Dear Class of 2020

We are in chaos, and it is happening around you. Within you. In all of us.

It seems hard to reach our own epilogues at this very moment, and even when we do, it is not enough to conclude all the arches, twists, and climaxes we have weaved in the past four years or more.

To think that we have endured a lot only to end things this way, there is an injustice that is ubiquitously manifesting in our own voids which triggers our own existential dread; with actual injustices—death, racism, and fascism—adding up on top of our personal struggles, there is really nothing left to celebrate for. And when the world barely breathes from this chaotic apocalyptic state, that’s exactly when we are thrown in a huge boiling pot of uncertainty, health crisis, adulthood, and unemployment. The universe must have really admired this batch so much.

It is in these precarious times that vigor and endurance must imperatively arise. Isn’t the reason why we all made it this far is because we endured and braved? That the sheer reason why we exist is not to succeed but to collectively struggle and survive? That when everyone crumbles to their weakest form, the only thing we all have is the camaraderie and communal solidarity? 

For years, the university attempted to teach us that humanity is needed the most in crucial times. But more importantly, it is the recognition of responsibility, privilege, and guilt that has been and must have been implicitly indicated in our education. Humanity thrives in the event that people demand justice and peace. 

Our education system is far from being perfect. The neoliberal policies, conservative culture, and profit-oriented system root from centuries of colonization, western puppetry, and capitalistic viewpoint. We have to address this, that we are a byproduct of an imperfect system that contributed mainly to the oppression of those below the social hierarchy. 

Isn’t the reason why we all made it this far is because we endured and braved? That the sheer reason why we exist is not to succeed but to collectively struggle and survive?

Four years or more are not enough in perfectly molding a graduate who will be introduced to the real world. Yet it is important to have a glimpse, as the graduating class, of what the world looks like outside, and what we can contribute as we march forward. 

Despite uncertainties about ceremonies, we will march and this is what the world awaits for us, the graduating class;

To engineers and architects, erect buildings and structures accessible to the vast majority of Filipino people. Your designs and efforts will be in vain if you materialize your vision in blood-soaked lands of indigenous tribes, farmers, and working class. We are expecting you to create urbanized and industrialized cities while taking into account the quality of life, environment, poverty, and opportunities;

To scientists and medical practitioners, your scientific approach and value have undeniably pushed the world to its fullest capacity, and your profession saved the lives of many from this detrimental pandemic. As you brave the world in dealing with several public health crises, we hope that you anchor your intellect and servitude in tending to those who do not have access to your service. In pursuit of saving lives, stick with your science and never with someone’s politics; 

To accountants, businessmen, and economists, we have seen too much greed from capitalism which immiserated the vast population of Filipinos. It is time to delve towards the socio-economic development and advancement of the country and its people, instead of prioritizing profit maximization in order to retain the elites and capitalists from their seats. It will be a shame if, after years of academic excellence, you will just end up being enablers and puppets;

To educators, this country has witnessed cynical faces of historical revisionism that we solemnly hope that not only will you never engage in it, but you will also fight for the abolishment of its existence that warps the perception of the youth. You have the duty of leading the children towards critical thinking through examining our history, speaking the truth, and liberating your own minds. Root and fight for a nationalistic, scientific, and mass-oriented education for the Filipino students. Mold people who will dauntlessly criticize the injustices of the world—only by then that you will reap whatever you will sow;  

To multidisciplinary artists, continue to liberate people through your work. Do not let anyone tell you that the arts exist only for the beautification of this world when in the first place, it is the opportunists and elites who disheveled social order for their own interests. Art is, and will always be, meant for radical change. The purpose of your talent will emancipate the minds of those who see it. Integrate into different social realities, and use your medium to tell the stories of those who are covertly oppressed and manipulated by their oppressors. The world needs more artists who uphold radical principles; 

To tourism and hospitality practitioners, this country expects your service that is inclined with actual development beneficial to Filipinos. You are the eyes of this nation in seeing our exceptional and world-class biodiversity. The servitude towards beauty comes with the rigid process of protection, conservation, and innovation. You are essential in the preservation of our environment and its natural resources, and this leads you to your responsibility in protecting it from imperialists and capitalists who deem to destroy our country;

To philosophers and political and social scientists, the narratives and learnings of this world will always be rooted in your critical and challenging theories—so long as you bridge them to practice. Our upheaval stemming from liberating teachings that brought us to where we are now in the conversations of race, gender and equality, rape culture, patriarchy, and toxic masculinity, poverty—are progressive attempts to challenge the status quo. It is our sole responsibility to step down from our ivory towers, and educate and coax the masses and the marginalized in elevating their rights and toppling the abusive systems we live with;

They fear that our ideals will liberate ourselves and the changes we will impart will never work according to their interests. Our ideas matter. Our ideas are the future.

To writers, journalists, and media practitioners, our generation sits at the darkest era of press freedom and the death of democracy. Pledge to uphold the truth and to be its guardians. With the arrests and conviction of Maria Ressa and the politically-motivated shutdown of ABS-CBN, remain unfettered in facing the strongmen who criminalize standing up for the truth. That despite the attacks, the history has invariably been on our side, and fascism will never win. We will unfold the untold;

To criminologists, cadets, and police, the country awaits for your service without systemic machismo, violence, and impunity. In understanding your own policing, it is imperative to address that the very punitive system you were about to serve is the same system that killed innocent lives, impeded the democratic nature of this country, and suppressed the freedom of the Filipino people. That the history of your profession is rooted in serving the protection of the elite and the politics of the oppressors. Remember: there is nothing braver than being accountable and defying your own corruption, and truly serving the people.

Throughout our college years, we were labeled as idealistic, that we envision a world far from reality. That our submissions are what truly matter in order to spark a change in this world. That our rights are meant to be profitable and commodified. But the truth is, they only fear that our ideals will liberate ourselves and the changes we will impart will never work according to their interests. Our ideas matter. Our ideas are the future.

Dear Class of 2020, there is so much work to do, lives to save, principles to uphold, rights to protect, fascists to oust, and systems to challenge.

Congratulations to us! March forward.


Illustration by Nadine Dumali

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