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  • Silvie Jasmin B. Agravante

More Than Just a Fresh Coat of Paint

It was just a one weekend hike in Muruk Pasonanca, Zamboanga City that stirred emotions of a development worker, Jojo Deles of a mural that caught his attention. It was a pale facade that has an etched face of what has been a familiar countenance of the 500- peso bill that we encounter in our transactions, a negligible feature in the busyness of a workout.

The mural has aged over time, thriving in an environment of moss, masking itself in the lush greens that can sometimes overshadow of what history has tried to highlight or to say the least, attempt to remind us of who we are as a people.

Built in 1984, this mural doubling as a shrine that Mayor Cesar Climaco constructed to honor the heroism of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, has every intention to remember the fight against a dictator, that will stand the test of time. And yet in this very ordinary hike that Jojo Deles took, the shrine must have parallel in the triteness of what has become of the mural – pale and surviving the waning attention it is getting from the people it should be reminding.

The picture shared during that hike, moved so many people not only in his circle, but those who believe that being truth-tellers is the way to go. Thus, making way for people in the community to take initiatives to keep history alive.

On Senator Ninoy Aquino’s 40th commemoration of his assassination on August 21, various groups have come together to remind people of this event and what led us to this part of history.

Ateneo de Zamboanga University through its President Fr Guillrey Anthony "Ernald" Andal, SJ and the Ateneo Center for Culture and the Arts with the Social Development Units, have organized an exhibit, built a freedom wall, and initiated a podcast in campus. Akbayan and Western Mindanao State University student-volunteers head the mural painting under the helm of Arch Neil Dalena, and will conduct a program at the newly-repainted mural.

“We could not allow whitewash of our history. The young generation has to be reminded again how people fought for democracy and freedom. That days like this, is not just about an added rest, or the mural taking a fresh paint as part of artistry – this is a constant call to reflection of who we are as Filipinos,” Dr Anton Lim, a well-known socio-civic leader in Zamboanga City expressed.

What is made clear in the turn of these events, is the more conscious efforts of the learned, those who have experienced oppression, or those whose families have sacrificed lives of their loved ones, to not make all these contributions go in vain. The appreciation of how it was, will only take its fruition if the sanctity of its sacrifice is given much weight in the goings-on of our daily lives; and when the most ordinary Filipino can never be swayed into changing history out of broken and empty promises.

Perhaps in the future hikes in Muruk, with the enliven image of that face etched on the wall, may it evoke a feeling of patriotism to point at the mural and teach the young of how we have come this far as a Filipinos who has earned so much respect from the world in our fight for our freedom. Because indeed, this is more than just a fresh coat of paint.

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