A student’s unnecessary sacrifice
Last friday, March 15 was a typical, dark day for me. It was the day where we will pass all the requirements for my OJT to a professor whose sense of understanding is so shallow I wonder how she swims on it. I woke up feeling depressed and helpless; I still have one document missing and I don’t think my ever so dear professor would let me off the hook and I’m sure she’s got tons of humiliating words to rub it in. I was as good as dead. I was texting my classmates to prepare my eulogy (jokingly of course) for my sure demise.
I have no way of knowing that another student like me on another part of Manila is having a battle on her own; a battle infinitely harder than mine, and maybe than the rest of us.
Her name is Kristel Tejada. Most of us may not know her, may not have seen her for once in our lives, but she is us, and we are her. Her dreams are no different to you and me. She wanted to help her family so much that she studied hard to enter the premier national university, the University of the Philippines, and she was able to do so. She was sure that her study in UP will be her family’s ticket to escape the harrowing life of an average Filipino lower middle-class life. Just like the rest of us, she strive for her dreams and on her young shoulders, the dreams of her family.
We may not know her but she is us. We are her.
But unlike Kristel, most of us are not haunted every night by a one paper with words like: “No late tuition payment” and “Leave of Absence” inscribed on it. We are not forced to leave our classes because we are unofficially not enrolled. We do not have to listen to our parents fighting and blaming each other for their inability to pay our tuition. We do not have to text our professor if it’s okay to sit-in her class and be shy about it.
On march 15, friday, the student that was like us, a student who shared the same journey with us, killed herself.
Most of us may argue, “She’s too weak. Suicide isn’t the answer” or “I will never do the same thing she did”. Most of us may shun her of her cowardliness to face her problems. But anyone who is sure that suicide has never once crossed their minds, please raise your hands. Or in our case, feel free to comment on my post. I want to meet you people who have incredible spirit and strength which had never once faltered especially in the darkest moments of their lives.
I admit, I once thought of suicidal thoughts, a fleeting thought but a thought that was there, even for just seconds. In fits of depression and helplessness, ourselves are our greatest enemies; our tormentors we cannot escape from. In moments of desperation, we are prone to do anything to escape from the pain and the hurt. All people will experience this trapped feeling, and while some people are stronger than the rest and capable of holding much longer, some of us are just tired of being strong and decides to escape. Kristel was young, and her study, her school, that is most important to her, has been taken away from her. Added to that is the absence of a guide, a friend, or someone, anyone who can help her out during the last crucial moments of her life.
But the bigger problem here is not Kristel’s decision to end her life. It’s the very system we are all part of. Not just the UP-Manila system, or the State Colleges and Universities System. It’s the system of education in the whole Philippines, where the right to education for all, is still repressed no matter how democratic our society appears to be. Not all Filipino kids can afford tertiary education, heck even the basic one. State colleges and universities are there to help you out but their budget has been repeatedly cut year by year until the universities have to resort to income-generating schemes on their own.
Sad as it appears, education is only a lesser priority in our society. We cannot deny that more and more kids are dropping off from school because of several factors which involved lack of money. More and more parents have to work and work to send their kids to school for a better future.
And now with the government bent on privatizing everything, what can we do? Many people argued that yes, there’s no such thing as libre anymore, and that includes education. But right now, we Filipinos need all the help we can have. No matter how high the economic growth is, we are still trapped in this endless cycle of having to meet both ends meet, of surviving each day with barely a peso to save. You wonder why many Filipinos wanted libre so much? It’s because we spent most of our time working and saving money to the extremes of our capabilities, day by each unforgivable day, and do the same thing for the rest of our lives.
Education shouldn’t be commercialized, nor it should be baited for the few ones who can afford it. Education is for all. It’s in the very heart of our constitution. You want to put a price tag in education? Make sure all Filipinos can afford it first.
With that in mind, Kristel’s death should be a wake up call for not only the government but to Filipino youths and students to put value in their education. The government isn’t the only one which puts little importance to it; we are guilty of the same deed. And as students of a state university which is funded by taxpayers’ money by the way, we should give something back. We should be progressive in our advocacy, which doesn’t involve the burning of chairs and tables which I shall tackle on my next blog post.
After this, Kristel Tejada should be the last one, without students forced to follow her footsteps…but then again,no one shouldn’t have been the first.
Posted on March 18, 2013, in My country, rant, reflections and tagged Budget, Education, Kristel, Philippines, State universities and college, Suicide, Tuition Fee Increase, UP-Manila. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.