IT FEELS amazing to look back at the great things our national heroes have done. It feels good to know that the country and the freedom we enjoy today are the very things that our martyrs more than a hundred years ago have died fighting for. And it will be very fulfilling for the Filipino youth if we can pursue these glorious deeds for the betterment of our nation.

I was tasked to prepare a reaction/reflection paper regarding this Lakbay-aral we had last November 17, 2002 in Batangas province. So I would simply write my reaction after this sentence. I was mesmerized, especially while in the house of Marcela Agoncillo, the great woman who took the patience and courage to sew our own Philippine flag. I've never been in a home like such and the fact that she actually went up the stairs, walked through the huge doorways, and roamed around those halls made me imagine she was there and if she would be pleased to welcome modern kids like us in her household. That part of the trip was the best for me.

Well, so much about my reaction. As I scanned through the photos in the Malvar Shrine, it made me realize a lot of things. One is that comparing the present-day situation of our country with the Philippines in the nineteenth century, it would be very bad on our part had the Spaniards invaded us today. With the latest technology to amuse us, there would not be a Bonifacio, Malvar, Aguinaldo, or Gregorio del Pilar, who would go to the trouble of taking the initiative and rise up against the Spaniards. I think the people of today would rather enjoy themselves than fight for freedom, which is the most wonderful thing to enjoy.

But maybe, invasion is very obsolete nowadays. Since I've already mentioned the present-day situation of our country, how are we really at this moment? I've always wanted to bring this up. Social Science teachers always say that the youth is the hope of the nation. And every time they point this out, the emphasis seems to indicate that we are destined to bring hope to the country. I'm not complaining about putting the burden on our shoulders but there are certain questions that I would like to ask, which I already did. "Was this quote really meant for us? Did Dr. Jose Rizal particularly address this saying to our generation?" The seniors love to say this to the youth and yet they, themselves - having nothing to be proud of - can't even display the pride of having been the "hopes" of the nation. They were once the youth themselves, belonging to their own generation. Why don't they show us their accomplishments first, if there are any, then tell us that we must have our own achievements, too?

The answer to my question was given by one of my professors (Mr. Fernando Santiago, JPRIZAL). He said, truly, there were a lot of generations that had already gone by and each of them underwent the stage of being part of the youth. And whatever is the achievement of this youth is the success of their generation. But it appears that all these earlier generations were a failure, which is why the "hope" is just being passed from one generation to the next. The catastrophe is always reflected on the present state of the nation.

Take the 70s and 80s for instance, the period of martial law. Many intellectual, respectable, moral, and decent people died just because they possessed good and noble intentions for the country. That is why we are missing three conscientious generations who could have claimed the rightful positions in the Congress or even in the Executive Department right at this moment.

But what do we have in our government these days? Corrupt officials, putrid as rotten tomatoes in greed. As I've mentioned, they were once the youth themselves. And even if that was a long time ago, I don't think they ever brought hope to the country. And for those who are aspiring to become the next president in the near future, which is less than a year from now, don't even think about it. You better think first a thousand times and ponder on something productive, or don't even think about it at all. Why? Because morally speaking, you have no right. Have shame, for cryin' out loud!

I am not a hero but I write this now, taking the initiative, like the brave men who fought for liberty a century ago, in making the call to the Filipino youth of today. Aren't you tired of hearing news (even if there is really nothing new about it) on corruption and all those huge amounts of money that should have been put to good use? They always say that poverty is the cause of the problems in our society. But did you ever think it could be the effect? Don't you feel the need for change - for contentment? Won't you feel proud if we show these lame officials what we can do and make them realize that they are just making a fool of themselves? Acquiring those positions is a big mistake and they should be ashamed of it. It makes me wonder, though. The Philippines is very blessed with crises - economically, politically, and socially. Yet, a lot of big people struggle to get hold of power as the president. Aren't they scared of the burden of responsibilities that comes along with the title of presidency? What more if the nation is in disorder? Or maybe, they do have some malicious schemes of their own.

I have faith in our youth today, to which I belong. I believe we are different and I suppose we were made to be. We are ingenious, inventive, quick-witted, and practical. We are competent and we seek for effectiveness. We are restless when we've got nothing to do. We must have something to lay our hands on to keep us always busy. That is why we tend to be more productive. We think critically, logically, and rationally. We understand more than our elders can imagine. We are reasonable, always fighting for the right. Our generation is a bit childish (in a sensible way) but the intellect of a child is one of the purest things in the world. We do not have the mind of a grafter and corruption is not in our vocabulary. I've known a lot of people who are gifted with potentials of being the future leaders of our nation, and most of them have been my friends and companions for the past four or five years. For sure, there are a lot of others out there who possess these qualifications.

If the government is not capable of granting the things we primarily need, we can always take part and search for solutions to attain them ourselves. I'm not showing off - I'm just proud, knowing that we can rebuild this nation. Now is our time. Don't let our generation be another failure.