"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sympathy, Condolences and Solidarity

A great granddaughter of my father's sister currently studies in the Manila campus of the University of the Philippines. She currently writes for the school's Manila Collegian. I am one of her more than thousand friends on Facebook and I pay attention to the posts that she makes. In one post she writes:
Injustice and negligence hound our education system. And unless we seize the initiative to stand up, take militant action, and protest our demands to those who are mandated to fulfill them, we will never see genuine change. 
Don't let Kristel's death be in vain! 
Honor Kristel! Fight for your right to education!
I was a part time lecturer at the Ateneo from 1985 to 1987. Those years were quite memorable in Philippine history. It was a time of great uncertainty and being a lecturer and not a student surely provided me a different perspective on student activism. One of the questions I felt I needed to ask myself was whether I should suspend my own lecture to accommodate students who wanted to join a rally or protest. It was in fact depressing that students felt that they needed to be out there to make their point. Were the adults so incapable of seeing the problem by themselves that students needed to shout and hold banners? Or perhaps, my own students simply wanted to avoid my class since I was giving a quiz every time we met. I did hope that students were still learning even at times when they all just seemed standing and holding placards.

In the eighties, while I was still an undergraduate student, one of my high school classmates died. The cause of his death was a mystery. There was a claim that it was a suicide, but seeing the dead body suggested to me that my friend did not kill himself. He looked beaten up. The sadness I felt that day would never go away. I likewise felt the sadness among my other high school classmates who were there. The tears were sadly dripping on our clenched fists.

The sadness that currently grips the University of the Philippines cannot be denied. I see it in Facebook profiles of some students:


And we all do have the right to grieve. The students need to tell their story. They have a story to tell. Their voices need to be heard. These are simply their tears.







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