A Letter to the Filipino Youth of Today

This letter, which can easily be translated into Filipino, is written in simple, basic English so many who read it can understand it.

You will probably ask me— who are included among the "Filipino youth?" And by what right do you presume to speak to the youth of the land? The Oxford Dictionary says youth is "the period between childhood and maturity. " Other dictionaries have similar definitions. But this particular letter is addressed to high school and college students up to age 40 and fellow Filipinos in remote villages who did not have the fortune of studying beyond elementary level and have not reached age 40.

I am your elder, frequently called "a senior citizen, " and about to reach 85 during this month of June 2005. I was born in Pasig, Rizal. I was a young man of 21— a senior student at the U.P College of Law—when Japanese planes suddenly arrived around noon of December 8, 1941, and bombed Clark Field Airbase in Pampanga and other U.S. military installations, such as Nichols Field, Cavite Naval Base and Camp John Hay in Baguio, where Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon was then vacationing. Classes were suspended indefinitely.

Later, Japanese troops landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan, and in several places in Luzon. Filipino-American troops in those places fought back but had to retreat to Bataan and Corregidor. On December 26, 1941, Manila was declared an open city, which means the Japanese could enter freely without armed resistance. On January 2, 1942, Japanese officers and soldiers were swarming around Manila and surrounding areas, such as Pasig and Marikina. Because of the abuses committed by the enemy, especially against Filipino women and children, I went underground and joined the fight against Japan. During the Holy Week of 1942, I was captured by the Japanese military police (kempeitai), was tortured, jailed in Pasig, then to Fort Santiago, transferred to the City Jail on San Marcelino, then to the Old Bilibid on Azcarraga, and eventually sentenced by the Japanese military tribunal to a prison term of 15 years of hard labor. By a stroke of good luck, I was released from Muntinglupa one year later (1941) on the occasion of kigen setsu the Foundation Day of Japan. In 1944, I was allowed by the Supreme Court to take the bar examination and I passed it with a good rating. I joined the guerrillas in Rizal. US forces landed in Leyte; in the second week of January 1945, they landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan and Manila was liberated by American GIs, guided by Filipino guerrillas, in February 1945. Other places were also liberated in quick succession. The atomic bomb was dropped by US Air Force on 2 Japanese cities: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japan surrendered to the US in August 1945.

I practiced and taught law, was appointed Dean of Law of FEU, was elected Congressman representing the 2nd district of Rizal in November 1961 and was elected to the Senate in 1965, 1971 and 1987. A brief summary of my bio-data is found in the footnote below. I humbly believe I have earned the right to write this letter to you.

There are three points I would like you to remember:

The main problems of Philippine Society, in my view, are massive poverty, rampant corruption, and uncontrolled criminality. They are interrelated. Our grinding poverty, the result of the concentration of too much wealth and power in the hands of a few — the so-called elite leads to graft and corruption, a double standard of justice (one standard of justice for the poor and another standard of justice for the rich) and ever rising criminality. Thefts, robberies, drug addiction, murders and assassinations are what we see and read in the media everyday. There are flaws in our cultural traits, such as utang na loob, pakikisama, the kanya-kanya syndrome and a lack of sense of community that tend to worsen the twin problems of corruption and criminality.

In a sense, poverty has been with us since the Spanish colonization -- it continued during the half-century of American occupation, which also saw the rise in our population growth. But what we witness today, apart from the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the elite, is the never ending migration from the rural areas that began in the late 50's, and continue to jack up the number of slum dwellers and squatters in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces and in such cities as Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and Cagayan de Oro. Our high officials, fearful of the stand of the Catholic Church against family planning through artificial methods, cannot seem to agree on what should be done with our rapid population growth. But the point may soon come when the aggrieved and the disinherited may constitute the majority of the population in the cities and the urban areas. It may then be difficult to ignore their pleas for a radical change in society.

Second, my generation, led by Ferdinand Marcos in 1965, and the generations that succeeded us, particularly the one led by Joseph "Erap" Estrada in 1998, have only complicated the unsolved problems of Philippine society. The EDSA I revolution of 1986 and the EDSA II event of 2001 gave rise to expectations that have not been fulfilled.

I repose my hope in the youth of today who now have the chance to answer the question and invitation of Jose Rizal, our national hero:

“Where are the youth who will dedicate their innocence, their idealism, their enthusiasm to the good of the country? Where are they who will give generously of their blood to wash away so much shame crime and abomination? Pure and immaculate must the victim be for the sacrifice to be acceptable. Where are you, young men and young women, who are to embody in yourselves the life -force that has been drained from our veins, the pure ideals that have grown stained in our minds, the fiery enthusiasm that has been quenched in our hearts? We await you, come, for we await you. "

From Rizal's El Filibusterismo
English Translation by Leon Ma. Guerrero

Third, throughout our history, it is the youth that has led our people in our struggle for freedom. Jose Rizal, at 26, wrote his first novel Noli me Tangere, Marcelo del Pilar helped lead the Propaganda Movement at 32; Andres Bonifacio led the Katipunan at 26; Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was 29 when he was inaugurated First President of the Philippine Republic; Apolinario Mabini, the brains of the Revolution, was 34; Antonio Luna was General at 29; Gregorio del Pilar gave his life for his country at 24.

Under American administration, the youth led the nation in our parliamentary struggle for independence. Sergio Osmena was Speaker of the House at 29; Manuel L. Quezon was Resident Commissioner in Washington, D.C. at 32; Jose P. Laurel was Secretary of Interior at 32; Manuel A. Roxas was Speaker of the House at 29.

During the dark years of the Japanese occupation, many young men and women in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao joined the resistance movement against the invader. When Marcos declared martial law; the cream of the nation's youth went underground and gave their all for the sake of freedom and democracy. Many died without seeing the dawn of freedom.
Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples, mostly obscure, unlettered fishermen, were all young men in their early 30s, who left their fishing nets to become fishers of men. Those who succeeded them were also in the prime of youth when they heard God's call. History records that in the course ot time, they shook the Roman Empire and turned the world upside down.

Today, the challenge is for the youth of this nation, beset by the worsening problems of poverty, corruption and criminality, to consecrate their lives to a cause bigger than themselves, to ''dream the impossible dream” and "reach the unreachable star.”

**From the maiden issue of Living News and Good Education. June 1, 2005, a fortnightly publication for teachers and students in Philippine public high schools.


Filipina in israel said...

I am enlightened more of the fact why I think older than my age of 31. I am somewhat hoping for the betterment of our country, but how and who will be there for me to support me? I am scared to go home because i know that nothing change in our system and in our economy. Your letter to me makes me proud even more of my existence being a Filipina in a foreign land. I will continue to uplift Filipinos in this country in every way I could.

ace... said...

very inspiring...

the message uplifts our idealism,
states our role in nation-building,
to take action on the prevailing ills of society.

he also quoted from the classic song"Impossible Dream" by Matt Monro.

i will also quote from the song
one of the remarkable lines i may say,
and it says...

"this is my quest to follow that star
no matter how hopeless, no matter how far
to fight for the right without question or pause
to be willing to march into hell, for a heavenly cause"

worth reading!!!

Anonymous said...

Rediscovering Leadership and a Return to Idealism

As the Oxford Dictionary says youth is "the period between childhood and maturity" as defined by many with similar and related description.

This article answers the questions that seek the present condition and situations of filipino today. First we must put into context the subject matter itself, the youth as a whole.

Young people are people who are in the period between being a growing child into a series of searching toward their maturity. Perhaps it is a continuous process till their reach the moment of their maturity and adulthood-their place under the sun.

In general, this definition is a biological definition which is applicable to all youth of any culture.

Looking from this, as in before, a hundred years ago-the Filipino youth live in a condition with so many questions, confusing situations and challenging realities. A condition and a situation of continuous process of changing belief, inconsistent conviction, varied influences and the desire for a good life better from what they see and experience.
The youth of today as in before are longing for a happy life.

They want to be happy since their unstable emotions brought about by the changes in their physical body, voice and changing beliefs provided a feeling of mixed emotions working together with a sense of a ideal world that is closed to fantasy, fairy tale, religious teachings and mythical child story that is presently confronted by the violence of society, poverty, need for survival, competition and the urged to be resilient in the face of uncertainty expressed in their outlets like peer groups, hang outs or with their technologies brought by their ipod, cellphone and the internet if this are accessible to them. If not, where the majority of them who belong to the remote rural areas and poverty driven urban poor communities the peer group provide for that self-expression as an exercise of newly discovered freedom from parental authority becomes their surrogate parents.

They lived in a society that promotes the idea that employment can be better outside the country as overseas workers. They go to schools and listen to mass media that venerate a foreign second language in order for them to find a decent job in a night shift call center industries.

They are witness to the vanishing good Filipino characters and a flourishing of evil deeds being lead by their predatory leaders nationwide who are capable of betraying the nation's will such as the national territory, citizen's election mandate, natural resources, people's aspiration and public interest as publicly proclaim that they are doing this for the common good and with a greater sense of patriotism.
They dream for a better society with good leaders in a clean government without corruption and greed.

They aspire to do the same with our heroes but unable to do so since they are interested with their own history for they value the present but too sentimental for their previous puppy love affairs.

They want a better nation but they do not know how they will do it. They idolized other youth who are achievers but they are few. Some who belong to the young population managed to access scholarships, free travels, build their own businesses, become very young lawyers, legislators and administrators but unable to transcend their self-interest for they subconsciously imitate if not look to their corrupt adult counter parts as their role model for vanities of wealth, popularity and political power enchanted them.

A few who are sincere to change the dark conditions of our society is unable to communicate their message since they are deluded with their own corrupt adult influenced ideology.

The majority look for the media icons as models to imitate. TV personalities with many wives, a handsome actor with a drug addict or a macho lumpen image, a sweet wholesome teenage pregnant actress, a womanizer basketball player or a bakery turn into a boxing icon.

They want change. They look for leaders. They appreciate their heroes but don’t know why they become heroes. They love the Philippines but unable to realize that they themselves can assume and return to leadership.
They are young but they are being corrupted by the adult society. They need to return to their idealism for they capable to recover their lost creativeness and imagining possibilities.
They are Filipino for they are born in their country but unable to dream, aspire and lead themselves as Filipinos.

They need a leader or they can be the leader by themselves. Someone must put the light to the torch of patriotism. So that the torch will enlighten the dark path where young people are traveling and for them to see the road to greatness!!

written by:
albert banico

for more articles on the conditions of Filipino youth today please visit angbagongliga.blogspot.com or email at banico_albert@yahoo.com

Ang Kalabaw at ang granada – albert banico ... albert banico ... Kumusta ang Kilusan ng Mag-aaral - albert banico ...

Efren G. PeƱaflorida, Jr. said...

Ako po ay labis na nahamon at naliwanagan. Asahan po ninyo ang aking magiging ambag upang mapabuti ang kalalagayan ng bawat Pilipino at ganap nating makamtan ang kalayaan ng bayan. Inspirasyon po ang inyong buhay at mga pangaral upang lalo ko pa pong paigtingin at pagbutihin ang aking paglilingkod. Mabuhay po kayo.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree with what you said...
I believe parents, teachers and all educators must awaken the sense of history to our YOUTH.

Mila Banks said...

There is no question that education is the key. My concern is just what and how are we educating our youth today? When parents tell their children, go make money however you can to get out of this poverty, do they tell their children to be fair and just in their dealings? When teachers teach history, science, language, etc. Do they also teach the consequences today in relation to past actions, decisions and prevailing moral issues of the day and thus challenge the student to think critically. Do the adults in our society, from individual families to national institutions at large really and truly express and show concern for the betterment of the nation and not just the individual? (as commented on - only for personal gain materially or socially- wealth and popularity). Those who are in the position to make a change should take the opportunity to speak and act accordingly, and live their own ideals - love your country, patronize your own, sacrifice some of your comforts, be forgiving of your "enemies" (in whatever form they come to you), trust yourself.

These words are easy to write perhaps because I am old and still poor. But in my simple living, I do what I can, whenever I can, to speak of my pride and love for the country of my birth, and my hope for the future, albeit I may not "see the dawn" myself. I talk to young people. Let us talk to the young people of today, one on one- technology has made communication so fast and in your face- use it. Imagine what you can do if you were a tv personality, a youtube producer, a national leader, a priest, pastor, teacher, fashion designer or a simple sidewalk vendor (they are more adept with the blackberry than myself) to bring into daily consciousness the needed change to secure national identity and integrity;freedom and prosperity.

Anonymous said...

The letter was so inspiring.
Sana mgimg patriotic at idealistic na ang mga kabataan ngayon. Naakalaki ng maiaambag ng sulat na ito.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

The problem of corruption,poverty and criminality could not be cure, even this country will be handled by our dynamic and energetic youth even by next hundreds of generation and until the end of the globe. I really believe the filipino's brain has ability to battle,survive and retain the pride because the filipinos are the bloodline being heroes but we forgot to remember that we are also inherited the bloodline of the Spanish who are known to be as the great corrupt,traitor and criminal. The Spanish had been colonized us for more than three century and all their culture, attitude and system of their unpleasant governance of the country has been inherited and duplicated by some of our leaders until today. So how could this country move if these culture still be adapted. Before our economy was among the top in whole Asia. Ranking first place to Japan or second place but now if we compare our country to Thailand, we need to spent first 30 years of struggle before we can chased same ranking of Thailand. And the latest ranking result, we are now only the same level with Bangladesh.