An Open Letter to Harvey Keh
I read with interest your letter of despair which has spread throughout Philippine cyberspace. I am sure many of us sympathize with your frustration. Certainly, the 7 events you mentioned may give rise to you emigrating from the Philippines. Those events should certainly give pause to all of us who bleed for our motherland.
But I must disagree with you on your decision to leave. Instead, let me be the first to tell that the seven events you stated should convinced you all the more to fight the good fight!
Unlike you, I am now 44 years old, 17 years older than you. Unlike you who at 27 years old was already an achiever, I was just about to finish my studies at the Ateneo Law School and pondering how it meant to be “a man for others” in the legal profession.
At 27, I have not sent anyone to school nor set up a foundation for indigent but deserving students because I was one myself - a recipient of the hard work that my parents went through to put me and my siblings to school. At 27, I have nothing equal to your accomplishments.
But there lies the difference between us – I was a martial law baby exposed to the abuses of power and naked display of arrogance by the Marcos regime, I was a martial law baby inspired by the towering figures of the Opposition who stood up for 14 years against the tyrannical rule of a dictator and whose evil days seemed to have no end in sight and I was a martial law baby who stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds and thousands of Filipinos in that hallowed avenue during 3 glorious days in February of 1986 which gave me and the rest of the world what it meant to hope.
Yes, Mr. Keh, we must hang on to hope.
The Marcos years were darker in every respect compared to this administration which seemed to have forgotten that People Power enthroned her where she is now.
The Marcos years were more unforgiving to those who crossed the dictator although the ruthless, ungrateful recipients of People Power in this administration are trying to, and quite successfully, I might add, approximate the vile venom of vengeance against those who opposed them.
The Marcos years were more sinister than the seven events you enumerated which will compel you and a host of others to leave our country for peace and stability.
But in all these, I never lost hope because I have seen and witnessed more sinister days than what we have now. Perhaps, owing to the fact that you were only 6 or 7 years old when the EDSA Revolution took place and perhaps, you only heard from your siblings or forebears what it was like living in fear under the Marcos regime that you feel that all your current efforts are laid to waste if the Filipinos put to reality your seven deadly fears. Trust me when I say this and I do so without disparage, the seven events are nothing compared to the fearful 14 dark years of Martial Law.
Believe me, Mr. Keh, your seven deadly fears should not cause you to lose hope. Rather, it should all the more convince you of the necessity of improving and expanding your service to the education sector. That what you are doing now is to plant seeds to the Filipinos you cross paths with and in the true meaning of AHON, the foundation you set up, tide them over from darkness to light, from pessimism to optimism and from despair to hope.
And even as we speak, there will certainly be Filipinos, like the towering opposition figures during the Marcos regime, who will not give in to bribery, who will not bow down to greed and avarice and who will not cower in fear. For every Filipino who you know can be bought, there will be two or three Filipinos who will stand up for what is right and just. And for every Filipino who will give up on the country because of the hopeless political situation, there will be Filipinos like Leah Navarro who came back because she loves this country too damn much to be left to political opportunists who care for nothing but enrich themselves.
What do we need to do?
As you rightly put it, “Manindigan naman tayong lahat para sa ating Kinabukasan at para sa Kapakanan ng ating Bayan!”. And beyond these midterm elections, we need to shrug off our shroud of apathy and indifference. Getting involved is not only getting the right people to the Senate and to Congress. Getting involved means getting indignant at the evil that the administration does and acting on that indignation. Because to continue allowing ourselves to wallow in indifference, we will find ourselves in a situation similar to the time Marcos run roughshod over the country. Some people say we are already in that conundrum. But even then, people who sacrificed their comforts fighting a dictatorship stuck to this country, never gave up and never left.
Have hope, Harvey, and do not leave. Remember the last thing that came out of Pandora’s box was Hope. It may well be our only weapon against the coming night.