What is true freedom?

The 2010 Presidential Elections are just around the corner and the notion of democracy and its core value, that of freedom has been on my mind.

I still remember the US Presidential Elections some 2 years ago and boy is it different from what we have in the Philippines. We’re a little less than 2 months away from the elections and I do NOT have a clear picture of the platforms or planned projects of ANY presidential candidate as of yet.

The disturbing thing is the media doesn’t seem to be hounding the “presidentiables” about this and are just reporting fluff or the political gos*crap*sip that I bet came from these same president-wannabes.

Moreover, the candidates seem to be more interested in raising their popularity with statements like “If I’m elected, I’ll go after Gloria,” or “Hindi ako magnanakaw” which translates to “I won’t steal/I am not a thief”. Now, I can’t say I don’t understand why they choose to not dwell on the issues but rather on their image because the vast majority of voters, at least in the context of the Philippines, can be categorized as “masa”.

Now, “masa” can be loosely translated as “the many” or “majority”, but in the Philippine context, it’s the low-income, low-literacy, bottom of the societal hierarchy in country that makes up most of the voting population. This means that most of the voters, to put it bluntly, are stupid. Stupid in the sense that 1.) they don’t think for themselves, 2.) they don’t know what they really need, 3.) they don’t know who they really want, 4.) they don’t know who their friends really are, and lastly that they’re stupidity prolongs and worsens their suffering.

As it is, the government isn’t really interested in eliminating poverty, because the politicians who makes up the government will lose their voting-livestock. Why in the world are there so many slums/squatter areas even in the National Capital Region? It’s a pool for cheap votes!

Now, I’m not a heartless human being, but I am very frustrated with the way things are. The way I see it, nothing good is happening in the Philippines. Many of the youth are studying so they could go abroad for greener pastures (and I am one of them). Every new president brings new people into government, and with new people comes new baggage, and we all know that everyone has a few skeletons hidden away somewhere. Couple that with politicians and political parties who’ve already spent BILLIONS in campaigning and then say “…WON’T TRY TO RECOUP CAMPAIGN EXPENSES”. BULLSHIT!

Although I cannot really blame our public servants for their “kurakot” (stealing) because, honestly, their pay-grade system is PITIFUL! A server in Hong Kong can possibly receive a salary equivalent to that of the Chief Executive of the country–the president!

But what can I do? It’s not like a single person, of no political stature or stardom as myself can do any bit of difference. Democracy in the Philippines is dead. But can we call a democracy a democracy when most of its participants don’t even participate in their best interest.

Can we really be called free when we’re just so trapped?

I can’t say we are.

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Meh…

If someone ever seriously asked me how was my life these past couple of months, I would probably say “meh”. Not because I’m indifferent or complacent, but rather because I feel like my life has spiralled into oblivion.

Why do I say this? It is because life here in the Philippines is just that: full of indifference and complacency.

In a country with its political, judicial, and economic system inter-woven together and are all inherently corrupt–to the highest levels–one can almost tangibly feel the despair and the abandon in the people. Imagine having to live knowing that fact? If you can,  you’re one step closer from being able to understand what it is being a Filipino.

Our history is fraught with the rich seizing power through despicable means, getting addicted to it, and lasciviously trying to keep it. What’s more saddening is that the masses, the very ones that have most suffered from the greed and the corruption of the rich, have stabbed themselves in back time and again because of how they vote. It is an agonizing truth, but truth nonetheless. Every election year, millions of pesos are spent on campaigns and common man is bombarded by political propaganda through every sensory means possible in an effort to blind the people from the truth.

In the Philippines, elections are bought.

Being a UP student, those of you who might think that I should feel differently being in “THE ACTIVIST SCHOOL” in the country are wrong. Yes, UP students are activists in the sense that some actively go on rallies and actively criticizes the administration, referring to the university’s and the government. But, their activism stops short to those things that directly affects themselves. Few or even none goes into the foray of the unknown or are brave enough to stick out of the crowd and stick it up to those in power. What’s more is that they seem to be taking their cues from the newspapers or by simply just going against anything the government or the university administration tries to pull off. True activism goes further than self-interest lest they be just the same as the rich: doing things for their own sakes.

Moreover, rather than asking students to go and “rally” for change, wouldn’t it be more helpful for them to encourage students to actually register to vote? Wouldn’t it make a larger impact if students were encouraged to register themselves and also to invite their friends and families to ALSO do the same?

Well, having said that, I can’t really blame them for doing what they been doing. Our generation did grow up in THE time in which everything the government, and by default what their agencies, try to do should come into question. We SHOULD be suspicious. But, hope is not in another EDSA Revolution. Rather, hope is always and has always been in the hearts of the people.

Our complacency and indifference… our acceptance of the status quo must end. It is high time that the death-grip of the rich be broken over our country, that we wash ourselves of the dross they’ve splashed over us… to drown us with the despair.

Hope is in us… change is upon us.

Rise up, Philippines! Rise up my fellow students. Register and vote WISELY at the 2010 Presidential Elections.

Still mehing… but changing,

Daniel