Friday, September 25, 2015

HOPE AMIDST TRAGEDY - A Declamation Piece

This is the declamation piece I composed for the 54th MSU Literary Competitions. My inspiration for this article is Ms. Norombai Utto, the class valedictorian of Barangay Tukanalipao High School in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Part of her speech as translated by Rappler News is reflected here. :) God bless :) 

Photo Credit:

“Ladies and gentlemen, let us all welcome Omairah Mamasapano, the class valedictorian of Tagmalinao National High School for her valedictory address. A round of applause!!!”

“Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu. Peace be with you all. How I wish graduation day happens every day so that there will be no military operations, no crossfire, no outcry for safety and no signs of danger. How I wish that Maguindanao and the entire Mindanao will be peaceful where people of different cultures will live harmoniously and how I wish for an empowered youth for a bright future. But this moment I know is just temporary because the ceasefire order will expire in three days, in three short days. To the Philippine government: Instead of supporting war, I am hoping that you support and invest in our education – that education, and not fear, becomes the foundation of peace in our land.”

“I could still recall the day when my mother swiftly carried me and moved away from our home because a war ensued between the rebels and the military.” She hurriedly abandoned our place without wearing slippers just to keep us safe. “We were always frightened, terrified and traumatized of the incident that even until now, our safety is still at stake.”

Just this January 2015 while we were busy preparing for our breakfast, a disturbing crossfire startled us! Bang! Bang! Boom! Ratatatatatat! “Oh my God! Please keep us safe!” Boom, bang, bang, bang! The firing of guns continued as if it was targeted to us. Oh Mama, how I wish you are here to help us.” Being the elder sister of two brothers: Halim 10 and Arafat 12 years old, I quickly guided the escape, running towards a safer place but fate was harsh to us, Arafat got wounded and Halim got a stray bullet that made him paralyzed. “Halim, Halim please hold on, keep fighting to survive.” But Halim faced his untimely death… “Haliiiimmm!!! Oh my God!!!” Then, the most hurting realization was to notice my father meters away crippled because he was also hit by a gunshot during the crossfire. “Papa, huhuhuhuhu. I reached out to him but he was gasping to survive. Father, please hold on!” “Help, we need help! My father is dying!” Then, before my father’s one last breath, he uttered, “pursue your dreams and never give up. God will be with you.”  “Yes Papa,” was all I could say. Huhuhuhu… “Oh God, please help me deal with these challenges. I cannot do it alone. Huhuhuhu.”

These have brought me to pursue my studies in Mindanao State University Main Campus – the Melting Pot of the South as an academic scholar, with the goal of finishing a degree and become a teacher so I could educate the generations to come about advocating peace and harmony towards progress. But MSU is not complete without a couple of unique challenges:

“Mindanao State University Main Campus gladly welcomes Freshmen, Transferees and Old students!” Wow! I love that warm welcome message reflected on the tarpaulin and I got excited for enrolment. However, a group of students rallied against the administrators, “We demand justice! Extend the enrolment!!! Open new courses!!! Give us sufficient load!” It’s a sad fact that the enrolment every semester wouldn’t be complete without the emergence of problems such as inadequate courses offered, unavailability of the enrolment task force members, slow internet connection, endless waiting lines and even harassments. “Oh Lord, help us get through the struggles during enrolment.”

Then there’s a news that a student was shot dead, a girl summoned to death, a boy wounded and a lot more. I know I can withstand it. After all, I am Omairah Mamasapano, a survivor! And I am proud to say that MSU continues to soar higher by producing graduates who are topnotchers in various board and licensure examinations as well as graduates who are now successful in their fields of expertise and this keeps me excited. And well, there are newly constructed academic buildings resembling that of MLuilhier, Western Union, Puregold, Gaisano and a lot more! Only in MSU!!! :-) And yes, MSU has updated its curricular offerings in line with the ASEAN Integration like Outcomes-Based Education and K-12 program. “Thank God for giving us this wonderful university where we are molded to become culturally sensitive, socially responsible and morally upright. I believe my learnings here in MSU would serve as my inspiration to become an ambassador of peace and goodwill. Together with the other aspiring students and successful alumni, we will make Mindanao a better place to live in.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the candidates for graduation from the College of Educational Management! - Bachelor of Science in Peace Education, Omairah Mamasapano, Magna Cum Laude! Thank God!!! After all the struggles, here I am receiving a great honor. Papa, Mama, Halim, Arafat, and to all Mindanaoans this is all for you. Thank you so much. And to everyone in this hall, have the courage to face life’s difficulties because one way or another, it will help you become more resilient in the tests of time. Indeed, every struggle, heartache and disappointment has a seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.

The journey doesn’t end during our graduation and let it be that we join our hands in helping our beloved Mindanao State University realize her vision as a world class institution in 2020. Thank you everyone. God bless.