The Darkest of Times (My Fear of Being Pinoy and How I Can Do About It)

I’m not going to talk entirely about the anti-terrorism bill. Not that I don’t want to go political, although admittedly I’m not a political person, I wanna take this space into something hopeful. Something that would not cause fear or anxiety among us since as the title of this episode suggests, we are living in the darkest of times. And we have to live in that reality. Most of us are scared, I know, or anxious about the future as to how and when this pandemic will end. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be silent about everything that’s going on in our country. Some of us may be talking about resilience and positivity, and despite these darkest times, we can contribute something to our nation. The next question is HOW?

We are facing a lot of issues in our country today. It seems like the hope for the so-called future becomes a hazy pathway that threatens humanity. In the news, in social media, most especially, we are bombarded with a lot of social and political throes amidst this pandemic. The anti-terror bill, the questionable release of the number of COVID cases by the Department of Health, the ABS-CBN franchise renewal controversy, the incompetence of some of our political leaders, the apparent disparity in the socioeconomic spectrum as seen on how the government treats those who belong to the higher class which leaves the poor even more downtrodden. I mean, can matters get any worse than this? It’s like when you watch the news or browse over your newsfeed, you can only utter, what the hell is wrong with our country? It makes you question your value as a Filipino. And as an ordinary citizen, the way the government handles this looming crisis, is just soo, for the lack of a better term, unnerving.

I am a bit worried and infuriated at the same time because of certain priorities that need to be looked into or acted upon, but just keep being downplayed by the government. With the president’s signing of Anti-Terror Bill into law, I can’t just help but wonder even more. Will it endanger the people’s rights to freedom of speech? Considering that there are a lot of arrests even though the protests follow social-distancing protocols, but still, the police detain some of the protesters, without even knowing the grounds for arresting these people. Just because they are in authority. Isn’t that scary? Even though his law has certain provisions on safeguarding people’s rights, I mean, we can see how certain “people in authority” tend to abuse their power over those whom they think offended them. Take, for example, the detention of at least 20 people at an LGBT Pride event, the arrest of Piston 6 for supposedly disobeying health protocols when they called for help from the government, a bystander who got detained along with the seven other protesters during a peaceful protest inside the UP Cebu campus on June 5. And we hear a lot of similar circumstances where the rights of some citizens are being violated.

Sometimes, I think that it is very scary to be a Filipino these days, especially that we are not only fighting against an invisible enemy, but we also have to deal with people who threaten or endanger our basic rights.

So going back to the question: how do we find the silver lining in the middle of a situation where everything seems so bleak? Is there hope, is there an end to this? Well, honestly, these are difficult questions to answer.

But there is something that we can do within and for ourselves to somehow survive this situation. Or at least contribute to make this nation a better place to live in.

We need to start from the self. Ourselves. You can’t be a better Filipino citizen if you don’t start within yourself, right? I think what I’m going to enumerate are some simple ways to be a better a Filipino citizen. Some of these might be cliche, but here it goes.

One, be in the know ALWAYS. Being informed can save you from being ignorant. Especially in times like these where fake news lurks in social media. We tend to fall into the trap of believing what is not real. So, always get your facts right. Also know the rules and be responsible enough to follow them as well. Simple rules, people.

Second, remind yourself that it’s all right to feel sad, to feel frightened, to feel angry, to feel disappointed. Remember that today, more than ever, your feelings are valid. Cliche as it may seem, but you know, it’s OK not to be OK. I think having this perspective would help us understand why others feel the way they feel, or act the way they act. During the moment when we think or feel that something is wrong, it’s a normal response, to be honest with ourselves, and how the situation affects us. That’s why we don’t blame people who express their anger towards the government, their disappointment because of the decisions and the actions of the other end. Similarly, we don’t blame people who defend them, right? The gist of this is that according to the online article I read from rinybuddha.com, “In those moments, we may feel an overwhelming surge of emotion without really knowing the words to express it. Maybe the key is to simply feel it, without stressing about whether that’s right or wrong, and then give ourselves some time to understand what’s going on in our heads and our hearts. We can either judge our emotions, telling ourselves we should be stronger or accept them for what they are, and then allow ourselves space to recognize what we can think and do to feel stronger.”

Next, be vigilant. We need to keep watch and be attentive to what is going on right now, whether politically, socially, and even, you know, emotionally. Everything that is happening right now-the pandemic, the political turbulence, climate change, everything-these issues affect all of us. And we just cannot isolate ourselves or be out of touch with these situations. We cannot keep a blind eye to the looming threat of suppression, to the rising number of COVID cases, our fellow citizens who rally on the streets or begging for food. There are underlying causes of why these things happen. And we need to be keen. Observant. Again, it all boils down to being informed, if not, educated. It also entails action, too. What we know, what we feel must be put into the light. Rally if you can, but I know that there’s a lot more that we can do to make our voices heard. Make art. Write poetry and songs and paint and dance whatever creative means that we can do to express our anger, our fear, our joy, our hope. Use social media as a good platform to vent off our thoughts. Be constructive. Sow love despite the hate.

Lastly, believe in the Higher Power. Live in reality. Take in all the darkness these times bring, but always believe that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. We may not have the power to control the situation in a snap of a finger, but keep in mind that behind all these, there’s an omniscient Being who watches over us, and will make things better for us. I think we just have to trust the process. His process.

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