Just a few days ago, I came to the realization that Christmas is less than a 100 days from now. You see, we Filipinos love Christmas so much that we do a countdown and usually starts at 100. Why? I don't know. But when the month starts to hit the -ber months everything just talks about the coming holidays.
Well, this year is quite different. Our city is in conflict and the signs of Christmas seems so far away. If there's something that's good about what is happening is that it made the people closer to God and made the people more united as ever. I think the strength and resilience of people appears in the most trying times. During this conflict, my first thoughts and concern were the children and the youth particularly, my students. And if I have a wish for Christmas, I wish that the young ones will be enlightened and choose a different course to finding peace. A course that is free of violence and an understanding and respect for differences.
I wrote some of my experiences and exclusively share it to my students. I don't plan to post it in this blog but, a former student of mine request that I post it. And if she wants to, maybe some others would also want to. So here goes...
Hello, guys! I just like to share a few experiences and thoughts with you. This is especially address to you as young Zamboanguenos and Filipinos.
When I was very young, it was the very first time that I saw a strong fear in my mother's eyes. I can feel how much she tried to be strong but I know that there's something wrong. Later on, I happen to know that one of the leaders of the same group have escape and the authorities have located him just a stone throw away from our house. Still, I don't understand it. When I was a teenager about the same age as you are, the same people hostaged a group of people as human shields. Again, I remembered my mother's fears through these people's eyes. At that time, I already understand that it is pure oppression for everyone to see. For a long time after that, we have been peaceful. Until monday. If you can see, it has been a cyle. The same group of people. And worst is that they are not from here. They don't have families here, their jobs are not here (if they do have a job), they haven't walked the streets that you walk on everyday going from your homes to school and vice versa.
Now, you have seen and most especially experienced how these can all change with just a few people who force their agenda. We can have different ideals but these are personal ideals not necessarily for everyone else. Democracy is not just being able to speak out your mind or having the freedom to do things. It's about upholding each and everyone's rights and being equal. As well as having an environment in which the inherent human rights are upheld. That's why you cannot just burn houses (arson) or simply kill someone (murder). It breaks my heart that I see some of them are young, maybe same as your age. It breaks my heart because they haven't experience the joy of actually living.. they are rallying independence without knowing that they are independent and doesn't need to follow a dictator.. they are chasing peace without realizing that peace resides within their hearts only if they remove fear and hate.
I don't want mothers to have continues fear for their children and for children to experience this kind of fear. You are no more children, you can already think for yourselves. And with the technology, you have the things that will help you get informed, some might be true and some pretends to be true. You should learn how to discern it. I don't write this in my status because it's not for my friends but for you, my students. I want you to be enlightened. With this current experience, it's understandable to feel hate but let it not overtake love. Hate consumes you negatively, while love consumes others positively.
Remember the city a few weeks ago... remember how happy you were during the socialization.. during the sports event or the cheerdance competition.. remember, the previous weeks when we bombard you with exams and assignments.. or the times when you just simply go out with friends and family.. that is freedom.. that is independence.. that's a taste of peace. I hope eventually you will understand this and that you don't want this to happen in the future.
There's already too many negativity around us, it's time for some positivity. If you can, you can help our fellow Zamboanguenos who are currently displaced. You can ask your parents what you can do to help (through goods or just an extra helping hand). You don't need to go to grandstand, you can just go to the nearest evacuation centers. I think there you can more realize and uderstand fully what independence and peace means. If you can't, please hold on and pray harder for that end that we long for. The end when we get back to the class again for another lecture, another exam, another activity, and another recitation ;) I miss listening to your makukulit na voices. Soon! :)
God bless us all.