THE FOLLY OF GOVERNMENT COMMEMORATIONS


Each month of the year is commemorated for one reason or other because of a government proclamation. We know that this September Baguio City is commemorating its foundation anniversary. We also know that every September 1st is a holiday in the city as we commemorate the city’s charter day anniversary. If only because it is a holiday, students and sinecures look forward to that day every year. The reason for the celebration, and the token activities of government, is lost to most of the public.

But do we know that September has been commemorated at one time or other as Social Security Month, National Peace Consciousness, Rule of Law Month, and Development Policy Research Month? If the proclamations mandating these celebrations have not been “garbaged” (in Tagalog, ibinasura) or otherwise disposed of, then some government agency somewhere in this republic might be honoring the month of September with these noble-sounding accolades.

Lucky for us, government does not stop at honoring September as this and that month, but also distinguishes its weeks with special commemorative titles: the first week of the month is National Crime Prevention Week and Obesity Prevention Awareness Week; the third week is Printing Industry Week, Coastal Clean Up Week, and National Building Management Industry Week; the 4th week is Family Week and Management Consciousness Week.

For sure each of these commemorations there is sure to be a catchy “theme” assigned to it, to symbolize the celebrators’ righteous intentions September or any of its weeks. Despite these many commemorations, however, it is not clear how government, or the people it presumes to serve, shall significantly benefit from the celebrations.

The folly of so many government-proclaimed commemorations is that their objectives are normal functions of government, things that government must be doing at every time and not at the particular month or week that it is being commemorated.

Why should we wait until September to be enthusiastic about crime prevention, to learn about social security, develop “peace consciousness” (whatever it means), work for the rule of law, or to realize the need for development policy research? Instead of making a lasting impact on the realization of these honorable concepts, these special commemorations seem to recommend that we recall these for a few days and forget them the rest of the year.

If our enthusiasm is dictated by these commemorations, how would the overweight in our midst realize their situation if they wait for the first week of September before they are barraged with obesity prevention awareness?

Any commemoration, whether it be the noble proclamations that government assigned the different months and weeks of the year, or whether it be religious feasts, needs the participation of people, whether it be in their enlightened consciousness, blind faith or for personal gain.

The success or pomposity of these commemorations is dependent on the participation of motivated groups and individuals. If driven by commercial interests, the celebrations could be truly informative, albeit the public should know that what these interests are interested in are increased revenues. Thus we may yet see that Printing Industry Week will provide a venue to showcase advances in the industry, and perhaps we shall see better printing jobs later on. The enthusiasm of the commercial sector in Baguio in the commemoration of its anniversary is another proof of this motivation.

For sure, if producers of anti-obesity drugs and operators of health spas and gyms were involved, the celebration of obesity prevention awareness week would at least be grandiose, if not entirely successful, not just commercially but for the totality of the populace as well.

But successful government-induced commemorations are few and far between, and we have to be gratified that at least for the first week of September we should be concerned with crime prevention. The criminals who benefit from our momentary and token indulgence with crime prevention must be happy the rest of the year.

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