My father, Rapa Lopa, wrote an article titled: “Let’s take action, Boomer!” (BusinessWorld, June 26, 2023) in which he proposed that the issues we are currently facing cannot be resolved quickly. Instead, he presented the idea that it may take multiple generations to achieve a future where these problems are no longer present.
Due to the lengthy period of time, he urges each new generation to continue the progress of those before them. Specifically, he requests that older generations interact with and support the younger ones in realizing their desired futures. Similarly, he encourages the younger generations to seek advice and knowledge from their older counterparts, who have faced both triumphs and setbacks.
He referred to this endeavor as a “multi-generational partnership” that motivates individuals of any age to contribute to creating a brighter future.
In order to fulfill this request, Rapa and his friend Men Sta. Ana planned to come together and explore ways in which their two groups, consisting of different generations, could work together. Rapa works with talented young individuals at the WeSolve Foundation, while Men is involved with forward-thinking policy analysts at Action for Economic Reforms (AER).
I was fortunate enough to be a part of their engaging conversation, accompanying them to La Creperie in White Plains. Our evening began with a discussion about the numerous issues plaguing our country today, such as hunger, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, climate change, and lack of economic opportunities. Despite deliberating for an hour, we were still contemplating how our two groups could work together. We continuously asked ourselves, “How can we collaborate?” and “Which specific issue should we address? Where should we focus our efforts?” With no definite solution in sight, we left La Creperie with leftovers – not from our meals, but from the unanswered questions.
After taking time to consider our “take home” questions, I came to the realization that we may have overlooked the true realities faced by those we wanted to assist. While we discussed the larger systemic issues that impacted them, we did not give enough attention to the actual hardships they were facing. It was like looking at the forest from a distance without truly understanding what was happening within it. This led me to suggest that our next steps should involve moving from theoretical discussions in a restaurant to actively engaging with and understanding the struggles of the communities we aim to serve.
I am suggesting that we not only consider this for ourselves, but for anyone who wants to improve our country. Instead of only focusing on the issues we need to address, we should also focus on the individuals we are trying to assist. We can begin by asking ourselves who we are trying to serve and what their current lives are like. This will lead us to engage with struggling communities and discover new realities that we may not have personally experienced. As we engage, we can ask ourselves what issues we are facing and how we can work together to solve them. This will challenge us to listen and understand different perspectives. From their responses, we can find more effective solutions that take into account their realities.
I acknowledge that this task may be difficult. To be honest, I cannot claim to fully understand the realities of the people I aim to assist – their stories, experiences, hopes, and desires. In addition to my father’s call for intergenerational involvement, I urge those who choose to participate to actively listen and immerse themselves with those we aim to serve. This will challenge us to be more empathetic. However, I believe that this effort should not be limited to a select few. Everyone has a stake in the future and therefore, everyone deserves to be a part of creating a better one. With that in mind, let’s take on this challenge, Boomer! Or perhaps even better: Let’s make a difference together, Boomer, at Kababayan!
Carlo Lopa is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Futures Studies at the University of Houston.