Monday, February 1, 2010

A Promising Future

by: Marck Salamatin

As originally published in the Pilipino Express News Magazine, Winnipeg, Canada, August 16 to 31, 2006 issue.

The other day, when I was doing my daily rounds of reading editorial columns from online publications here and abroad, I came across an article by’s Jose Ma. Montelibano column, “An Emerging Nobility.” In it he mentions the “radical trend” of many Filipinos today towards social programs aimed at alleviating the difficult living conditions of those who are marginalized in the Philippines. In his own words, he states, “The appeal to those who have a little more to help those who have little or none, has been spreading like it never had before among Filipinos, including those living abroad.” He praises many young Filipinos from “premier colleges and universities” such as Mr. Eric Pasion, a law student at University of the Philippines (UP) for taking leadership roles. According to Mr. Montelibano, Mr. Pasion wrote him a letter, which the aforementioned described as “a cry from the soul of a privileged one for the less privileged.” Mr. Pasion’s message was clear - "not to dream only for ourselves.” Such few words do echo “an appeal” for those who have already reached greener pastures or have a greater probability to get there.

I could not help but search for Mr. Pasion’s article on the Internet. Luckily enough, I did not have to scour through too many websites before I found the blog in which he is a contributing writer. If you would like to read the entire article (and fine works by others), please visit, aptly titled “Bayaning Isko: UP Gawad Kalinga. Students from the University of the Philippines share their experiences, insights and colorful stories on Nation-Building.” In this column, however, I’d like to share the excerpts (highlights are mine) which I think can serve as an inspiration for all of us:

"On my watch, it is 4:30 am of August 5, 2006. For thousands of young high school students, it is but 2 hours away from their taking of the UP College Admission Test or UPCAT. Today would mark a very important day for them as the results of the test they will take will either make or break their dreams of entering the esteemed University of the Philippines. To countless students from all over the country, this is their chance to make it big…

Perhaps just like me, these young students dream of becoming the best in their profession, or the best in their field. Perhaps just like me, they want to create a name for themselves so that when they go out of UP, they will have a better life, an easier life. Perhaps just like me, they have a dream for themselves of becoming somebody. Having studied in the University of the Philippines for 4 years now, having taken my undergraduate course of Psychology in UP Diliman, and now taking up my bachelors degree at the UP College of Law, I've come to realize that what actually matters is what I do with my UP Education. In order to be somebody, I would have to make the most out of my UP Education…

The tuition in UP is not cheap because it does not only take one or two parents to support one student, but it takes hundreds, if not thousands more. The only reason we are able to study in UP is because the Filipino people have a dream that the student they put to school will give something back, perhaps not to them directly, but to other Filipinos. They have a dream that their lives will get better because there are students who can make them better. They have a dream that their quality of life will improve because of the quality of students that the University produces. This is a collective dream…

As a UP student, I cannot only dream for myself but I have to dream for others as well. I cannot aspire to be the best without aspiring for other Filipinos to be the best. I cannot want to be well-off without wanting other Filipinos to be well-off. I am the product of the sacrifice of countless of Filipinos that the things that I want cannot only be for myself alone. I owe who I have become to the education that I have received from the University of the Philippines, an education that was given to me by the Filipino people."

It is quite possible that many of us can relate to the essence of Mr. Pasion’s
letter. When opportunity was available for us to develop through education, we did our best to pursuit it. Our motivating force was likely a chance to “become somebody.” As a matter of fact, many did become very successful. While some may not have gone to the best colleges or universities, they have found ways to still create a “better and easier life” for themselves. Certainly, we can’t forget those who may not have received a single diploma or degree but still managed to overcome life’s challenges through self-perseverance.

At the same time, we are very much aware of the realities which our loved ones have to frequently face in our former home. For many of us, we have been there and experienced them first-hand. On a greater scale, a part of us still hurts knowing the sufferings they experience are not because they don’t have the ability to improve themselves. Rather, their plight is caused by a system which forces them to succumb to become a part of society’s lowest strata. An integral part of this system, as Mr. Montelibano contends, failed them:

"The elemental purpose of education is to add knowledge and skills, including the proper use of the English language among others. Yet, the products of an educational system, which shone around Asia as the most proficient in English, oversaw the degradation of a whole culture and value system. Today, poverty has deepened like no other time, reflecting the awesome superiority of exploitation over human concern and social justice. And today, as well, the corruption of a nation has become a gaudy headgear that is noticed by the whole world.

The products of what is deemed as a superior educational environment became the generations that ushered an abundant and Christian nation into one impoverished and highly immoral. Superior education abdicated its higher purpose, trading it for flashy forms and rotten substance. Those who did not engage in the commission of wrong did little to stop it, or simply ran away."

Fortunately, we have many reasons to remain optimistic. We can choose NOT to run away. We can choose to make the most of what we have to make the lives of others better. We are part of a new wave of thinking, like Mr. Pasion and others, who will utilize our success because of our education and life experiences to take on “a higher purpose.”

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