Why I'm Here

Why I’m Here | Prof. Phoebe Zoe Maria Sanchez, Educator and Union Leader

March 17, 2016

A professor from the University of the Philippines – Cebu narrates how her search for the meaning of life led her to discover the real reasons behind the pattern of poverty in the country.

Prof. Sanchez, or Ma’am Bebut to those close to her, actively engages in education campaigns. | Contributed Photo

Actually, I never asked my parents to make me or for me to be born. It was at their pleasure that I was born. And my profound gratitude to them who are now six feet below the ground. I never chose this country to be my country, if only it would embrace the sacrifices that its citizens can offer.

I believe I am here to give meaning to this world, to life and to mankind… in whatever way it may be. They say life is a journey. I also feel that way. I feel that my life is a journey into the search of the meaning of what is conceivable and inconceivable.

I saw poverty and the helplessness of living in the rural community where I came from. I saw poverty in the slums when I traveled to the city to pursue college. I have to decide to go out and carve a destiny or I will be stuck to rural life and poverty.

I cannot leave my future to my parents and relatives at home. I saw the grave situation all around. I started to question if there is a way out of that lowly situation around me. I started to question: What was the reason behind the pattern of poverty everywhere I go? I have to dig for answers.

I need to get a college degree, as most people think that education is passport to advancement in life.

But my support systems cannot sustain me. I asked Msgr. Teofilo Camomot for a scholarship, and so he sent me to Fr. Bancale of the University of San Carlos to apply for one.

Msgr. Camomot, at that time, was parish priest in Carcar, Cebu my hometown. And he is now to be canonized in our city for all his religious and miraculous deeds.

In college, I got involved with the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines (SCAP), the Campus ministry, and later with the League of Filipino Students (LFS-Cebu).

In UP Cebu during a rally denouncing the government’s perennial educaton budget cuts. | Contributed Photo

There were still other organizations involving other groups and other sectors that I joined during my student days in the 80s. There were many discussions that I attended. There were so many reading materials that I acquired. I did not stop. I thought: I have to open all the sources of data and everything that will provide me with all the answers on why a lot of us are destitute. I asked: What could truly reverse the pattern?

But, I realized there is never a way out. The system sucks. Capitalism simply brings us down.

Capitalism is crisis dependent. There is no reverse pattern for it. We sink and we will sink further.

The layers of contradictions are just overwhelming and the consumerist world has just 24 to 80 years to survive. The future is so bleak.

So when people say, “Life is too short, be happy,” it comes as a sad note if we know the reality of what is going on.

I am already 50 years old. Half a century in this world is not bad. There are many things I am thankful of, including the five times I went to prison for my beliefs.

During the Martial Law years, and even when it was already lifted, and even when the Cory Aquino regime had already taken over, I still got to prison for what I said and for standing up against authorities.

I got to face sedition charges, and during Aquino’s regime, ‘public disturbance’ and ‘vandalism’. They reduced me to a laughing stock.

At this point of my life, I still hope for victory to come. But will that ever take place?

I may not see the dream victory to happen in my lifetime, but I still am not losing hope. Who knows?

What matters most is that I did my part in the revolution.

And life is meaningful because I learned to love and I became human with my involvement in it.

CLENCHED FIST. Even graduation is an opportunity to raise issues and concerns. | Contributed Photo


Pinoy Weekly

This is a product of collaboration between writers, photographers and/or artists of Pinoy Weekly.