That day, the University’s Peace Park was flooded by red and black. The location of the infamous fountain became an abode of students shouting for justice. I was there. Overwhelmed with the number of students who responded to our invitation, I looked unto the faces – some where familiar, some were new.
Two years. Two years had passed when piteous people were massacred. What flashed on my mind were the graves, the dead bodies and the backhoe. I hoped the candles would somehow help.
I once again looked at the different faces. Then, I saw you.
You came wearing red, bringing the fight for the 58 who have been killed. In your heart you wanted justice. I saw you from afar calling and persuading the people to join the fight. A megaphone in the right hand. A camera on the other. You wanted to be a journalist – alive, not dead. You stand with the burning passions to spreading the truth and serving the people. You wished to dig the justice buried in the graves. You lit a candle. And you whisper your prayers in the air, neglecting the fact that you might not be heard. A silent tear fell.
I saw you lining up for the unity march. You stood behind me wearing white. You were pretty – the kind of face people would not usually see shouting on the streets. We started agitating. You started laughing. It was your first time, I heard you saying. And you enjoyed it. You were with the group of student activists but you know you never belonged. We continued shouting. You continued smiling. It was cute. The experience was. You know what we were fighting for but you never understand why we do. You lit a candle. And you asked a friend to take a photo of yours – for FB.
Written on the streamer was a call. Hustisya para sa mga biktima ng Maguindanao Massacre. You held the other end with a strong grip. Clutched in your other hand was a paper. You took glances to start off the bat-bat. You tried to shout the words out and pained your throat to speak the words even louder. Being in the frontline never embarrassed you. You had been used to attending rallies. You had been used to shouting the fight others would not even give a damn. You lit a candle, certainly not for the last time. You’ve got a heart willing to bleed for the plight of the people. You serve them at your own expense.
You watched us at the side of the streets. You were with your friends and I knew what your smirks meant. I could almost see you rolling your eyes. But I am certain you said the words. It stabbed me. “What’s the use of the rally?” Then you laughed as if were the dumbest persons you had ever met. I wanted to blurt out right in front of you the cause of what we were doing. I continued heading to where the road will lead – shouting and doing the thing you considered futile. You remained at the side of the road throwing a despising look to the queue of student activists. You never lit a candle. I hope you did. The candle melts but the fight wouldn’t.
I was taken aback with your voice. You turned away after speaking the lines. For a long time the words were trapped inside my head. “Those who support the most have the least to offer.”It had taken me a couple of seconds to finally have a grasp to those very words. I felt my throat was burning. My chest tightened. I never thought it would come from someone like you. You wore glasses but you still failed to see the essence of what we did. We support the most but we don’t have the least to offer. We have chosen to support because it’s the best thing we could offer. You never lit a candle. I hope you did. The light might have saved you from your clouding mind.
Like the hundred you’s, I lit a candle. I was thankful that many of the youths are still involved in the struggles for meeting social ends. Our voices were small. The candles’ light had already burnt out but the passion of some still is igniting. I hope it would last.
I lit a candle. I prayed for the souls of those who had died and of the justice that we had long sought for.
I lit a candle. I prayed for the people who haven’t heeded the time’s call.
I lit a candle. I prayed it would be the last time I’d be lighting a candle for those two reasons.