Having lived through, personally witnessed and participated in historical events throughout a long life gives one a unique perspective on both the past and the likely future.
Born at the beginning of World War II, I belong to the generation which immediately preceded the Baby Boomers, and was called the “Silent Generation” or “Traditionalists.” Born or coming of age during global hard times, the major characteristics of our generation reflected traditional values—hard work, loyalty, financial prudence, fairness, interpersonal respect, determination, resilience, a strong work ethic and self-sacrifice. It was also oriented to analog technology and was mostly office- and workplace-bound (google.com).
Ours is a fast-disappearing generation due to age, and together with it, many of the positive longtime values that had endured up till then.
The ’60s and ’70s saw the era of counter-culture advocates who did away with many conservative and prejudiced norms, replacing them with liberal and liberated practices. More recently, the digital age with the unbridled explosion of social media has blurred the demarcation line between truth and falsehood, and has given rise to the proliferation of “fake news,” “alternative facts” and “historical revisionism” confronting today’s millennials and centennials.
Seeing all these succeeding generations, those of my generation still alive today are fortunate to have a broader perspective on unfolding events, especially in our country. We have lived through the hardships of the Japanese occupation in the early 1940s, the restoration of our national independence in 1946, the suppression of the almost successful Huk rebellion and the consolidation of our democracy in the 1950s, the ominous declaration of martial law in 1972, the suffering of our people and the collapse of the economy under an abusive dictatorship, the triumph of People Power and the euphoric second restoration of our democracy in 1986.
Being one of the few social observers of my generation still writing today, I have made it an advocacy to help nurture the appreciation of our still fragile democratic way of life. Not being a digital native, I do this mainly through mainstream media platforms still able to reach a sizeable, albeit predominantly older audience.
Here are the key messages of some of what I believe were my more prescient past articles, which have anticipated the probable pitfalls and raised red flags about the then brewing situation in which we suddenly find ourselves fully immersed today.
Instilling the value of history in the young—The rise of unchecked “historical revisionism” and “legal revisionism” could spell our downfall. “A generation which ignores history has no past—and no future.”
What makes a good citizen?—The most important responsibility of a citizen in a democracy is precisely to help preserve the freedom and the rights he enjoys in such a system. “There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”
Choosing leaders who can improve our lives—The guiding criteria: character, integrity, track record, uncorrupt leadership, care for the poor. “We shall never change our leaders until we change the people who elect them.”
Are your basic human rights being violated?—The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to every person in every nation in the world. “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are violated.”
—John F. Kennedy
In government, the fine line between a gift and a bribe—The debilitating effects of perennially endemic corruption
Who really are the oligarchs?—In the Philippines, the real oligarchs are the political family dynasties which have further strengthened their hold on our country in the recent election.
Who should win in 2022—In October 2021, I wrote, “If our countrymen will choose short-term handouts, Filipinos may once more be the losers in the next six years.” Based on the more than 1,000 vote-buying complaints received by the Commission on Elections, plus many more informally reported cases, many of our countrymen apparently chose the short-term route.
Will democracy still be our future?—Our choices will determine whether what we have enjoyed will continue or will go down the drain of lost causes.
Could this year’s Edsa celebration be the last?—All those historical monuments, remembrances and records of our people’s struggle and victory in restoring democracy are in danger of being obliterated. This has already started.
To the youth, be careful, be careful what you wish for—Apparently, we were not sufficiently successful in helping many young voters arrive at the truth.
And at the eve of the election, will we open a Pandora’s Box tomorrow?—This proverbial phrase refers to trouble arising from a single, simple miscalculation. The majority have apparently chosen to do just that. We can only keep our fingers crossed, hoping to avoid the worst consequences.
Obviously, the election results were very disappointing for millions of Filipinos who went out of their comfort zones to passionately support the candidates whom they believed would best respond to our country’s dire situation and to prevent a possible reprise of a sad chapter of our history.
While I was still processing how to move forward from these recent events, I came across a Facebook post of my youngest daughter, Bianca, who, along with thousands of her peers, gave their utmost in support of their convictions and in pursuit of their youthful aspirations.
If her message represents the awakened youth’s collective voice, it has convinced me that our fading generation will have a next one to which we can pass on the torch. Here is the heart of her hope-filled message:
“Regret nothing, for we gave all for the leaders we know we deserve, despite the odds stacked against us. Take comfort in knowing that we made monumental strides, shaking our shores awake in ways never before felt, in just six months.”
“It has been an honor to band together with my fellow Filipinos from all sectors and walks of life (artists, doctors, lawyers, musicians, nuns, athletes, entrepreneurs and even Jedi (!), the list goes on and on) to champion you (the candidates) and all that you stand for . . . and it definitely doesn’t end here.”
“We step into our country’s next chapter on high alert . . . More challenges lie ahead . . . but we step into this next phase together: vigilant, with heads held high. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we’re capable of achieving together . . . You are witnessing the stirrings of a movement, and we’re in this for the long haul. Our crusade for freedom goes beyond one election. We’ll keep fighting for our country for as long as we draw breath. Tayo’y sisiklab at lilipad pa rin—what we went through together was just us merely stretching and testing our wings.”