Lessons from Heneral Luna

Posted: September 20, 2016 in Point of View

By Ethel Monique T. Domingo

Published article: SPARKS June-October 2015 issue

The film Heneral Luna is not some ordinary movie that we see in the mainstream today. Undeniably, it has a dazzling portrayal of the Filipino character that includes both the admirable side and the malevolent one. The movie makes a certain connection with its viewers as it reminds all of us of the value of love of country and of what makes this nation fail. Jerrold Tarrog and everyone else behind Heneral Luna have put some more gas to a debate that has been going on for decades to date: Who really is to be blamed?

Watching the film made my friends and I realize that we were seeing history, something that we never learned from Zaide. We watched bits of history that were not given prominence in any of the books Zaide wrote. We really did have our hearts and conscience pierced by the events in history we never knew happened at all. And by the end of the film, we found ourselves crying as we saw the torture that Gen. Antonio Luna endured before it actually took away his life.  Then one of my friends asked me, “So, who really killed Gen. Luna?” To be honest, I too was confused. Was it Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo? The soldiers of Kawit? His fellow generals? Who really did it? It took me so long to find an answer but I have realized something that could blur the lines dividing uncertainty and understanding.

Who killed Gen. Luna? You and I did; we, the Filipinos, did. We are to be blamed as to this dark period of history, in the same way that we are to be blamed in the issues that haunt us today. These issues are ones that not only concern the country at large but also ones that reach each of us on a personal note, our relationships with other people, our school, our organizations, and our own battles. In this institution, all we should learn from Heneral Luna are lessons that can make us better Divinians, better citizens, let alone better persons.

Stand up for your own principles. Heneral Luna wants to teach us the value of having principles in life to stand up for. Gen. Antonio Luna did not bother pleasing anyone or saying yes all the time because he thought of the bigger picture: what there is to do for his country to be free. Many years since his death, his memories aim to tell us that we cannot just live each day bowing down or nodding our heads. Eventually, we have to learn to stand up and fight for what we think is right even if there is a bunch of cowards telling us not to. If it is for the better, why not fight for it? In reality, a man is defined by his principles and not by the number of people he pleases by saying yes all the time. Who knows? Maybe having some guts to stick to our beliefs and fight for them in a place where everyone is too afraid to think outside the box is the answer to this long overdue struggle.

Fight for your beliefs but do not let selfish reasons overwhelm you. Aside from the heroic acts of Gen. Luna, the film is also capable of giving the audience a glimpse of the political squabble amongst Filipino leaders. The film reminds us of the time of the Spaniards and later of the Americans when Filipino leaders and other prominent figures put a premium to enriching themselves rather than fighting for our freedom against our colonizers. During that time, many rich men were hesitant to revolutions because having Americans rule the country would entail success to their businesses. They indeed fought for such belief but that was one belief that ruined our fight for independence. Today in contemporary battles, we still find people who do something only for themselves and not for the greater good. With these people driven by their selfish interests, the battle is as hard for us as it was for Gen. Luna. Progress is hampered by individuals who are blinded by their greed of something – money, fame, position, superiority, power, self-gratification, and others. If we continue to possess this attitude, Gen. Luna would always be right about us. He once said, “Filipinos have a bigger enemy than the Americans, and it would be themselves. If in this institution exist individuals who let self-interest get the best of them, it is not far that we say, “Divinians have a bigger enemy than any other, and it would be ourselves.”

We have to make peace with each other because no one else will do it for us. When Gen. Luna was assassinated, the American troops rejoiced, knowing that the general was a threat to their acquisition of power. “What stupidity it is to kill your best general,” said one of the American soldiers then. If we all watch the movie, we would all see how chaotic and unorganized our system of government was back then. The President, his Cabinet, soldiers, and ordinary citizens – they argued and fought a lot, as if the Americans were not enough enemies. Today, this chaos still exists in whichever system we talk about – the national government, local government, organizations, and even schools. Heneral Luna wants to teach us the value of cooperation and peace. Without these two, it is impossible to be free from the shackles that we make for ourselves. If you ask me, for DWCB to be free from its own jail and nightmare, teachers, students, and all stakeholders must understand why it is necessary to maintain good relationships with each other. DWCB is our common home, which means we all have the responsibility to create peace and cooperation, rather than cast a poisoning spell on her. If we do not do it for us, who else will? If we do not do it, we will only end up assassinating each other, not in the way Gen. Luna was, but in the manner known to a new battlefield with a different kind of engagement. No more guns and bombs, only degrading words and questioning of reputation.

The role of the youth in any system has never been more crucial. Heneral Luna also seeks to reach young audiences and make them aware of their potential in nation-building. When I saw the film, the young and inquisitive journalist named Joven immediately caught my attention. “Joven” means “youth” in Spanish. I then had the impression of him being a symbolic character. Joven was shot twice by the Americans – first, a quick shot on his writing hand; and second, a deafening shot near his ear. This symbolism poses a challenge to the Jovens of this generation. Do we still stay deaf to the pleas for change? Do we still let fear hinder our freedom of expression? Divinians have to be up for the challenge. We cannot turn a blind eye to what is clearly wrong or an injustice. We cannot play deaf when our society, let alone our school, calls for us to bring about change. We cannot let anyone infringe our right to express. It is time that we learn to ask why when people want us to keep our mouths shut or do something against our own line of thinking. In the process of doing our part to bring about change, we may also be shot like Joven, not by the Americans’ bullets but by some other people’s weapon. In the event that it happens, we should be proud that at least once in this lifetime, we actually did not shy away from fighting for something worthy and righteous.

Change is something that we need drastically. For people who have seen the film and also those who have yet to see it, it is important to know that the bigger picture does not only mean hating Gen. Aguinaldo or admiring Gen. Antonio Luna. In truth, the bigger picture is a tale of history having lessons that concern us all, lessons which apparently we have yet to apply. Heneral Luna suggests that we stop ignoring these lessons so that we could come out on the end other side better persons. The film reminds us of ills and weaknesses which have existed in the Philippines for what is now a long period of time. Many problems faced by Gen. Luna and all his contemporaries are ones we are still facing today. There is corruption. There is social clash. There is a question on integrity and service. There is disunity. Yes, times have changed and passed by too fast but the struggle remains. With all these said, we imply that change is something that all of us have to embrace. We have to change the way we perceive things and the way we respond to issues. Yet another change we have to focus on is the way we regard ideas, ideals, and principles – it should be in a way that we consider them more while our clashes and rivalries very little.

The truth is, we may be in a position like anyone in the film: Gen. Luna, Gen. Aguinaldo, the young Joven, the military men, the rich men, or the ordinary Filipinos at the time. But at the end of the day, it does not really matter whoever and whatever we are. What matters is the role we have to play in bringing about desirable change and how well we are able to play such role. And at this very moment, we should be ready to play whatever role is inferred from our existence. All these are lessons from Heneral Luna, lessons we must live by and accept.

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Published Articles

Posted: September 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

This post contains scanned images of some of my most recent articles published in the SPARKS, the official newsletter of the Divine Word College of Bangued.


 

Name of Proposer: Ethel Monique T. Domingo
Institutional Affiliation: Divine Word College of Bangued
Rizal Street, Zone 6, Bangued, Abra
Contact Information: Abraeniana Institute and Research Center
078-752-7664 (Tel)
Abstract: Mass Media Habits and Political Awareness of DWCB Student Leaders (March 2016)

                   This study determined the mass media habits and political awareness of student leaders in Divine Word College of Bangued during the second semester of SY 2015-2016. The data-gathering instrument was a checklist from “Audit of Political Engagement” by the Electoral Commission of the Hansard Society in the United Kingdom. Frequency count, percentage, weighted mean, and Pearson product-moment correlation were used to interpret the data. The study found that most of the respondents come from the third year level and most of them are Ilocanos. Generally, the student leaders are “Seldom” exposed to mass media with the AB students spending the most time on their mass media habits while the IE students having the least exposure. The first year spend the most time on their mass media habits. Tingguian and non-Tingguian students have the same mass media habits. The form of mass media often used is non-print while the least used is print. The AB students are the most politically aware while the IE students are the least. It was found that there is a marked, substantial relationship between mass media habits and political awareness among DWCB student leaders.

Introduction

Aristotle said, “Man by nature is a political animal.” By this, the great philosopher means that not only is politics inevitable but also that it is the highest form of human activity. It is in fact the one thing that gives man a distinction in terms of rationality. Hague and Harrop (2010) mentioned that for Aristotle, people can only express their nature as reasoning and virtuous beings through participating in a political community. In which case, Aristotle also argued that politics is what humans are for.

Perhaps it can be agreed upon that Aristotle had it right by simply looking at this activity’s level of importance in the world today. Aristotle’s idea even prompts society to believe that student leadership is one of the most beneficial extracurricular activities a person can engage in while enrolled in a college or a university. While it is true that no additional grade can be earned from it, one’s experience from a leadership role looms greater than a mere credit. In fact, such experience does not only pose a short-term value. Instead, one’s leadership experience enhanced while in school potentially offers a lifetime advantage.

Scholars believe in the possibility of a lifetime advantage for a student leader is exposed into a learning environment that brings him hands-on experiences that are essentially crucial in planning, decision-making, communicating, working as a teammate, and developing good working relationships with other people. Obviously, these skills can immediately set a student leader apart from his contemporaries. These skills, too, cannot be built as effectively when one only sits inside the classroom as compared to when a student personally involves himself in school politics. As a matter of fact, Bowen (1996) as cited by Freeman and Goldin (2008) named many private benefits of involvement in school politics. According to him, the boons include personal development, life enrichment, development of knowledge and skills, cognitive growth, emotional awareness, moral development, and practical competence. Bowen argued that students involved in school politics stand to gain more skills through leadership training and education than those who do not participate at all.

In addition, student leadership has been given so much emphasis in this era only because it really does speak of something very important. As a student leader, one is in a unique position to first make a difference in the campus. Being one is also an avenue to exert one’s voice from that position of influence. It can therefore be said that being active in school politics indeed contributes to the idea of putting into concrete action the changes that are meant to have an impact on the school community.

However, the impact of student leadership goes way beyond just making an impact in a small organization or a particular campus. Ali et. al. (2013) pointed out that the youth is considered a strong pillar of any society because it is involved in making changes and processes of any country. In connection to this, Miller (1992) adds that the need of youth in politics means involving today’s young in tomorrow’s democracy. He also believes that youngsters then need to assume their responsibility as participating citizens. Student leadership is actually the youth’s preparation and effective foundation for a much larger arena.

Having said so, this realization gives educational institutions the responsibility, as pointed out by Althubetat (2013), to continue working on raising the students’ level of awareness on the affairs that surround them. His research adds that this obligation must be carried out in order for colleges and universities to have a significant role in the influence on generations in terms of forming the mentality and framing awareness that is consistent with the principles of the society. It can be said that student leadership programs in universities and colleges can play this role by focusing on the development of student leadership skills. This is because such programs seek to extend the public and private benefits for the individual, the campus community, and society.

While Bowen identified private benefits of school leadership, Paulsen as cited by Freeman and Goldin (ibid) named many public benefits including political awareness, adaptability, social awareness, less criminal activity, lower public expenditures, social returns, economic returns to the country, productivity, and greater citizenship. By paying attention to this differentiation, it can be inferred that leadership programs serve society and the individual in multiple ways. Therefore, the purpose of higher education becomes even more invaluable. True enough, with school leadership as the youth’s training ground, it can be agreed upon that all forms of training, experience, and actual involvement in politics are an important tool in addressing the imbalances that may be problematic in one’s community.

In the United States of America, where democracy is widely-embraced, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) embarks on the mission of preparing students to take active roles in leadership and democracy. Aside from providing a high quality education, the said association also focuses on transforming students into engaged citizens who help frame both issues and solutions in communities, the nation, and the world. Molina, Smith, and Braunstein (2015) regard the concept of civic space creation as a key strategy in the efforts to provide students with an education in leadership and democratic citizenship. According to the AACU, civic space refers to “places—social, physical, or even virtual—in which members of a community can come together and share in public”.

In line with this, Molina, Smith, and Braunstein (ibid) also said that universities can indeed create a rich culture of leadership that prepares students to contribute to community life in powerful ways. This is through taking into consideration the concept of civic space creation. They view that this is done in the United States by paying careful attention to such creation, the utilization of course learning objectives, and by promoting a culture of engagement. In other words, it can be understood that faculty-mentoring of public-regarding organizations, courses that promote engagement with important public problems, the promotion of a civic culture on campus, and facilities that invite formal and informal interaction are key strategies to provide students with an education in leadership and later, in democratic values.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, academic institutions have shaped the leadership qualities of many youth leaders who later promoted advocacies influencing their fellow youth. Activists as they were called, some of them now occupy seats in public service. It is true that an outstanding involvement traces its roots from an equally outstanding level of political awareness acquired by student leaders while receiving education in their respective schools.

This is then evidence enough that schools, where young leaders essentially begin their involvement in politics, should take into account the adequate philosophical, psychological, and cognitive foundations of their high level of political awareness. By saying this, helping students to be exposed to the most effective tools in enriching political awareness is also implied; and mass media undeniably belong to the roster of those tools.

Today, mass media have already proven an impact on people’s political awareness by offering  a link to enriching knowledge on issues that concern the society; in other words, on politics. Udende (2011) wrote that one of the traditional functions of the mass media is to inform and educate citizenry about all aspects of human endeavor including their political life. Thus, in all democracies, political communication, which utilizes the media, has become incontestably relevant. Udende (ibid) also mentioned that in advanced democratic environments like the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and the United States of America, the mass media have since been deployed to educate voters.

In the last century, technology involving mass media drastically changed the political landscape. History has it that when Franklin D. Roosevelt first began using his “fireside chat” radio addresses in 1929, as Governor of New York, he was using the cutting edge technology of his time. An article posted on an internet site called, The Examiner, mentioned that President Roosevelt successfully used the radio to calm and reassure the public during the Great Depression and World War II, while at the same time drumming up public opinion for his political agenda. Meanwhile, as written in the article entitled “The Kennedy-Nixon Debates” on http://www.history.com, the televised debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon during the 1960 presidential elections were considered the difference-maker in electing a president for the first time in U.S. history.

Fast-forward to current times, the world has an array of mass media that shape political views: 24-hour news networks, radio talk shows, internet-based political action committees (PAC),  instant web-based news delivery, blogs, and social networking sites. Forman (1985) once observed as cited by Nwosu (1992) that for better or worse, we live in an age which is characterized by the widespread use of various channels of communication, which include the mass media. More importantly, researchers believe that the forms of mass media known to men have changed the game of the political sphere more than anyone could have ever imagined. Curran (2005), as cited by Udende, said that the media assist voters to make an informed choice at election time. The media achieve this in form of news stories, write-ups by columnists, commentaries, features and interpretative stories by journalists. In addition, due to the fact that the mass media have the ability to effectively report and enlighten people, Utor (2000) mentioned that mass media channels have the duty of a decision molder and that of teacher. Similarly, Abagen (2009) said that they have evolved over time into an essential ingredient in the dynamics of political rebirth.

The existence of these claims only goes to show that mass media entail a powerful influence on political reality as public opinion and political foundations are shaped through exposure to such. In fact, mass media have recently been called by some scholars as “the fourth branch of government”. Notably, Luberda (2014) wrote in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy that “the media thus becomes more than a mere institution; instead, the media acts as a direct participant in the traditionalthree-branch system of governance”.

Interestingly, Cohen (1963) believes that mass media cannot tell the public to think but they can have a major impact on what the public thinks. The “public” of course includes even the youngest people engaged in politics who are more likely to be student leaders in their respective institutions.

It has been established therefore that school leadership is a derivative of an important matter for the society: politics itself. In this connection, mass media can be put on a very high pedestal from which student leaders are supposed to build a strong foundation of political awareness. When all these elements come together, the modern world may get closer to man’s desired state of political stability. After all, many people believe in Aristotle’s perception of what politics is to man and the other way around.

To read full paper, email emdomingo@outlook.com.

I, too, am voting for Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.

The Magnificent Atty. Perez

I did not plan to tell people about who I would vote for the 2016 Presidential elections, primarily because I did not know who my candidate was either.  None of the current options are palatable to me.  All of them have gaping character shortcomings that I consider deal-breakers.  I also did not want to tell people because I do not personally believe in campaigning.  I want people to form their own minds, not because someone else influenced them into it, but because they felt that that person was the right choice.

But for the past few days, a lot of friends asked me who my candidate was.  It seemed that my opinion really mattered in helping them decide.  A part of me is flattered by it, while another wants to shake them up and remind them that I blog about showbiz and other inanities and am no role model in…

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They have spoken..m

SPARKS

On March 16-18 2016, Sparks together with the Abraeniana Institute and Research Center, conducted a mock election. About 400 college students cast their votes for the national and local posts. The results for the national positions are as follows:

For President, the top three picks Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Jejomar Binay had a tight race until the end. Eventually, Poe garnered the highest votes, leading by 28 against her closest opponent. Rodrigo Duterte and Mar Roxas placed 4th and 5th respectively.

A landslide victory in the vice-presidential race meanwhile went to Ilocandia’s Bongbong Marcos. With Marcos getting votes past the 60% mark, the other five candidates struggled to keep up.

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For the senatorial post meanwhile, the following are DWCB’s top 12 pick:

received_1158717897486057Sparks canvassed the votes last May 18 and posted the results in front of the Sparks Office and the SASE (School of Arts, Sciences, and Education) Department two…

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Please check out my Wattpad story called, “Lea and Dad”.

Synopsis:

A father does not make a daughter’s whole life, but a father certainly makes a daughter’s life whole. This is according to twelve-year-old Lea.

Lea Sanchez is a young and rising musical theater star whose destiny to become excellent in her craft is now unfolding. Living with her mom, Carmen, in New York City, she begins to conquer Broadway by winning the title role in a musical called Orphan.

But just when she is about to begin rehearsing for the show, Lea is reminded of the missing piece in her life: her father. Her dad, Danny Smith, who is a basketball superstar in the Philippines, split up with her mom when she was barely a year-old. Since then, Lea has never known a father of her own.

She then commits herself to a mission: she is going to get her dad believe her. In one way or another, she is going to get him listen to every song she sings as if it were the only music in the world. Lea bravely goes to her father’s arena: the Philippines, where Danny is clearly the face of sports. With her father’s world appearing to be not only whole but full, she is challenged to ask herself: Does her father have a place for her in his life?

Lea, young as she is, tries to make a very tough decision: whether she stays winning her father’s heart or whether she goes on winning other people’s hearts by singing her heart out. But in truth, she does not want to make a choice. She wants both to be a reality.


The author’s inspirations in writing this story are Lea Salonga and Danny Seigle. Lea Salonga is the ultimate heroine and Danny Seigle is the basketball hero.

To read more, please visit https://www.wattpad.com/story/58497148-lea-and-dad.

Thank you!

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All sports in general are a great metaphor for life.

As in any other sport, the dynamics in the field of badminton are very much relevant to what goes on in life. There are the struggles, the tough challenges, the seemingly endless adversities, and the constant effort to get passed all of these. As it goes in badminton and so in life, when one has the spirit to move past all the difficulties, it will be nothing short of a successful journey.

Badminton was my first sport growing up.Until today, I still play it with enthusiasm and love. Gladly, badminton is not just some sport I do on a whim. It is also a teacher; and below are eight things I learned from learning my first sport.

  1. Learn and master the basics. Without knowing the basics of the game of badminton, it is impossible for one to fully enjoy playing it. You have to first know how to play the game, how to grip the racket, how to properly hit the shuttlecock, how to move on the court, how to defend, and how to score. Without understanding the basics, you cannot develop the different skills needed in playing competitive badminton. Same goes when talking about life itself. You must understand what life is, how it should be spent, and how to live it fully. You must also develop the character traits, skills as in badminton, for you to actualize the dream of living life well.
  2. Be prepared. Every badminton player that I know of perfectly knows the importance of preparation. That is exactly why even the best athletes of this sport train regularly and perform drills more than a hundred times. When you are prepared, you are more likely to withstand a grueling badminton tournament. Lack of preparation, both physically and mentally, can really hurt your chances of winning. This principle is equally of importance in life in general.
  1. Be aware. Learn to anticipate. The most successful badminton players all possess a certain technique intensified by awareness. Once you become aware of how your opponent moves on the court, of their strong and weak points, of the plays that work in favor and against them, you can possibly anticipate almost their whole game. You have to be aware of your opponent’s tendencies, for you to anticipate what they are more likely to do when you execute a smash, drop, or clear. Once you achieve that, you will definitely figure out when to hit both the frontcourt and the backcourt. In life, being aware in the many aspects of life sets the stage for self-improvement and eventually achievement.
  1. If it is not working, make adjustments. In badminton, not all plays or strategies work every time. Your opponents do not have the same strengths or weaknesses, so it follows that you have to make adjustments if you want to win. Some players are weaker on the backhand while some are stronger there. For the weaker backhand players, you should adjust your shots more towards their body or opposite their racket hand. Some players meanwhile are not too agile to move around the court, so good placing will definitely work against them. For players who are very good smashers, of course you should not want to give them high flying shots. It is all about mixing up and finding the right style for every circumstance. Defensively, the trick is being able to withstand and respond to which attacks your opponent uses on you. In life, we know that we are presented with different challenges which we can only conquer through recognizing necessary adjustments.
  1. Physical power is not enough, you also have to use your mind. While it is true that the power you put into your shots can make a difference, the sharpness of your mind should not be compromised. In badminton, not every play is won by so much power. In fact, too much power can cost you game. Personally, I am not that physically strong of a player; my shots, including my smash, are not too powerful and explosive as compared to others. But I have won some championships by using my mind as much as possible. I make up for my lack of power by mentally analyzing things. This mental ability allows me to execute good placing of the shuttlecock, a technique which cannot be countered by power alone. As much as it applies in badminton, the use of one’s mind in calculating his actions is very much relevant in life. Life is not at all just being the strongest, it also comes down to how a person actually thinks and makes decisions.
  1. Do good whether you are by yourself or with a team. In playing badminton, you can be by yourself in Singles or with a partner in Doubles. When playing in the Singles category, everything on the court requires your individual responsibility. You have no one to blame when things go wrong and no one is there to help you out. If you want to win, you have to be very tough independently. But when playing in the Doubles category, you have to work with a partner. You have to share the responsibility and see to it that you play in harmony. As goes in life, there are times when you have to be independent and come out strong. Sometimes too, you have to work well with other people for you to triumph.
  1. Never give up on the play. Another characteristic possessed by all successful athletes not only in badminton but in other sports is perseverance. In badminton, guys like Peter Gade, Lee Chong Wei, and Lin Dan never give up on the play. When their opponent gives them a drop after a backcourt shot, they immediately run to the frontcourt to receive that drop. When they miss a smash, they recover and reorganize their offense. They do not care whether they trip, slip, or get tired from running; as long as the shuttlecock has not reached the ground, their mission is to never give up. Lesson? Persevere and never give up. As long as you live, do not quit.
  1. Win or lose, acceptance is the key. Unless you were born perfect, you cannot win every game. No matter how good you are, you will experience how it is like to lose. The champions we know today can attest that it takes blood and sweat to get to the level where they are now; because if winning was too easy, then it would not thrill you as much as it does. Whether you win or a lose a game, acceptance is the key to reach your level best the next time around. If you win, you can hold your head high but not too high; because you still have a game right after. If you lose, learn what it takes to win and try harder the next time. That is how it is with life. Everything will not always go your way. Acceptance of reality, in victory and defeat, will make you come out on the other side a better person.

Remember who’s always there for you when your stupid boyfriend makes you cry?

Perhaps the girl madly in love forgot.

Her best friend genuinely loves her. By saying that, it follows that her best friend also cares for her. She is willing to do what it takes to spare her best friend’s heart from getting broken, even if [and especially if] the reason is some stupid boyfriend.

I was there that afternoon. I got my heart pierced at the sight of a friend begging in silence for her best friend to at least listen. Sadly, the other girl has gone way too in love, if you can call that love at all, that she now sees everyone besides her boyfriend like a blur. Does that make her happy? Maybe yes. But her best friend is quite so sure that it is not bringing out the best in her.

That afternoon, her prince charming put her into a situation no one really wants to be in. Right then and there, she had to make a choice. When I saw little tears on the brink of falling from those confused hooded eyes, I knew that either way, she was going to get herself hurt. But her prince charming casted another spell, disorienting her senses too well. Faster than the tick of the clock behind her, she rose and said yes to everything she heard from him. On the other side, there was that poor best friend, vanishing into thin air. But that’s at least in the eyes of her own best friend.

What did I learn that day? Well, a lot. I learned how love, again if it is love at all, can be blind. “Love is blind”, isn’t that what they always say? This blindness however goes way beyond what is physical. I learned that such kind of love, one that seems to creep into someone’s life until one is strangled to death, prevents one from seeing what is real. That kind of love, which seems like a virus, can bend even the strongest bonds of friendship and loyalty. In which case, I do not think it is worth it.

I can only hope that when the day comes that she would be running from and crying over the same guy, the  one person she left would still be there waiting for her. Who knows? Sometimes, life throws us so many things all at once. What matters is that we see what truly has worth.

In everything that you do, you have to follow your bliss.

This is a dilemma that has been going on since forever: should I do what I really want to do or do what my loved ones want me to do? Tragically, sometimes, these two do not meet along the road. For some reason, what you want to do sounds like a failure to the people around you and what they want you to do is not something you have a passion for.

I know of a brilliant young lady who has been nothing but an achiever. Because she is way too smart relative to the ones she goes to school with, everyone expects her to be the most successful of all. She has been set to go to law school, without anyone asking if she really wants to. But the good girl that she is, she has decided to go and not fail her parents. Maybe she will succeed after all, since she is innately brilliant. However, that girl has one thing to confess: she does not want to be a lawyer, she just wants to live a simple life and write for a living.

How many of us have actually faced that dilemma? How many of us have left our passion for something only others want us to be? Maybe we just love the people around us so much that we are even willing to sacrifice a part of us, only to avoid their disappointment. Oftentimes, we lose a sense of who we really are in the process of pretending to be whom others want to see. Oftentimes, we lose the dreams of our own in the process of letting others achieve theirs. Either way, we do not know where it will lead us but we sure do have to make a choice.

Life may be full of uncertainties but I know one thing that is for certain: in everything that you do, follow your bliss. It takes courage to do so but it will be worth it. ED.

In the 14th Luzonwide Higher Education Press Conference, we were tasked by Dr. Purita Licas to feature our random thoughts on the Fallen 44. This is what I wrote.

To die for one’s country is courage. To die for the right reasons is nobility. Forty four of our people may have fallen, but millions have risen to prove that they did not die in vain.

I was having a cool, feel-good Sunday with my friends when I heard of the tragic Mamasapano clash. It took time for me to process that while we were enjoying our cafe-prepared frappes, bodies were being slain and taken away brutally. I was numb for a moment, not believing what I heard of. My friends and I looked at each other with sorrow in our eyes. It was as if the picture of bloodshed in Maguindanao spoiled our coffees; the image of the families left behind melted the icing on our cakes; and the image of noble men dying for peace made our hearts sink. Then there came guilt: how could we afford to just sit down while men were sacrificing their lives in the south? I thought my heart was going to totally sink.

Now, days after that disastrous clash, I no longer feel the same way. While most are still outraged and seriously heartbroken, I am hopeful; hopeful that their death saves millions who are drowning in apathy. Too many lives had been lost in the past, too much bloodshed as well. That is why people are mad, hopeless that peace is still within our reach. I am not even sure why but I do feel otherwise. Maybe I am just tired of losing hope. Maybe there is no reason to lose hope after all, especially when men are still willing to bite the bullet for others. I am hopeful because only forty four have fallen, but millions have risen and risen back.

The heartache I had while sipping my mocha frappe that Sunday is still fresh in my memory. I perfectly recall how terrible it made me feel, that I literally pushed my glass to the edge of the table. But you know what? I am over that terrible thing. I no longer think of the massive politicization in our peace process because the Fallen 44 taught me something: peace is just next door, if we only knew how to unlock it. With hope in my heart, I say, who knows? They could be the last 44 to die. Maybe their death could put an exclamation mark to our long overdue struggle. I am hopeful that the millions who have risen would soon realize that maybe it is time to stop fighting for peace. Peace is not something to be fought over, but rather something to be created among ourselves. I am hopeful that our mourning now would soon tell us that we can no longer afford to lose more lives. Maybe the 44 troopers left us a lesson: far too many guns have been fired and firing some more is not worth the lives already lost. I am hopeful that this tragedy shakes off our hunger for revenge after revenge, gunshots after gunshots, and bombs after bombs, because these are not getting us anywhere. When we finally accept that we cannot get everything that we demand from others and learn how to make the most out of what we have, I think that is when peace could finally knock on our doors. In that sense, there would no longer be a need to fight over peace. Instead, we would be at peace.

With high hopes in the cupboard of my mind and the chambers of my heart, I believe the Fallen 44 did not die in vain. A powerful voice within me dictates that it does not hurt to hope. It is mainly because millions have risen, not to shed more blood, but to let peace knock on our doors. ED.