The wars we wage | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

The wars we wage

/ 03:09 AM September 25, 2014

My grandparents can recount the years when their town was under siege by the Japanese forces. My father shed a tear when he looked down on Ayala Avenue at Cory Aquino’s cortege. When I grow old, I will retell only these stories of difficulty and tragedy, and that’s because I never went through a war. No bombs were there to traumatize me. No gunshots were there to horrify me.

In high school, I searched within the confines of the campus for something that would make me unique—a label that I could call my own. Early on, I found that it was going to be science. Others found callings in language and poetry, the performing arts, and extracurricular responsibilities with the student government. For me, however, to pore over textbooks, even unprescribed library books, was my secret satisfaction. To understand diagrams, texts, and concepts was an everyday adventure. As an academic standard, I made it necessary to read the class text, supplemented by one or two similar textbooks from the library. When I was exempted from taking an exam, I lamented that I would not be courted by questions, as was the child Jesus in the temple. Definitively, I applied for a science degree in college.


In college, I found that my fantastical experience of science had evolved into a totally different species. It was… harder. Also, heartbreaking. Exams would be less intuitive with lectures, and homework was doable only either through a ton of research or a magic cheat sheet. A lab partner risked class attendance so we could perform an honest third trial in the lab. Turned out, our lab instructor didn’t care about the third trial; there was no use for professional research, because the lab instructor also had a cheat sheet. College was the Survival of the Fittest.

Things took a pleasant turn as I matured into the end of college, because I found culmination in research—the real kind. I changed my paradigm from thousand-page textbooks to glorious, scientific narratives worth five pages and $30. It was the thing once again where I felt unique, a solemn place where I held the world in my hands while my classmates frantically filled out forms for medical school. Semesters later, however, research turned into a fickle friend, and, after turning in my thesis, I turned away from the lure of further studies. There seemed to be pages and pages of inconclusiveness, as well as the occasional doctorate that would drag you down to a bottomless pit, ending in a hot classroom filled with PowerPoint lessons from a North American textbook. The excitement and passion that used to glow within me had become the form of my old self. “Back in high school,” I would say. I took my diploma, then left with a clouded mind.


In a few weeks I will have terminated my brief stint in a consulting agency. On one hand, it’s sad because I found my job really satisfying: I handled communications with a distinctive, competent understanding of information, I paced and conducted meetings with senior engineers, and I designed figures and wrote a good chunk of our million-peso reports.

However, what stopped my breezy pace was seeing the face of a corrupt man whose eyes expressed the euphemisms of his mouth. He was an impatient, if not ambiguous, aged official who had a big belly, smoked a lot, and seemed to be of low intelligence. There were many like him. Deadlines, requirements, and disqualification: Politicking was their profession. True enough, the government official was hinting at a bribe, before he would sign a payment authorization to my company. I knew nothing could ever be easy, but I was certainly not dumb. If I ever did give up on the hard work, at least I didn’t for just a while, but I was at a loss. So I walked out of their building, which reminded me of my sociocivic outreach immersions.

I think there’s something flawed or self-defeating in the way we organize ourselves. The decisions that we make lack innovation and a sincere consideration for underlying science. Institutions struggle for relevance by barking up the wrong tree, effectively making it so much harder for everyone. “Barriotic,” as 1980s politicians would say. For people who want to make change, there only seem to be dead ends. They might as well join the rest of the world who peddle materials and vices.

I find respite in people who have bared the truth of themselves and their experiences—tough jobs, unquenched passions, and sectoral struggles. In a way, I’d like to say that this is our war. When we are old, we will tell our grandchildren of the war we fought—hopefully, with triumph. And so, we rest. We take a deep breath as we consciously close our eyes, thinking that the search for truthful meaning is not a singular act, but rather a singular goal, borne of our unique histories. Soon, we will wake and begin anew—or, better, continue.

Ryan Madrid, 23, is working at an environmental consulting company.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Ayala Avenue, Cory Aquino, Philippine history, relationships
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stories from under-30s

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.