My Evergreens

Published May 18, 2022, 4:38 AM

by Milwida Guevara

I found it hard to believe that all the trees would shed off their leaves come wintertime.  I started getting depressed as the “leaves started drifting by my window.”   But, true to its name, the leaves in the Evergreen tree “clung to the vines.”  They brought life and hope to me and perhaps to everyone who was facing a bleak winter.

It was winter in my soul and many others the week after the election. We were saddened not just by our loss but our hope for the future. We dreamt of better governance, of growth where no one is left behind, appointments based on performance, participation of citizens in decision-making, fewer children getting hungry and more children reading better. We worked hard, but not enough. It could be that we did not listen well and did not reach out deep enough. We were too serious and oblivious to the fact that Filipinos like to laugh. Perhaps, our slogans had too many clichés and did not resonate with the voters. It could be that we were talking among ourselves and should have been more inclusive. Many others did not catch the Leni fever because they did not think like us. And why in heaven’s name should they think like us? We have different backgrounds and diverse needs.    Our fault is that we tend to believe that we are on the same plane, and those who are not are less discerning and capable.

This is my first Evergreen. The awakening that every failure is an opportunity to learn so that we can become better. There must be a better way where people can understand and appreciate good governance. And our first task is to listen. What does governance mean to families who cannot afford a decent meal every day? My first learning is from two Grab drivers who told me they could not care less about whoever is elected. It is them who have to work to earn a living anyway. Policies on the West Philippines Seas and federalism—they could not care less. They do not see their effects on their lives. They reminded me that people would only rally to a cause if they realized how they would be harmed. I remembered that fighting tax evasion in the cigarette industry was such a lonely battle because we failed to translate the problem into what it meant to ordinary taxpayers. What was their stake, how were they harmed, and how would they benefit?

My next Evergreen was the presence of the young in rallies, especially in the thanksgiving rally. They came in droves. Some had dyed their hair pink. Many grouped and marched with slogans that were reminiscent of how the youth demonstrated before martial law was imposed. They have become more caring and thoughtful of others by sharing spaces, chocolate bars, and water during the rally. 

Some years ago, I expressed my disappointment with millennial. My sad experience working with them convinced me that they are too absorbed in themselves; feel entitled and indifferent to community concerns. This next generation is different. They are passionate and claim that the future belongs to them. It is as if they had a great awakening and are ripe for the harvest.

My third Evergreen is the strengthening of our faith. I received several messages that God has better plans for us, and we must believe. Even our local government candidates, who were shocked that their excellent performance did not serve as a passport for re-election, assured me that they would be fine. “God is always in control,” Mayor Stef Eriguel said. Fr. Ben Nebres, SJ reminds us that this is the time to reconnect with others, especially those who are less fortunate. Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ tells us that we may never reach the stars, but we should continue to look at them to guide our lives. Then he adds that as we keep on climbing, we may even see God smiling at us.   

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