Sun Star Davao Sunday Essays On The Great

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) celebrated its 11th founding anniversary last week and aside from their programs and celebrations, held an essay writing contest pitting the different Eastmincom departments against each other aside from a category for students and an on-the-spot poster-making contest sponsored by Boysen Paints.

I got ringside view of both as one of the judges of the essay-writing contest.

With the theme "EMC - Your reliable partner for reach change and development in Eastern Mindanao", the soldiers came up with impressive articles about the Eastmincom, although I liked the children's essays better. Not that the children's had more substance, the military category was oozing with it, but the children's had a more candid look at the military command.

Champion in the students category for the essay-writing was Lustre Luke Angelo H. Oliver from Bukidnon with his essay: “Emc 11 Years Since: Camouflaging the Colors of Change”. First runner-up was “Youth, Peace And Security” by Ian Derf C. Salvaña of Davao Oriental and second runner-up was “InBeatWin: People of War” by Christian Joy Lopez of Surigao del Norte. The two honorable mentions were “Pagkakaisa Tanging Hiling ng Eastern Mindanao” by Eric James M. Tee of Davao Oriental and “Refining Quality: EMC at Greater Heights” by Chrisyl Joy Inso of Davao del Norte.

In the military category, the winners were: “Ripples Of Change” by the Staff For Civil-Military Operations/Public Information Office, champion; 1st Runner-Up, “Emphasizing Military Commitment For Real Change: An Abuse-Free Martial Law In Eastern Mindanao” from the Command Judge Advocate; 2nd Runner-Up “Team EMC: A Decade of Leading, Inspiring and Serving Eastern Mindanao” from the Office Of The Commander; 1st Honorable Mention, “Roadmap for Change: EMC Transformation Agenda” from the Office Of The Commander; and 2nd Honorable Mention, “Secured And Progressive Eastern Mindanao” from the Command Provost Marshal.

Davao del Norte ruled the poster-making contest grabbing the top prize and the first runner-up place. The champion was the poster entitled “Obtaining Prosperity by Protecting and Maintaining Peace and Order” by Norman Vincent Erod of Davao del Norte. Also from Davao del Norte is John Ralph C. Relator who went home with the first runner-up medal with his poster “Unity, peace and progress”. The untitled poster by Arnel Samar of Davao Oriental won second runner-up. The youth's participation and in the process getting to know Eastmincom will hopefully inspire them "to do their share in making our country a much better place that we all dream of," as Captain Floro C. Canaleja, who organized the contests, wrote in his invitation.

THERE are many interpretations, stories, and perceptions about love. It is not surprising because after all, love is one of the oldest concepts in the world. However, as it was, and still is, one of the most talked about thing in this entire cosmos, standards and preconceptions have branched from this concept. Last Tuesday, an advocacy video made us realize how shallow we are in terms of the way we see love in some forms.

Ad Council, a non-profit organization that has released several advocacy ads, has started an uproar with their newest ad entitled “Diversity and Inclusion: Love has no labels”. Less than a week after its release, the video already garnered over 15 million views in Youtube.

In this three-minute video, a large black screen featuring skeletons are seen kissing or dancing, when the people behind the screen emerged, the crowd was shocked to see “unconventional” couples. Same-sex couples, interracial couple, a couple married for decades, representatives of different religions, people with disabilities, and the likes have been the subject of the ad.

After watching the video, I had the realization that in the end, we all look the same way. Underneath all of us are those identical skeletons. Deep inside, we aren’t really different. It made me question why disputes over controversial relationships happen. In the end, we are all human beings capable of love.

All these hate, these stereotypes, and the so-called “moral” standards make all the disputes and the disagreements in every negative way that it can take shape. We all promote make peace not war, and yet we are the ones that are at war with ourselves. We have this definition of love as it was stated in the Bible, the law, and our respective cultures and yet we don’t have a definition of love based on the reality of human experiences.

As said by a male couple with an adopted child in the video, their family isn’t lesser than any others just because of the person they chose to spend their lives with. The choices that we make for love shouldn’t be just bound by all these rules. Sure, we can stick to some of them, but we shouldn’t let our happiness be tarnished by some made up stereotypes that doesn’t really make us less of a person.

I remember the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s song Shake it off, “And the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.” There will always be people who will look down in these kinds of relationship, but if you’re waiting for complete acceptance before you let happiness reign over your life, then you’d be dead and yet universal consensus will still not happen.

The way we view people merely because of their race, age, religion, gender preferences, and etc. is not viewing them as people at all. We reduce a complex and unique human being to their mere predicates or to concepts that they are affiliated with.

I think what the ad said was very meaningful and completely relevant to the issues today. The rift between religions in the world, most specifically in our country, promotes not unity but discord. The labels that we associate to people who deviate from the norm creates more bad than good.

I guess I am not alone in believing that love, in its purest and unbiased form, can be one of the greatest things this world could have. We should rethink our biases. Love has no age. Love has no gender. Love has no religion. Love has no disability. Love has no race. Love has no labels. Think about it. (Precious Domalaon)

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* Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class.

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