Indian Catholic News

When a country kills young people's dreams

Philippines should provide opportunities to its young people that will them make them dream about the future.

Children in a poor fishing community on the outskirts of Manila play on a beach. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
By Marielle Lucenio

This Philippine national hero was very much a dreamer. He dreamt about the country’s freedom in his room, dimly lit by a candle with moths circling around it.

"It is a curious thing that the light seemed to me more beautiful, the flame more attractive," wrote Jose Rizal more than a century ago.

"I really envied the fortune of the insects. They frolicked so joyously in its enchanting splendor that the ones which had fallen and been drowned in the oil did not cause me any dread."

Just like the insects he envied, Rizal searched for light and pursued everything that came with it.

More than 100 years later, the light once again blurred after a cruel king took over my country. It was chaos, many said.

The king and his queen stole gold bars, spilled the blood of truth tellers, and tortured those who would go against them.

Such madness caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee to strange lands, seeking better lives and taking whatever jobs that would put bread on their table.

I remember once when I was seated on an airplane with a senator I have admired for so long. I was a freshman in college, very idealistic, brave and a perfect fool.

After a few exchanges, I asked, "Senator, why didn’t you become a lawyer?"

Surprised, she smiled, fixed the violet scarf hanging over her yellow dress, and said: "I was a martial law baby, and I’ve always thought that the law is for bad people."

She was talking about the same laws the cruel king had abused.

I recall having so many questions I wanted to ask the senator, but I never got the chance. I did not believe her then, not until I finished college and waited for my own turn to go to law school.

Not so long ago I saw a rising strongman twist and make fun of the law. Politics became a circus. I was disappointed by the fallibility of human institutions.

The heroine in me was not as optimistic as she once was. It was the death of my idealism. Maybe that was just me. Or so I thought.

A study conducted by Dream Project PH, a volunteer-based organization aiming to build and support Filipino dreams among underprivileged communities, reported that seven out of 10 Filipino children do not have a dream.

The data revealed that what defined Filipino dreams are: if it can rebuild underprivileged communities, if it allows for respectful collaboration between parents and children, and if it provides food.

All these three shouldn’t be at the expense of a child’s dream. The possibility is unthinkable. To change a dream is one thing, but to have no dream at all is definitely another. How can a child, so innocent of the world, not have any dream? What would a place be without thinkers and dreamers?

This is what happens when you are led by clowns instead of leaders.

A government should provide a wide range of opportunities to its next generations, opportunities that would actually make them want to want something, not build complacency to just grab whatever’s left for them.

This is what happens when a country is ruled by crocodiles, ones who would spend billions of pesos on an unnecessary new Senate building but not on a decent blackboard in a public school.

It is as though my government wants its people to be uneducated non-dreamers so that it can maintain its power over them.

Education has also turned into business. The number of irrelevant units a student has to pay for just to finish the course is very telling about how it is all just about making money.

Another thing the government has to work on is keeping brains. A brain drain has always been an issue due to, again, lack of opportunities in this country.

The youth can hardly carry the dream of the nation on their shoulders, especially when their nation rejects theirs. We are losing our brightest, most talented workers and researchers because the government cannot support them.

When the government sees children in conflict with the law as criminals rather than victims of circumstance — a circumstance that the same government is responsible for — we kill every possibility of success not only for the child but also the nation.

How can you breed dreamers when the man leading the country calls its children a "generation of criminals."

It is way more than denying them their rights. It is denying the country possible leaders who can bring the country back from the depths where mad kings and lapdogs threw it.

Imagine if the people who shaped the nation’s history didn’t have a dream to fight for. For killings and rampant human rights abuses to happen means we are doing it wrong.

I hope it will not be too late to realize that our government is slowly killing the dreams of its future heroes.

Now we laugh at the clowns that govern the country and the tricks and political acrobatics they demonstrate with passion.

We will laugh at them while they still try to be funny. Once we run out of moths circling the flame — the martyrs in quest for their own lights, their own dreams — we will no longer be able to laugh about the future.

Marielle Lucenio is a young graduate of a Catholic university in Manila where she wrote for the university paper. She contributes news and features to

Source: UCAN

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