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11/23

If the United States has its September 11, and Germany its November 9, the Philippines has November 23.

It is a date most Filipinos may find hard to forget. Because on this date, in the year 2009, fifty-seven innocent Filipinos were killed mercilessly in Maguindanao province, in one of the most brutal massacres the Philippines has ever seen since the end of Martial Law. What makes it very notorious is the fact that the massacre is electi0n-related. Violence on the road to an all-important election is not uncommon in this country. But given the level of its brutality, this massacre is unforgivable.

What’s more worth ranting about are the unintended consequences and unfair distinctions the nation has received since. Incidentally, 27 journalists were among those killed in the massacre, leading to the International Federation of Journalists naming the Philippines as the most dangerous place for journalists and mediamen. Now, I’m hearing that the massacre is now a notorious world record! We are struggling to get rid of the bad reputations of graft, corruption and abuse of power, and now this!

As a nation, this is a major slap to the face. But thinking deeper, this is a major slap to our sense of history, and how we tend to forget what happened to us. Little do we know, history is playing a game on us by repeating itself.

The Spanish regime started as a noble mission of propagating Christianity, but ended up using the same for them to enrich themselves, abuse their powers, reign supreme and consider us aliens in our own land.

The United States, “buying” us from Spain after its 300-plus rule, unintentionally put a big bulls-eye on our country for Japan to target during World War II. As a result, we experienced various levels of brutality, merciless killing and murder under their occupation.

Three decades later, Filipinos who refused to give up the powers vested to them by the law, enforced almost the same level of brutality on their fellow countrymen during the nearly one-decade reign of Martial Law.

Now, we’re experiencing it all over again. What happened at Maguindanao is a clear indication of up to what extent power-hungry Filipinos will do to get what they want. And they don’t care about the nation, when they will perform their dastardly acts, or even the consequences of their acts. All they think of are themselves and the benefits they will reap! What a shame!

As a nation, what can we do in light of these events?

Simple: be responsible Filipino citizens. Love our country, and fight for it.

Let us learn from our history, and remember our heroes who spent their time, talents, efforts and energies to fight for the nation and for the things we are enjoying today. They are the same heroes who believed on us and relied on us that we’ll do the same.

Let us stop making quick fixes. Instead,  let us think of things beneficial for the nation in the long run. Think and act as a nation, for the nation.

Let us have faith in God, because He’s our guiding light and the force behind all our actions.

And finally, vote wisely. The right to vote is one of the rights we valiantly fought for, therefore we should exercise this right when time calls for it.

It is now time for us to stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking of others. It is now time to practice the true meaning of democracy and public service. Matagal na itong hinihiling, hinihingi at hinihintay ng atin ng bansa mula sa atin. This is the only way we can redeem ourselves. This is the only way we can prove that the Philippines is a nation worth living in, and a nation worth dying for.

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