I can already see
or the wonder from His hands these little buds tease.
Tomorrow, June 12, is another celebration for you. It is just fitting then to pay tribute to you and try to the best of my ability to “feel” the significance of this celebration– the commemoration of your, as they declare, 115th Independence Day.
How are you now with that independence?
First of all, 14 years of schooling me about how you achieved that independence instilled in me that pride I know you wish all your children to have. Yes, I still remember po how you were almost fooled by one conqueror from Spain when you welcomed him and his troops in one of your pristine islands that one sunny day in 1521. Thanks to our brother Lapu-lapu who successfully took care securing that almost lost independence. And as an act of appreciation to this brother, we, the succeeding generations, graciously named a place and one fish after him, and sometimes fondly use him in some of our jokes’ punchlines.
After that bloody battle in Mactan that Lapu-lapu led, numerous other battles took place because several other “visitors” posing as “friends” took over you, raped you, and killed many of your children who would not let you to be totally broken.
And then, as history puts it, with the bravery (most resulted in death) of your men and women, we succeeded. You prevailed.
Or have you?
Hundred years more later, are we still proud of you? Are you proud of what we have become? Do you still feel our care?
I am happy to say, motherland, that we still enjoy the freedom that the past has passed on us. But I hope you don’t mind that despite rejecting the idea of being a part of another nation, we’ve not been selfish entertaining remnants of these conquerors’ influences, like how we adore the pop cultures of the West and some of our neighbors in the East more than our own kundiman and OPM (original pinoy music) and Tagalog films, how we spend our hard-earned money on Starbucks instead of the simple kapeng barako, and how we live a Western lifestyle far different from our grandparents’ traditional ways. On the contrary, you should be proud because unlike your fellow Third World “mothers,” we’re updated with the present technology, only that that technology is not ours. Facebook, Instagram, Hollywood buzz… we are ahead in these nonetheless. We really take advantage of the Internet the West has introduced to us. But don’t worry, we’re not going to give in to these pleasures and give you up. Yes, we entertain “visitors” with our well-known sweet Filipino hospitality but we know our limits. Of course, we can’t just easily give your lands to them; we only let them manage those lands. For taxes. We would not also let someone from the outside to come in and bring bad things, like that some African guy in the news the other night who tried to bring drugs in your land by swallowing them up so the immigration would not see. Government would not let him though. They are housing him now in some clinic, feeding him with papaya for him to poop those capsules of drugs. Poor guy. And that Dan Brown who declared your city as “gates of hell” in his book? We don’t believe him, of course. But he should thank us because he’s sold many copies here since the controversy.
On a sadder note, motherland, many of your children have chosen to go to other lands for a better pasture, they say. I know they should not leave you like that, but I could not really blame them. I admit, I, too, have that desire of leaving you for the same reason and for other personal reasons. Apparently, many of your children do not have enough trust in our present “heroes,” those who are chosen and are supposed to take care of those underprivileged and forsaken. Sadly, most of those “heroes” just battle each other in debates and petty arguments instead of fighting the bigger enemy of the present time, poverty. With your independence, we have the freedom to choose our leaders, but for decades now, the same problems just tend to multiply.
I am at a fault, too. I once promised you to help educate my kind, but I opted to take a different path. We all have our share of neglecting you, I know. And I will not be surprised if one day history repeats itself– loss of independence because of land grabbing. We don’t know how to fight now and whether we still have that ability to battle. We ought to be scared and to prepare because of some silent threats, but we’d rather update our online profiles.
Please don’t be depressed. It’s not all bad. I know like me, you have faith in each of us, that we only need a point to trigger our unity and courage once again. I, we, just hope that that point does not anymore entail bloody battles. We have enough monuments for the heroes of our past. Help us have leaders who live the right path and help you be vibrant once more.
For now, let us celebrate. It is your day, in the first place. There will be official celebrations for you in the higher seats, but for most of us, whom you grant a day off our exhausting jobs, we might just be enjoying tomorrow by waking up late and later on, being in some karaoke bar belting our lungs out to Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way, or crying our broken hearts out to the local song Pusong Bato. For some of us, the nation’s woes are way too big to put our hands on. Pardon if we’d shamelessly wallow on our little personal issues rather than really taking care of your bigger concerns for our own bigger benefits. Because sometimes apathy can be quite comforting. But please, don’t let us stay in that useless state.
Take care of us, motherland.