Misquotes and Marcoses

Have you ever thought of a quote but could never seem to remember who or where it was from?

Usually what I end up doing is just picking from a pool of famous quotable people and just chalking it up to them, saying: “That one’s a Churchill quote.” or ” I think Galileo said that.” I guess when you have enough of a reputation for being witty and wise, the sayings of the witty and wise tend to gravitate to you. The law of quote-attraction, I call it. So today I’m going to say it was Plato who said something to the effect of “Your life is simply your turn to hold the torch and run as far as you can with it, before passing it off to the next guy.” Words that I can’t seem to get my mind off of in the light of last month’s protests against the hero’s burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

It isn’t hard to see where I’m drawing the connection. People of older generations, who went to said rallies are enthusiastically claiming online and elsewhere, that based on the amount of young people that came out in protest last month that the proverbial “torch” had been passed. And that the nation’s youth are finally taking up their cause. Well I can only speak for myself. But I, for one, agree and am admittedly and unapologetically fired up and ready for it.

Although I wasn’t able to attend the Black Friday rally myself, as I was busy playing the office lackey on a trip abroad. Nor was I able to attend the Bonifacio Day rally at EDSA as well, as I had prior unavoidable engagements, the sentiment still stands. With the burial, something deep within my national psyche has been provoked; a patriotic nerve, touched. My feet, so used to walking on cold office tiles and the soft carpet of my room, are now begging me to stomp and march on the hard concrete roads of protest. My hands, so used to lazily typing away at my keyboard, are now itching to rattle and rage against the fences of oppression, of misinformation and of blatant disregard for our nation’s history.

Things are different now. I, as one of many of my contemporaries, feel that a flame has been set ablaze. That behind our infamous reputation of being lazy, uncooperative and entitled (which I feel is wholly undeserved), us millennials are actually finding common ground with other older generations.

This spark of a common cause, however, is being met with an opposition that is equally fierce, and fueled by relentless misinformation to boot. Maybe it’s the law of quote-attraction at work; like how I attribute every torch-related saying to Plato. Maybe people are just drawn to attribute every admirable government accomplishment of their generation to someone so infamous, that in their minds — regardless of the facts — it makes sense that Marcos did this wonderful thing and not that horrific thing. Or maybe it’s our lenient and forgiving nature as Filipinos. Maybe it’s the lead in the water. I’m not entirely sure.

What I am sure of is that: One, after some fact-checking, I found out that Plato was long dead by the time they started running with Olympic torches. And two, in the face of the judgment or the hostility, despite the overwhelming resistance or the lies, we are ready and we are eager to take this torch and run with it.

(Karlo Nicolas G. Alvaro graduated with a degree in business economics from the University of the Philippines. He has held positions under the Office of the President of the Philippines and is managing various private businesses in Pampanga. He is a self-confessed fan of history and literature.)

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