I WANTED to write about President Duterte and his third rape slur but I couldn’t. I wanted to discuss my dismay on the reinstatement of a police official in the Espinosa slay but something’s hindering me. I wanted to tell you my support to the Office of the Ombudsman in its move to press charges against former President Benigno Aquino III for mishandling the Mamasapano operation during his term in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members have been killed by a mix of rebel groups in the south but I won’t do it. I wanted to write about poverty, education, and health problems of my country but a part of me doesn’t want to.
I guess it’s because it’s Sunday. We deserve a break, don’t we? We do not want to hear any negative, saddening news on this day. We worked all week to spend this day for ourselves, our families, and our friends. I fully understand where you’re coming from.
Because of these, I am not going to delve deeper on what’s going on. Just like you, I am going to treat this day as a gift that I won’t let anything taint it with reminders of corruption, murder, homicide, suicide and of children in a state of shock, covered with blood, and white ashes because of bomb explosions. Because this day is a fleeting perfection and one should shy away from all distractions.
And so, I hope to see you next Sunday when we’ll transform all over again, to try to forget everything, and to pretend.
There is hope in me that the people in Marawi City, as soon as the war ends, will receive the help they need to start over; that the aid from the government and international community to rebuild their lives will not be put to waste; and that the appeals for donation to those who have been displaced will be heard. There is hope in me because the President of this country came from the south and because he made a promise that their voices will be recognized. There is hope in me because in one way or another, we know how it feels like to be locked up in a challenging situation. It must be difficult to accept the reality that you have to all of a sudden evacuate from your comfort zone with no extra clothes, toothbrush, or other personal belongings to bring with due to threat to your life. I hope that the war would soon be over. I hope that they find their way home again, our fellow Filipinos – the civilians, the police officers, and the soldiers.
Photo credit: AFP Getty Images
“Who would want to forgive those who betrayed, abused, and beguiled us? Who would want to forget the hardships some of us had to endure or our loved ones had to experience?”
TODAY, WE celebrate the 119th anniversary of the declaration of our people’s emancipation from Spain. But are we truly independent?
In the clash in Marawi City between the government forces and the Maute Group carrying ISIS flag and ideologies, the President did not know of US help beforehand. He was surprised like a child despite being the head of the state who has access to every sensitive information and channels regarding national security. How about China’s irrefutable bullying when it leisurely transformed some of our territorial islands and islets in the South China Sea? But in addition to these, I believe that the invisible wounds in the past still haunt us: the declaration of Martial Law at the latter part of the Marcos regime, the death of Ninoy Aquino, Jr., the decay of the people’s trust and confidence to some government officials because of corruption, the unsolved crimes, the human rights violations, the forced disappearance of activists like Jonas Burgos, the Maguindanao Massacre where 58 people have been killed, the failures in the justice system, and the insensitivity of the machismo-laden Congress and Senate to children’s and women’s rights. We remember one or two of these every now and then not because we want to but because similar things happen or intertwined events surface on the news that hinder us to forgive and to forget. Who would want to forgive those who betrayed, abused, and beguiled us? Who would want to forget the hardships some of us had to endure or our loved ones had to experience?
Maybe, we need this moment to know how we should move forward as a nation. Maybe, just maybe, today, we’ll understand the true meaning of independence that the dignified and brave Filipinos in our history fought for that we may live in a country that’s unchained, unlocked, and free from elements of oppression and suppression; that we may continue to be vigilant with a peaceful heart not with rage or with the spirit to destroy; and that we may transform this unhappy country together against the 15th to 18th century Spain’s variations today – invisible or not.
THERE’S AN ongoing crisis in the Philippines that’s worse than the Maute group attack in Marawi City. Yes, it’s greater than the Filipino fascination with heroes and cursing of villains. It’s our attempt to simplify things by resorting to one-liners, labels, and generalizations. It’s more convenient to describe single mothers as ‘na-ano lang’; the 16 million supporters of the current president as ‘Dutertards’; the PNoy true believers as ‘Yellowtards’; the corrupt media men and women who sold their honor to be a voice of a particular party instead of binding with the truth and reason as ‘Presstitutes’; the millions of addicts as ‘sub-human’; the gays and lesbians in our midst as ‘worse than animals’; Muslims as ‘terrorists’. These do not accomplish anything but create more divisions. And while we are busy figuring out how others are different from us, or on how one’s opinion gravitates from fake news at a glance, we forget to listen, to read, to research, and ultimately, to convince ourselves that in times like this, it’s best to pause and pray for our country.