For Auld Lang Syne (For Old Time's Sake)
Seven years ago, the Today’s Carolinian printed its last magazine entitled “Sympathy for the Devil”; and in the pages the TC aimed to “show no mercy for the demons who make our lives a living hell” and proclaimed, “Down with them, show no sympathy for the devil”.
Like the Spartans at the Hot Gates, it was to be its last stand, the final echoing cry. And what a valiant stand it was, were it not for the period of silence that followed. The proud publication, so valiant in its defense of student rights and press freedom, was hushed – not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Seven years is more than enough for the memory of the Today’s Carolinian to fade from the collective mind and soul of the student body. A slow death, one may be inclined to say. Naysayers tarnish its memory, dismiss its passionate writers as self-serving fools and insult its history, rubbing salt hard upon the wounds.
Nevertheless we are here not to mourn, but to honor. Here, we look back at the TC that was, telling its story and reflecting upon history, to remember the Today’s Carolinian of times past and the ideals which it stood for.
The TC was born in 1983, when expressions of public opinion were a crime and newspapers were banned. Its birth represented the students’ opposition against the heavy handed repression of the Marcos regime.
Blood was shed – figuratively and literally – while fighting for our basic civil liberties as students: Freedom of speech and expression. The writers showed courage in the face of oppression – a trait that I believe is central to the Filipino condition.
Indeed, to quote TC Alumni Kaira Alburo (now Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines-Visayas), “To understand TC would be to understand, remember, and appreciate the struggles and triumphs of the student movement.”
Throughout the decades that followed, the Today’s Carolinian never shied from showing the harsh realities in which we live – epitomizing what it is to be an independent alternative press. The TC spoke out on the hard hitting issues of the time such as the Second People Power Revolution, the graft and corruption that afflicts our politics and on the numerous abuses of human rights.
Speaking with bitter wit and calm passion, never bothering to sugarcoat them with fanciful languages, it was a publication not for the faint of heart. It brought the real and the raw right into the consciousness of the students, furthering awareness and championing the cause of democracy. It was a publication that took pro-student stances on many of the harrowing issues of the era. Some issues one can say, plague us still. That was seven years ago…
Here in the now, the world has grown smaller, and the global economy fights to stay afloat. In the Philippines, the favored son of the indomitable hero of the People Power Revolution sits upon his desk at Malacañañ, but our nation still suffers from poverty and corruption. To reflect on freedom of speech and student rights that the TC stood for might even seem alien in a culture that seems to have lost its grasp on what freedom truly means.
Certainly it is a sign of the times we live in when to be liberated and free implies decadence and outright negativity. The truth of the matter is that liberation is not just about fulfilling our desires, but doing the right thing, being more aware and critical of the world around us. We need to be exposed to these realities again. We need to be aware, to criticize, discuss and debate. For we, as students, as Carolinians, hold the future in our hands. It’s high time we started thinking on what kind of future we want to build.
Today, you hold in your hands the Today’s Carolinian. We are not ashamed of our history; likewise we are not afraid of the hardships that lie ahead. Time has come for us as students to break away from our docile lethargy, to shape the times to come and end the silence of apathy.
It has to start somewhere. It has to start somehow. What better place than here? What better time than now?