Defiance does not always equate to an armed struggle or to cause destruction to prove a point or rally support for an anti-establishmentarian cause. Defiance does not always equate to a state of conflict and terror.

The opposite is just as true.

In many ways, defiance is found in the quiet smiles of children, which break into gales of laughter when taught a funny dance or when shown what they look like in the LCD display of a camera.

Defiance is the rebuilding of classrooms, which were previously burned down by separatists rebels for no apparent reason (which illustrates a point: how dare they claim to be fighting for ideology when it is the future of their own children that they compromise?).

Defiance is found in the word for “peace” in the vernacular, painted brightly and boldly on the walls of the school. It is the silent roar of every child, that which they yearn for in this remote village.

Defiance is the handprint of each child in the school, pressed firmly on the walls, a sign of ownership on their future—a future marked with possibilities and opportunities, rooted firmly in education.

Defiance is a song of love, one that calls for the world to think of loving each other before anything else. It is the song from the mouths of the children, sang in unison, loudly and clearly.

Defiance is fighting for a life of peace and a future full of promise. These are what we fight for, together with the children of Tuup Elementary School in Patikul, Sulu.



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