(Also published in the Manila Bulletin.)

Lest–God help me–I fail my statistics exam again, I’ll be breaths away from SSS number, health insurance, and regular tax.

This early, I make worse anxiety-induced insomnia thinking about what to do in the long interval of money saving between graduation and law school (if I would indeed decide to proceed to law school).

An activist fellow haunts me with this line: To whom will you sell your soul?

In venturing in employment, there is a world to choose from. Where corporations regale you with benefits, good positions and hefty pay, there are other companies presenting sumptuous selection of swivel for your sitting, opportunities for travel and other incentives that make gaping but a natural reaction.

Close your mouth, Dakee, and then think–my, companies have this much money while the extolled institution of the University of the Philippines can barely pay its monthly electric bill. Private and public, this sums up the difference it makes. And then that question–to whom will I sell my soul?

To where I sell it will be the passion, energy, and sacrifice I put into my work. To where I sell it will be my worth, the prize of my parent’s sacrifice and the value of my UP education.

With my UP education at stake, the concern is in that whatever I do, wherever it is–I serve. Work to serve, for the Filipino’s hard-earned money to have its use. Much of the Filipino’s money is wasted in most government institutions. Let’s not be the one to waste it.

Idealism, tsk tsk tsk. The rising numbers who have lost hope berate. Jaded in the words of Steve Tyler. Or mayhap, the attack of those who don’t know or care.

Over 60,000 highschool graduates harbor dreams of UP every year. But only a fifth makes it. These chosen few recipients of the national budget (albeit slashed every year), are the vessels of the people’s hope. We bear dreams of those who did not have the mental faculty to take their slots.

Ergo, we are responsible for each and every working Filipino struggling to work and survive.

Hence, we serve. We take up causes larger than ourselves. While in UP we do not just study, we learn. We learn of the Philippine situation beyond those that we see and read. We go outside our homes and classrooms to know of the basic masses needs.

Armed with what we know, we write. Write to serve, to tell the people of what the national and local dailies oftern ignore. We write to arouse those who remain in the ivory towers of the academe into action. We write as sympathy to the sentiments of those who had never been heard.

On and outside the podium, we debate. We debate with the passion of those who speak of religion, and of war. Intellectual warfare is what they call it. But surely it has to be more than that. It’s the strengthening of convictions, the molding of young minds towards what is legally right, humanitarian, and fair. It is through us who have the education and the facility of logic, that we can defend the undefended, assert the right of those who, otherwise, do not know what they’re entitled to.

We go out into the streets and rally. Fuming, motorists blow their horns. The Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters lock its gates and take out loudspeakers to drown the collective cries. Worse, violent dispersals cost lives of those who had no other venues to be heard. We, the people, have the freedom to assemble and speak. We all know that. There is no pleasure in braving the heat gulping exhaust as we cry the yawp of the masses. There is only a burning indignation, the grief towards injustice, corruption and abuse. Above all, there is that unshakeable need to be heard.

For what many don’t know is that while they shake their heads in consternation, while they loudly blow their horns for the traffic we cause, a 60-year-old farmer lost his farm he had tolled all his life against his gluttonous landlord, a journalist was shot, a child was battered in labor, the budget for UP–its basic lifeline–was slashed in favor of the military’s pork barrel, a war co-sponsored by the Philippine government was slaughtering children and women, and public figures have obscured themselves in the lavishness of a million worth car bought with people’s money.

Knowing what we know, do we not protest? When we have given letters, asked for talks and nothing was done, do we not mobilize ourselves? Do we wait until the issue dies while the people’s rights trampled?

We are the chosen few. While everybody hides under the steel cloak of apathy and ennui, we raise our clenched fist and cry the masses pains and frustrations.

From the Catholic Church I had once been, serving was called “compassionate service”. Later in cathecism module I accidentaly flipped, it was labeled “community involvement.” Both source pulled me to digest its core value.

However, in UP, I found nothing written about service. For it was intricately carved upon admission, unknown to many, it’s–social obligation.

Wherever I go come the time of reckoning, I will sell my soul to where my UP education cannot be bought.

Serve the People.

Si Danise Pantaleon Macaraya ay nag-aaral sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Sugbu (UP Cebu College). Isa siyang manunulat na walang mambabasa–sana raw, ngayon ay meron na).

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