Friday, 1 March 2013

Holding Onto Hope


            Nothing could have prepared me for what I learned in history class this year, nor did I ever expect to listen to lectures like them. These lessons changed my perspective on the Philippines and Filipinos, and made me really understand why things are as they are, resulting in an even deeper love for country. They helped me grow up a little more, showing me how ignorant, selfish, and foolish my way of thinking had been before. I was able to locate the negative thoughts I'd been harboring about my country and replace them with thoughts of hope and how I can help. Two important insights that helped me grow as a person are the following: Before you judge, take a look at the history behind your subject of scorn. Also, everything happens for a reason. God has a purpose and plan for our country, and for that, there is hope.

            I learned and relearned so many things, but what stuck to me the most were the lessons on the Spanish and American occupations, democracy, and human rights.  They all taught me just how fallen this world really is and how blessed I am to have come to know His amazing grace at such a young age. I learned about the true meaning of freedom, what the love of money does to people, and how much injustice there really is in this nation. I especially learned that the Americans aren’t the perfect, golden-haired, innocents I thought they were and that our heroes and people have so much more to them than I thought. My “Why?” questions were answered, my eyes were opened, and my sleeping heart was stirred.

            I used to laugh when I'd hear Filipinos replace their 'v's with 'b's and their 'f's with 'p's. I would grumble at the “corruption of the government” and think that the fair skinned were more beautiful. I got used to the sight of MMDA officers, street sweepers, and firemen without stopping and thinking about them. All of that changed after this year, when I realized that I have no right to think that these people are insignificant. They are not just people; they are my people, part of my country.  My view towards these people changed especially when I learned how they came to be and how they are still being oppressed and treated more unfairly than I thought. Considering everything I learned about them and our history, I think that the end result of a history class should be a student with a changed perspective and a heart of hope and willingness to do something about what he or she had just learned.

            If you ask a young student about what they learn in history, they will most probably answer you with a bored and indifferent tone that they learn about dead people and Presidents. A likely follow up comment would be, “I don't understand why we need to know this. They're dead and have nothing to do with me.” Clearly, remembering and honoring these people that they study about do not even occur to them. I thought about this, and came to the conclusion that their indifference is because of colonial mentality and ignorance.

            Colonial mentality, which is the result of hundreds of years of physical, verbal, and economical oppression, is abundant in the minds of young students in the Philippines. Since their view of their country is already a view of contempt, criticism, and that Filipinos are losers, learning about the people who have fought and led the nation does not matter to them because they have a poor impression of their country and its people already. In their minds, it's useless to learn about people who fought and lost anyway.

            Ignorance, as some people say, is bliss, but it is also a prison. The students, ignorant of the relevance history to the present, don't know the reason for the way things work or why and either can't do anything about it or simply don't care.

            We have to wake these students up, because they are the future of this nation. Honestly, if I want to encourage them to have genuine hope and respect for this nation and to unlearn all the contempt and apathy in them, I am going to have to sit down with them and give them a long lecture on Philippine history. This topic isn't something that you can explain in a few sentences, but if there's one thing I'd like to tell them, it would be to never stop learning. When you learn things, you don’t just store up that bit of knowledge and keep it to yourself. You do something with the knowledge that you have, and that’s what I hope will happen when the youth learn and learn. I want them to learn so that their eyes will be opened and they will feel the warm, glowing pride and love of country.
            God's Word is spirit and it is life, like fire and a hammer that can break rocks into pieces. It never returns empty, piercing bone, marrow, and flesh. The very breath of God has been breathed upon it, it brings hope, gives life, and changes lives. I will end with a passage entitled God Forgives The Repentant, found in Isaiah 57:14-19 (NLT).

God says, ‘Rebuild the road!
 Clear away the rocks and stones
so my people can return from captivity.’
The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:

‘I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.

I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. 
For I will not fight against you forever;
I will not always be angry.

If I were, all people would pass away—
 all the souls I have made.
I was angry,    
so I punished these greedy people.
I withdrew from them,
but they kept going on their own stubborn way.
I have seen what they do,
but I will heal them anyway!
I will lead them.
I will comfort those who mourn,
bringing words of praise to their lips.

May they have abundant peace, both near and far,’
says the Lord, who heals them.”

            I cling on and claim to that promise of revival for the Philippines. Words cannot describe how much pain I feel when I hear about the injustice and evil that has happened and continues to happen in my country, and I know that I know not even half of what actually goes on everyday. These verses speak so much to me because they give me hope and a promise I know will be fulfilled, if we turn back to God and repent. He promises to heal us from our wounds and restore our crushed spirits despite all the sins we’ve committed. All we have to do is humble ourselves before Him and ask Him to forgive us. I pray that the future generation of Filipinos will realize this and declare Him the Lord of this nation. I pray for repentant hearts, healing, peace, and true freedom for this nation. I am praying as I wait for my turn to make a change or even the smallest impact on this nation. I wait with a hope bursting in my veins and an aching in my heart. I wait. I wait and wait. 

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