Thursday, February 23, 2006

People Power

Twenty years ago, the Filipino people invented People Power. Suddenly, oppressed people got together and peacefully emerged from 14 years of dark dictatorship. Because I distinctly remember those days when we were not free is the reason I rejoice when I look back at all the gains we achieved as a nation.

There was no press to speak of. Marcos was not accountable to anybody. We still have no idea how many people disappeared. Travel was restricted. Guns were confiscated. I can only wonder how this one man was able to keep all of us enslaved.

The reason I became a physician was that at that time it had been the most benign option. I would be able to help others and make enough money without having to compromise with the dictatorship. People Power ended all this and enabled my three younger siblings to become lawyers like our father and grandfather before us.

Whatever others say, the Philippines is still better off free. We must not take for granted the liberties we recovered. But we are still poor and the middle class continues its exodus to other countries "for the sake of the family". This is why I need to go home because we need to reclaim our country.

Why does a better life require a sacrifice of being separated from our parents and brothers and sisters? Why cannot we come together again and achieve a modicum of security, prosperity and cleanliness that will permit us to live and contribute to our communities?

I am amazed that I am able to look back twenty years, a generation. Almost all of this time that transformed me into a middle-aged person was spent in the United States. Wasn't Thomas Jefferson 32 when he wrote the Declaration? Martin Luther King was 21 when he began leading those marches. I really must get going.

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