The road to freedom
It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m in a rush to get ready for school. By 6 a.m. I’m making my brother gobble up his breakfast at the risk of choking so we can leave before traffic starts building up outside our village.
We begin to traverse the avenue to school alongside other vehicles with students who probably got up earlier than we did, and had no time to eat breakfast or, worse, to brush their teeth. We are all trapped in our vehicles, and there we face the menace that is called Katipunan.
How apt that this particular route is called Katipunan, which means “a gathering together.” You may think of it as though we are gathered literally to the point that we cause congestion, but I like to think of it as comparable to those Filipinos who gathered together and fought for freedom during our nation’s Spanish colonization. We students are gathered together, battling our way through the congested route in pursuit of our freedom to education, personal interaction, and self-advancement.
We have become a generation of student Katipuneros who, while trapped in vehicles for hours, numb ourselves with social media, sleep, or even food, because we feel it is a battle that cannot be won… for today at least. If Andres Bonifacio were alive today, he would probably be appalled at how the word “Katipunan”—which once evoked feelings of patriotism, hope, gallantry, and self-sacrifice among the youth—is now equated with anxiety, frustration, vexation. There is much despondency for lack of concrete plans for alternative modes of transport. The circumstances can be daunting or overwhelming, but it is necessary for us to be educated, to connect with others, and to evolve into better versions of ourselves.
The student falling asleep in the other vehicle may be the engineer who will invent a new form of public mass transport exclusive to students who traverse this particular route. The student who missed her breakfast may be the lawyer who will formulate more effective regulations to discipline Filipinos in following proper driving protocols. The student who left home without brushing his teeth may be the president who will narrow the gaps between the population, economic growth, and infrastructure requirements. The best people to provide solutions to any problem are those who have gone through it themselves.
I don’t think it’s an accident that Katipunan is the route that leads to many schools and universities. It’s our daily teacher of patience, resilience and determination—that is, if we allow it to be so. Don’t let the circumstances change you; change your attitude instead. Until the problem is resolved, I will just try to wake up earlier, maybe find someone to carpool with, and pack my brother’s breakfast so he doesn’t risk choking on it.
And I will keep encouraging my fellow Katipuneros to be brave on the road to battle: “Sugod, mga kapatid!”
Isabella Marie Bonifacio Galvez, 17, is a freshman at the University of the Philippines Diliman taking up molecular biology and biotechnology. She wants to go into medical research in the future.
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