By: Mikael Gabrielle E. Ilao
University of Cordilleras
Fear always comes with uncertainty. When a sports fan feels uncertain about his favorite team’s victory, he feels fearful that his favorite team may lose. When a person in love feels uncertain about how the object of his affection feels, he also becomes fearful that his love may be rejected. While the fear of losing and the fear of facing rejection are legitimate fears, there is no fear more crippling than fearing for one’s survival.
During the Stone Age, fearing for one’s survival came from the uncertainty of whether one will eat or be eaten. In that era, one need not fear for his survival if one is certain about one’s strength and ability to hunt. If one is confident that he possesses the necessary skills to find food then the fear for survival is a stranger to him. Fast forward to a billion or so years later and the fear for one’s survival still plagues man but this time, survival would depend on something more than just physical strength and hunting prowess.
Modern day “hunters” must possess education. The better one’s education, the better are one’s chances of surviving the world as it is today. It is no secret that one who possesses inferior to no education is very much afraid that he might not be able to find a stable means for providing for his needs. This uncertainty of finding an adequate source of living breeds in a person fear –the fear for his survival.
If one also factors in man’s need for companionship, fearing for one’s survival multiplies in that one will also fear for the survival of his loved ones if he is uncertain of finding an adequate means of living to support them all. In an effort to reduce the number of people whose survival one fears for, some people forego their need for companionship by taking this world on alone. Some may say “I do not want to be in a relationship” or” I do not want to have a family” when in truth they do but feel that they cannot. In my opinion, the fear for one’s survival creates a cold and lonely world where people live only for themselves because they fear that they cannot live for others.
I, however, do not want to live in such a cold and lonely world. I want to have a family of my own. I want to care not only for my own survival but for my future family’s and, as cliché as this may sound, for my community’s as well. When I got kicked out of law school two years ago, this dream of mine got shattered. I asked myself how I could have the audacity to dream that I could inspire others –my future kids and members of my community, to keep surviving in this world, when at that point I was uncertain if I would even find decent employment to support myself if I did not become a lawyer.
I wanted to become a lawyer because lawyering would generate a good amount of income. It is like what the lay men say “Saan ka nakakita ng abogado na naghihirap?”. I wanted to join this profession so that I could send my children to good schools to get good education. I wanted to have more than enough for my family so that I can give out scholarships to people in my community who deserve but cannot afford good education can have the chance to study. I wanted to become a lawyer because I do not want to fear for my survival ever again. I wanted to become a lawyer so that my family would never have to experience fearing for their survival. I wanted to become a lawyer so that I can help others who fear for their survival be liberated from this fear. I want to do all these because the feeling of fearing for one’s survival is a terrible feeling that I believe no person in the world ever deserves to feel.
WHAT ARE LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY
When I was reading the Mission-Vision statement of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, I was struck by retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s judicial philosophy. To him, I quote, justice and jobs; freedom and food; ethics and economics; democracy and development; nay, liberty and prosperity must always go together.
Back in the Stone Age, one feels satisfaction when one does not fear for one’s survival. These, however, are feelings. They are fleeting in that they are lost once one becomes hungry again. Back then, one strives because he is hungry and one stops to strive once he is hungry no more.
For the modern day “hunter”, momentary satisfaction of one’s basic needs is insufficient. He does not stop striving simply because his hunger for a day has been appeased. He continues to strive for something more lasting than just to feel satisfied. He continues to strive to be in a state of sustainability –he strives to be in a state of liberty and prosperity.
Liberty and prosperity are the fruits of conquering one’s fear for survival in today’s world. When one is certain that he will be able to find an adequate means of living, he does not fear for his survival. He is liberated from that fear and he enjoys his life in abundance –in prosperity. During the Stone Age, feeling satisfied was the key to living in peace. As time passed and life became more complex, the recipe for living in peace has been upgraded. Liberty and prosperity must now go hand-in-hand in order for one to be truly at peace. One can even say that liberty and prosperity are the components to living at peace.
We have said that education is what dissipates the fear for one’s survival. I reiterate that the better one’s education, the better are one’s chances of surviving the world as it is today. If one possesses good education, one can find better employment. Better employment would of course mean a better chance at being able to provide for one’s needs. The greater the certainty one has in his ability to provide for his needs, the lesser fear he has for his survival. If a person is able to live without fearing for his survival, he lives a peaceful life –a life graced by liberty and prosperity.
It is unfortunate, however, that not all people’s lives are blessed with liberty and prosperity because of the lack of access to the modern day “hunting” tool that is education. As a law student, it is my opinion that possessing legal education is one of the best “hunting” tools there is today. We have heard stories about how blue-collar folk like security guards and janitors turned their lives around after passing the bar. Many sons and daughters of farmers and fishermen uplifted their families’ lives after attaining the much sought-after title of “attorney”. Imagine how many people could live lives of liberty and prosperity if access to legal education were made available to a greater population.
It is therefore my submission that the best way to safeguard liberty and prosperity would be to make legal education more accessible to a greater number and variety of people by bringing it closer to them. In order to do this, I would like to present a plan that I have for my community when I become a lawyer. When I become a lawyer, I would like to start a program called the “Mobile Legal Education Unit” or MLEU.
THE MLEU:SAFEGUARDING THE LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY OF THE PEOPLE OF BENGUET AND BEYOND
The MLEU is my way of giving back to my beloved Benguet region. It is designed to bring legal education to the least developed municipalities in Benguet. Through the MLEU, I envision myself conducting four-day seminars in the different municipalities of Benguet to inform the residents about their basic rights and how to avail of them, important updates in criminal, civil, commercial and tax laws as well as social legislation, the legal process and other modes of dispute resolution which they can use and other know-how which might be useful to the people of that particular community.
The MLEU program will have a two-fold purpose: the first aim is to pave the way for a more legally-informed citizenry in the region of Benguet and the second aim is to inspire the people of Benguet to possibly take up lawyering as their profession.
I envision the MLEU taking place in the afternoons –when people have just finished lunch and are waiting out the intense heat of the midday sun before going back to work on the fields. It is at this moment when I can give them lectures using their vernacular so that they can understand the law more clearly. I can take this opportunity to answer any query they may have that requires the application of the law. Maybe I can even get training as a mediator or arbitrator so that I can help resolve some of the problems in the community. It would also be convenient for the community if I were to get commissioned as a Notary Public. I even thought of good slogan “Libre notario basta kumpleto dokumento”.
These things I envision doing are fueled by the first purpose of MLEU. By bringing information about the law closer to those at the grassroots level, I hope to instill in them the idea that the law was created to protect all people -not only those who can afford lawyers. I hope to help them understand that the law was meant to be an equalizer among the people and that it applies to all persons regardless of their status in life. I want people to know the law as an instrument of securing liberty and prosperity and I want them to realize how they can properly use this instrument to ensure their well-being. Many people think that the law is a tedious and incomprehensible mess of jargon but through the MLEU, I hope for people to see the law as a friend –an ally.
If by doing all this I am able to inspire a few members of the community to take up law, I would then offer them scholarships in the hopes that they would turn their lives and the lives of their families around when they are able to pass the bar. Even if they would not be so fortunate, the gift of having acquired legal education to a certain degree would already be enough for some to have a better chance at life. More possibilities open up for them. They could become sheriffs, legal researchers or even clerks of court in Municipal Trial Courts. By helping others acquire legal education, I hope to produce a positive domino effect within the community where those I have helped come from.
For example, if one of my future scholars-turned-attorneys is able to acquire enough capital and open up a poultry or piggery business in his municipality then he would be able to provide jobs for his neighbors in the community because he would need to hire watchers, feeders, drivers and the like. By providing some members of his community with a steady source of income, said future scholar-turned-attorney’s employees can send their children to better schools thus giving them a better chance at life. Maybe some of these children might even consider becoming lawyers –lawyers who, because of their diverse life experiences and backgrounds, can inject new blood into the judiciary, the legislature and even the administration of the Philippines.
The MLEU, for now, is but wishful thinking. However, I believe that time will come when it will become a reality. When it becomes a reality, I hope that other people from different regions will adopt its paradigm and modify it in a way that it would best serve their respective regions.
All people fear for their survival but this fear can be lessened or even eliminated altogether if the uncertainty of being able to provide for one’s needs and the needs of those important to him is done away with. This is done by providing more people with better access to education –to be specific, legal education. Once a person is able to rid his life of the fear for survival, he lives his life peacefully. His life will be one of liberty and prosperity.
Liberty and prosperity are the fruits of conquering the fear for survival. Like real fruits, liberty and prosperity enjoyed by one must be safeguarded and protected. This is done by continuously improving oneself through further education. Further education will most likely improve one’s chances at providing for one’s needs and the needs of his loved ones. Through further education, one can continue living a life full of liberty and prosperity with the aim that these fruits will bear seeds in those whose lives have been touched by one who continues to live a life of liberty and prosperity.
I still have a long way to go before I am able to say that I am living a life of liberty and prosperity. I, however, would not have accessed this level of education had I not been the fortunate beneficiary of a seed of liberty and prosperity from my grandmother. She, for me, is the sterling example of one who has conquered the fear for survival and is now enjoying a life of well-deserved liberty and prosperity. She has now passed the duty of nurturing seeds of liberty and prosperity to me.
As a third year law student, I am nurturing the seeds of liberty and prosperity by constantly aiming for academic excellence in order to be able to pass the bar with ease. The seeds of liberty and prosperity will have bloomed once I pass the bar and begin living a life where I no longer fear for my survival and the survival of those who I care about. At this point in time, I, like my grandmother, can finally sow seeds of liberty and prosperity in the hearts of my children and my community.