“Don’t ever speak any word or give any comment.” These were the unforgettable words that my mother told me. That time, I was asking lots of questions as we were walking in the streets of our town. It was wrong to ask questions. So I was told. I just need to follow. And that’s all she needed from me.
It was 1972. I was 6 years old. I couldn’t understand what she meant. Keeping quiet was kind of difficult to do. I was bubbly. I couldn’t fathom why a kid like me can’t speak my mind. What harm could a 6 year old utter? I wanted to know why but my mom hushed me to silence.
During those days, all of us children must be in the house by 6PM. No one was expected loitering or else. There was fear everywhere but fear that no one must show. I could sense something was amiss. But my young mind could only wonder and follow blindly. Fortunately, this routine helped us to be more faithful as a family since it led us to pray the Angelus and the rosary.
School then was not that exciting. I remembered that the current events were not really “current”. Nothing was new. The information was the same all through the years. The same cabinet members, the same budget minister, same AFP Chief of Staff and what have you. It was an easy subject. I had no idea why I repeatedly studied those.
I preferred to play outdoor games. All forms and kinds of fun from “sipa” to “sikyu”; “patintero” to “taguan”; the streets were my playground. I was what they call, “laman ng kalsada”. I wasn’t a homebody back then. There was nothing to do indoors. Entertainment was limited to only one channel to watch on a black and white television. There were no choices to choose from. The shows back then lacked sincere fun. The television was literally an idiot box. All shows were pre-approved by the government.
I haven’t heard any news or if there was any, it had not affected me much. Most news then must had been for adults only. Or as I look back now, it was either I was too young to understand or I was not allowed to be involved. However, there was nothing really to get involved with. The government orders what to watch, what to do and what to believe in. At that time, only the government’s perspective matters.
Do I want martial law again? I would say 20 long years was too much. Enough is enough. It has done much to curtail my growing up years. Should I still allow it to curtail my twilight years? I don’t want a limitation of what I can possibly do, believe and achieve. Such a cliché, isn’t it? To be born but with limitations is similar to being alive but playing dead. There is so much more to life. Life is a gift. It must be lived with joy. It must be lived with freedom – the freedom that we can leave as legacy to our children. Cheers to democracy! Hooray to the future!