'Value freedom amid crisis' – Xavier-Ateneo
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Xavier University (XU) - Ateneo de Cagayan celebrated the 119th Philippine Independence Day by being reminded of the value of freedom amid the crisis of terrorism.
Within the university gymnasium, Xavier Ateneo students, along with the faculty and administrators, waved the country’s flag as the hymns of Francisco Santiago and Ildefonso Santos’s Pilipinas Kong Mahal and George Canseco’s Ako ay Pilipino resonated in musical performances.
XU president Fr. Roberto C. Yap SJ began the program by reading the Ateneo presidents' statement on the martial law declaration in his speech.
On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over Mindanao, following the clashes between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City.
“The undersigned wholeheartedly support the members of the Armed Forces and the police who give their last full measure of devotion so that our country may be safe,” Yap remarked.
The students were reminded of the dangers of martial law and why they need to be vigilant. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)
Wary of martial law
“We have more than a decade of reasons to be wary of martial law,” Yap said. "A martial law limited in scope, enforced with discipline and restraint, with respect for the Constitution and the inviolability of human rights, can solve specific problems." (READ: Questions you need to ask about martial law in Mindanao)
“We trust our President when he tells us that martial rule shall only be limited and temporary,” Yap added, before concluding with the call for the community to pray for peace and justice in Marawi and in Mindanao.
Students tied ribbons on tree branches as the music continued to resound throughout the gym.
Each ribbon represents the colors of the Philippine flag – an artistic symbol of the commitment to nationalism, according to Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts director Hobart Savior.
“It is also a symbol of patriotism for the attainment of peace,” said Savior, who also directed the event.
Terrorism, Savior said, can be fought through artistic means. “I think we have the responsibility to mirror and hammer our understanding and consciousness for our own people and land, of our own context and situation.”
Savior said the design is a representation of the “uprooted community” that had been displaced from their land due to the crisis.
“The design presents layers of understanding,” he said.
He also enumerated several privileges that Filipinos should have apart from independence.
“The masses achieve freedom with the provision of food security, justice, and social welfare, among the many rights they are bestowed," he said.
For Senior High School Media and Information Literacy instructor Jay Rhen Galagnara, the freedom to post on social media may have its own costs.
Exercising freedom means also considering the responsibility that comes with it.
“As a (media and information literacy) instructor, I teach my students to practice [their] freedom of expression and speech by being responsible for what they post online," he said.
Galagnara further discourages his students from spreading fake news, which may trigger aggression and perpetuate false information.
Instead, he encourages students to use media to sharpen their knowledge on local, national, and global issues.
For XU - Junior High School prefect of student affairs Joseph Saga, awareness is key to fully grasp freedom and inspire others to practice theirs.
“Part of my duty is to make them aware,” Saga shared. “Activities like this give the opportunity for the faculty and students to be aware; to be culturally integrated is what we need to inculcate.”
Last month, a significant number of students, members of the faculty, administrators, as well as the university’s alumni volunteered in the Tabang Marawi (Help Marawi) relief operations which deployed more than 3,000 Halal-certified relief goods packed by volunteers in the campus to refugees in evacuation centers. (READ: Groups call for donations for crisis-hit Marawi)
“We know how much our freedom means to us and what it can mean for them,” said SHS student Jay Edloy. – Rappler.com
Angelo Lorenzo is one of the lead Movers in Cagayan de Oro