Sunday, 22 February 2009

Brief message to the People Power Class of 1986

Hello Batchmates

23 years ago …we were bumbling 15-16-17-year-olds…. looking forward to either our prom, entry to senior high or HS graduation.
We struggled with our lessons in Physics, Geometry and Advanced Algebra, travelled back in time in our World History classes and our minds wandered with The Little Prince, Canterbury Tales and soared heights with Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

We were too young to vote in the Feb 7, 1986 snap elections, but were old enough to understand what was happening to our country.

Some of us took an active "saling pusa" role in the "revolution"-- from helping Don Chino gather one million signatures to urge Ninoy's widow to take the lead in challenging the Dictator to serving as volunteers in JoeCon's NAMFREL (I was at the OQC nerve centre at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City and sidekick to a cousin who was with the Cory Aquino Lawyers League). Many of us turned up at EDSA when Cardinal Sin made the historic Veritas call.

The days of February 1986 were turbulent, heart-pounding, trying times that our generation will never forget until maybe after Alzheimer's starts kicking in.

A generation has passed and our country is still bedeviled by the same issues that once served as the Filipino people’s clarion call.

I’m reposting this think-piece written by Wilson Lee-Flores which I believe -- and fervently hope -- would jolt our senses that the revolution is not yet over.

Proud member, People Power Class of 1986

How to be a revolutionary
By Wilson Lee Flores
February 22, 2009 (Philippine Star)

Every generation needs a new revolution. — Thomas Jefferson

Revolution is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly and modestly. — Mao Zedong

A generation after the 1986 EDSA uprising — 23 years to be exact — known in history books as the “People Power Revolution,” the biggest excitement this year on Feb. 25 is not that it’s a non-working holiday or the planned formal commemorations, but the anticipated sequel to Sarah Geronimo’s hit movie A Very Special Love, entitled You Changed My Life.

Is this a sign of the times?
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration has made Feb. 25 no longer a non-working holiday. Some are asking me if this is perhaps to expunge the heroism of former President Cory C. Aquino and her supporters, many of whom have since publicly repudiated GMA, called for her resignation and have repeatedly criticized the present government for alleged massive corruption and loss of moral authority.

I hesitate to call EDSA 1986 a revolution because I’m honestly disappointed by what has happened since to Philippine society.
Here, caught in another traffic jam, I’m typing a random list of how we ordinary folks, even without the bravado of Che Guevara or the fiery zeal of Mao Zedong, can be true-blue revolutionaries not for communism but for decency, moral order, efficiency, civility, justice, genuine democracy, free enterprise and truth:
1. Defy the defeatist, cynical and oft-repeated rubbish that “corruption is unavoidable and present everywhere in the world.” Repudiate corruption in government and even in the police, military, judiciary, even in the private sector. There should be no compromise with corruption. This is not a question of morals, but how the social cancer of corruption corrodes the creative dynamism of any society and creates unnecessary wastage and impoverishes a nation economically and spiritually.

2. Subvert ignorance by lobbying for and demanding higher standards in public and private education nationwide as a basic human right. We should demand the most severe punishments for politicians, bureaucrats and their cohorts in educational scams involving bloated construction budgets for shoddy public schoolhouses, lousy textbooks with erroneous information, and victimizing public school teachers by usurious credit schemes.

3. Honor, support and uplift the socio-economic status of all teachers. How can a society truly progress if most of our teachers are grossly underpaid, under-trained and overworked? How can a society prosper when politicos, showbiz starlets or basketball athletes are more idolized and given more economic remunerations than those toiling in the most noblest profession of teaching?

4. Crush the age-old and negative attitude of puwede na yan and aspire only for excellence. In fact, we should settle for nothing but world-class excellence! How can we be better if we accept mediocrity as okay?

5. Lead a non-violent uprising against the age-old misnomer and bad Latin habit of so-called “Filipino time.” We should, in our own capacities and small circles of influence, promote the decent, revolutionary and nation-building concept of “New Filipino Time” of being always punctual.

6. Do not meekly accept trash in local movies, mass media or from our politicos. Dump their trash back on them. We can make higher-quality movies that are at the same time entertaining and good if we the audience demand it from our producers. It’s not true that only the esoteric art films or indie can be good. Let us also tell the major TV stations to elevate standards in newscasts, not go down to gutter-level sensationalism on violence and negative news only. We taxpayers should also demand higher quality debate and discussions in our legislature, not the garbage talk spewed out endlessly by our many trashy and obnoxious politicos! We should reject junk in all forms!

7. Follow traffic rules, regulations and basic etiquette to defy the seemingly natural tendency of wallowing in self-destructive chaos. What can be more revolutionary, earth-shaking and liberating to Philippine society as a whole than orderly traffic in Metro Manila, which can and should be achieved?

8. Encourage the liberating habit of reading books, newspapers or magazines, because it is sad that we have fewer readers than in other Asian societies. I have this theory that our many corrupt politicos and their private sector cohorts would be happiest if they could dumb down the public with less reading and just more TV or radio bombast, because reading is truly subversive — it encourages critical thinking, analysis and the questioning of our existing despicable moral, political and social order!

9. Promote English language proficiency everywhere. Pro-English advocacy is a pro-poor, pro-masses advocacy because English is a competitive advantage and will help millions of talented but otherwise jobless people become overseas Filipino workers or call center agents or BPO personnel.

10. Volunteer for legitimate, noble causes that push societal or moral reforms, such as religious, cultural, medical, gender rights, educational, environmental, disaster relief and other non-government organizations or groups. Better yet, why don’t you start your own?

11. Pray to God to change our hearts, minds and our leaders.

12. Teach, whether as a teacher, as a good parent, as an elder sister or brother or uncle, or as a mentor Be an exemplary role model to the youth.

13. Uphold and defend the truth. Assist or support those who stand up for the truth; reject any half-truths and outright lies.

14. Promote the culture of positive thinking. Do not glorify or romanticize suffering, martyrdom, or meekly accept poverty or defeat as heroic, noble or normal fate. Reject negative thinking and this culture of defeatism. All of us human beings on earth are destined for success — it is our birthright, it is our destiny!

15. Instead of nonstop complaining, bellyaching and finger-pointing, move to uphold sweeping societal, attitudinal, moral, political, cultural and economic reforms. Generations of past and even present politicians have mostly failed the nation with so many of the poor increasing in number and in suffering while the small middle-class sector is endangered and migrating. It is only the blind that cannot see the urgent need for radical changes. Instead of just revulsion, let’s ignite a non-violent revolution!

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