Making a difference on May 13
How refreshing that the Otso Diretso MATH GRAD team (Macalintal, Aquino, Tañada, Hilbay, Gutoc, Roxas, Alejano, Diokno) did not call their final campaign event a “miting de avance,” but rather a Thanksgiving event. It began with an early afternoon Mass. At UP’s Sunken Garden, what shelter could be sought from the heavy summer downpour? Nothing in the campaign reeked of traditional politics, and commendable was the conduct of the audience that stayed through the rains. A true gathering of the faithful.
With limited resources, social media was the medium to use. It was also the vehicle for a thank-you video for their 20,000-plus volunteers, 2,000,000-plus conversations, P5,700,000-plus donations. Many commented that these candidates have already won, with the promising national conversation they have started especially with the youth and like-minded Filipinos interested in a country that we can truly be proud of, with honest leaders to look up to who have the larger, less privileged sector of the population in mind.
On the eve of a crucial election day, former education secretary Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, wrote a letter to the youth. “Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas” entrusts a “revolution” to the young. Aptly, it begins with a quote from “Avengers: Endgame”: “Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everyone who’s not in this room to try. We’ll do whatever it takes.”
It is a pained and anguished letter, with Luistro admitting how his generation “has fallen short of our promise to build for you a country that you could be proud of. We have become numb to the sufferings of our fellow citizens.” It is a nation today that “has lost its moorings, its very soul.”
In the midst of what he describes as a desert experience leading him to even ask, “Is the Filipino still worth dying for?” he found a well in the mock election results in universities. It was initially “peculiar” to see the youth’s preferences. “I realized that the young are seriously looking for the right leaders for our country. How clearly their choices conveyed their capacity for independent thought. How powerfully they rekindled my hope in our people and revived my zeal for building a vibrant democracy…”
It is interesting that just a week earlier, National Artist F. Sionil Jose, all of 94, should write similarly “A Letter to a Young Revolutionary” in his column. He also refers to our political system and the “gross injustices” around us. “Writing is not enough, or teaching, or whatever profession you choose, because there is this entity that’s bigger than us and it is this unhappy nation,” he says.
Luistro holds up the interests of the “poorest and the most vulnerable” in our society, while Manong Frankie reminds us to “persevere, to endure,” for today’s enemy is not a foreign invader, but the elite among us. “… Never, never forget that they are very rich, and our people are very poor.”
It is this wide disparity between the rich and the poor that ought to shame us. I think of our own household staff who enable us to continue pursuing our personal and professional interests—but who themselves live from one salary loan to the other to make decent everyday living possible, even as they need additional loans for unforeseen events like illness, death, the birth of another child, the onset of June and the need for school supplies. It is little help we offer in terms of interest-free loans for one or the other reason, faithful SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig remittances and the accompanying burdensome documentation, and more of the required certifications needed for a home of their own. They are the ones I have in mind when I campaign against plunderers.
Will the warm response to Otso Diretso translate into votes? Will the results of the university polls make a difference when the counting begins? I do not want to be a cynic, and I am certain that my vote, and your vote, will make a difference. And as the song of a group of Filipino artists led by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab goes, “Sana naman, ang panalo ay taumbayan.”
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz (nenisrcruz@ gmail.com) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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