Open Letter to Mommy

It is not the fault of the Jonas Burgoses of this world that they have gone missing. It is not their fault that they have taken active participation in changing our society, and got in trouble. It is not their fault that they are branded “rebels.”

Ma, to paraphrase a famous quote, the troubles of the world creates rebels, not the other way around. They did not cause the chaos in our society. The current conditions gave birth to such people.

So please, stop thinking that the disappearance of Jonas Burgos was of his own doing. And please stop telling me that his disappearance is one strong reason I should go home early, refrain from attending mobilizations, and keep quiet. I can think of stronger reasons for me to continue.

Ma, I may be your daughter, but you do not own me. You never did. Isn’t the person I turned out to be proof enough? You sent me to private Catholic (and except for one year, exclusive) schools for seventeen years’ worth of education, hoping that I will not join the street parliamentarians, the red flag-waving crowd, the fist-pumping people. But in these schools, I found reasons why I must join the clamor of the oppressed.

Perhaps you knew then that I was an impressionable, precocious, and sensitive child. Maybe these were the reasons you forced me to attend these schools, instead of allowing me to go to public schools (which was what I wanted). But, I think, these are the same qualities that made me into who I am today.

There’s this song that’s one of my favorites. And no, it doesn’t get airtime in any of the stations, so I’ll share the chorus instead:

“Marami pang dapat imulat, kasama
Lipuna’y puno ng problema
At sa pag-tigil ng hininga mo
Kami ay magpapatuloy…”

It doesn’t matter whether I die for the cause, Ma, because everyone dies. I may not die the same, conventional way as my brothers and sisters will someday. Or I may die earlier than any of them (which I know, you might find hard to accept, as I’m the fourth of six). Anyway, I know it’s hard for you to not worry (I can already hear the sermon, “Pag naging magulang ka…”), but this is what I have chosen to do. I am happy. I am committed. And though it may never meet your expectation of what success is, well, success is overrated anyway.

I have to go, Ma. This is what I want and must do. And nothing you say or do (insults, reprimands) can make me change my mind. Because, as you say, I am bull-headed (which I think, I inherited from you).

And no, sorry, I don’t think I can bring you to Hong Kong. But I think I can spring for your Kankunis tea occasionally.


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