Support. Don't Punish. 2016

NoBox Philippines celebrated the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action this June 26, 2016. It was a wonderful evening of poetry, music, and honest conversations, with people stepping up on stage to share their art, anger, frustrations, music, stories — and most importantly, to share themselves. This is the opening statement delivered by NoBox’s founding director, Ma. Inez Feria.

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I am so moved to see all of you here.

Tonight is not about drugs. It has never been about drugs; it has always been about people.

Tonight we are celebrating stories, stories that may not necessarily be good or bad, for or against anything. It’s just about being honest and true and human. This can mean stories that may be sad, they may be funny, disturbing, stories that can make us angry, stories that inspire.  It is a whole fascinating range.

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Stories just have this way of connecting us. Stories remind us, that oo nga ano, we’re all human. You and I — we’re not that different.  All it takes is to see each other as co-human, then all of a sudden it becomes so natural, so second-nature for us to be kind to one another.

Like: Have you ever needed to have someone who would just listen? Someone saying “yes, I understand.” Someone caring enough to say:  all I want is for you to be okay and I’m here for you. All you want for me is to be okay? That’s all you want from me?

That makes a huge difference. Something that small, sometimes, is all it takes to keep going.

This is why your stories are so important and, more importantly, need to be heard.

All it takes is this human connection.

Never underestimate the ripple of one simple act of kindness. When that happens — we become an us.

Because ganun naman talaga eh  — there is no us versus them, there is only us.
This night is about support.

So, keep on sharing your stories. Let’s keep on listening.

Said anthropologist Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Thank you, and enjoy the evening.