Dispatch from Crame No. 293: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Reflection on the bravery of the students behind “The Bedan Roar”


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Why do lions roar?

A lion’s roar is said to be one of the loudest calls in the animal kingdom, one that can be heard as far as 8 to 12 kilometers away, reaching to about 114 decibels, which is about 25 times louder than a gas-powered lawnmower and just short of that of a jet engine.

Ethologists will tell you they roar to tell other lions where they are, how big they are, and to warn away those who may threaten their home territory and members of their own pride.

A lion’s roar is, therefore, the epitome of both power and necessity. Power with a purpose.

It is such a quintessential characteristic of the animal itself that, to our minds, “lion” and “roar” always go together: you see lion, you think of its roar.

But not all lions roar. Lions in captivity, kept 24/7 inside a closed ensure, don’t roar; or, at least, they rarely do. Their existence, their very survival, their everyday life are no longer in their own hands, but in those of someone else: their captors.

So why do lions roar?

They roar because they can AND because they need to.

And that is precisely why the students behind “The Bedan Roar” did what they did. Because they had to. And because they still can… for now.

They were suppressed from letting their roars out through their usual means because some factions felt threatened. But that is the point of a lion’s roar, is it not? To warn away those who threaten their territory, the members of their pride and the freedom of their way of life.

In other words, the students behind “The Bedan Roar” had to be true to their nature – a student publication dedicated to the defense, not just of freedom of expression, but also to the upholding of the Bedan values – Fides, Scientia, Virtus – and to the defense of a free, democratic and progressive society.

They felt the necessity because they can see the grave threat that our nation is under.

There is a beast in our midst posing as a lion, but possessing none of its wisdom, mastery of its emotions, restraint of its bestial nature, or respect for the freedom and right of survival of members of other prides.

He cares nothing for Faith, Knowledge and Virtue – in fact, he tramples and spits on them.

He acts less like a King of the Jungle, vested with responsibility and accountability along with authority, but more like a wrathful, capricious and infantile pagan god, who whimsically wields power over his people, and lashes out at them out of spite, out of revenge, out of simple pettiness, out of laziness, out of cowardice, and out of self-interest.

The students of “The Bedan Roar” did what any true Bedan would do. Nay, what a true Filipino patriot would do. They called out the threat of a tyrant. They let him know they are here and that they will not stand for his abuses.

The most important part, however, is that they did not do it for applause, or for recognition. They put themselves at risk – their future, their lives – because they wanted us, the members of their own pride, to know where they are, to tell us that they exist and that they need our help.

The best response is not to send them accolades, but our support. To lend our own roar. Because they were only able to find alternative ways to publish their controversial issue because they still can. They found a way because they still can. If we do nothing, there will come a time when that will no longer be the case.

There may come a time when, God forbid, there will no longer be a single true lion in the wild. We’ll all be creatures in captivity. Silenced. Powerless.

We won’t be able to roar then. ###

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