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By: Micah Celine S. Carpio

De La Salle University

 

My family came from humble beginnings – both my father and mother were from a common family in Batangas. At a very young age, my father, who came from a family of sewers, was already selling shorts and dresses which my grandmother made in Quiapo and Divisoria. Everytime we pass by the Raon area, he would boast and reminisce the hardships that he endured just to finish his study. His parents kept on selling clothes in different market, and he needed to live in a small apartment in Manila and be far from his family so that he can finish his studies and pursue his dream to be a Civil Engineer.

The first few times I hear this story from my father, I didn’t felt anything; apathy, it seems. But as I grew older and be more mature, I realized that this is one of the best triumphant stories that I ever heard. My first main realization in life was formed and it was slowly being instilled to me that not everyone is lucky enough to finish studies – let alone have the chance to study. On that day, I promised to myself that I will also make my parents proud and finish my studies that caused them blood and tears.

I am always aware how expensive to send children to school. Hence, I have always wanted to help my parents or at the very least ease their financial burden. During my undergraduate degree in De La Salle University, I was not able to get a scholarship grant when I first entered. But, it did not stop me to look for ways to help my parents. I studied hard and joined different organizations at the same time. This hard work entitled me to get a tuition fee discount – it was not that big, but at least somehow it minimized the burden. It was a little victory for me and a little trophy for my parents to lift some burdens on the very high De La Salle University tuition.

My hard work in studying really paid off when I graduated top of the batch. I received a Magna Cum Laude distinction and got a Student Leadership award – an award given to the students who have ably balanced their academic studies with student activities. My next step in life is to study law school – my childhood dream – and to become a lawyer in a prestigious law firm. However, reality struck me again and reminded me that I need to earn first money for my tuition fees in law school, throw in a couple of expensive law books and my daily allowance – quite a cash to rake in. I initially thought saving money would be that easy and that graduating with Latin honors was the beginning of it – that a few offers of a high-paying office job, a few years of a not-so-hard work, and a quick promotion to a manager and then to a directorial role while going to law school will be the path I will be going.

Unfortunately, none of these happened. The offers of a high-paying job did not materialize and whenever there was a job offer, it was “less than the minimum wage”, a minimum wage job, or it was for a contractual job. My Magna-Cum-Laude-De-La-Salle-University diploma did not become my quick pass to the good things in life. So, I had my second realization – that even if you came from a top university and have high distinction, the chance of getting a decent paying job might not be available.

Fast forward to a couple of years later and a few contractual jobs, my lifetime dream is slowly fading to nothing. My childhood aspiration to “protect the innocent” and “help in the administration of justice” is slowly becoming just a daydream. Until one day, I was hired in De La Salle – College of St. Benilde as a Planning Associate wherein I helped in achieving the two breakthrough goals of Inclusion and Innovation of the College and associated myself with the Deaf community. Also, during my stay in this Institution, I met Benilde’s Brother President who was very passionate to elevate and innovate the education in the country. He inspired to pursue my dream again, and after few discussions with him, the fading light of my childhood dream blazed again – and this time it’s more specific – I want to be a lawyer with a passion in promoting a quality education in the Philippines. This is my third realization. After few months of working in De La Salle – College of St. Benilde, I was admitted in the De La Salle University College of Law and became an awardee of a full academic scholarship.

Of all my 3 major realizations on going to law school, all of them is centered to education. First, an education that should be affordable. Second, an education that leads to the chance of elevating your life. And, third is to uplift the state of the education of the country. Together with Justice Panganiban, I believe that through education and hard work, we all can overcome poverty which will lead us to prosperity.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.,” Henry David Thoreau once said.

I cited this favorite quote of mine for I always believe that people should work hard to make their dreams come true. However, journey to one’s dreams is not easy at all especially for those who do not have the choice and resources.

The question is what one should have in order to achieve one’s dreams?

I believe that Liberty and Prosperity must be the answer.

Liberty. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear this word is “Kalayaan”, the Filipino translation for Liberty. It is the power of a person to do acts and live the life he or she wants without any restrictions or interference from people. With the state of liberty, one may fully express oneself and has his or her own free will.

It is important that one has the freedom to choose between different possible courses of action for he or she would be the one solely responsible for his or her own actions. Like in achieving one’s dreams, it would be your own choice which dreams would you want to fulfill first than the others. Or, it would be your option if you would want to forego of your own dreams and live the life that others expect you to be.

History tells us how important liberty is not only for individuals but also countries like the Philippines. Many Filipinos fought countless battles to achieve independence for the country so that Philippines may be a sovereign nation as we are today.

Since our Filipino heroes fought hard for the independence we are experiencing today, liberty is truly safeguarded by our Constitution. Different freedoms such as freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, and to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances are enshrined in our Constitution.

Prosperity. Every time I hear this word, I associate it with the good life specifically financial success and wealth. However, as discussed by Justice Panganiban, prosperity likewise refers to time, talent and treasure.

It means that those people who are poor financially are not necessarily prosperous for they can be wealthy in terms of talent and time. Or, it can be that people, though earning only a minimum wage, have the the luxury of time to spend together with their family, unlike those in the corporate world who are always busy and preoccupied with work even on weekends.

These two concepts – liberty and prosperity – must go together in order for one to achieve one’s dreams. One cannot go without the other. Applying it in my scenario, it is important that I have to freedom to pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer again and be given the opportunity and resources to send myself to law school.

I may say that I am fortunate enough that both liberty and prosperity is both on my side. But, the question now is how I can promote the philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law? Let me answer this by tackling what I’m doing now and what I’ll be doing in the future.

As a law student, I would espouse the philosophy of liberty and prosperity by adding it to my core reasons why I decided to study law in the first place. Initially, I studied law because I want to help liberate people, especially those in need, from oppression and serve them the justice that they deserve. After being introduced to such philosophy, I have an additional reason now why I need to persevere and finish my studies – to help those people to live a good life after I help them get the justice and freedom that they deserve.

In addition to this, I can promote this philosophy as a law student by participating more in Developmental Legal Advocacy Clinic (DLAC) of my university or other legal aid programs and seminar. Through this, I believe that I can contribute to the liberation of people from ignorance of the laws and achievement or nurturance of prosperity for they may use the knowledge that they would learn to their advantage.

To further promote this philosophy, it is likewise important that I become an advocate of this. It would be hard to convince people to support such if they do not see that I fully understand the philosophy I am promoting. And, since we are now in a digitalized world, I believe that one of the best ways to promote this philosophy to people is to use the various social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I could share interesting readings and articles to incite fellow law students and friends outside law school to support the same philosophy. Also, I can probably start a campaign about safeguarding liberty and nurturing prosperity through a Facebook page.

Aside from being a law student, I currently work as a legal assistant of a marketing company which is one of the sixty partners of Facebook Philippines. In this company, I am exposed to new advanced marketing strategies such as Facebook Ads and the future of campaigns – the Chatbots. Two of the most successful campaigns in recent history was President Rodrigo Duterte’s and United States President Donald Trump’s Facebook marketing campaign. These were some of the alleged examples of the recent Facebook anomaly of the data breach. The data was used by Cambridge Analytica to attempt to influence voter opinion on behalf of politicians who hired them. With regard to this, we have also come up with new internal rules into accepting political clients. There should be a clear disclosure as to who will be paying the Facebook advertisements if it pertains to national issues and political agendas. Likewise, if I see a sponsored Facebook post, I am checking if it is a paid advertisement by any political party and share this insight to my Facebook friends as well. We can already report to Facebook these kind of political agendas since they now require additional authorizations for advertisements related to politics and issues of national importance. By this simple act, I think I am contributing to a more informed society. Since I believe that an informed society is a free society.

When I finish my studies and pass the Bar examinations, I would still continue to advocate the philosophy and apply it in my legal career. As a future lawyer, I would use it as a guide on how I would handle my future cases. I would always look on what would be the best for my client in terms of safeguarding his or her political and civil liberties and nurturing his or her prosperity. This means that I would agree to have a case settlement in order for my client to be free rather than pushing my client to fight and spend every peso he or she has despite knowing that we might lose the case in the end.

It is also said that a stable judiciary and firmly established rule-of-law system are necessary means to achieve liberty and prosperity. To help in promoting such philosophy and achieve it, I aim to be part of the judiciary someday. I have high hopes that as an advocate of liberty and prosperity, I can influence the courts with this philosophy within which to interpret other constitutional provisions and laws.

The philosophy of safeguarding of liberty and nurturing of prosperity under the rule of law is still somewhat new, not yet being known to many Filipinos. But, I hope that through my simple acts as a law student, as a legal assistant and as a future lawyer of this country, I could contribute to promote this philosophy in the country.