It’s been almost three years since an article I wrote in the middle of the night got published for one of the Philippines’ leading newspapers- The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Only now am I ready to write about my experiences after it was published.
I wrote it in the heat of the moment, after watching news videos on the massacre in Maguindanao. I was devastated for those who were brutally and mercilessly killed. I was disgusted with the men who not just did the crime, but planned it. I was angry that the Philippine justice system was taking so long to do what had to be done.
Feeling helpless, I vented out an article which turned out to be (surprisingly) articulate and coherent enough to be published in the newspaper.
Soon enough, the article came out and truth be told, I was surprised with what the editor chose as my title and subtitle. That caught everyone’s attention: “I am a Filipino, and I’m not proud”.
This earned me a hate mail sent directly to my Facebook account, and a lot of criticisms. It puzzled me how my message was not clear. All I wanted to say was that we had to do something. Let’s not let the bad men get away with this. With a reputation of a country being notorious for political killings and the murders of hundreds and thousands of journalists, how can you say that you are truly proud?
One reaction to my article (I’ll leave the name out) was this: “Before we do a Pontius Pilate on our country, before we congratulate ourselves for being right about how the Philippines is going to the dogs, before we go about proclaiming that we are not proud to be Filipino, should we, maybe, not take a step back and ask ourselves what we’ve done to make it better?”
You know what I did to help make the country better? I wrote. I spoke up. I publicly denounced what was done and Lord knows I’ve written what I did to spark a flame in the hearts of people- in the hopes of waking them up and inciting action. My parents worked hard as journalists their whole life, hoping that by watching over the people, the politicians, and the situation of the country, they can create change for the better.
Sadly, a title taken out of context turned the whole thing upside down. Pride was confused for love of country. If you’ve read my article, you’ll know that what I was not proud of (and what I was condemning) was the massacre, the murder, the corrupt politics, and the fact that people were overlooking this because, hey, there are other things to be proud of anyway.
The actions of a child disobeying will definitely not make his or her parents proud, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love the child. They will scold the child, correct him, in the hopes of helping him grow up to be a better person.
People who did not understand my article quickly sprang up on the defense, thinking that I was simply mocking our country, just because I now live somewhere else. This is simply pride. I would not have written that if I did not love my country.
It’s sad that my article hadn’t turned out to be the eye-opener that I thought it would be. I will keep trying though. It’s just that I’ve learned how it will be hard to change the minds of those who already have set outlooks, of those believing that because they are already proud Pinoys, there’s nothing more that they need to do.
Simply being proud won’t help. Stand up. Do something.