfilling prophecy, known as the Pygmalion Effect. In education for example, researchers found that teachers responded to students according to what they believed about the students, and not on what those students actually were. Similarly, students labeled as “poor performers” by their teachers tended to do poorly in class even though they had higher IQs than normal.

Our images of reality and thus of the future, are very important. For these images will create the reality that we will live with. We therefore have to be careful what we want for the Philippines, how we describe the Philippines. For that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Pygmalion Effect is one of a number of important psychological and social findings which underlie the new scientific discipline called “social constructionism”. This school of thought advances the powerful notion that “words create worlds”. The actual condition of society does not result from the workings of machine-like laws that cannot be altered. They are the product of the balance of power between different images of reality and the future.

Alan Kay, a prominent pioneer of the computer age, captures the prevailing paradigm at work in the Pygmalion Effect, social constructionism, and similar approaches, including Appreciative Inquiry. In pointing to the central role that our image of the future plays, he wrote: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”.

Karangalan will be a unique opportunity to “invent” the future of the Philippines on the basis of mobilizing the diverse and outstanding capacities and talents that are already expressing themselves throughout the archipelago and are working for a better Philippines. The positive experience arising from Karangalan will cascade into more deeds for a better Philippines and will be a self-fulfilling prophecy about the future of this country.

A nation without a vision, lacking a sense of purpose and achievement, always complaining about its failures and addicted to its weaknesses and despair, will rapidly sink into oblivion. Its pessimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But a nation with vision and commitment, humbly conscious of its moments of achievements and the creative essence animating its outstanding deeds, will change its present and future. And, from this position of strength, it will make a positive and persuasive contribution to the general advancement of the world.

So let 2005 be the year we all sow, act on, and mobilize around hope. Inevitably we will harvest a nation, a better Philippines.