Fighting for our children

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 2, 2020 - 12:00am

As I look towards the future, I find that I have found inspiration  for my first column of 2020 from the heroes of my generation.  

It is during its darkest period of history, that our nation has produced  its greatest heroes. From the struggle against the Spanish colonizers we saw  the rise of heroes like Rizal, Luna, Bonifacio, Mabini, and many others. From the political struggle for independence from the United States came Quezon, Osmeña, Roxas and other great personalities. From the Second World War we are inspired  by the heroic struggle of the Philippine Resistance leaders like Villanueva, Ferrrer, Kangleon, Peralta and Taruc. During the terrible years of the Marcos martial law, there were freedom crusaders that will remain in the pantheon of Filipino  heroes like Ninoy Aquino, Chino Roces, Jose Diokno, Soc Rodrigo and Lorenzo Tañada. 

I have been joining political rallies since my grade school days in Bacolod when my father would bring me to the city plaza to listen to his heroes Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Tañada. I started joining marches and rallies as a student in De La Salle and the Asian Institute of Management even before the First Quarter Storm, then through the martial law years and finally at EDSA One and Two. 

For me the most important issue was never the question of who would be the next President but of fighting for a dream for the Filipino nation. This is a dream that has been articulated by many Filipinos in the past which, I hope, will live in the hearts of future generations. There have been many verses and speeches by many Filipinos who have expressed this national dream. 

For me, one of the most vivid and inspiring articulation of this dream was written by  that great nationalist and that rare political figure who became a moral leader – Jose W. Diokno. Here are excerpts from that speech.


“There  is one dream that all Filipinos share – that our children may have a better life than we have had. So there is one vision that is distinctly Filipino, the  vision to make this country, our country, a nation for our children. 

A NOBLE nation where homage is paid not to who a man is or what he owns, but to what he or she does.

A PROUD nation, where poverty chains no man to the plow, forces no woman to prostitute herself  and condemns no child to scrounge among garbage.

A  FREE nation where men, women and children from all regions and with all kinds of talent may find truth and play and sing and dance and love without fear.

A JUST nation where whatever inequality exist it is  caused not by the way people act toward each other but by the differences in natural talents, where poverty, ignorance  and hunger are attacked and every farmer has land that no one can grab from him, every breadwinner a job that is satisfying and pays him enough to provide a decent standard of living, every family a home from which it cannot be evicted, and everyone a steadily improving quality of life.

An INDEPENDENT nation which rejects foreign dictation, depends on itself, thinks for itself, and decides for itself what the common good is, how it is to attained, and how its costs and benefits can be attributed.

An HONORABLE nation where public powers are used for the public good and not for private gain of some Filipinos and some foreigners, where leaders speak not only well but truthfully and act honestly, a nation that is itself and seeks to live in peace and brotherhood with all other nations of the world.” 

To lead us towards this national goal of a Nation for our Children, we are in need of leaders with the three critical qualities – wisdom, integrity, courage. Wisdom requires the power of discernment. Many centuries ago Plato said: “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” Our Congress – Senate and House of Representatives – are overrun by fools and   by those who are neither fools nor wise because they say absolutely nothing.

Integrity is the uprightness of character or more simply honesty. In our society another meaning of integrity is to be “free from fraud.” To maintain integrity, a person must be able to exercise  his own will or judgment without the control of vested interests or the ambition to accumulate wealth and power. Courage is the quality that meets dangers or opposition with intrepidity, calmness, and firmness. It is synonymous with bravery and fearlessness. To many people, courage is the foundation of all our virtues. Winston Churchill said: “Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all the others...”

We will always have a leader with wisdom, integrity and courage. That is the reason the struggle will never end. If the dream will not be won by our generation, then it is our mission to keep the dream alive so that someday our children or grandchildren will finally inherit a “ Nation for Our  Children.” 

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