Sometime last month, I was in the midst of seriously considering “retiring” from the “Movement.” That’s what I use as a catch-all term for civil society and the life of a “moderate” advocate trying to fix the problems of this country. Everything just… came to a head, I guess. Besides, it seemed the general trend. I’d already retired from active service with the Union of Catholic Student Councils (UCSC) the summer before, after our 11th Congress, after more than five years of serving that organization. Then, suddenly…
I guess everything was simpler back in college, even after our 11 schools founded the UCSC in 1998. We banded together, made the vehicle for expressing our desires and acting our counsels, and drew a line on the concrete with our blood. Looking back at those heady days, and even during the midst of juetengate and People Power II and the complexities of KOMPIL II Youth, at least you knew who your enemies are and what it is your fighting for. You believed in what you were fighting for and confident that that belief will never be rendered false.
Because its hard when you end up suddenly questioning your beliefs. When everything seems so much the sham. Don’t get me wrong: the Jesuits, during our long Training in the Ateneo, removed our fear of Questioning; in fact, I believe that it was through the encouragement of the Jesuits to their students to ask – those “does God exist?” kind of questions in all their naked, philosophical glory – that my Faith, battered and bruised and abused at it is still manages to hold on. Sometimes I rant to God and even forget my prayers but I will strive to follow His Will anyway. But I guess there are times when something happens that, when you Ask that Question… the Answers you get are just not… digestable…
So there I was, having just fully reconciled the idealism of an Atenean bitten by the school’s “bug” with the realities of political life in this country… and suddenly everything gets messed up so badly I can’t recognize it anymore. It was like the wolfhound you’ve trusted as a friend and guardian got the rabies and transformed into a slavering, insane beast.
At the height of it all, I was saying that I could be a barista at Starbucks and love every minute of it until I f***ing die.
I guess Sen. Pangilian had it right: What would I answer the children of today when, in ten years’ time when they’ve grown enough to… appreciate their world, it is as bad, or – horror of horrors – worse, than today? And MLQ3 had to write something on Nationalism, one that reminds you of things, reasons, why you choose to fight this fight in the first place, why you said no to 5-digit starting salaries and “predictable”, comfortable evenings and fridays and weekends.
And the sands, the skies, the wind and the sound of the surf of Puerto Galera were already seeming so real in my mind, the first step to my oh-so-sure retirement. For then it would’ve been the first time I would go Somewhere and not think of what the hell is happening with my country. One thing I can say for this life, it can spoil a perfectly good Batanes sunset (imagine being at Batanes, for free, for five days… and having nothing on your mind but the fact that you have no signal, no internet, no reliable TV coverage, and what the hell is happening back in Manila on an election season?). So, yes, I was actually looking forward to retirement, to begin by a sojourn to beautiful Puerto Galera.
*sigh* I guess Puerto has to wait.
Make no mistake: I could still very well be overly disgusted by everything and just tell the Philippines to go f*** itself, tell God I’m very sorry for failing Him, and just hope the next generation of leaders, or whoever’s left from mine, can make that difference because I sure as hell haven’t and, with… this… I don’t think I can.
But, until then… dammit, but I love this country. I love this people, uncouth, undisciplined, selfish and materialistic they can be at times. You fight not because of some Oath sworn to a Higher Being, not because some philosophical-ethical-ideological Bug bit you… but because you remember the look of despair in the eyes of the anawim, felt it at the core of your Being, and swore that you’d do everything in your power to see that that despair, that pain, that suffering is wiped out from their eyes forever. That your country, if only it can realize it, can not only make itself a better place, but perhaps show the whole world how it can be, too.
I’m Tired, to the Core of my Being… but, dammit, this Training made it so that, no matter the wounds or the fatigue, you’ll still pick up your fallen sword and find a way to swing it.
So let me just get my breath back, and I’ll help you guys take down that dragon.