define self-determination
gilas with torch - 2005 SEA Games

UP graduate student katrina stuart santiago has aptly captured the angst of filipino youth living in the capital. at least, speaking from half a world away, awake at an hour where many young people in manila my age work the dayside, having skipped many saturday night plans after an exhausting week working myself, i think i know what she means. [ more ]

i still remember those summers in between high school sophomore and junior year, in between junior year and senior year, just hoping to somehow get accepted into UP. it was my ticket to life. that, or ateneo. somewhere. i was lucky.

and, depending on your views, even unluckier or luckier to have been able to leave the country to live in the u.s.

but i remember those summers, just hoping. living in manila, i couldn't imagine a different way to live. i made sure that something along the lines of getting accepted into college would happen to me, because i'll be damned if i failed because of my own accord. i was lucky.

ms. santiago's piece is wonderfully constructed, but she lacked a key component in her story: are the youth themselves doing everything they could to ensure a better life for themselves? are they doing all they could so they won't feel like they're powerless to break from the rut of waking up, dressing, commuting, answering the phone, getting a quick bite to eat, returning to the office, slumping down on their desks so they can whip out a quick blog, clocking out, getting together with friends after work, and then commuting back home?

i'm sure they are. ms. santiago just didn't write about it. it's a great piece on its own. just a tad incomplete: it was a repeat of an old story, the story nick joaquin condensed in his poem "six p.m." there wasn't anything new in it that we could fold into our pockets and take with us.

everyone has to eat, but everyone also has passions - secret dreams and future plans they could do simultaneously: if a person likes computers, is he or she allowed to create programs on their own, on the side, while working at a call center? if a person likes to write, is he or she given time to dump their stories in a space of their choosing? if a person likes music, is he or she given time and space to perform, write about, or market their passion?

or at least, are they shown a pathway to express, contribute and develop these passions?

history is wonderful! but you're talking to the most wrong person to endorse history: i like history. hehe. *shrugs.* history is like rice to me: i can't go a day without eating some of it. at least a cup. my head aches with hunger otherwise. but if it doesn't help a young person realize their own passions, their own purpose for BEING, it's just another task imposed on them, no different from attending classes and completing requirements, no different from a job at a call center.

but no, it was good the piece was written nonetheless, a slice of youth culture that is existential. now we seem to have a new story to write about - the nagging question, if working and enjoying your pay's all there is to life. if it is, could there possibly be a tad bit more, over yonder horizon? ;-)
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