LET’S CHANGE THE CONVERSATION

 

Hope is a powerful thing. It lives very intimately with many other homegrown values of the ordinary Filipino. Courage. Grit and determination. Pride in hard and honest work. Pride in a life lived simply.

I was invited to a Youth Forum called “Let’s Change The Conversation”. Youth groups in that forum told me that many of them have been feeling beaten and depressed by all the negativity around them and they wanted to do something about it. Do you feel the same way? Are you somehow lost in all the hatred around you? Has hope become difficult to come by?

They say that darkness is the mere absence of light. If that is so, then it is up to us to fight this darkness by surrounding our society with our own light. Light then comes from ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Light that can come from every street corner and every pathway. Light that comes from within, rather than from the trappings of power, fame, or fortune. Light that comes from all of us. When we do so, we can change the conversation and build our nation with hope that transcends gender, social status, political party, religion or region, or business affiliation.

Istorya ng Paga-Asa is born out of this need to change the national conversation. We want to bring extraordinary stories of ordinary people to every nook and cranny of our country, to every school and City Hall, to every mall, airport, and bus station. We want our people to know that they, too, can be a source of hope.

Consider some of the stories we have already chosen. That of Hidilyn Diaz, known for her humble beginnings and her struggle in being a weightlifter representing the Philippines. She used to train with metal pipes and cans filled with cement on each end. She had no money, but she had lots of determination. In the end, the nation was transfixed as her small body carried not just the weight of metals but also the pride of her nation.

Then there’s Nanay Lorna, who has a sari-sari store in Quezon City where she sells turon and bananacue. Despite being a widowed mother, she struggled day-by-day to send her children to school and by sheer determination and strength as a mother, brought them up to value excellence and hard work. One of her children is now a lawyer, one is a teacher, the other one is a nurse, and the last one is a UP INTARMED student. In short, si Nanay Lorna, nanlaban sa buhay, nagtagumpay!

You would also be amazed by the story Fe Carranza, a woman whose leg was afflicted by polio when she was young. I saw her once while walking to Naga City Hall, back when Jesse was still Mayor. Fe was then trying to start her service tricycle with her good leg, meaning she had to twist her body around facing the rear so she can use her normal left leg to push the right-sided pedal. Fe did not let her disability stop her from starting a small business delivering food to those who worked in City Hall and other offices across Naga City. What strength she lacked in her right leg, her big heart and oversized courage made up for, many times over.

Truly, hope is the only thing stronger than fear. We need more of it to counter the negativity in this era of post-truth, fake news, trolls, and alternative facts. We need more of it to nourish our sense of dignity as a nation, to build our people’s trust in liberty and freedom, and to fight for truth in an age of lies. We can choose light over darkness. We can have hope in the midst of hopelessness. But we cannot wait for hope to find us. We need to find it ourselves, and give it a place to stay in our hearts and our minds. We need to feed it with extraordinary stories of ordinary people around us. And we need to tell stories of hope to our people, wherever they are.

Keep your eyes open to find stories of hope around you. You may be surprised by what you will see.

Let’s turn this into a movement that will change our nation. Join us and let us change the conversation!

 

An excerpt from the message at the launch of Istorya ng Pag-Asa CDO
Little Theater, Xavier University
February 20, 2017