Before I gave birth, I lined up about 5 blog entries that I wanted to publish every other week until I could find the time to write again. But for the past few weeks, none of those entries seemed appropriate for the time. In between breastfeeding and taking care of Miguel, I would re-read every article, thinking about which ones to post, but none of them felt right or relevant for the events of the past few weeks. So I wrote a new entry that really reflects how I feel these days. Actually, no, how I feel for/about 2016.
Because I’m mostly with my son these days, I decided to write this as a letter to Miguel. =)
Hi my little Miguel! Here I am again, writing to you even if right now, you are just happily eating, pooping, and sleeping (repeat 100000x). Because one day soon, you’ll be a curious little boy who will be asking us a lot of questions! And this crazy 2016 just gave us more reasons to explain things better, teach you better values, and be better examples.
It has been a tough year so far with a few shining moments (these shining moments are mostly about you! – being pregnant with you and the day of your birth up to now). But the truth is, 2016 made us fearful, desperate, confused, frustrated, and still hopeful somehow. I am still hopeful because our country deserves it, you deserve it. We (the relatively older generation) still have you and the younger generation to love and inspire. It is not yet too late. It is never too late. =)
So here are the 5 things that I want to share with you in light of the events during your birth year, 2016. These are some of the lessons and insights your dad and I will share with you as you grow up.
1.) NEVER FORGET: Marcos is NOT a Hero (well, I knew this ever since I was young but I just never thought I would have to explicitly say it or remind others)
By the time you read this, past President (Dictator) Marcos may already be long buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. I hope by then they have changed the name or I hope somehow, this was reversed or did not happen at all. But in case Marcos is indeed buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (LNMB), I want you to know that he is not a hero.
Yesterday, we failed our country and we failed you when the Supreme Court agreed that Marcos could be buried in the LNMB. But it is not too late to still fight for the truth, and we’ll definitely continue the fight.
Past President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was a dictator, thief, and human rights violator. He is no hero. The real heroes are the ones who fought for freedom from his dictatorship. One day, I’ll tell you more about them and their stories.
Remember these people as the real heroes. Remember Marcos, but only as a dictator, thief, and human rights violator. Never Forget.
2.) Say what you mean and mean what you say
When you read the news from 2016, you’ll probably be very confused. It may seem like people, leaders most especially, say things with reckless abandon. Then they (and the people around them) attempt to take back their words and make really strange excuses. My son, this is not the norm and not how things should be.
Your mom and dad will not say things with reckless abandon to you or to anyone. We will try our hardest to follow through with our promises, mean what we say and say what we mean, and not confuse and frustrate you. We will try our hardest to not let our emotions get the better of us and make us blurt out words that we don’t really mean or we haven’t thought about. Because good and compassionate people are considerate. Considerate people consider the consequences of their words and actions.
3.) Always choose kindness and compassion
You will be growing up in a very strange world. Or at least, it is strange for your mom and dad. See, there was a time when we thought we knew the world and what being “good” really means. But today, we are realising that there are lots of other people around our country and the world who have different views and priorities. They may be great fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, and friends, but somehow, their beliefs and values are very different from ours. It may be tempting to impose our beliefs on them or treat them differently, but I hope that you could always start with an effort to understand where they are coming from.
Maybe one day, we can all understand each other better and because of this we’ll be more compassionate towards one another. Or maybe not. But at least we can contribute to the better possibility, right?
No matter how hard it is, always choose the higher ground.
4.) Respect is underrated these days, but always choose to respect
Respect people, especially women, not because of who they are (or what they are wearing – please!) but because of who you are. We will try our very best to raise you to be self-aware, respectful, decent, kind, and compassionate. We will do our best to impart good values and be good examples, but we also know that you will be growing up in a world where there are leaders who are not setting good examples for you. So while this will be extra challenging for us, we are definitely not giving up.
Some leaders, through their words and actions, may make it seem okay to ogle at a woman’s legs just because her skirt is shorter than usual or make rape jokes because they are just jokes. These are never okay, son. Ever. These days, it may seem like respect is “open to interpretation”, but really, it is quite simple. Respecting others means that you recognize the dignity of each person and acknowledge this through your words and actions.
5.) Do not give up on our country
I don’t know if this advice is more for you or for me. Maybe it is for me. Okay, it is definitely for me too.
I used to find it easy to love our country. There was just so much to love, you know. We have awesome beaches, warm people, nation builders (and they are our friends too!) and a lot to hope for. These days, we still have those beaches, warm people, and nation builders who are tired but still persevering. And yes, we still have a lot to hope for.
But these days, we also have more killings, vengefulness, corruption, rape jokes, disrespect towards women and minorities, hatred, trolls, fear, condescension, a dictator who will be buried in the LNMB, and the dictator’s family continuing their power and plunder (and still getting support from a lot of Filipinos). Maybe these were always present in our society, but these days, they are more pronounced, accepted, and even celebrated.
It is no longer that easy to love our country. And perhaps that means that we should love it even more. If love is only present when it is easy, it is just mere fondness and not love. So I hope you strengthen your love for country especially when it is hard to and when it needs it the most.
Haaay, we can do this anak.