Nearly thirty years ago, a moment came when a single spark of courage inspired hope. Two men— Fidel, and Johnny declared their allegiance to a dictator had come to an end. From that spark of idealism, a voice pleaded: “This is Cardinal Sin. I am calling our people to support our two good friends at the camp. Please come.”
Two million people gathered at EDSA. Two million of our people escorted our nation from out of that dark old age of dictatorship into the light of a brave new world. It was a moment in history that the soul of our nation too long suppressed, and oppressed, found its voice, and it uttered, “Freedom!”
In these past thirty years, the timbre of that voice sometimes got carried away, and sometimes waned, but never again suppressed. Though often that voice seem lost in the noise of a thousand voices.
So we find ourselves here today. A nation whose soul is slightly older, and a voice that is little more tired. It is more tired in a darker age of terrorism.
This is our nation today. It is a nation that welcomed the death of a man. This was a man whose sole purpose in life was to share pain, and suffering in the world. He made bombs, and he taught how to make bombs. Bombs that kill people. Bombs that strike fear in the hearts of men; that tore flesh; that rip lives. This was a man whose soul was so black, the world is relieved with his passing.
This is our nation today. Our nation is in mourning. Forty-four brave men tore that one dark man from this Earth, and in so doing their blood consecrated the fields of Mamasapano. And our nation’s collective raging grief screams into the night.
The Fallen Forty-Four were not the first, nor the last to consecrate our land with blood.
This is the cost of war.
Six hundred forty billion pesos were lost from 1970 to 2001. The government spent 1.3 billion pesos to fight its all out war during the time of Mr. Estrada. The true fallen were the 982,000 people who were displaced; who left their homes, and their lives running from, and already caught in Mr. Estrada’s all out war. The true fallen if we were honest with ourselves were the 120,000 people who have been killed from 1970 to 1996, and many more since then.
Don’t you think it is time to give peace a chance?
This is why President Aquino strives for peace.
This is why we as a nation must champion peace.
How can one just forget all that was lost? The mistrust from all sides rage, and with the M.I.L.F. giving safe harbour to terrorists, does not help.
Our people lost their rights, and liberties at midnight one day in September 1972. A single spark of courage in 1983 inspired the long road to Freedom. A single spark of courage in 1986 fanned the flames of hope. And thirty years ago, a moment came, which come rarely in history, the rights and liberties lost that midnight in September 1972 were restored in the full light of day. That moment promised a brave new world.
So it was with Mindanao. With Bangsamoro. A moment came to lay down arms; to heal wounds—a moment— too rare, and too far in between history. It is a moment ripe with the potential promise to bring the whole of Mindanao, not just a part of it to join the rest of our nation in a brave new world, hand in hand as we cruise tomorrow.
Needless to say that Peace doesn’t mean the end of fighting. Well, yes, the conflict comes to an end. It doesn’t mean the end of mistrust, and lies; of armed men hiding criminals, and terrorists. It means finally, we can begin suturing the wounds of the past; to care for each man; the widow left behind, and the orphan from all sides. And maybe one day, the real fighting ends with brothers and sisters meeting not in the field of battle, but in the field where we can shake each other’s hand, in mutual respect.
With the death of the fallen some say that hope for peace seem lost; and with faith exhausted by spilled blood, our nation must now find the spark of courage to renew that faith; that hope, and that courage. Let us achieve a lasting peace among ourselves because that is a future worth believing, and worth achieving.
Photo credit: Previous publication. This image was published in People Power: The Philippine Revolution of 1986: An eyewitness history, among other historical books.–