The death of Cory Aquino spurred an emotion of solidarity among the Filipinos especially those who have witnessed the downfall of the Philippine Republic under the dictatorship of Marcos. The yellow flowers, ribbons and scattered confetti reminded us of the glorious day when the dictator was finally subjected to the undying thirst for justice, peace and clean governance, and we started to redefine our stand in more solid ground. Then we found ourselves looking at the bright aspect delineated to the changes in socio-political affair. We have become a proud nation to achieve much in the global scene by crowding the streets armed with sentiments like that of the First Quarter Storm and the huge thirst quenching the EDSA revolution. We won the fight like eager mice trudging the dangerous path packed with hungry cats and successfully grabbed a piece of cheese that is worth our nation’s pride: exactly what Prometheus did among the sleeping gods.
Yes, we have won the fight. The question is what kind of fight? I do not claim to know more than anyone else about the ordeal of our country, but since the problem is apparent and could easily be pondered over a cup of coffee or a simple mind break in carenderia, it is my wish to say something of what I percieve about it. After all, things are seen in various epistemological angles and one has the right to say what he thinks of the current situation in our country that escalates between the believers and the incredulous. Mind you, the danger may all be depending on what we believe. Sometimes, it takes more than courage and pure whim to unravel what should be done to re-define our common ground in order to prosper as a nation. And yes, we are constantly struggling to find our way to fight the foes that hurdle us to this redefinition of ourselves. Again – What kind of fight?
When you look back to our history, we could see that the Filipino people are fighting all their lives. First we showed our valor by toppling the Spanish colonizers only to realize it was just a coy for the entrance of Americans after we had been sold for more than a million dollars. After realizing that we are like turn-tables that have been passed from one hand to another, we plotted skirmishes to highlight our willingness to stand for what is right even if it meant sacrificing lives against the super-power nation. It was a kind of fight where we repelled invasion just to preserve our natural identity as Filipinos. And after each success we tend to drown into oblivion the essence of such revolutions as an initial ladder to realizing our long-search for true identity.
The second phase of revolution has taken a different form. Unlike the first one which can be regarded as an external fight to defend our sovereignty, the latter is a kind of introspection: Our fight is not against external forces but individuals amongst us. Examples of this are the EDSA 1 and 2 Revolutions where we ousted individuals who have been traitors to their own kind. Because of our nescience on which ground to stand on, we allowed the budding evil to morph with us that in the end caught us off-guard. People have suffered more than they have during colonization because the adversary knew the nook and crook of how to play the devil’s game. Thus, we have to fight harder to reverse the damage they brought.
Then the pattern continues. This time revolution moves deeper. How many times have we rallied in the street to shout that the government step out and leave their seats? How many times did we condemn cheating and malevolence in the administration because they have not been stealing from the national treasury? If you still consider this a good fight, then you are merely stranded in the second phase of revolution. What I am trying to say is that there are wicked individuals we see apart from ourselves. If you come to think of it, the worst enemy is ourselves which we are collectively unmindful of. We can all attest to this from the simple instance of throwing our garbage on the street to preserving corrupt officials by being loyal to them because of utang ng loob. We may laugh at this at times because this is so trivial to take into account, but when you look at its effect, there is no sheer difference between you and the one you are loathing. You cannot simply wipe out the dirt by dirt. Thus, by reflecting on it, it all boils to one ultimate premise: The Self. This self is not just the battle of some or of groups of political factions but of every Filipino who are tired of the maelstrom of history where a single mistake in the past is revived back to the concurrent political arena.
Hence, it is when we have waged war against ourselves that we become infectious and worthy in re-defining our ground. Just imagine how a good self can transform other lives like what Mother Teresa and of John Paul II did. If you replicate it a hundred times, then this country may already be a happy nation. Yet no matter how ideal this may sound, it could be achieved when we will it to happen. With what’s happening to our country, amidst turmoil, I guess, the greatest message of the death of Ninoy and Cory is just one: Beware, we are our greatest enemy. And by taking this message by heart, only then shall we authentically define the real fight for our nation.
April and May are glorious months for my loved ones as two of my siblings graduated this year. After all the hardships and brain-straining academic requirements, they finally made it to the end – to march in the hall with pride and jubilation. Nothing can compare the rewards one gets in school as he is reminded of the beautiful stage in which he could repay with pride the hardships of his folks. One can only appreciate the summit when he has laboriously clambered the boulders and the precipice with diligence and patience. It is in this way that one can say, “I have conquered it, and that I deserve this.” These two young fellows have made it…and as a brother who supported them in various ways, I too have felt the same happiness as they ascended to the stage to get their last clearance in school. Bravo! I say, Bravo!
Let me start with this boy. I know your body has been bruised and your heart and mind, tortured, but still with faith in God and perseverance, you were able to surpass all the hurdles in your way. And now, look at you! You have changed into a man of honor wrought by big dreams. A military school is not an ordinary learning institution. This is a place where you will be hammered for survival and will be proselytized to think differently. But I tell you – as I know you will be very brilliant to understand this – success is nothing unless you relate it to genuine service. The best thing in life is not to make a ladder for your job but to make the job as your ladder to fulfill your dreams. It is through this that you will understand the people who need your service. Military lessons may have made you strong but bear in mind that you will always be human with a fragile emotional side. In a place where there will be war and chaos stands as a formidable adversary, you have to keep your health and emotions steady. Keep your head low and plant your feet in the ground and serve the people as best as you can with integrity. After all, your call is in public service. So keep it up. Congratulations and may God guide you always.
And to you young lady… I have known your intelligence as quite remarkable the moment you open up things with bizarre ideas. Surely UP had made you into a weirdo. Not a weirdo patched with thick spectacles and dressed like a geek that sometimes could be mistaken for a bozo, but a strange lady who prefers the company of older people and sensible fellows which the majority of your batch has failed to replicate. Because I know, deep in your heart, that in all stages in life, you put learning as your priority. Now that your course is done, I wish you all the best. Just remember that graduation is not the end but the beginning of a more challenging life ahead. Your highschool (when you were crowned as one of the top Ilonggo students) and college years in UP were the happiest in life, keep the memories with you but move on to the road of your expertise. I hope you will always stand up to the call of UP to contribute to the “National Pride.” Keep that as well along with your noble dreams in life. Congratulations! I’m very proud of you.
My congratulations also to Eva Marie and to Diana (Cum Laude). Remember the valedictory speech : “We are what we repeatedly do…Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” You too have the responsibility to contribute to our National Pride. God bless you.
P.S. Moyx, Zamboanga is a very treacherous place and bullets are unstoppable monsters that shatter dreams and curtail life, so please take care.
Din, basketball always makes you happy, but don’t you think it’s time that you shift to football? By the way UP Fighting Maroons is the champion in UAAP Football-Men against FEU, 1-0.
Recently, I had the chance to visit UP to meet my friend Miguel. It was then that I was able to breathe the same intellectual ambiance of the campus. I’ve missed everything about it. I even miss the avenue of activism in the campus where students blindly thought that the government was the sole cause of maelstrom of poverty and injustices. Though I never joined any rallies in Iloilo, I was once an active member of the student activist group in Cebu. I used to join my “comrades” march the length of Mango Avenue to Jones Street whenever a big stir happened in congress or if a scam erupted in the national government. It was a good feeling to voice out what we thought was the sentiments of the masses, and the feeling of solidarity was overwhelming that you could no longer distinguish whether your actions were genuine or mere aping. Fr. Bulatao called this a common consciousness stirred by one definite emotion like in the case of EDSA Revolution. It was a nice feeling but I was fooled, I knew. It was only when I left the group that I began to realize the blunders of activism and the maneuvering of the opposition. My friends were eager to hold me back and brainwashed me to look at the brighter side by insisting that we were doing what others are afraid of – to fight for a change. However the opposite happened. Instead of believing them, I started to loathe them, for it was easy to follow one’s principles than live up to them exactly as stated. And when you have not lived up to it, that would only mean hypocrisy; and I just couldn’t take it. Later on, I discovered what I was fighting for was not the plea of the masses but the perpetuation of some ideologues which I dare not mention.
…and back to UP. The government is pouring bigger funds this time for R&D compared to last year’s. This is good news because UP will be one of the recipients of the billions of pesos (pardon me, if I forgot the exact amount). The good thing about this is the potential of the institution to boost academic pressure among the students to delve more in R&D and to set aside the principle of activism for a while. At least, the government will have the reason to curb the growth of foolish belief among students and establish a steadfast cooperation starting from the academe. As you know, when other countries in Asia are scuttling for Science Development, the Philippines still lags in their cause for cultural change and the idea of science as a stratified phase for national development has not been considered seriously but rather regarded as a maudlin fanaticism. Maybe its time that the state university should be careful in selecting students who are willing to commit themselves to national development by studying well and by fostering the importance of research and development as the primary drive for progress. I can say this because I’ve witnessed that many of what we call “iskolar ng bayan” squander the government budget indirectly by cutting and skipping their classes for a shallow reason that passing grade isn’t earned by attendance alone. How many bright students enjoy receiving government subsidy, and instead of returning back what the government has invested for them, they themselves become the forefront of activism and criticize the government for not living up to its promises to alleviate poverty? Are they not part of this huge malfeasance by not attending classes? The government is spending much for them hence they must contribute to what they are supposed to deliver.
Ruminating on this, it is sad that some of these students who made it to UP are themselves the best examples of lousiness. No questions with their intellect, but reaping for investment is another story and we always know that there is always the time of reckoning. The government should think twice of the next batch of “iskolar ng bayan” to come in. It may not be the same, but the label “the breeding ground of activism (communism to the extent)” will linger on.
As the UP centennial celebration will end soon, many things have been discussed including its century academic excellence that prides its students and its faculties. I have no qualms to say that those bright students chose the right institution, but I am not pretty sure if UP has chosen the right students to nourish. Maybe, it will for the next hundred years. I hope.