Thursday, March 13, 2008

Confessions of a Sleepwalker

When my friend, Ei, invited me to attend a dinner meeting with her friends from Team RP, the first thing I asked her was, "What the heck am I going to do there?"

In this aspect of our personalities, Attorney E and I are polar opposites. What she has in idealism, I make up for in cynicism. Her passion for involvement in issues of national importance is equally matched by my shrug-it-off apathy. I was never the type to take strong stands on national issues.

Don't get me wrong, I do try to keep abreast of what's going on. I believe in trying to do my share - just not in this way. I may vent my frustrations from time to time about the country's downward spiral and dismal prospects, but most of the time, it feels like I am looking in on someone else's nightmare.

They just wanted ideas, she said. I was baffled - what kind of ideas would these quintessential idealists want from someone so far removed from all of these things? Despite my misgivings and having no clear idea what to expect, friendship and curiosity prevailed. After all, I was in between jobs and had nothing better to do. Besides, I needed to eat.

During pre-dinner coffee, Ei put me up to speed on what Team RP is and what they were working towards. I agreed with everything she was telling me, but it still didn't get what she needed me there for. It wasn't until she started talking about the need to tap the potential of the silent young professional demographic that I got my lightbulb moment.

Oh. She meant me. Me, and the rest of the "me's" in the Me Generation.

All of us "me's" have a lot of excuses, but stripped of all the details, they all sound the same.

"I'm too busy with my work and figuring out how to get my life really started."

"While I am confronted daily by the evidence that the system is in need of change, I don't see how I can do anything about it. I'm just a (insert your profession here). I'm not really in a position to anything. That's what all the activists are for. These things are beyond me. I can help in some other, less frustrating way."

"The one and only time I went into the streets to effect change - EDSA DOS - things just took a turn for the worse. What would make this time any different?"

"I know there's much to be changed, but sometimes that's just the way things are. People will always stay the same - it's hopeless, so why should I bother? I have better things to do with my time."

Despite my well-entrenched stand on apathy, before I fully realized what was going on, I found myself exchanging ideas about ways to wake up my "me generation" with Ei and her other very involved friends, over red curry and bagoong rice. And very slowly waking up to the possibility that there really could be something I can do to make change come sooner than later, no matter how small.

One cannot find answers to the questions "What real difference can I make? What can I do to bring about change?" if one never asks them. In a lot of ways I've been sleepwalking as a Filipino citizen most of my adult life - partly because I didn't know I could do more, but mostly because I never really tried to find out if there was anything more I could do.

I'm asking them now. The sleepwalker is finally waking up.

Just imagine what answers our "me generation" might come up with if we all woke from our jaded sleep together.

* * * *

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

* * * *

Moving Beyond Asking to Doing:

"Team RP is an organization of youth leaders and young professionals who working together for Truth, Accountability and Reform in our country. We are part of the Buong Bayan Isinisigaw Tama Na, Itama Na (BUSINA) Movement. We believe that complaining and lambasting our leaders is not enough but we should proactively work towards finding concrete ways to help solve our present problems.

As such, Team RP believes that issues should always take precedence over personalities thus, our programs and activities are always geared towards helping build our democratic institutions and furthering the development of every Filipino. If you want to know more about Team RP or join Team RP, please email us at"

Team RP Press Statement
A Petition for a Freedom of Access to Information Law


Em Dy said...

Attitude wise, I think I'm a lot more like you than Ei. Apathy is a familiar territory.

justine said...

hi claire,
i found your blog thru pinoymd. your post certainly struck a cord in me. i have recently woken up from my apathetic state and i thought i was alone in feeling like there realy isnt anything significant that i can do for our country to change.

i hope there are a lot more people out there who want to actively make these changes.

i will surely visit the team links!

dr_clairebear said...

@ em - i think we doctors, given our very confined environment and the sameness of our lives regardless of what goes on outside it, are really more likely to be apathetic than others.

@ justine - thanks for the comment and for dropping by! as a people, i think we are cynical because of all we see, but the inherent pinoy optimism in us refuses to give up without a fight. there are people who want to do something, they just need direction.

I hope I get to meet you in one of the meetings! :) if you are interested, PM me your email at pinoyMD, and I'll let you know when the official site and message board is set up.

iris said...

still not done reading through team rp's site.. but i've read your post so i think i have more or less an idea about what they're for. so what's on your mind? :)

spliceanddice said...

It's nice to know that change can really come from within, spiralling outwards and, perhaps, triggering the momentum of that larger part of the society we call "the silent majority".

Woobie said...

you remain apathetic until you become the direct victim of a mandate or such. i know i'll go berserk if they change the rules about outsourcing and foreign investors here coz im a party of that industry haha.

hmm... what could they change about the medical profession, i wonder? prevent the lot of you from taking up nursing? XD

dr_clairebear said...

@ woobie: *lol* it's probably if they keep people from going abroad. :) but to be honest, we doctors are generally doormats - how do you explain how pathetically small our stipends are as residents? If you divide our salaries over the number of hours we spend in the hospital, we barely make minimum wage, if we do at all. :P