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Bea de Leon on speaking out against Martial Law: 'Before I am an athlete, I'm also a Filipino'

By Bea De Leon as told to Saab Lariosa Published Sep 22, 2021 7:15 pm Updated Sep 23, 2021 7:24 am

A few days before the 49th anniversary of Martial Law and in the heat of a certain TV personality's interview with Ferdinand "Bongbong" Jr., PhilSTAR L!fe got the chance to speak with volleyball star Bea de Leon on speaking up against Martial Law.

Bea has long been outspoken about her stand against the Marcos dictatorship. Here's what she has to say now:

Up to this day, it rings true that if you don't look back on where you came from, you'll never see where you're going. 

With culture and people shaped a lot by our history, what seems to be the trend is that we tend to easily forget or say "antagal na niyan" when it comes to Martial Law. The consequences seem that things can possibly happen the same that way they did before - and that’s why we as young people need to speak up for what's right.

I still remember how they taught me Martial Law when I was in grade school. It was as simple as there was a curfew and little things like that. I'm not sure if they were trying to be nice to you or sugarcoat it because we were kids, but situations like that are why so many people are misinformed. It's that silencing of voices that causes the negation of violence.

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A post shared by Bea De Leon (@_beadel)

Some people promise you paradise, but that doesn’t mean they’re gonna follow through with what they say. It’s more important to see what politicians are actually doing than what they’re saying. It’s very important to learn from this lesson because people have died trying to instill this in us now, so it’s disheartening when people choose to remember that quirk of Imelda having a lot of shoes, rather than the grand scheme of things.

It's important for the youth to still speak up about it because it’s vital to know that we know where we want to go. It’s important for people to know that we still care because we have to know that we are the future. It’s a matter of uniting the role of the youth groups. You know we want to take our country to somewhere better, but we have to do it together first.

A large chunk of the voter population is young, the 18-40 category. We have to be able to use that to get what we want. We can’t just be like “Ah I’m just one person, bahala na. Ayoko nang makigulo."

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A post shared by Bea De Leon (@_beadel)

In the same way, it’s so common to hear the "whole maglaro ka na lang ng volleyball, wala ka namang alam" spiel. But as I say: Before I am an athlete, I am also a Filipino. I am a citizen as much as any other person regardless of occupation. I have a say too.

For as long as I know we are fighting for the right thing and the people around me. And the people who matter to me support me then it’s okay with me. You can’t please everyone and you can’t persuade everyone in everything you do. But I'd rather speak up for what I believe in than be silenced by others who don't feel the same way.

It’s so common to hear the whole: 'maglaro ka na lang ng volleyball, wala ka namang alam.' But as I say, before I am an athlete, I am also a Filipino.

How can we do this? First and foremost, we have to register. The lines are long, but it's worth it to know that your voice and vote will be heard come election day. You can't just think you're one person so you don't matter. If you're 20 people, that's already 20 people in one room. Twenty lives that matter.

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The day Bea reregistered as a voter in September 2019.

We keep speaking up on social media, but the reality is it can only reach so far. A vote is a vote where it actually counts. It’s somewhere where you can actually make your opinion heard.

You can’t just think that you’re just one person and you’re just one vote. You have to think that you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself and helping a collective cause. We have to know that there’s a bigger fight, and where it matters is on election day.

When you vote, it counts. It counts up there and in the future.

Banner photos from Bea de Leon