To My Future Padawan

 

This world is cruel, some people around you will be disappointing, and you – no matter how hard you try – will get tired of fighting.

One day, you’ll find a cause to carry: an advocacy. Something that pierces deep within your soul that it burdens you to take action, to find your own voice, and to make a stand. You will hear it in your heartbeat, you will feel it in your trembling knees, you will see how it will change you as a person — how it can grow your character and fuel your passion. But, my little one, remember that truth is exclusive. Sincerity and faith are two good things but when it is anchored in something other than the truth, it is wrong. Truth is truth and it cannot be one or the other. Seek to know that which is true and glue your heart in fighting for it.

Should you find the urge to bring your advocacy to the streets, let it be known to you that your father and I will be there to support you. Like how the parents of my friend gave her words of advice on what to expect during street protests, I will also give you mine. Some people will say that it is a waste of time and it is disgusting, but listen to me love, it is never a waste of time and it is never disgusting. There’s nothing wrong with using your voice to speak up against injustice, violence, corruption, human rights or anything that’s in the core of your being. Learn from every people you will meet in this experience and be very observant in your surroundings. Notice the street children who are bewildered on what’s happening because this is their first time to encounter a sea of people chanting, raising placards, and uniting for a single purpose. Notice how one of them will tell the other that the people were doing the protests for the country, doing the protests for them. Notice how your heart will respond to that and cherish that moment forever.

And yes, of course, your mother is one emotional being who’s sometimes (or mostly) sensitive when people go against or get critical towards what she believes in. But your father, he is a wise man, he weighs and opens his mind to listen. Please forgive and have patience with your mother, she’s trying her hardest. Be like your father and find the balance.

It is a reality that people will agree and disagree with you. But even if they go for or against you, do not shut the door in front of their face and lose a relationship in the process. Somebody once told me that instead of drawing the line, we should blur the line so as to restore a relationship – makes sense?

You see, I’ve lived through a time where people burn each other down and/or throw mud on each other’s faces because we think that’s the way we should go, that’s how we could convince those who were outside of the fence. I don’t know what the future will look like for you, my love, but what I do know (and what I was reminded of) is that we should always love one another despite of our differences. Jesus was not kidding when He said: Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. Love your neighbor as you have loved yourself. Believe me, I know how hard loving one another could be like. It’s no joke.

When humans have different sets of beliefs and they become difficult, we have a tendency to hurt each other with words. When you have cause hurt to someone or when you did something wrong, apologize. Humility can be rare but let it run through your veins, apologize when necessary – say your sorry and mean it. Continue to love radically, still. Be gentle and shower your arguments with grace.

Sometimes you will find your voice in the minority and you will doubt if everything’s worth fighting for. If you will face darkness, I hope that it would be extremely dark for you so you would know that we can only do so much with the strength that we’re given. Remember what I said? This world is cruel, some people around you will be disappointing, and you – no matter how hard you try – will get tired of fighting. I hope you reach that point of desperation that you cry everything out to the Lord and be so dependent to Him more than ever. We have little control over anything, my love. Just commit to do your part and let it rest to the hands of our good Lord. He is Sovereign, remember that. He is Just and He is Love. He is always Good.

When you grew tired of the fight, when cynicism is glancing at the doors of your optimism, when everything continues to break you, I will hold your hand so tight to remind you that you are not fighting this alone. Look up, my child, and see how the moon and stars lit up an entire night sky. We are an army. Let your light saber glow.

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Finding An Advocacy

What are the chances that a participant of a seminar you conducted with an organization you previously worked with before come in contact with you again after two years? I don’t know the probability and I got no time doing the statistics. But well, for me, Chances can surprise you one Friday afternoon while you chose to keep yourself busy on a day’s work.

A few years back, I finally accepted the fact that I will not always be a part of the younger club (took me a while to come to terms with this reality hehe) What I mean is, when I worked for an NGO, one of the things that we do is conducting seminars with College students and various youth groups and this is where I saw the need to take responsibility for this generation. I felt the burden to look after them – the younger ones. Mainly because I still believe our good friend, Jose Rizal, when he said: Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. (The youth is the hope of the nation.) I believe it with all my heart no matter how cliché it sounded. I always trusted the potential of creative minds, ideal dreams and energetic optimism which the new generation can bring to the table. And as it turned out, the real battle is to help this new blood realize what they can bring and offer because most of them, forget; most of them, shrug it off; most of them, ends up distracted and misled.

When I was a College student, I was very vocal with my love for the country and its people. I always tell one of my close friends who I always shared a ride with going home from school: “I believe I’ll be able to see Pasig River brought back in its glorious state in my time” or “I believe there’s an end to corruption” or “One day, Filipinos will learn waste management and the country will have a clean environment less prone to flood, flood and more flood.” Sometimes, I think I’m too hopeful or I maybe soaked in deep mud of denial. But I’d rather settle with Hope because that’s the only thing I’ll never get tired to do as long as I live. And so, all I had back in College were my beliefs, my words, my love for the country – which I thought were already enough. But no, it weren’t.

Words are good. Conviction is great. But real action to take that conviction to a whole new level and put a huge amount of credibility to back up your words is an outrageous act of bravery and commitment combined. Working in an NGO taught me that. It was in the social work setting where I met and shook hands with Advocacy, face to face. Advocacy was tough to handle and understand at first. He was, at the very best, awkward and uncomfortable. He wrestles inside you while it forces you to move outside the corners of your comfort zone. And you will want to cuss him every time he gives you that unwanted “push” because it meant relearning how to adjust in a new environment setting yet again.

When I came in contact with this young lady again – our seminar participant two years back – she told me that she’s now only waiting on their graduation on May. Oh, how time flies! And right there and then, in that late Sunday evening, I told her that as young as she is, she got to find something to stitch her heart into: a cause to champion, an advocacy.

I don’t know but I’m convinced that the value we imparted to those young people back in 2011 was, somewhat, etched to their hearts. The young lady is our proof. A lightning bulb: this is what it feels like to touch a soul. When people showed up and make you see that they understood the cause you’re fighting for even if it’s only relatively new for two months or five years or maybe even close to a decade, when these people showed up and reflect in their actions that their is something in them that changed, it is a feeling of sheer amazement.

I am no perfect advocate. I still got commitment issues yet to be resolved. I don’t even know the core of my advocacy yet – what is that one cause I would gladly fight for no matter?

I don’t know a lot of things yet, but, here’s where I stand: I’ll do what I can and I’ll go out there and tell people that they matter and they can do so much with what they have in their hands. It doesn’t always have to be grand, Legacy sometimes, resides in the smallest of things that made you captivate the innermost being of a person: their soul. We have to do things and it will not always be easy. Because we got to go hard, sometimes, too.

I would want this generation to see that whatever little or big causes they may have, it is valuable. If they want to make a stand about purity or acts of random kindness or treating people with respect or battling corruption by not taking part on it and making their voice clear that they won’t tolerate it or obeying their parents or doing their best in school or wherever they are, whatever it is — it is valuable. And if they haven’t found something worth fighting for yet, it’s okay. I’m a great believer of getting lost in order for you to get found.

These army of young people must not forget that they have to be present and no, not just in social media. They have to feel the need of their community and go out of their way, sometimes, to reach that need somehow. Because when you push yourself hard enough to deliver something beyond what you know you can do and you do so out of love and concern, where it’s at most uncomfortable and shaky but you know will be worth the while, maybe then, even when you haven’t realized it yet – you are already holding hands with Advocacy. When you finally take a hold of it, you know where to go.