The Day I Was Born
Article written for my acclaimed professor & historian Ambeth Ocampo
The day I was born, well, banner headline of Philippine Daily Inquirer is – Urged US, ASEAN to follow: Malaysian MPs nix FM (1986). According the article, Malaysian opposition parties asked Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad not to recognize Ferdinand Marcos. Most of the stories during my first day in this world are about the continued clamor for Marcos to step down after the February snap election. There’s US lawmakers’ call: Crack down on Marcos and Congress has issued a strong challenge to President Reagan’s wait-and-see policy towards the Philippines.
True as it is, my mother said that during my birthday, the country was not in peace considering the snap election that took place two weeks prior from my special day. My mother fondly recalls that I seem to know what was happening; it took me a considerable amount of time before I finally slipped out to this world, like I never really wanted to out.
Still, I was born at a time when the spirit of the EDSA People Power is slowly creeping in the air. Filipinos are realizing the need to stand and fight. I am proud of my fellow citizens because of this feat and take my hat off to them. After all, this courageous display of defiance etched our name in the history of the world. Peaceful revolution, yes, this is our medal and trophy for our initiative to kick Marcos’ ass out of the palace with her family to Hawaii. I can imagine that Filipinos those times were still more forgiving for if the deposition took place in another country, the Marcos’s would have been six feet under the ground already.
For instance, looking back in history, the Bolshevik Revolution. I won’t pretend that I know a lot about the Bolsheviks but it would suffice that the people massacred the Royal family because of disapproval. Lucky for the Marcos’s.
But then again, I was too naïve back then. Barely did I know of my existence could I understand where all these Filipinos’ drives are coming from. I have read in the past about how during the administration of Marcos, many people were killed and murdered, others disappear, families were broken, economy grew worse by the minute. Poverty and mishap are twins that really took over the land like in the days of Moses, saying to his Brother Ramses “Let my people go!” but Ramses initially refused and out came the ten plagues. I could just imagine how trying those times were.
Nevertheless, if there’s one thing I can and should be proud of after I was born, that would be the people’s hope to break free from bondage, bondage from Marcos tyranny. As if my birth could have portend this liberation. Alas, I would like to conclude that my nativity is of special meaning. Perhaps I am the hope of this country… nah, am just kidding. I have high hopes for this land but as time passes by, I find it ridiculous to hope for the better as Filipinos continue to deteriorate from bad to heinous.
Ours is not a culture of prestige anymore, it has become a monopoly of the powerful where laws are not created to serve justice and equality but rather exploit the weak and perpetuate the interest of the bourgeoisie capitalists.
As I write these thoughts, I cannot help but find that smile on my face knowing how different I now am, compared to the one back then. The apathetic and naïve metamorphisized into a more aware and concerned individual.
I still dream that maybe one day there would be change in our system. As Nick Joaquin in his article, A Heritage of Smallness, would point out: the problem with us Filipinos is our attitude. We are afraid of taking responsibilities and tend to settle to mediocrity; to stagnate and rot rather than evolve and prosper. Our timorous clinging to smallness might explain why we are what we are today. We think small and do small.
Historians would point out that the EDSA People Power could have been a turning point in our history; we could have solved the myriad problems that hamper our populace, but since we have this inherent ningas-cogon attitude, the flame that once sparked and lighted the revolution suddenly died, and all hearts went as cold ice. Instead of uniting, we have this habit to disassociate and separate; to pull one another by the leg. How can we move far if we do not let others get ahead?
I am proud to be a Filipino, not just because this country is giving me an identity and security, but also we have the potential to progress. What I am not proud of is the fact that we must bite the bullet and take into our system that sometimes, Filipinos do things which you will wish you were another citizen.