In the 80's, the last line of a poem by Dylan Thomas captured the essence of struggle against a dictatorship:
"Do not go gently into the night,
rage, rage against the dying of the light."
It helped that student leaders like Lean Alejandro used to use this a lot.
In my comments section, a student going by the name "people powered" asked "Sir...what can students do??? Tried attending a rally, pero nakita ko lang na napalo yung kasama namin."
My answer, which I am reproducing in full,on this page:
"A LOT!!! Go join another rally, even if you get hit, truncheoned, water cannoned. Read, research, analyze, form an opinion, stand up for what is RIGHT and not
just what is POPULAR or SAFE.
In view of today's sad news about the death of freedom of the press with the closure of The Tribune, the words of Ditto Sarmiento, the late former Editor of the Collegian, translating and paraphrasing a jewish saying ring true: "kung hindi ikaw, sino? kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?" If not you, who else? If not
now, when else?
I don't read the Tribune--its a pro-Erap rag--but that is no longer the issue anymore. Other news organizations that I read will be next. And if they follow, without me raising my voice, then I will be as guilty as Gloria of killing freedom of the press. (An aside: my law firm even sued the Tribune for libel for a client; I regret this. I have asked for permission from my partners to withdraw as counsel for that client.)
As students, there is a lot you can do. You have the distinct advantage of having access to the very instrument that a dictator like Gloria Arroyo craves--knowledge of the law's legitimizing effect. Understanding the law and how it legitimizes
dictatorships like Gloria's is the most potent instrument a law student or even a non-law student has because it will help others understand just how powerful they are; instead of a resigned shrug of the shoulder and a hopeless sigh, use your privileged position as law student to help people oppressed by Gloria's emergency rule find their voices and find hope.
Sic Gloria transit mundi. Gloria too will pass.
But not without a fight and not without the help of everyone who has a conscience and a backbone and is willing to take a stand."
If EDSA taught us anything, it is that freedom does come with a cost. It is the cost of preserving that freedom. Each time we exercise a freedom, we should be reminded that others who have gone before us paid the cost for that freedom--martyrs like Lean Alejandro, Chino Roces, Hermon Lagman, Ditto Sarmiento, Eman Lacaba, Pepe Diokno, Tanny Tanada and many others who have allowed us to be free.
Now that freedom is threatened by one who will stop at nothing to ensure that she remains in power. What is the cost of the freedom we enjoy? If it is raising your voice to say, "no", then so be it. If it is raising your fist in defiance, so be it. If it is joining a rally to show that you stand for freedoms, so be it.
"Do not go gently into the night, rage, rage against the dying of the light."