Annually, I usually wrap up my year recounting all the milestones I have achieved and all the dragons that I have conquered. However, I do not want to do that this year. Millions of people died, lost their jobs, and stopped their studies because of COVID-19. I even lost my guy bestfriend, Dave, from it. Many lost their lives, their homes, and their properties to the strong typhoons that stormed PH this year. Many are now drowning from poor mental health. Many are struggling to put food on their tables. And definitely, there are those who are living everyday to survive. I do not want to alienate myself from the struggles of others. If there is one thing that I want to contemplate on now is the fact that I have been greatly privileged and it’s sad that countless people do not have the same privileges that I have.
Peace is a privilege. You might enjoy a quite relaxing morning at your terrace while drinking your hot coffee, but there are children on the other side of the world who witness bombings and massacres for breakfast. Reading Malala’s book entitled We Are Displaced, made me realize this reality and every page of that book broke my heart.
Quality Healthcare is a privilege. While I’m here waiting for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from the Japanese government, there are countless of people all around the world who might never be able to afford and avail it because of social and economic disparity.
Activism and Advocacy is a privilege. While you all are here cheering me on how I’m championing my advocacy for the Environment and Education, there are definitely people somewhere who also want to stand up, speak up, and do great things but they just can’t because of oppression, limitations, and societal pressures.
Education is a privilege. While I’m here obediently taking up my Japanese and Korean online classes, speaking on webinars, guesting on Monster Radio, featuring in Bataris and Greenpeace, producing podcasts here and there, or accessing my resource materials using my 1GBps internet connection . . . . while I’m doing all that effortlessly, countless students in the Philippines have dropped from schooling because they do not have Internet connection and gadgets for their online classes. Teachers have to face dangers like snakes and long climbs just to get some mobile data on top of a mountain to submit grades or attend seminars.
If there is one thing that 2020 (my 26th year) has made clear to me, that would be the fine line of privilege that separates us from others. Yes, I feel the guilt everyday, but I’ve realized that there is no use when you stop thereー feeling guilty. Most importantly, it’s an injustice when you use that privilege to invalidate both the struggles and successes of others. If you have the privilege, you should stand up, move, and use your privilege to create a positive impact and that I promise starting this year.
Yes, I was born poor, I was from rags but I’m better now, thanks to privileged people who helped me up. This time, it’s my turn and with that, I promise to use my privilege to pay things forward.
My heartfelt gratitude to everyone for sending me your well-wishes, love and greetings today. Thank you all very much! I don’t usually accept gifts during my birthday and I definitely appreciate all of your well wishes and your recognitions, but if there is one thing that you could do for me today on my birthday, that would be to help Hilongosnon students and teachers survive the new normal of the academic year 2020-2021. If you want to gift me with something, I would really appreciate if you can donate a penny to Project Batang Hilongosnon:
DONATE thru either of the donation points below and fill up the following form to NOTIFY us of your donation:
Lilibeth Perez Inguito
Anna Marie Gibe Perez
Lilibeth Perez Inguito
SA 0946 2480 02
🏦 IN-KIND, CASH, ML, CEBUANA, PALAWAN
Bonnie Vina C. Zamora
🏦 JAPAN POST BANK
ペレズダナマリーギベ (Dana Marie Gibe Perez)
Thank you very much!
At your service,