I am the youth of the land.
I am told that i am inconstant and frivolous.
I am accused of being supercilious and cynical, that I do not have the right attitude.
And since I do not have the right attitude, my leaders tell me that they do not know where this country is headed for, that they wander with a gloomy sense of foreboding, what shall I do with this land?
When it is left to me as my heritage, when it is willed to me as my own.
I am the youth of the land. I am cynical. I do not have the right attitude.
But looking around me, I see a wooden platform gaily, bedecked with red, white and blue of my country.
The band is playing the national anthem – my heart swells with pride as do the hearts of every Filipino crowing and shoving as far as the eye can see.
The speaker rises – the tumult and clamor died. He begins.
“Fellow countrymen, let us all support militant Filipinism. Let us hold all things Filipino in high esteem. Let us patronize our home industry.”
I, the youth of the land, was impressed.
I, the youth of the land, glow with patriotic fervor.
I, the youth of the land, was convinced, almost.
For I, with the irrepressible curiosity of the youth, looked up and see that the speaker like myself is a Filipino – more than that he is my leader.
He is wearing a hat from Italy, a shirt from New York, trousers from the finest wool in England, jewelry from France and perhaps underwear from Japan?
I, the youth of the land, am disappointed
But my leaders told me that I am cynical
And our leaders know whereof they speak.
I am the youth of the land. I am easy going and parasitic. I am irresponsible.
I do not stand before you to whitewash my errors.
I admit, that the accusations hurled against me are in great part true.
but in all justice, in all fairness, in all deference to truth,
do not overburden me with the sins of the world.
Do not hold me entirely accountable for our failings.
Do not crucify me for a cross, I did not fashion.
For if you, my accusers, are led by the veneer of democracy.
If you are deceived by the sham of formality,
do not expect that I be serious-minded and constant.
Do not stand outrage if I flaunt the tinseled trappings of my forebears.
If you, my accusers, throw wide open the doors of opportunity to the competent and the incompetent.
If you welcome the responsible and the irresponsible.
Do not ask that I be competent, do not demand that I be responsible.
If you, my accusers, have not progressed from politics to statesmanship,
do not demand that I be serious-minded and constant,
that I move the earth at twenty.
For you, my leaders, are of today and yesterday.
Yours was the youthfulness that first saw the light of freedom dawn.
Mine is the youthful spirit that see the light of liberty imperiled.
Yours was the hand that struck the heart of the empire.
Mine is the hand born to build eternal.
Demand of me. but teach me before you demand.
Do not train me to leadership that cannot be mine.
Do not show me an indolence I cannot afford.
Do not accustom me to arrogance I shall never enjoy.
Do not lead me into a way of life I never knew.
for I cannot build without my strength.
I cannot suffer without my hopes.
I cannot live, without my dreams.
I maybe young, I maybe inexperienced. but I am not blind.
I can see the future that I alone can feel for I feel it in my blood.
Give me leaders who shall lift themselves above the morass of party strife, who shall devote themselves no longer to a privileged minority but to the cause of the underprivileged majority.
Give me leaders, who shall lead lives fraught with hardship and sacrifice, who shall demand of themselves before they demand of me.
Give me leaders, who shall leave successors tempered in the crucible of merit.
Give me leaders, and theirs is my mind to mould.
Give me leaders, and theirs is my blood to shed.
Give me leaders, and theirs is my will to command.
Give me leaders, and theirs is my destiny to shape.
Give me leaders, and I shall follow them to the ends of the earth.