It’s past 6 PM, and the nightly local news program begins. And, just like the day before, I see reports on crimes, displayed one after the other, together with a variety of complaints ranging many different issues. Tomorrow, I sadly expect, more or less, the same sort of news to fill majority of the hour (with some very important showbiz news towards the end). Newspapers and other news publications are no different. This, to me, is the state of the nation more emphasized in the media, and by extension, the nation as a whole. But these reports are no products of anyone’s imagination, but are what does happen and has happened. They are an endless critique, an unadulterated view of the country’s very real problems. It is thus no surprise to me when I hear of people ranting about this and that about the country. This definitely is no nation of complacent people when it comes to all that plagues our welfare. I do acknowledge that there are things to make noise about.
I do also acknowledge, however, that in the face of all these, there still are things to be proud about. This, to me, became very clear in President Noynoy Aquino’s recently concluded State of the Nation Address for the year. Last July 22, what I saw and heard in close to two hours was a list of different achievements that comprise the current progress of the State in achieving its goals. Though these mostly represent the national level, these are products not of one man’s work alone, or one central office’s work alone, but of many Filipinos who have bought in to accomplishing different initiatives. That, to me, is something to take as a source of inspiration. To put things in perspective, try to remember any experiences you’ve had in the past of disheartenment. They may have involved some form of disadvantage, or unfair advantage. It may have been in the form of bullying, or having to do a group project alone, or failing to reach certain expectations. These cases can be seen as smaller forms of larger problems the country has. It’s generally always an easier option to bow in the face of adversity such as these, but at the same time, there can be a sense of great achievement when one decides to do otherwise, and succeeds. Clearly, there have been a number of successes in the country, and they are, simply put, refreshing. And I believe they should be taken for what they are, as rays of light in what to many Filipinos is a nation that has been wrapped in darkness.
And yet, a greater sense of optimism will not simply whisk our problems away (if only it were that simple). Once again, never falling to complacency will apply here, as settling can open ourselves to a lot of other possible traps. These positive events should also be taken as milestones along a long road, with many to go. And there is no better time to begin action than sooner. As the 7.8% GDP growth mentioned in the SONA is a collective effort of all the agents of the economy, so too are other forms of societal progress. And with our identity as students of the University of the Philippines, I believe there generally are higher expectations on us, together with a greater call to action, so too with students of other premier universities. What then, to me, is the best thing I can currently contribute to development, as part of my share in collective action? It is continue to prepare myself in school, maximize my remaining stay, and continue to work hard in order to immediately make contributions when the time comes. To me, along with all other possible youth initiatives, that is the best thing to do.
On the road to progress, there is no better vehicle to hop on to than what to me is a new wave of optimism. In the end, both the goods and the bads in the daily course of the Philippines should be considered on the context of coming up with the best solutions to our problems. We should not give in to discouragement, but we should also never settle in fulfilling what can now be called our responsibilities. The best thought to take along with us after this Address is from the President himself: “Ano ang iniaambag ko sa solusyon?”
– Jude Benedict T. Geron