Half a century of oppression had passed. Bloody battles and colonization left the land. For several years of freedom he was robed in blue as royal as the peaceful sea. His lips are tainted by scarlet red marks of patriotism and valor. He is that ‘three stars and a sun’. He is Juan- born out of cultural blessing and diversity.
You know, culture has been an influential tool in making us cognizant of what happened on our past. Substantially, it drives us to realize the essence of our present generation. It is but a solid reminder that we have to abide, to retain and respect however diverse circumstances seem.
It is Juan dela Cruz, the national epitome of the Philippines often used to represent the Filipino, anyone of us. He thought of every simple thing as insigne of his race, of his long-treasured and well-cultivated culture. From among the nations of the world, he considers himself weak who barely has any riches to take pride in.
This is Juan. And this is me. Yet feeble as we are, I never realized that this pauperism otherwise revealed the mighty powers we possess.
One of our treasured strengths is language & music. Geographically, we’re sundered by seven thousand islands in eighty-seven tongues. At first it may seem perplexing to converse diversely, but we are one people when we sing. The Kundimans from the North answers the reverberating strums of lutes from South. Young men croon their girls by the window at the rice fields. Under the coconut trees, Visayans are there singing their self-made songs. Through this, we share in harmony the mutual language of music. Let this be an inspiration for the world to unify amidst diversities. We sing and speak different notes and languages but let those alien speeches be our linking chains to form camaraderie, to tighten hand grasps in times of adversity. Let neither blood nor race discriminate those we strangely understand. Let those unfathomable defy the odds to know and acknowledge one another. This is one unique Filipino trait: we battle not through bombs or guns but we scuffle through voices and pens instead.
Faith draws us closer to our gods. This is our other armor, our Faith. Juan honors not only one god but plenty of them. Although Christianity conquered the majority, there are still those natives who kneel to their Bathalas, the Muslims who abstain and fast for several days, the Baptists preaching their bibles along the way, the atheists of no belief and so forth. I believe the world is not as far as having this religious disparity but just like Juan, nations must also come to realize oneness even different deities are revered. Let our varied faiths move ONE mountain then, for we are one people when we pray.
Now what make us also unique from the rest- our native values. And these again are our valuable powers. I can always remember those huts walking down the streets to transfer for a new place during calamities. This is cooperative endeavor or “bayanihan” which makes me appreciate family and brotherhood. Those simple gestures of doing “mano” or taking the hand of an elder towards your forehead, those kisses to parents whenever you go out or arrive home respectively, those taking off of slippers when entering another else’s home- such petty things that depict a sign of utmost respect to authorities make me proud of where I’ve grown, hoping that the world too may appreciate and see RESPECT as every culture’s value.
To become the vanguard of peace to this world, let every nation recognize, learn and respect another’s culture. We all have different practices, but a better future is more achieved if these differences are accepted to drive a CULTURAL WORTH.
For Juan who’s standing for us Filipinos, these are the bonds that hold us together. And as long as there remains in these islands one native to sing a self-made song, one priest to stand at the altar, and one hand to give the elderly respect, the world will no more be living with withered culture. We are one. All nations too must radiate these powers as Juan.
(This essay is another endeavor to make the Philippines known and reach the world by far just in time as well of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal’s birthday.)