The below essay was written sometime in 2002 when I was still in college.
I still remember the night when I was trying to send it via email to the contest authorities. I was in some internet shop in Pásay City where I used to live when me and my wife still only had one child. I was trying to beat the deadline; the submission was due in less than an hour. But stupid me, I was still unfamiliar in using most of Yahoo‘s gadgets, especially in attaching files. Thus, I wasn’t able to send the essay. Had I sent it successfully, it would’ve won first prize hands down, LOL!!!
Here it is…
THE ANNE FRANK ESSAY CONTEST
(APPLYING ANNE FRANK’S THOUGHTS ON THE NATIONAL SCENE)
José Mario S. Alas
“I don’t believe that the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago!“
Such words, such thoughts, written by so young a girl, could easily stir such an emotion of amazement by those who read the excerpt from that child’s war-time diary. Yet a sentiment of pity would also bubble from within when the reader realizes that the diary from which the statement is taken was written by that same girl who was herself a victim of war’s conflagratory effects.
That diary, written by a keen, young girl called Anne Frank, has survived not only that war, but has also survived time up to today’s global war-paranoid atmosphere. And this very particular entry from little Anne poses a question so crucial for every nation, particularly the Philippines, involved in national and international disturbances.
Here in the Philippines, little Anne’s indignant words that even the common man is every bit as guilty in relation to the existence of conflicts rings true. Our country, since its bold declaration of a Third Republic right after the Second World War, has had countless blunders and bloodshed. This is not to say that such a sad and humiliating reality is unique in our country alone, but this is an opportune time to unveil its maladies in the light of a young child’s philosophy that had contemplated on human nature within the confines of a hidden refuge away from a rampaging Holocaust.
Take for example the recent events that took place during the regime of ousted president Joseph Estrada. During the campaign season for the 1998 national elections, the whole Filipino electorate was pathetically divided, and it was aggravated further by the anti- and pro-Estradas such as the Church, the elite, Leftist and Rightist elements, and other troublemongers. Estrada who was undoubtedly very popular among the majority of the masses, apparently basked on his new-found national glamour. And he himself took advantage of the situation, making promises here and there, even though some of them were obviously hollow or pies-in-the-sky. It appears that such actions are wont to be committed by every aspiring national leader.
But where is the blunder here made by the common Filipino? Well, the question “where did we go wrong” was only realized during the last days of Estrada’s troubled regime, during the calls for his ouster, and the status of the government in between two people powers: EDSA 2 and EDSA 3.
It was a period of uncertainty and fear. The people have realized how flimsy their government was, and how corrupted and untrustworthy the governance of these islands is executed. But, to use again Anne Frank’s exceptional assessment of society’s failures as well as the advantageous pitfalls perpetrated by scheming individuals in power, it is perhaps better for the common Filipino to stop for a while and ask himself “where did I go wrong?”
Every Filipino citizen who is able to contribute his services for the sake of the Motherland has a hand in the course of the country’s journey towards redemption. It is everybody’s responsibility on how to steer the course of the Philippines towards the right path. It is a cowardly, irresponsible, and unpatriotic excuse if one will say that it is solely the job of politicians and other national leaders.
Such a coarse excuse is now prevalent among the masses. It is quite unfortunate that even the youth, whom national hero José Rizal hoped to be at the forefront of social change, has been nonchalant about this. One reason to blame for this defect is due to the fact that education is on a widespread slump. The masses, especially the youth, has abused their time for self-enrichment, and are thoroughly contented with the ease, comfort, and pleasure that technology brings with it. They no longer care to take part in the debates over current issues regarding social concerns. What they care about are only themselves. It is not enough to be caring and thoughtful solely towards family relations and friends. Thus, it is selfish if such affectionate sentiments are not shared with the country.
Education is the solution to all these mishaps and chaos. If only the Filipino masses were efficiently educated, not just academically but socially as well, then nothing like the Estrada and post-Estrada tragedies would have happened. Furthermore, this education on self-appraisal should be emphasized so as to give political and social maturity in the minds of the Filipinos.
We can still make it before next year’s national election arrives. It’s not enough to say that we want to believe that the system is right. If there are defects, then we should change it no matter what. The best way to give it a first shot is to be more scrupulously participative in the 2004 elections. This, however, has not yet been done before.
In capsule, we shouldn’t wait for us to experience the sufferings of Anne Frank during the last global war before we begin to think like her.
A few days from now (September 1), the world will commemorate World War II. It was during these bloody years when Anne experienced the brutality of humanity. May we never have another stupid war.
Stupid war? Hmmm… that sounds redundant already.