Is Bacolod Ready for More Rizals, Bonifacios, Jacintos and Aguinaldos?

The article below was my FIRST NOTE ON FACEBOOK posted on May 15, 2009:

I envision a Philippines who is the seat of leaders who govern even for the sake of the Filipino children yet unborn, knowing and understanding that we lead today primarily because we want to make our country a much better country for the next generation, a Philippines that is the source of inspiration for all nations in conserving and preserving the earth for future generations, and a country that anchors its economic and social progress not on commercialism, consumerism and traditional politics but on sustainable development, environmental protection and transformative politics.

This is the same Philippines that our young heroes of the past dreamt of and died for. In their prime, Jose Rizal (who died in Luneta at 35, performed his first successful eye surgery at 29, wrote his “To The Filipino Youth” at 14), Andres Bonifacio (who led the Katipunan before he was 30), Emilio Jacinto (who wrote the Kartilla at 22), Emilio Aguinaldo (who became first revolutionary president and general at 29), and many others proved that their young and bold minds can subdue their fears to risk their own lives for freedom. They have moved us forward and beyond the reins of foreign domination despite their youth because they were not complacent or afraid.

When Rizal spoke about the youth being the hope of the fatherland, he meant not only the future generation, but the young Bonifacio and the rest who were willing to sacrifice their lives to fight for a truly distinct and independent nation believing that the Filipinos deserve the respect and recognition in the world of sovereign nations, free to self-determine and self-actualize as a country of freemen.

I dream of the Philippines as a country governed and nurtured by its youth at a time when their ideals and ideas are at its most efficient peak. But today, our young leaders are simply considered as campaign leaders of politicians. If they put themselves forward, not merely as mere spectators but as leaders, as in my case, some people still believe I am too young to be a representative of the lone district of Bacolod City at 36. Is youth synonymous with incompetence? I wonder why the sons and daughters of political clans are never considered too young or even incompetent to run for office.

The biggest problem of the Philippines now is the dearth of enlightened leadership that breeds mediocre and visionless politicians, majority of whom are unmindful of the signs of degradation and destruction of our physical environment along with the moral and social fiber that holds us together as a nation.

Poverty is the major by-product of traditional politics that has been deeply-rooted in us through the decades. We may have emancipated ourselves from being serfs of our foreign colonizers only to be chained by a very few powerful individuals who dictate the rules – that only the powerful, the moneyed, the landed and the elite (AND UNFORTUNATELY THOSE WHO ARE OLD) can actually become key planners and leaders of this country.

Unfortunately and oftentimes unconsciously under this scenario, the most disenfranchised is the youth sector. What results is the almost total isolation of young leaders and professionals from the important decision-making regimes and bodies, depriving them of the chance to share what they think according to the present situation and to actively participate in the development of not necessarily their future, since they are very much a part of the present, but the future of the country.

The very traditions of complacency, subservience, laziness and apathy that our young heroes have conquered before slowly returned to bring us back to where we started – a nation chained by fear, poverty, and disunity.

This creates a continuum of retrogression rather than progression, when the youth, despite the huge amount of knowledge that they have accumulated through modern technology and their natural voraciousness for knowledge– are in the meantime, left to sit and watch in the sidelines as the senior leaders think, speak, and plan for them. The older generation has WISDOM. But the younger generation has IDEAS that call for implementation today. Instead of discouraging the young leaders to join politics for lack of money and years – the old leaders must dig into the untapped minds of the new generation – use it – to move our country forward. It is sad that some elders tell us to wait for our time. I think what they mean is – for us to wait until our ideas become obsolete. Because they want us to experience the cycle that they have experience – the ideas they learned when they where in their 20’s and 30’s in the seventies – they apply today when they are already in their 50’s or 60’s. So how can we move forward without a fusion of the WISDOM of the OLD and the IDEAS of the Youth – if we think Rizal, Bonifacio, Jacinto, and Aguinaldo are too young to be our leaders, too.

Though the initiatives of many political reform movements today, I pray that the effort will serve as a vehicle to empower the youth to be key actors of the kind of nation that they want for themselves. There is so much untapped potential in the Filipino Youth that deserves to be harnessed and channeled towards achieving a Philippines that all Filipinos, without exception can be proud about.

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