At a tender age of 15, while other teen-agers were worrying about Bagets fashion that time, I was slowly immersing myself to fully understand social, political, and economic issues. Being involved in these causes was not an easy thing to do. Being born and raised in a clan of Marcos fanatics was doubly hard.
For many parents and elders, seeing their children joining the ranks of student activists was definitely despicable and intolerable behavior. Maybe it was just a parental or elderly brother/sister concern. We are not rich to afford losing our education in exchange of what they call a useless endeavor—because according to them, “we are just destroying the future that is in store for us.” Of course, we wanted to argue, but any intellectual argument would only prove futile. First, we were not fully understood. Second, if given the chance to speak our minds, they would refuse to understand, and third, which is a prerequisite to the second reason--they already have an unperturbed and deeply-rooted mindset.
So, our parents, specially our late father, sternly warned us not to engage ourselves in these activities. I can still vividly recall the day when my late father and I were intently listening to the live coverage of Ninoy Aquino’s arrival in the then Manila International Airport (MIA). I was incredibly outraged upon hearing that Ninoy was killed. For the first time and being in the junior high, I had mustered enough courage to utter words against the late dictator. While I succeeded, I was also amused by the fact that I have recoiled after his scolding.
Even against the will of our parents, we still saw the need to be involved—isang pakikibaka upang lupigin ang rehimeng diktadura tungo sa minimithing katarungan at kalayaan para sa masang Pilipino! (Such a mouthful!).
I would say, I was a little bit immersed—albeit everything was done in hiding. In high school, we secretly passed around old copies of Malaya and We Forum. We participated in school plays and wrote essays against the tyranny. We sang tibak songs in between rehearsals of our church choir and in our bid for seats in the student council or whenever there is a school program or event. In college, I allowed myself to be part of the UG (underground movement), help orchestrate rallies to push for the students’ right to self-determination, and participated in secret meetings. However, it ended when one day; I realized it would not do me any good. My parents were retiring at that time. Wasting their hard-earned money would make me a traitor to them. I had no choice but to say my goodbyes to the core group and concentrate in my studies. I was thankful that my comrades understood me. After all, my parents were right. Despite this, however, my sympathy for the causes still remained.
Before our father left us, and when I have already earned confidence and some level of authority, and already undaunted in my personal convictions, we had some opportunities to discuss about politics and social issues. I realized that despite his being a Marcos loyalist, he was receptive to the discussion of socio-political and economic issues, with the caveat that we have to elude conversations against Marcos. In the end, I made him understand how Marcos—although to their minds is a great hero—have caused much trouble to the country, and that all the hardships that the country is facing now is partly attributed to that part of our history.
This month, we celebrate three important events: Buwan ng Wikang Filipino, Ninoy Aquino Day, and Araw ng mga Bayani. Once again, we are called to cherish our being Filipinos by recognizing our cultural diversity and appreciate our being a multi-lingual race. We are reminded of how great Filipinos can be by honoring our proclaimed and unsung heroes—as well remembering the days when they offered their lives for genuine social justice, freedom and democracy. Ninoy, Macli-ing Dulag, Ed Jopson, Lean Alejandro, to name a few, have died for noble causes. But is their spirit of patriotism, wisdom, and at least a small percentage of their consciousness still thrives within us?
More than three decades ago, the Filipino youth started their fight against dictatorship and social injustice. To this day, the issues they have fought for are still in our midst—only in different forms and come in more elaborate and fancy packaging. The tyranny and oppressors we wanted to topple down then are still among us—only they have evolved into a more charming form of creatures that prove to be more monstrous in comparison. They are like chameleons effortlessly capable of camouflaging in many a conceivable manner.
This is not to incite any form of rebellion. With these issues still lurking in our nation’s life, would we offer ourselves in the same way that our advocates and leaders have done? Would we take on the issues they have fought against—at least in our little ways no matter how insignificant they may be?
Ninoy once said: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” However, before taking the next step and share a part of ourselves nation-building, we should be able to discern about this more practical question: “Is the Filipino [still] worth dying for?”
Note: I have an entry at WIKA 2007. Please read my previous entry, and vote for me by clicking this badge:
Sunday, August 19, 2007
5:51 PM INKBLOTS 2 comments