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Passion Survival Kit

It will become better, I promise. It will all fall into place at the exact moment that you become ready.

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Taking up AB Creative Writing was kind of a shot in the dark. Looking back, when I was younger, I wanted to pursue Interior Design. It was to follow the footsteps of one of my uncles and also be able to attend UST, which is my dream school. However, that dream was crushed when I realized that I didn’t have the right amount of patience in sketching and rendering. Most of my hobbies included drawing, reading, and singing. In my heart, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in one of them. Luckily, I was able to pursue one. 

In 2018, minutes before the submission of my preferred course, I chose AB Creative Writing over AB Literature. I clicked the option with my eyes closed and submitted the application. I figured the number of books that I’ve read and my seemingly good attempts at writing would be enough for me to last for four years, and wow, was I wrong. 

Being a part of another pioneer batch right after surviving Senior High School was arduous given the fact that adjustments were needed. It was trial and error. Usually, freshmen students had seniors that would guide them in exams and projects but we didn’t have that. So, with passion and numerous servings of coffee, we trod through the waters with the help of esteemed published writers who, fortunately, were also our professors.  

Diving into the course was like letting my ideals be shattered by reality. During my freshman year, one of our professors told us that writing is hard and that if we were looking for a career that would make us millionaires, we were in the wrong place. The thickness of our readings and the lingering heavy responsibility of writing held us by our throats and made sure that we never lost track of what it is, what it takes to be a writer. 

Coming into the program, I had a lot of days defending my craft and its importance. Writers document, writers educate through writing, and writers express complicated feelings in ink and pixel. 

Some people would say “Madali lang naman magsulat“, “Parang hindi naman kailangan ng course dyan“, and “May pera ba dyan?” in front of my face and expect me to be okay with it. There were times when some of my relatives would show slight judgment of my choice and the situation would make me shrug my shoulders and smile in response but internally, I was ready to protect my program. 

There was a need to address the importance of writing, the process of it, the preparation, the countless urges of revising your work once you’ve submitted it, and trying to be satisfied with what you wrote. It is all a terrifying cycle. 

During my stay, I learned that although writing is difficult, choosing what to write about is more difficult. Back then in our poetry class, we were tasked to try out techniques such as using angel cards and free fall which let us tap into our inner creativity. At the time, I only wrote what I knew best, which was having spontaneous gatherings with friends, prom nights, the feeling of entering the Arch of the Centuries, and going on awkward dates. 

What seemed like the best of my abilities was actually mediocre at trying to write what I remembered. It simply wasn’t enough but then I learned how to write about the ‘deeper’ things. I gained an understanding of how to process my own kind of grief and then slowly turn it into an essay or a poem. I also learned how to detach myself from my work. 

Sometimes, in an earth-shattering way, I was pushed to realize that what I wrote had already been written and during those times, I question whether I was meant to write. After all, I couldn’t compare myself to the notable names of Filipino writers whose works are like magic that had gut-wrenching lines. All I knew were short-lived moments, not all monumental, and in passing minutes, I would almost conclude to myself that I was chartered to another program. 

Whenever I walked through the hallways of St. Raymunds, I sometimes pictured what it would be like if I shifted to another program. This was the time when stacks of readings would get the best of me and a lack of inspiration was present in an empty word document. Growing up, I held on to achievements and instant good remarks that I was accustomed to back in elementary and high school. But college is a whole other level. It made me learn how to fend for myself and become independent, especially when trying to build my habits. I am someone that wanted to already be good at something on the first try. 

With my background of not being familiar with Filipino classics––my bookshelf consisted of YA novels from international writers and selections that were considered New York Times Best Sellers, my past hobby of writing Fan Fiction on Wattpad, and the daunting panic of thinking how shallow my writing was, I went into a spiral. I kept asking questions that I was aware of not having concrete answers to. How can I read everything all at once? How can I find that one thing that would distinguish my craft from the others? Self-doubt was eating me alive. 

The two-year shift from face-to-face classes to online learning didn’t help at all. It only gave me struggles and doubts but with the universe’s kindness and God’s plan, the set of friends, blockmates, and professors I had, they helped me take control and keep doing what I was doing. My friends would always be there to workshop my works. We had a thing where we would comment on each other’s Google Docs files and give suggestions on what to improve. 

That specific practice led us to birth pieces that we never knew would be possible. My blockmates were always supportive of one another so that gave us all the push that we needed. And of course, our professors. They never pressured us to be anything but would always encourage us to join literary workshops, and competitions, and just write. “Magbasa lang nang magbasa.” They often reminded us so our cups would be filled and we can continue to pour out ourselves in writing. 

Passion was always the main part of my journey as a Creative Writing student and because of the pandemic, I almost ran out of it. Once, I was asked why I write and I often answer with, it is to get rid of certain emotions and to remember. And slowly, within the next couple of months, those reasons transformed into new ones. I will not go into the specifics although inspiration can come and go, creativity will remain whatever happens. 

When I was at my lowest, pondering on taking a break since it seemed that the pandemic is about to hinder us from having good days, I decided to write about how I miss my friends, the campus, and the normalcy of it all. I gathered enough courage to send it as a submission for Inquirer’s Young Blood and it came as a shock to me when it got published. ‘I don’t want this to end’ is a piece dedicated to not only my woes and troubles during the lockdown but it is also to those who felt the same way.  

This personal achievement was a step towards a breakthrough. Because of this, I began writing new stories with characters that I made up during car rides and waiting in long lines in the mall. I began tapping short drafts of stanzas in my notes app and for a while, funnily, I felt that I could do anything. 

Little victories such as receiving heartwarming comments from professors during workshops, and seeing the reaction of people who read my work to feeling that fulfillment from writing in the way that I could,  gave me the motivation to keep on going and to explore the world that has yet to offer. 

So, my unsolicited advice to the next batches of Creative Writing: sometimes, the mundaneness of your days will become the inspiration that you need for you to grab onto that pen and paper and jot down anything you want to. Embrace rejection from workshops and literary journals yet do not embody it. Keep going and try with all your might to submit your work. You’ll have all your life to revise them but do not leave them hidden in the folders of your laptops. 

I say all of this as someone who is still in the early days of my story as an aspiring writer. 

Aliah Francesca Basbas, Stories Editor

To TomasinoWeb, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow and also for taking care of me in the last four years. To the people who have come and gone during my stay here, thank you for the friendship. To Brin Isaac, RJ Ballecer, Marcianne Gaab, Wendell Quijado, Ian Laqui, and Mika de Castro, salamat nang marami. 

To 4CW, the pioneer batch of UST AB Creative Writing, it was challenging but here we are. I hope you all know that I had the time of my life fighting deadlines with you. 

To Joan Chan, Christy Panela, and Fatima Castillo, thank you for the comfort through our hardships and for celebrating our wins. 

To our professors, Assoc. Prof. Joselito Delos Reyes, Prof. Augusto Aguila, Assoc. Prof. Nerisa Guevara, Asst. Prof. Dawn Marfil, Asst. Prof. Benedict Parfan, Assoc. Prof. Chuckberry Pascual, Mr.  Paul Castillo, Mr. Joel Toledo, Mr. Niccolo Vitug, and Dr. Jenny Ortuoste, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your guidance. 

I’d like to end this by saying that even now, I still struggle but I learned how to survive by pacing myself little by little with the help of those who I love most. Friends, support, love. These are what’s inside my passion survival kit. 

Always and beyond, I will forever cherish the bustling crowds in Dapitan, the food trips in P. Noval, the tear-jerking nights of commuting in España, and the weird comfort of Lacson.

It will become better, I promise. It will all fall into place at the exact moment that you become ready. 

But for now, with every fiber of my being, I bid UST farewell and wish everyone the best. 

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From one golden child to another

Failures and mistakes are not meant to break you; if anything, it humbles you. It reminds you that you can still be great in many ways despite being flawed in one way.

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In the grand scheme of things, we all want to feel accepted — may it be for our the qualities we were born with, the gender or sexual orientation we identify as, or the beliefs we live by. After all, validation drives motivation right? Well, at least to me it does because that’s how it was for me for the past 16 years. 

Everytime I introduced myself in class or gatherings, everyone was always shocked that I’m two years younger than my batchmates. Whenever this happens, I tell them the same story of how I entered school at the age of two and got accelerated when I was in kindergarten. 

My former teacher recalls how a curious four-year-old Kitchie would go to her during dismissal to ask for assignments. Whenever I got wrong answers in a spelling test, my mom said that I would go home, erase my answers, and rewrite the correct ones so I would get the satisfaction of receiving a perfect score. And even with simple school games, I never wanted to lose. 

While I don’t remember much during this pivotal time in my life, my parents always told me that — and I say this in the humblest way — I was different. I was competitive. I was nalaing, matalino, smart. I was the golden child destined for greater things. 

And they weren’t entirely wrong. 

Since receiving my first academic award in kindergarten, I have never missed a school year without some sort of achievement. I was valedictorian in elementary, an outstanding student in high school, and a Dean’s Lister and cum laude in college — it was every parent’s dream. 

But along the way, I got drunk on the attention of being a decorated student, on seeking purpose through academic validation. I took so much pride in being one of the youngest but brightest in class. I conditioned myself that earning accolades, applause, and verbal praise were the measures of success and self-worth. 

And so, I spent my early years wanting to be the best and thinking I was the best. But for the Rory Gilmores like me, nothing hurts more than growing up and realizing that you aren’t so special. 

UST beamed with so much hope and enthusiasm. But to be frank, I wasn’t mentally prepared to enter the lion’s den, or tiger’s lair rather, at the young age of 17. I had just moved into a new city, miles away from my parents, thus forcing me to grow up fast if I wanted to survive. Nonetheless, seeing the campus in a world of its own was refreshing and exciting. I convinced myself that maybe being in a new environment would help liberate me from the high expectations I set for myself. Or so I thought. 

Everything I knew were merely just pieces of a bigger labyrinth. Being in a place with individuals from all walks of life was enlivening but that also meant seeing how I was positioned in a pool of other talented and gifted students. 

It was supposed to be a learning experience but even in the subtle exchanges of banter, I still compared myself to others. It wasn’t jealousy or envy; it was self-criticism for being inadequate, for not performing as well as them. I unnecessarily pitted myself against everyone else, even when they never really viewed me as their competition. The place was visibly different, the environment felt more mature, and I was nothing new

Each day of the past four years was excruciating not only because of the heavy academic workload, but mostly because of the constant pressure to be exceptional, which only got worse came senior year. 

Of the many positive affirmations, “Kaya mo ‘yan, matalino ka naman,” has to be the most flattering yet dispiriting compliment I’ve ever received. 

It is a common perception that academic praise boosts our self-confidence, making us more motivated to study. But in reality, living up to that persona means going through painful cycles of what ifs and “I could have done more” even when we already are doing better than what others expected us to be. 

That obsession with overachieving grew until I risked my health, sanity, and self-identity not only in the pursuit for my dreams or aspirations but validation. I had become so attached with the idea of being golden to the point that failure was no longer an option. And learning, which was once fun, became painful and difficult. 

I couldn’t bear to read my professor’s feedback because I crumbled at one hint of criticism. Whenever I failed to get a green score on a test, I beat myself up for days on the mistakes I made. I pushed myself beyond my body’s limits even at times when 30-minute naps were my only ammunition to get through six to eight hours of lecture.

And like fireworks bursting in the night sky, the allure of achieving dies quickly. You see, when you constantly achieve or earn awards, it becomes a way of life that people simply get used to and eventually numb them. It’s a time when the feelings of surprise turn into unimpressed faces of “as expected” or “that’s how it should be,” leaving us even more hollow. 

At some point, I wondered if maybe I was cursed or if I committed a sin so unforgivable in my past life to let myself endure this. Liberating one’s self from that toxic mindset is difficult. Believe me, I’ve tried every single day until the very moment that I write this. It may be too late for regrets, but it’s never too early to live for the hope of it all. 

I’ve had my fair share of debacles and breakdowns but college taught me what personal growth looks like: succeeding at times, failing at most, but learning to get back up every time. Failures and mistakes are not meant to break you; if anything, it humbles you. It reminds you that you can still be great in many ways despite being flawed in one way. I may not have been stellar in immunology or physiology, but I found that I am one heck of a writer. 

I’m not here to say the cliché “grades are just numbers” because that would be hypocritical. Rather, from a burnt out overachiever, I sincerely tell you that validation and perfection are the enemies of progress.

You don’t need to get things right all the time. Your life doesn’t need to be golden for you to find purpose in life and to be worthy of acceptance. Acknowledge the inevitability of uncertainty and normalcy of imperfection. Allow yourself to be lost at times — not knowing doesn’t make you less of a person, rather it helps you learn, grow, and mature humanely. 

Four years ago, I entered the Arch of the Centuries in hopes of coming out a better version of myself. Today, I proudly walk out of the University not only with the degree and academic distinction I deservedly earned, but also with the valuable lessons I’ve learned beyond what any textbook can teach and the people who have changed my life in unimaginable ways. 

Marcianne Elaine Gaab, Executive Editor

To my home sections, 1MBIO6 and 4MBIO4, thank you for the unforgettable memories we’ve made. Albeit our time was cut short by the pandemic, it was still a pleasure to learn, grow, and see the end of this ride with you. As biology students, we took care of everything around us but ourselves. But despite that, we made it and I look forward to seeing you all flourish in the paths you choose. 

To my professors, thank you very much for imparting us with the necessary knowledge and life values to face the next chapter of our lives. It has truly been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be under your tutelage. 

To Doc Pia, thank you for believing in our abilities and realizing our thesis dreams. Not only did you hone our skills as scientists, but you were also like a mother to us who never failed to motivate us when we needed to reconnect with reality. 

To the four horsemen of the apocalypse – Doc Pao, Doc Cyd, Doc Flo, and Doc Carl – words are not enough to thank you for all that you’ve done for our batch. From our formal lessons to our therapy sessions, it surely wasn’t a breeze but I will always be grateful for your patience and guidance. I am deeply humbled by your genuine kindness. Now, it’s our turn to pay it forward. 

To my friends back home in Baguio, distance and several other circumstances came between us but here we are — still supporting and cheering each other. Thank you for helping me get through high school and now college, and for being my constants all these years. You are all irreplaceable. 

To TomasinoWeb, thank you for reawakening and honing my passion for writing and for believing in me even when my abilities fell short. I am beyond grateful for the trust and support you’ve given in my time as a writer, section editor, and core editor. I had to juggle being an editor and a writer with thesis requirements, internship shifts, and senior year acads in general. Even so, I still loved it because I liked to write and I worked with a passionate and dedicated team. Thank you very much for this opportunity; I will never regret impulsively signing up on that blissful day of September 2019. 

To my support system, Lyn and Joseph, words cannot describe how grateful and indebted I am to the both of you. You were my safety nets and my anchors when the burden of constantly excelling seemed difficult to bear and when life seemed to have lost its essence. College would’ve been meaningless and wouldn’t be as exciting if you weren’t in it. Wherever you may be, you will always have my heart. 

To my brother Earl, who also had his silent battles of living in my shadow, you will always be valued in my book. I can’t thank you enough for your patience and understanding, for sticking with me through thick and thin. We may have misunderstandings and fights from time to time, but I will always have your back — that’s a promise. 

Lastly, to my parents Estrella and Ernesto, I will always be eternally grateful for the sacrifices you’ve made to raise and support me in pursuit of my dreams. For all the times I was impatient and pasaway, I’m very sorry. I may not have been the perfect child but I hope I made you proud, regardless of my achievements. Agyamanak unay

There’s an old saying that goes, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” In the same way, not everything that’s gold will always glitter. Stepping out of my comfort zone and realizing I’m not as exceptional as before really bruised my ego — I wholeheartedly admit that. But I will never be ashamed of losing my novelty. 

This is my pakada to the four grueling years, to the endless nights cradled between thick books, and to the dreary mornings reinvigorated by coffee in my veins. This is my pahimakas to the campus in España I once called home, to the incredible professors I have had the privilege of learning from, to the colleagues I dreamed with, and to the friends I have shared battles and triumphs with. 

This is my farewell and my liberation note to the child who once doubted and criticized herself for not being the best when the world caught up. Go forth and chase your dreams, I am now freeing you from the burden of feeling the need to always be golden. 

Here’s to better days of living authentically, padayon. 

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On trusting the process

This is my victory lap after four years which included two in hell. I’ve come far from being that chubby nine-year-old with dreams of becoming a Thomasian and that freshman who was eager to make UST his second home while experiencing Manila on his own terms. It was no easy trip but I made it…we made it. 

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It was a random Sunday in 2009 when I first stepped foot at the University of Santo Tomas. It was the University of Santo Tomas Examination Test (USTET) season and my older brother was to take the said exam in a bid to have his college life in UST. I, on the other hand, was just fortunate enough to have accompanied him on that day. 

At the time, I was smaller than I was now, probably five feet? Or 4’11”?  For context, that was 13 years ago, so don’t blame me if I don’t remember exact figures. It probably didn’t help either that I was nine years old at the time so there’s that. 

And probably because I wasn’t as tall as I am now, I said to myself that time, or to my mother and aunt rather, “Ang ganda. Parang may maliit na city sila dito.” 

Just like that, I was in love. Despite being a grade-schooler barely aware of how messed up the world was, one thing remained sure at the time: I wanted to spend my four years in this small, walled city called the University of Santo Tomas. 

Fast forward to nine years later, I was finally able to fulfill my childhood dream. I had passed the University’s admissions exam and was set to become a bona fide Thomasian, in turn also following my father’s footsteps and fulfilling my mother’s dream which was cut short owing to circumstances during her time.

And go even further to 13 years since the time I first stepped foot, I’m now on my way out of the University. No, I wasn’t debarred or what (fortunately). Thirteen years later, I’m finally set to graduate from the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas. 

But at the same time, believe it or not, it’s crazy that just three weeks ago, I wasn’t even sure if I’d have the right to call myself a graduating Thomasian. I wasn’t even sure if I had gotten out of the woods yet and the chip on my shoulder of being the only delayed member in the family was about to be gone. 

You see, as much as this is a success story on the surface, it inevitably wasn’t without its road bumps. Just like how a championship isn’t won by simply playing games, my story was no different. 

Just like everybody else, I also had my silent battles. In retrospect, things wouldn’t be this way if it was all sunshine and rainbows. If it was too easy, petiks-petiks lang. 

Midway through my sophomore year, I started to encounter burnout in my course and field. Quite ironic really as I was coming off of a high point being a part of TomasinoWeb’s coverage of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament for season 82. Not only that but heading into this point, journalism had been my dream course after I discovered maybe I had a penchant for writing when I was in senior high school. 

Then came the pandemic which, just like everybody else, forced me to transition to our current setup. Probably just like everybody else again, this hindered the true potential I could have had as a student and as a then-Core editor for the organization. In fact, it even came to a point that I tendered a resignation a day after my President and then-Executive Editor Brin Isaac’s 20th birthday. 

I wasn’t doing any better academically and mentally. Especially during my final semester in junior year, the urge to take a gap year was at its strongest. My mental health was down the drain and there were conflicts with my mother regarding the said gap year. 

Academically, I wasn’t doing too bad I think, but the workload only continued to pile up and I didn’t think I could handle it anymore because my struggles had reached their peaks. 

Of course, the world was in no way wasn’t going to stop for some college kid whose mental health struggles and ongoing burnout had reached their peak because of the pandemic. It wouldn’t stop for someone who’d ruined their laptop screen due to a major breakdown caused by a pressing thesis deadline because he was edgy enough to take on the challenge individually. 

Probably in an alternate reality, these circumstances would have led to some of the following conclusions: I took that gap year, and you’d be reading an entirely different piece in 2023, or I might have been a martyr for university administrations to loosen up the academic workload for the student body (or maybe not, who knows). 

The reality, at least this time, is not disappointing.

Despite the lowest of lows I faced during my final years as an undergraduate, I was able to still find the resolve to persevere, or rather, persist through the things I had just said.  

The gap year? I didn’t take it. I never had the guts to tell my dad and my grades during that time were enough to motivate me to maybe, just maybe I could finish on time after all. My therapist was also there to remind me that there were only a few semesters left; it would be a waste to throw away my progress and pace for financial stability. Senior year was a different hell but we made it. Maybe there was a sense of obligation too on top of inspiration but there’s that.

The resignation I talked about? I didn’t push through with it. I had people talk me out of it, that I was probably being too hard on myself or what. Eventually, undoing this move led to one more year of officership in the organization. Inevitably, there was still a huge room for improvement, but in retrospect, it’s something I’d take over ultimately leaving two years ago. 

Academically I think, rather I believe I did well. Despite the low points, it was and will never be in my nature to turn in half-assed outputs to such competent professors. The thesis that caused me to ruin my laptop’s screen and if I may add, be a source of major breakdowns? It was praised by the panelists as well as my adviser, as much as I was probably a headache at first. 

The burnout? Still there, but I guess it’s safe to say that I’m slowly finding my way back into being passionate about the field of journalism once more. It may never be the same as my earlier years, but I know that some form of passion is alive once more. 

Mentally, I can’t say the same, but one thing’s for sure. I’ve been steadily improving since then, and have been continuously getting out of the dark place I fell in a year ago. I may have reached a new low during my final month/s but that’s….just for that time. Thanks to, again, my therapist and friends, I can say that there has been no way but up on this side of things. 

So yes. Despite the breakdowns, the loss of passion, the increasing workload, and the world not stopping for me, I made it out. 

I could have easily folded and taken on an entirely different direction, but then I didn’t, and I’m finally here, writing this piece and counting down my final days as a Thomasian. 

Without even fully noticing, I had overcome the source of misery and toxicity I had been dealing with and now I’m on my way out, into the real world, where things only get more challenging from here on out. In simple terms, the marathon continues. 

And as I wrap up my final piece as an undergraduate, let me take this moment to thank some of the people who held it down for me. 

Jose Rafael Ballecer, Executive Vice President

To my mother and brother for keeping me sane, especially during my final two years, thank you for your unyielding support even if it may be a struggle to be with me at times. To my father, for ensuring that I and my brother get to study without worrying about not being able to continue. 

To the TomasinoWeb Core Group 12, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You guys took a shot on an unproven kid who simply wanted to cover the UAAP and probably find love in the organization and made him realize that he was more than that. 

For the countless face-to-face meetings and making me experience an environment for the first time where the levels of dedication were the same. Not all of us may be as tight as before, but the memories will always be there. 

To Core Group 14 and this year’s executive team. You guys made my second and final stint as Executive Vice President (EVP) worth it. I may have been far from the ideal EVP and I apologize for that. For the countless virtual meetings/hangouts and complying with org-related deadlines amid problematic higher-ups, salamat. I can only hope to bring what I have learned while working with you all into the real world. 

For our holdovers and new officers, as I’ve always said, I hope you can build upon what we had this year and surpass what was done. Tuloy niyo lang in upholding the truth and what’s right. I’m confident that you will never fold to those who try to disrupt it. 

Last but not the least, to Brin. No words. We really pulled those two years off. I may not have been the perfect right hand during our time together, but thank you, for the continued trust and belief in me to be capable as your Executive Vice President and to take over the organization in your times of needed absence.

This is my victory lap after four years which included two in hell. I’ve come far from being that chubby nine-year-old with dreams of becoming a Thomasian and that freshman who was eager to make UST his second home while experiencing Manila on his own terms. It was no easy trip but I made it…we made it. 

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Ang anim na taon nila ay anim na taon nating lahat

Marahil ay hindi kaya ng aming konsensya na hayaan lamang ang mga nakaupo na ayusin ang sistema na sila rin mismo ang sumisira. Dahil sa paglipas ng panahon, sino nga ba ang matitira at malulunod sa maling pamamahala?

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Artwork by Marcianne Elaine Gaab/TomasinoWeb

Sa nalalabing araw bago ang ika-9 ng Mayo, hindi maipagkakaila na ang halalan na ito ay isa sa mga pinakamahalagang pangyayari sa buhay ng mga kabataan. Sa katunayan, naitala ng COMELEC na mahigit 50 porsyento ng mga rehistradong botante ay binubuo ng mga mamamayang edad 18 hanggang 41.

Isa ako sa milyon-milyong kabataan na first time voter. Tulad ng ilan sa aking kapwa, ang pagkamulat sa nakalulungkot at nakagagalit na realidad, lalo nitong pandemya, ang nag-udyok sa akin upang magparehistro. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, biktima rin kami ng bulok na sistema. Mula sa aming pagpasok sa paaralan hanggang sa pag-uwi namin sa aming mga tahanan, pasan namin ang bigat ng pagiging isang “kabataan na pag-asa ng bayan” sa isang bayan na tila’y wala ng pag-asang matatanaw. 

Ngunit hindi kami pumayag na dito matatapos ang aming kwento. Mula noong idineklara ang simula ng pangangampanya, kabataan ang nanguna sa pagsulong ng isang malinis at tapat na eleksyon. Aktibo ring nakilahok ang mga kabataan sa mga inisiyatiba ng ilang pagkat upang labanan ng maling impormasyon at maling pagpapakalat nito. 

Sa bawat aspeto ng halalang ito, mayroong isang kabataan na kumikilos. Subalit tanong pa rin ng nakararami: Bakit nga ba? Bakit nga ba kami nagrereklamo? Bakit nga ba ayaw naming tumigil at sumunod na lang?

Dalawang rally na ang aking napuntahan. Sa dalawang pagkakataon na ‘yon, karamihan ng mga nakidalo at nakiisa ay mga kabataang tulad ko. Higit sa walong oras kaming nakatayo. Pinagpawisan sa matinding sikat ng araw at nabasa sa biglaang buhos ng ulan. Nangatog ang tuhod at sumakit ang likod. At sa gitna ng lahat ng ‘yon, nanatili pa rin kami at patuloy na tumindig. 

Totoo nga naman, mas kaya ng mga bata na tiisin ang pagod. Subalit, ang aming pagtindig ay hindi lamang nag-uugat sa aming kakayahan o kagustuhan na patunayang hindi kami bayaran. Nagagalit kami dahil nakikita namin ang lantarang kalapastanganan. Nangingialam kami dahil mayroon kaming nais ituwid na kamalian. Tumitindig kami dahil mayroon kaming kinabukasan na pinaglalaban. Karapatan namin ito. 

Marahil ay hindi namin masikmura na sumabay lamang sa agos ng buhay. Marahil ay hindi kaya ng aming konsensya na hayaan lamang ang mga nakaupo na ayusin ang sistema na sila rin mismo ang sumisira. Dahil sa paglipas ng panahon, sino nga ba ang matitira at malulunod sa maling pamamahala? Sino ang magmamana sa gulo at ganid na iiwan ng mga nakatatanda? 

Madaling sabihin na mangibang bansa na lamang kami kung ayaw namin itong maranasan. Ngunit, hindi lahat ng mamamayan ay may ganitong uri ng pribilehiyo at hindi masosolusyunan ng pag-alis ng bansa ang mga problema sa ating lipunan. 

Desperado na kung desperado, pero kapalaran at kinabukasan natin ang nakataya sa Mayo 9. Mananatili tayong mabubulok sa maling sistema kung patuloy na mga trapo, mapagsamantala, at sinungaling ang ating iluluklok sa pamahalaan. Mananatili tayong mabubulok sa maling sistema kung hindi natin kusang itutuwid ito sa pamamagitan ng tama, responsable, at may pusong pagboto. 

Kailanman ay hindi naging pansarili lamang ang ating mga boto. Kalakip nito ang bawat kabataang naghahangad sa mas maunlad na kinabukasan; ang bawat manggagawa na pilit na nabubuhay sa limang daan kada araw; ang bawat nurse at doktor na nagsasakripisyo para sa ating kapakanan; ang bawat bakla, lesbiyana, bi, at trans na isinasawalang bahala; ang bawat biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na sumisigaw ng hustisya; at ang bawat mamamayang Pilipino na uhaw sa pagbabago. 

Madaling mabawi ang pagod ng isang araw ng pagpila upang bumoto. Subalit, habang buhay nating dadalhin magiging epekto nito. Kaya sa pagsapit ng araw ng halalan, nawa’y ang inyong boto ay hindi para lang sa sarili niyo o sa mga nais niyong kandidato, kundi para sa kapakanan ng bansang pagsisilbihan nito. Ang anim na taon nila ay anim na taon nating lahat. 

Ika nga ni Heneral Luna, “Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka.” 

Nitindog para sa mga pangakong hindi mapapako. Tinalakad para sa tapat na pamumuno. Tumakder para sa kinabukasan, tumindig para sa bayan. 

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