Entrusting a revolution1 to the young on the eve of the 2019 elections

My very dear young Brothers:

“Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everyone who’s not in this room to try.”
“We’ll do whatever it takes.” – Avengers: Endgame

I was fresh from college when I taught my first class in June 1981. The country was then still under Martial Law but I had no strong negative feelings about it as I got used to the status quo since I was 11 years old. I was then an idealistic young teacher with nothing to distract me except the excitement of preparing the most captivating lessons for my students and engaging them in stimulating discussions. Then, two years later, the nation was shaken with the news of Ninoy’s murder at the tarmac. The anguish of the nation broke the four walls of the very classroom that insulated me from the world. I then realized that learning becomes truly engaging when one has learned to embrace the human struggle. Inspired by a revolution that unfolded before my very eyes, my heart then dreamt of helping build a nation of heroes—men and women of integrity and principle, who would soar above personal interest, love our country passionately and care for her poorest and most vulnerable.

More than 30 years later, I seem to have lost the fire that burned in my early years. I am despondent when I witness today how this nation has lost its moorings if not its very soul. My generation has fallen short of our promise to build for you a country that you could be proud of. We have become numb to the sufferings of our fellow citizens. We have succumbed to a new narrative that only the righteous has a right to live. We have allowed false promises to lure us to surrender our freedoms. We have tolerated crassness and cheered those who unleash venomous threats. Many democratic institutions as well as the Church have chosen to be like political turncoats who act as enablers or stay safe in deafening silence. I could simply say ‘lesson learned’; unfortunately, it was at your expense.

I am writing you on the eve of Election Day. I have never been so anguished in my life. I could be too jaded; but it is difficult to even have a sliver of hope in a post-election scenario. I must confess that at a low point I did ask myself: “Is the Filipino still worth dying for?” I am ashamed that it even crossed my mind. In the midst of this desert experience, I have discovered a well. The emerging trend in the mock election results among young Filipinos shows a preference that is peculiar: Diokno, Gutoc, Aquino, Colmenares, Tanada, Hilbay, Roxas, Alejano, Macalintal…

I realized that the young are seriously looking for the right leaders for our country2. How clearly their choices conveyed their capacity for independent thought. How powerfully they re-kindled my hope in our people and revived my zeal for building a vibrant democracy for the Philippines. While it is always easier to follow the bandwagon, there are times when we have to choose what we believe in even if it goes against all odds. This is one such critical time when we are about to face the endgame. Are we willing to do whatever it takes? This may be a lonely battle, but let us not fear. After all, when Jesus mounted the wood of the cross, even his most loyal disciples and close friends abandoned him.

13 May 2019 is a sacred day in our nation’s life and a crucial moment in our history. Through the men and women we elect, we endeavor to create strong and independent institutions that can safeguard our democracy and uphold our deepest values as a people. This is a time to act with courage and fortitude. Panahon na rin para pag-alabin ang ating mga puso: “Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas!”

This is not the time to be timid or fearful of bashers for while “a boat in the harbor is safe, it is not what boats are built for.”3 Make this fight your own. Go out and cast your vote as an act of faith. Believe that your one vote can make a difference. Imagine the power and the energy that flowed from Landmesser4 when he stood alone in a cheering crowd of Hitler. Winning the war may require only one human left standing. That is the power of one. Ultimately, this is not a number’s game. Arise, brave heroes and renew this nation!

Fraternally yours,
Br. Armin FSC