"The youth are the future of our nation"
-Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero
Last July 22, Benigno Aquino III, the president of the Philippines delivered his State of the Nation Address. A lot of people stopped what they were doing as the president reviewed the things that have happened throughout the year. Some people have rallied outside the gates where the president spoke to the congress and to the people of the Philippines.
A day after, people usually start to give their assessment of the latest SONA. In the case of the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College, we held an open forum on the subject. Through the work of both the Student Council and Pulso, they invited eligible speakers to critique what the president presented to the people. They called it "Kapehan sa UP" and to what most students would dub as boring, I would call it eye opening. The forum taught me a lot, showing the things people usually overlook. Kudos to the UPVTC Student Government and to Pulso for giving the youth the right to know about the things happening around them. It was an intriguing afternoon for all.
Let me give you a bit of my background. I grew up going to a Catholic school. I was sheltered and left oblivious to all the things that were happening around the nation. We weren't really cajoled to watch the news, and we groaned whenever our parents changed the channel when we were watching cartoons.
Even as I was in high school, the things happening around me was somehow kept. We only knew about things when our parents or teachers would tell us about it. That was the sad truth of my early teens. We were told what to believe, like for example we had to be against the RH Law because the church said so. We weren't really given the freedom of speech. But that all changed when I went to college.
In my first two years, my mind was given the training I lacked all those years. I began to think critically, and I began to actually enjoy watching the news. I began expressing myself, which is how I found myself writing on a blog for everyone to read. As I am now on my third year, I felt the urgency to fight for something I believe in. I am more aware of the things happening around me.
We, the youth were once called the future of the country. That is why a lot of people have corrupted the minds of the youth, blurring the lines between right and wrong. With Facebook and other social media mediums, the youth can freely express themselves easily. And even when the SONA was going on, the youth flooded the Facebook community with reactions to the president's words. But what was unexpected was what the president said towards the end of his speech:
"Sa bawat estudyanteng mulat sa mga napapanahong isyu sa lipunan, at sa halip na magreklamo lang sa Facebook ay nagmumungkahi ng solusyon: SONA mo ito."
(To all students who are aware about the things happening in the society and are posting it on Facebook to find a solution, this is your SONA)
I said,"WHAT?!" Why were the youth suddenly mentioned when during his whole 2-hour speech it seemed like he was avoiding the topic of the youth like a plague? If anyone could recall he didn’t last 10 minutes on his topic on education. When his speech was transcribed the speech on education, it was just 3 paragraphs long! He didn't even discuss what he has solved over the mountains of problems that the Philippine education is facing. That was why it was such a surprise that he even mentioned the youth at all!
It was such an infuriating thought that I shared it to my fellow UPians during the said event. All of the speakers agreed with me, one even saying that the government seem to have no care for what the youth thinks about. And that is a fact that has been proven from one president to the other. The problem with diplomats and doctorates is that some think that they are better than students. That we are just hormonal human beings who have no right to speak up. Well they are WRONG! The youth has the power to change a whole nation!
Every strong leader started as a student. Every powerful mind started as some kid who went to school. So why are we marginalized as a community who have no opinion in the matter? In any matter I may add. The president even didn't consult the youth about the K-12 project and even when the cyber bullying law was passed! They just think that they know better than us. That was when I found what I wanted to fight for: giving the youth the chance to be heard.
We have a voice .Though small and sometimes unheard, it is powerful when uttered as one by many. So as arrogant as our government may be, we the youth should voice out. We have been taught to know what is wrong and what is right. I encourage my fellow youth to stand up and stop being mindless dwellers in this country! Do not follow what is usual; create something different for our future! The Internet can be easily accessed and you could easily express yourself. Open your eyes fellow youth! It's our time to show everyone we can do something for this country!