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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ninoy and the Youth of Today

It's been 25 years since his blood was spilled for us. When it first spilled, it stained not only him, not only the men who took his life, not only the men who dared to wipe off the stain but it stained all of us. That stain soaked us and woke us up from our fearful slumber and gave us the impetus rise up and take charge of our destiny and the destiny of our country. His blood stained our minds with the belief that no one can absolutely control our freedom and deny our rights.

It's been 25 years since Ninoy's blood has stained us.

And I am afraid that the stain might be wearing off.

As I stood in front of my class today, in a sea of pearly white polo barongs and necktied blouses, I faced a generation which bore no marks, no hints of the stain that Ninoy made. I was worried and pitied by how much they new about the plebian -- from being the father of Kris, to being named after an airport, to being the stressful-looking guy in the P500 bill. It was as if they were born in a different dimension.

But somehow, they cannot be blamed. They were born more than ten years after Ninoy was killed. Times have changed. These children have not experienced the complexities that existed during the plebian's days. Why and how should they care? Would it matter to them if they knew what Martial Law is or what happened at Plaza Miranda? Perhaps they will not even budge at the sight of a rally just as they don't budge when a fellow classmate is being embarrassed in front of them, just as they connive to commit cheating, just as they look away at the sight of a school rumble. I do not know if this attitude of theirs is plain innocence or downright indifference.

And then, as I read to them what this day meant for Pia Marie Pascual ("What August 21, 1983 Means to Me?" Sunday Star Magazine. August 17, 2008. pp. 3-4 ), I suddenly saw a resemblance. Isn't this the same attitude that our youth exhibited before that fateful day? Isn't this the same cold-blooded indifference that killed many innocent lives during Martial, the same indifference that fired the bullet that killed Ninoy?

They may not need to know who killed Ninoy, or why he was killed. But they need to know what Ninoy stood for. He stood against indifference towards public affairs. He stood against blindness and deafness in calls for justice. He stood against cowardice in times when bravery was needed. These are the virtues that these children must know and take into heart. One must not need to die in order for this generation to see the big picture. One must only show the example of one man and make these kids realize that they too can be great plebians. That they too can make a difference and they too have a place in this world.

As I flipped thru the pages of their daily journals, I saw hope. It was small and seemingly insignificant -- but still hope. In their words, I saw where Ninoy left his stain. It wasn't seen on their pearly white polos and blouses. His blood stained their minds and hearts. In the end, I am optimistic that the stain shall not wear off and continue to stain not just a handful of them, but an entire generation of young plebians.

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