Fighting for what is rightfully ours

My name is Isabel M. Peralta. I am an 11-year-old, Grade 6 student at De La Salle Santiago Zobel School (DLSZ) and a proud Filipino.

A few weeks ago, we were given projects by our teachers in completion of our end-term tasks, aiming to promote social awareness on the present territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. With the help of our Social Studies teachers, Ms. Julie Agudo and Ms. Rebecca Dela Rosa, we have integrated our projects from different subject areas to produce an infomercial using our media learning devices.  Through the social media platform Facebook, we disseminated the information to allow a larger audience to view­— 

To date, our infomercials have garnered thousands of views, but we need more people to see and hear what we have to say. While many other videos with no social relevance have trended worldwide, what I do not understand is why isn’t ours being viewed as much, when we are spreading information that could help our country’s future become more economically stable; when we are standing up for our rights as Filipinos; when we, even at a young age, are pushing to fight for what is rightfully ours. Have we, as Filipinos, just accepted that we are helpless in this situation? Have we given up hope on taking back what belongs to us? Do we just don’t care at all? Or don’t we have enough information to know how significant this issue is to the future of our country?

With all these questions in mind, I did my own research. I asked my family what they knew about the territories and was told by my uncles that they used to freely fish around one of the islands that China is claiming as theirs now. That island now referred to as Panatag Shoal, used to be called Bajo de Masinloc. My uncles still refer to it as such. They knew first-hand that in the past, China has never claimed it as theirs because there were no Chinese vessels manning the shoal and it was mostly Filipinos and some Taiwanese who were fishing in those areas. The more I learned about the issue, the more questions I had—why has it only been in the past couple of years that China has begun claiming ownership of the territories?  If it was really theirs from the beginning as they have claimed it to be, why are they protecting it just now?  What have they discovered recently, that fired up their claim to those territories?

I once again did more research and discovered that there are so much resources, including oil, in the West Philippine Sea territories. 

What started as a school project pushed me to take a bigger stand in this issue.  I am blessed to have teachers who not only provided us with this much awareness, but are encouraging us to be part of the solution.

As students, as Filipino youth, and as the future of our nation, we are now pleading to the government to hear what we have to say in asking them to give more importance to the issue of reclaiming the West Philippine Sea.  

Our school President, Brother Bernie Oca once told me—you have the opportunity now to be able to take a stand! Hold your head up high and fight for what is right and true. And those words, Brother Bernie, I take by heart. I love my country and I love being a Filipino. We should all be part of the solution by learning more about the issue and spreading awareness about it.

Topics: West Philippine Sea , Panatag Shoal , South China Sea
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