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A new Filipino?

We are turning a page, not reading a new book. So as 2016 turns to 2017, we are still reading the same story—the life journey of the Filipino.

What is exciting about our life journey, as individuals and as a country, is that we write our story as we go along. Then, we and the generations who follow us, get to read what we write. While many life coaches and gurus try to anchor us always to the moment, to the now, we do leave a trail, a memory trail, and for some, a paper trail.

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This current age of technology and information is not about to slow down; rather, all the more it will erupt, all the more it will disrupt. The genie, as it were, has been released from the confines of the lamp—and it cannot be forced back it. If change already seems radical today, it is wise for us to anticipate that it will become more so. For senior citizens like me, this pattern of seemingly unpredictable change will define the rest of our lives.

The quality and quantity of change reflect in the speed and graphics of life as we experience it now, and tomorrow. But change, just like our life journey, may turn the pages faster, may manifest in very innovative and strange forms, but remains grounded on the same individual and collective story. In other words, no matter how radically different things may turn out to be, we will know it is still us, it is still our story, it is still our journey. And because it is so, the pages have read and wrote are the unavoidable context of the pages we read and write today and tomorrow. We may regret, we may learn, and we may change the direction of our destiny from now on, but not the previous pages. There may be opportunities today and tomorrow, but there is a sense of permanence about life already lived.

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It does seem from a quick glance at the world around us is in turmoil—and it is in more ways than one. But because of the permanence of what has been, because the past is now framed and subject to clearer inspection and assessment, those really interested can easily realize that the world had been through worse times, greater deaths and destruction, horrible epidemics and famines, and wars that never seemed to end. Yet, after all the periods of horror, man survived. As we, too, will.

There is a fundamental human drama that underlies all life scripts and characters that loom larger than our individual lives. We get to see and read about them because their lives have greater impact on others. But yet we know that we, too, each and all of us, have that drama, too, even if few ever get to know. What is important is that we have experienced, we have thought and felt and acted, we have lived and continue to live our drama.

In our quieter and private moments, when we can better accept not only the good of our lives but including what shamed us to ourselves (or to our God), we may sense that circumstances have been varied but certain ingredients remain fundamental in our drama. There appear to be dualities that we cannot escape from and trigger much of our inner and relational conflicts. I have observed these forces in my life and in the lives of others, convinced by now that what have called opposites must not provoke us to allow them to clash.

We seem to have twin natures, often competing and providing serious stress and frustration. The most obvious, probably the most active, too, are the individual and the collective in us. We are driven by what attracts and benefits us individually yet we recognize that we are part of a greater existence demanding our cooperation. Sometimes, it demands our submission. When what we want as individuals collide with what the collective asks, we are confronted with a recurring question, “What will I do?”

This personal drama is but a mirror image of our society where individuals, groups, political parties and government at several levels constantly play a collective drama. The drama often brings us beyond understanding and translates to competition, from competition to conflict, and conflict to war (or its equivalent in our lives). We may see what happens out there because what is national or international is too big to miss, but it happens inside us, too. Life, then, can seem like a hyperactive arena of divergent interests, seldom complimentary, too often contradictory.

The politics of governance and religion are not strangers because we are contributory to it. We can commit, we can omit, but both ways we contribute. We elect public officials, then follow or rebel against them and the law itself. We also follow bishops and priests but do not live out the virtues and values they teach. We are in contradiction to teachings and laws; yes, we are contributory to the politics of governance and religion.

From inner contradictions to external conflicts, we become a collective mess. And we become faithful practitioners of the blame game. Not satisfied with that, there is a virtual reality created by communications technology, a reality where we expand the drama of our lives. And a new year beckons, knocking louder by the minute, pushing out an exhausted 2016.

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The new year, though, will not be so new in pattern, only in details. It is not a new year but a new Filipino who will bring meaningful change. Not even a new President, only a new Filipino. To renew ourselves, however, we must understand the prejudices and bad habits we have developed. Then and only then can we begin a new journey to become the new Filipinos of a new nation.

May the new year be a blessed journey for the new Filipino.

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TAGS: 2016, 2017, changes, New Year
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