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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tomorrow The Stars will Kneel: Story of A 14-Years Old Who Escapes the War

By: Ymatruz | Filed under: | |
"I was challenged by the experience. It was a failure meant to happen to prepare me for a better future. It was a turning point in my life – as a teen ager dealing with inequality and brutal social tensions."

"I wanted to escape. My knees felt weak upon seeing the disastrous atmosphere, it looked like the aftermath of a super typhoon."

Well, that was 25 years ago to be exact. 

In the early days of my third year in high school, my values education teacher asked us to write an essay about a general topic. I had written an essay addressed to the leaders of my country on how they were supposed to help their countrymen. Surprisingly the next day, my teacher who was holding a piece of paper on her hand, commended the essay piece I submitted the previous day.

That was the first time someone ever recognized the emotions I put on something I wrote and it somehow ended my unrequited love for writing. If you are thinking how was the passionate love story with my ink started, I will lead you back to decades long story which was one of the experiences I never wanted to happen again to my family.

It was raining that late afternoon. I came home from school and shocked to see all our belongings and furniture were scattered outside. My knees felt weak upon seeing the disastrous atmosphere, it looked like the aftermath of a super typhoon. I was left open-mouthed when I realized, we have no more house to go home to. I could remember the disgust and sadness in my parent's face. It felt so terrible, really. We were out in the street, without a house. 


Off the cuff, our house was demolished by the "city Gods", influenced and politically motivated by the rich town councilor. The only relief we had, we were not alone. There were tens of houses forcefully destructed to give way for a building supermarket owned by a known businessman. Needless to say, the municipal town preferred to service the needs of an expectant who-knows-if tax-paying businessman over its own people. Judging from my 14 years old's mind then, these hungry political and rich creatures in power never cared but their own selfish agenda. Those were the times that the demolition party were not providing relocation or if there's one, the relocation areas were unsustainable and do not provide livelihood options or access to jobs for the residents.

I can imagine what you feel right now. Pity?

Ok. Denying the presence of hate in the situation I was once into was something hard to do. I secretly condemned and hated the people behind it. At the same time, I was praying to God asking him to show us how we could build a new house and escape the poverty that buried my family's integrity and hope. The extreme pain left by the horror experience of being thrown-out of your home and being denied a sleeping tent to spend the night was unforgivable — shed in tears all I thought was vengeance. Inside of me, I was screaming "Bukas, luluhod din ang mga tala" from the popular Tagalog movie in my childhood days which means "Tomorrow, the stars will kneel." I never thought that the overwhelming defeat of poor families I'd seen from the movies were really happening in real life. 


Yet, I believed God's miraculous hands have worked on us.

My father was a skilled construction worker, so he was able to build a makeshift shelter made out of patched pieces of used plywood and old, rusted roofs on my grandmother's uneven, grassy small piece of land. Some family and friends helped him. It served as our long-term housing for years which I dubbed as my "parent's house".

I was challenged by the experience. It was a failure meant to happen to prepare me for a better future. It was a turning point in my life - as a teen ager dealing with inequality and brutal social tensions. 


I told my Angels, don't get tired on me. I talked to my Dream and it said, "Be patient I'm on my way"!

Looking back twenty-five years ago, I felt I have my revenge done. But I did it not through violence, use of guns nor making myself a juvenile delinquent. I did it by focusing in school and facing the challenge with honor. I kept on telling myself repeatedly everyday that "I want to graduate life holding my head up high and without regrets." I longed for a definite ambition to escape puberty - Oh, I meant poverty. When one of my dreams failed, I lived a dream on another dream. Maybe that's why I always liked Susan Boyle's beautiful rendition of the song "I Dreamed A Dream" in British Got Talent, other than Susan being a true gem of inspiration, the song reminded me of my distant past. Excerpted lyrics from the song "I Dreamed A Dream":

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
And they turn your dreams to shame


It was not a smooth ride and we are only talking of one page in my life's book. Although the war is not over yet, I think I already won.


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