The Filipino youth and the question of identity
A delegate to the National Youth Day 2017 in Zamboanga City. JOHANN MANGUSSAD
PASAY City – Who is the Filipino youth? More importantly, does he know himself?
In a recent talk, a lay speaker reminded young Filipinos of the importance of identity in an age which values Instagram personas and personal social media mileage.
“…[I]t’s about going away from what society dictates who you are. Because the youth they want to fit in with the trend or idols of society …[and] they end up frustrated, worst they do no longer know who they really are and their purpose,” said Paul Richard Guimary, a board member of Prolife Philippines, during a talk on identity for the Baclaran Church Youth Ministry on Sept. 2, 2017.
According to Guimary, young people need to have firm foundations of security. “No matter how strong external influences are, they will be able to face and win over it.”
Related to this, he said, is a sense of self-worth. “[The youth’s] uniqueness is a gift! Their uniqueness gives complementarity and beauty not only in their life but [to] the life of others.”
He summed these all up as “the importance of identity and being identified.”
Guimary, who also used to serve as a leader in the Diocese of Parañaque Youth Ministry, reminded them of some truths that could anchor their sense of self in a fast-changing world: that they are God’s perfect masterpiece; that they are the extension of God’s peace; that they are God’s “ray of hope”; that they are God’s “shining light”; that they are God’s gift; and lastly, that they are love.
While the rise of technology may be blamed for what some perceive to be a “floating generation,” Guimary said the reason could be closer to home.
“I think what’s the primary reason is within their own homes … they don’t feel loved, appreciated… when they feel that their families are no longer avenues of support.. when lines of communication are blocked due to fear,” he said.
Media to blame?
For Fr. Ramon Jade Licuanan, youth director of the Archdiocese of Manila, it would be unfair to tag an entire generation of young Filipinos as “rudderless.”
While he notes that a “good number of youth who are grounded [on] their deepest identity as Christians” go on to give up personal ambitions to become missionaries or pastoral workers, he admits there are “a lot more young people [who] are at a [loss with regard to] their true identity.”
“They try to become a person the materialistic and individualistic world has enticed them to become,” observed Licuanan, who runs a vlog called “Catechism on the Go.”
The priest believes an overexposure to media is the culprit behind young people’s shaky sense of self.
“….They are confused [about] who they really are. Media has bombarded them with so many images, and they happen so fast, they lose their self identity. That’s why we speak of ‘new normal,’ but actually they do not know what really to follow, what is good and which is bad,” he said.
Victims of relativism
Fr. Osias Ibarreta of the Diocese of Tarlac goes deeper by tracing the hand of relativism to which young people have fallen prey.
“Every age has its bullies. Today’s youth experiences a new kind of bullying called the dictatorship of relativism. It does not recognize anything definitive, its goal consists of ego and desires,” explained the priest.
According to him, the idea that there is no absolute truth, that each individual decides for himself what is true, what is right and wrong, can easily corrupt how young people see themselves and others.
The young person with such a mindset, Ibarreta added, also learns to keep the Church at an arm’s length.
“Unfortunately, post modernity has taught young people to view the Christian tradition with suspicion, to see it not as an aid to living a happy life, but as an oppressive, restrictive force that prevents them from discovering the meaning of existence and charting the course of their life,” he explained.
Such a perception, said the priest, soon proves detrimental to a young person’s personal development and growth.
“This outlook cuts off the young generation from the very source that help us flourish. Whatever the case maybe our youth must know that they have been cheated!,” he stressed. CBCPNews