Press Release
October 25, 2013

Speech of Senator Koko Pimentel on Batang Transformers Building a Peaceful Nation Young Leaders Camp
at the Philip's Sanctuary Pestaño Training Center,
Antipolo City, Province of Rizal, October 25, 2013

I take special pride in being here today with the "batang transformers" of our nation, this army of young servant leaders for peace and nation-building, for that is what you are, and this is what this "Building a Peaceful Nation Young Leaders Camp" would like to accomplish in this four-day, live-in, youth leadership program in the verdant Pestano Farm in Antipolo City.

As I gaze around, I see in your persons the endless possibilities of the country. I see you as harbingers of good things. I see you as the future leaders of change and reforms in the country.

I see you as the new managers of good governance and economic justice, and the next creators of higher standards of the cultural life and political leadership of the nation that will not discriminate between the few who are rich and the many who are poor.

Kahit mga bata pa kayo, huwag ninyong kalimutan na ang mga malaking bagay nanggagaling sa maliit. Big things start from small ones. A bushfire is sparked by an ember, and great things proceed from simplest ideas.

I cannot help but remember in this connection that 27 years ago today, a great Filipino was cut down by a hail of bullets as he was returning to the country from his exile abroad.

He was none other than the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino whose martyrdom rekindled the fires of freedom in the hearts and minds of our people. At that time, 27 years ago today, the freedoms of our people had already been extinguished by the proclamation of martial law by the then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.

I would like to remind you all that the most terrible effect of martial law was the extinction of the freedoms that our people used to enjoy. By imposing martial law in our country, our freedom of speech was taken away from us. We could no longer speak freely unless it was in accordance with what the dictator wanted.

Our freedom to assemble and petition the government for the redress of our grievances was also taken away as one of our civil and political rights. We could no longer hold meetings, and discuss public matters even if those meetings are peaceful unless the meetings are allowed by the dictator.

Then, one could also be arrested and imprisoned without trial and without just cause.

I mention those sad developments not to stir up any evil desire to take on your part or on anyone's part to take revenge against anyone. I only recall those events so that you, as young people, will know that if you now enjoy the liberties that our Constitution guarantees, it is because our heroes - the ones you already know from our history books, and the hundreds of unnamed and unknown others - have given up their lives for your sake and the welfare of our people.

What then is it that is demanded of you in return for what our heroes have done for you and for our country?

Di mahirap sagutin ang tanong na yan.

Ang kailangan lang ay handa kayo bilang mga kabataan na mahalin ninyo ang ating bayan at ipagtanggul ninyo ang mga karapatan ng ating mga kababayan - mayaman or mahirap, lalaki o babae, bata o matanda. Sa maikling salita, you must help transform our country.

And even as you are not yet - legally-speaking - adults, you can already and should do your bit to help steer our country along the right path to peace, progress and development.

But you must begin with yourself. Because you cannot transform the nation without transforming yourself.

There is a Latin saying that I want to share with you. It says, "Nemo dat quod non habet." No one can give what you do not have. Di mo kayang ibigay ang wala sa iyo.

Hence, if you want good governance, you must first learn to govern yourself. In a word, discipline yourself. To follow what is right. To do what needs to be done for the good of our community and country.

But as students, you must study your lessons. You must study hard. You must study well.

Not to enable you to make money later. But to serve our country and people well. Hindi para maka pera kayo sa bandang huli kundi para makapagsilbi ng maayos sa ating bansa at sa ating mga kababayan.

You need to develop your talents if you are to serve our country and serve our people well.

Di kailangan na sa opisina publiko tayo para makapagsilbi sa kapwa natin. Government service is not the only way to serve others. You can also serve others in private life.

You can become teachers, nurses or doctors, accountants, engineers or lawyers. And still be of service to people, to our community and to our country.

Above all, you can be of great service to our country and people by being a good example to others in terms of dedication to duty, honesty, loyalty to family, and faithful service of God and country.

I hope and pray that the good lessons that you will hear from this bonding seminar will inspire you all to be contributors to the building of bridges of understanding, friendship and love among our people.

Di kailangan na magbarilan tayo upang maayos ang mga problema natin. Ang kailangan magmahalan tayo, magusap tayo, magtulungan tayo, magbigayan tayo.

Sapagkat, tayo pong lahat ay magkapatid, and we are all brothers-and-sisters belonging to one people.

It matters not where you come from. Whether from the Islands of Mindanao or the Visayas or Luzon. This is our Republic, which under our Constitution and laws, and the blessings of the Almighty, we are by fate and destiny mandated to love, serve and protect as one nation. Kung di yon ang layunin ng Maykapal para sa inyo, bakit dito kayo pinanganak? Ba't hindi kayo pinanganak sa ibang mga magulang at doon sa Oropa, sa Afrika o sa America?

Paguwi ninyo sa inyong mga tahanan, huwag kalimutan ang mga leksyon na natutonan ninyo dito sa Batang Transformers Seminar. When you apply the lessons you have learned, you will surely make a difference in the lives of people you get into contact with - a difference that will bridge cultural and political boundaries, build alliances that will enrich, expand and consolidate our dream for a better tomorrow for our people and country, and for you, a safe environment in which you, whether Muslim or Christian or Lumad can develop your full potential as a human being whose happy future will follow as a matter of course for the good of all.

Salamat sa inyong lahat, and God bless you and our country.

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