One horrific day in San Jose, Batangas, I witnessed a drive-by shooting. I was with a friend of mine as we exited a jeepney in one of the street corners of the little town close to the outskirts of Lipa. When we heard the first shot, we were terrified, realizing that it was a murder taking place. My friend pointed to a nearby jeepney, whose driver was the target of the shooting. There was a tandem riding on a small Suzuki motorcycle that stopped next to the jeepney. The rear passenger of the bike stepped off and fired 7 shots while walking towards the jeepney driver who had no passengers at the time. The shooter then walked back, rode the motorcycle, and the tandem drove away. The victim fell out of the front seat onto the pavement and surprisingly, got up. He ran to the closest neighboring gate and fell cold onto the ground. He didn't get up this time. Compelled as I was to go and help the man, my friend told me that if I had done so, I could be tagged and targeted by the assailants. She was from the area so I believed that she knew what she was talking about.
It was a moment that frightened my companion and I. What makes it most frightening, however, wasn't the incident itself. It was the reaction of the people several days later that scares me to this day. After we had told the story of what we'd witnessed, it seemed common-place, as if it wasn't anything to be worried about. People didn't care that there was a murder. The community was so detached from the fact that there was a life lost and that was unnerving.
That is the situation of our country now. Murders on the street are rampant nowadays and everyone's reaction - "It's normal" or "They had it coming". I did not know that jeepney driver who I watched die, but I knew that if anyone had accused him of anything, he should have had the chance to defend himself and if innocent, prove it. What I saw was brutal and no one deserves to be so brutally treated.
I've remained silent about the situation facing my country, but realize that this doesn't help. Silence would make me a part of the problem, so I have decided to finally express my opinion about the current crisis facing my country, the Philippines.
No, I will not go on about Duterte and his leadership. He rules as Caesar would and I leave to Caesar what is his.
The Cause and Effect
The Philippines is pre-dominantly Catholic, so let me speak in a language that Christians understand. Remember the part of the Gospel when the masses were yelling "Crucify him!"? That's what the masses in the Philippines are yelling to the people that are being murdered and not given the chance to defend themselves in a court of law.
This country is in crisis because we no longer care about our fellow Filipino. The Filipino that is sick of addiction, which is universally viewed as a disease that strikes those that feel disconnected from society as it is. The Filipino that is falsely accused and unable to defend himself from vigilantes on a rampage. The Filipino whose family member was lost to extra judicial killings. The Filipino that tells the news as they observe it. These Filipino's are disrespected, murdered, and hated by scores of people on a daily basis. Anger and hatred towards each other is expressed on social media and other platforms constantly. . These members of our society are our neighbors and the leadership is only a reflection of the overwhelming disdain we feel about one another. This, more than Duterte, is the problem.
It's the reason why Duterte won the elections. He won on a platform of war. An aggressive zero-tolerance, zero-understanding mind-set that reverberated through the hearts of the hundreds of thousands that voted for him is what placed him in position.
When Human Rights are viewed by the masses as a hindrance to progress, the view of progress is definitely in question. It is affecting the moral fabric of this nation. When we make ourselves believe that the streets are safer, when they're really not, who are we helping? Another friend whose FX was shot at just the night before I wrote this piece can testify to the fact that the streets are no safer than they were. Murderers are running the streets where drug pushers used to be and that, by no means, solves anything.
We want a quick answer to the problem of crime. We do not want to wait for addicted people to be brought to rehab and get well. Bullets are, after all, cheaper than rehab. But safer we are not. We've just traded one criminal for another and, if you ask me - murder is much worse a crime.
The answer is not quick and easy. No real answer to a socio-political problem is. As it would take patience, sense of community, and love to treat people with addiction, the same is needed for the country. I, myself, am guilty of comments that are insulting, but I realize that these do not help. If my aim is peace, then my means must be peaceful.
I don't claim to have a 100% solution. But I suggest that we come up with one together. Fighting wastes time. Let's talk. An open dialogue about the real problems and real solutions will get the ball rolling. No insults, just a common goal of making our country a better place. A sense of understanding - that never hurt anyone. Why don't we try that?
This astounding piece of literature was shared with me by a friend named Lilian. Please read it all the way through. It's potentially good for us all...
"Man O Man!
When without money,
eats vegetables at home;
When has money,
eats the same vegetables in a fine restaurant.
When without money, rides bicycle;
When has money rides the same ‘exercise machine’.
When without money walks to earn food
When has money, walks to burn fat;
Man O Man! Never fails to deceive thyself!
When without money,
wishes to get married;
When has money,
wishes to get divorced.
When without money,
wife becomes secretary;
When has money,
secretary becomes wife.
When without money, acts like a rich man;
When has money acts like a poor man.
Man O Man! Never can tell the simple truth!
Says share market is bad,
but keeps speculating;
Says money is evil,
but keeps accumulating.
Says high Positions are lonely,
but keeps wanting them.
Says gambling & drinking is bad, but keeps indulging;
Man O Man! Never means what he says and never says what he means..
Life is not about what
you couldn't do so far,
it's about what you can
Wait n dont ever give up..
Miracles happen every
2 dollars seems too much
to give a beggar but it
seems okay when its
given as tip at a fancy
After a whole day of work, Hours at the gym seem alright but helping your Mother out at home
seems like a burden.
Praying to God for 3 min
takes too much time but
watching a movie for 3
Wait a whole year for
Valentine's day but we
always forget Mother's
Two poor starving kids
sitting on the pavement
weren't given even a slice
of bread but a painting of
them sold for hundred dollars.
We don't think twice
About forwarding jokes
But we will rethink about
sending this message on.
Think about It..
Make a change. Coz u can ....
Six Easy ways to earn, even after death.
1) Give a smile or gift to someone.
Each time u gift or smile, it will make someone's day.....u gain.
2) Donate a wheelchair to a hospital. Each time sick person uses it, u gain.
3) Participate in building an orphanage, hospital, school or college.
Anybody uses it, u gain.
4) Place a water cooler in a public place. Anybody drinks water, u gain.
5) Plant a tree. Whenever a person, animal sits in its shade or eats from it, u gain.
6) And the easiest of all is to Share this message with people. Even if 1 applies any of the above, u gain.
I just did."
For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind. ~Loring A. Schuler
As I write this, family is beginning to gather under one roof, playing on the TV is the Global Citizen Festival 2015, and all the Christmas lights are being turned on. It may have taken a while for Christmas spirit to sink in. The spirit of mercantilism and The Force may have been stronger than usual in 2015. I may have been doubtful that it would come, but strong, loud and clear as ever, here it is!
What is Christmas spirit?
In short, that spirit is love. It is the love that lets members of the family forget any grudges that may or may not have. It is the love that allows us, for this time, to be together, whether or not in person. It is the love that binds. It's the love that reminds us that goodness always wins.
Christmas is real
This is a celebration of the birth of Christ, who Christians believe is the embodiment of love. He taught the world of love, kindness, and forgiveness in a big way. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, if you believe in these values that he lived and died for, then this is what the spirit of this season is all about. Christmas is as real as these ideals are.
This Christmas, I would like to send all my love to all of you who read this! I may or may not know you, but I do believe in you!
You're awesome! Stay that way!
Recently, renowned activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai denounced the words of renowned racist and presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"Well, that's really tragic that you hear these comments which are full of hatred, full of this ideology of being discriminative towards others," Malala told Agence France-Presse in response to Trump's desire to ban Muslims from entering America.
It is truly dreadful that these ideals are so widespread and so widely accepted, not only throughout the Republican party, but throughout the world. With ISIS hating democracy and modernity, some American presidential candidates are downright "fighting fire with fire", attacking hatred with hatred, and frankly, making matters worse. In as much as ISIS is thinking of "making Islam great again," Trump's whole tagline is "Making America Great Again," and both ideals are literally backwards.
Instead, we should be thinking of ways to be greater than we have ever been, not the same as we used to be...
Ideology, a double-edged sword
Ideals seek to satisfy what one perceives as perfect, but not all ideologies are helpful. This is primarily because of the lack of understanding and information available when these ideals are formed. Many ideals are built on the foundation of feelings, even when these feelings are unreasonable and unprocessed.
The fact remains that most ideals practiced are outdated and do not adhere to more modern concepts such as Human Rights, race and gender equality, freedom, political correctness, and the like. This has led for these some ideals to do harm, though they mean well.
On Religion and Politics
Religions are meant to be good, but were limited at the time that they were created. The concepts of goodness back then were devoid of accurate information and worldwide perspective. They were and often still are closed-minded, blocking off and at times, killing any contradiction.
Recently, we have had religious leaders who have been pushing for progress and change, like the beloved Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. They believe that our beliefs have to progress, along with the times, even if they've received contradiction even from those of their respective faiths. They have the right idea though since the world and the people on it need to move forward, not backward. In order to do that, we must hold onto the core, that is love and peace, as we move forward.
Politics, on the other hand, is meant for people to govern the majority towards a better future, sort of as a captain would commandeer a ship towards a better destination. It is meant as a means of service, not as the popularity contest that it sometimes seems to be.
Both religion and politics are meant for betterment of the people that fall under these... Both promote a sort of peace among its people...
Question is - do they do what it takes to make the world better or for there to be peace?
Change will always find resistance. We are, after all, creatures of habit. The way that we react to change must balance the feeling with thought, however, since change is inevitable and going against what is inevitable will lead to nothing but struggle.
However, we must embrace change and progress. Looking to the "glory days" has never led to success. Looking to a better future has.
Therefore, there must be a movement to jettison outdated ideals and align them to modern ideals that are for the sake of all, not just for the imaginary "chosen few".
Today, I came across a Christmas card. This wasn't the common card that one would see from Hallmark or National Bookstore. No, this card was made by a child who'd been abandoned by his parents. From all we've seen about poverty, you wouldn't expect the message to be all that positive, but it was. On the card was written one of the most positive and beautiful messages I have read in a long time:
"Let your faith be bigger than your fear."
In contrast, as I was browsing the Internet, one of the top searches is apparently "World War 3". That goes to show how many are publicising fear and violence and how even more are almost literally looking for it.
It baffled me, how a child so abandoned in a 3rd world country would be so much more positive than so many more educated people far across the globe.
What we seek
If we want to find pain, violence and reason to be afraid, then we will always see things that make us fearful and keep us in pain. If, on the contrary, we find ways to help in easing the pain and alleviating the fear, then we will always find reason to have purpose and give joy, which will return to us eventually.
The way we seek "signs of the end of days" rather than signs of hope has long been a problem. It has come to the point that when people talk about the news, it is almost always considered bad news when we speak of world and nationwide events. The fact that good news doesn't sell is a sign, in itself, that our habits of seeking negativity need to change.
If we seek that which is positive - matters that would restore faith in humanity, rather than diminish it - we would be propagating goodness. Wouldn't we all want that?
"The heart of a child"
"Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is," said the old man in the film adaptation of The Little Prince.
Innocence is a beautiful gift that is given to us all at birth. Many lose this innocence along the way, but there are many who strive to keep it, in one way or another.
This child that handed me the card that I eventually bought reminded me of the hope we need to nurture, rather than the fear that we all feel.
The world has gone through much darker times than these. If we all gather together in faith, hope and love, and take action towards these, then we will get through this. We have to, for the kid's sake and our own.
"Let your faith be bigger than your fear."
Iñigo Jordana is a Writer and Lecturer from Manila. He is a husband, a son, and a brother. He is also an idealist, a believer of humanity, and a lover of adventure, comic books and kapeng barako.