Cherry Ann A. Rubio
B.S. E.C.E., 5th year
The only joy in the world is to begin. -- Cesare Pavese
The first taste of absolute independence occurred to me on the 21st year of my existence.
It all happened out of necessity. Being new in the position, I had to cooperate with my fellow editors in editing the galley for our latest issue. Our meeting place was set in Bicutan.
The most convenient way to arrive at my destination was riding the LRT from our home. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be my first time to ride the LRT all ALONE, without even a friend to accompany me on the way.
With all the courage I have mustered, I tried to act unaffected despite the fact that I was scared and uneasy on my seat. The uncertainty of whether I would be able to arrive at my destination unscathed made me queasy. It was a good thing that somebody announces what station we will be in the next few minutes. If not, I would have to depend on my own instincts.
The same situation applies to the current situation of the Philippines. In a democratic country like ours, it is very ironic to talk about a kind of freedom whose essence cannot be completely felt.
Think about the proposed right of reply bill gagging the freedom of expression, extrajudicial killings of media men, attempts of changing the charter and masses striving to free themselves from the fangs of the monster called POVERTY.
Think about the influences imprinted by the colonizers on the minds of the Filipinos. Think about the volatile and vulnerable situation our economy is currently experiencing. Our economy is especially dependent on the outside forces that may either make or break it.
Relating this to my first experience of riding the LRT alone, beginners are usually scared of taking that first step forward. We are scared of making that first move towards complete liberty. If this country is truly democratic and allows each Filipino to freely exercise his or her rights, then there would be no people marching on the streets shouting to the top of their lungs in order for their voices to be heard. They have the right to peaceful assembly yet policemen treat them inhumanely.
There would be no Filipino chained by the shackles of poverty and ignorance, no stomachs grumbling of hunger or workers treated like slaves in their own country.
Oh well, enough of this ironic freedom talk. Perhaps, we need to wait for a few more years before the country reaches its true state of democracy.
* * *
First time voters are now feeling the pressure of selecting the right people to hold the seat of power. People from all walks of life are upholding the importance of using the right to suffrage. However, it is disheartening to know that it had to take many years before people came to realize the essence of placing a name on the ballot. It had to take a hundred mistakes, thousands of lives, and centuries of cultural, political and social decline before Filipinos decided to act, make a change and stand up for their rights.
With all the efforts extended by the media to protect the credibility of votes, let us just hope and pray that in the coming 2010 elections, we are able to choose the right candidate not on the basis of the number of hours or days that an advertisement of a political figure is shown on the screen, coercion from outside forces telling you whom you should put on your ballot, and endless promises from sweet-talkers. As individuals entitled to hold the future of this country, we must not let our choice be affected by other people to avoid regrets in decision-making.
I once regretted letting other people influence my vote. On my first attempt to practice this right, I had written a name said to be the least evil among other candidates. Now, as time progressed, the least evil turned out to be the worst evil that existed. If you want proof, try visiting our barangay sometime.
* * *
Despite the constant persuasion from my fellow staffers to join writing contests, I only gave in on the fourth time that I was asked to try.
The Blas Ople Essay Writing competition was my first attempt to join a writing contest in TIP. Eventhough I did not win the first prize, it was a learning experience for me.
To be honest, I had doubts pursuing my entry. Had I not considered the efforts we made to find the information needed to write about Sen. Ople, I would have backed out. The fact that we chose to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs library on Quiapo Day (there were no classes then) made me change my mind.
It was exactly on the day of the deadline that I started doing my draft for the contest. By 12:03 a.m. of January 27, I passed my work with fingers crossed (literally) and all hopes of being recognized gone into oblivion. I just need to give justice to the efforts we made.
“Hangga’t may oportunidad, sabak lang ng sabak. Subok lang ng subok. Hindi naman mahalagang manalo tayo. Ang mahalaga, sinubukan nating sumali at tayo mismo ang gumawa ng paraan para lumago ang kakayahan natin sa pagsusulat.”
These words boosted my morale even further. It was funny that it had to take a Conrado Macapulay, Jr. to convince me that winning was not the most important thing in the world. It is in your effort to do things that the impossible are made possible.
To the first editor who believed in my potential and who persuaded me to become the writer that I am today, I dedicate my first column to you.
But then again, you have finally succumbed to the pleas of Hypnos.
Sssh… Silence. You need to rest.
In pace requiescat.