I spent my entire elementary life some hundred years ago. in a catholic school run by nuns in Caloocan City. As part of our morning routine then was the prayer, singing of the National Anthem while the Philippine flag is raised, and the reciting of the Panatang Makabayan. Except for the placing of the right hand on the left chest which was incorporated sometime after the February revolution, nothing much has changed to this date. This is exactly the same routine we have every morning from Monday to Friday in schools.
It took me all of thirty years to contemplate on what this practice is all about and if it does what it is supposed to do -- to inculcate in the minds of every young mind what it is to be a Christian and a true Filipino so that we can take pride on who we are. From among the three, the national anthem and panatang makabayan seems to be the more inutile. The last phrase in the National Anthem says, Ang mamatay ng dahil sa'yo! "to die for your glory!" alluding to our heroes who sacrificed their lives so that we can live happily and freely. This alone should have been sufficient to inflame our passion for patriotism, inspire and move us to tears if only for the sheer intensity of the emotion evoked by the song. And yet, this is not the case.
Looking at the young minds in my care today, I see myself thirty years ago when I was a teen-ager myself. Unaffected by the words, more inclined to hum the tune, recite the sing-song pattern of a beautiful poem (I'm talking about the old version) wondering what those deep tagalog words were, rather than taking these to heart. Sometimes amused, a lot of times bored. The morning routine seems to have turned into nothing but just that - a routine. And just like it had been to me as a youngster, the morning routine is nothing but a perfunctory exercise that must be done just because it has to be done. Something that has to be egested by the system like uhm, yes, excrement. It is actually meaningless to these teen-agers. What do you expect? They're young, carefree and on top of the world. But should this be so? Should we wait for another thirty years before they experience the same enlightenment? Is this an unending cycle? What brought this about?
We are not a very fortunate race. We have been occupied by at least three oppressors who raped our resources, robbed us of an indigenous culture that could have grown by itself, prospered in a unique system of governance that would have been suited for our situation and temperament and gained the fruits of our intellect. As it is now, our resources have long been depleted, and in return are given the spoils of developed countries at a very high price. We have a deranged culture that borrows heavily from the west, giving us the monicker "brown apes" by our supposed "idols". We have caused our economy to plunge even lower than rock bottom as a result of corruption and mismanagement and seen the rise of brain drain to staggering heights in number much higher than the first wave that occurred during the 60's.
How does one expect the young to be proud of who they are under these circumstances? When even their parents are wont to buy all the whitening products in the market and coloring their hair blonde just so they can have a Caucasian look? Spend thousands of money for a liposuction just so they can have that whistle-bait figure of Angelina Jolie? Never mind the flat nose, the shortness of their legs, and the thickness of their lips. Our demented concept of beauty is absurd for what we see as beautiful is something we are not. How can we become creative and establish our own when we ourselves deem our own products as inferior just like we see ourselves?
Take a look at our television game shows. These are nothing but sorry adaptations of foreign game shows if not the actual one to which we have paid a huge amount of money for its franchise. Last Sunday, my children were watching some sort of a local version of the American idol where there are, surprise surprise, three judges. Andrew E, the girl from the disbanded "Kulay" band and another guy whom I have just seen for the first time. A local
Our music is going nowhere. If only we were able to appreciate our own, we might have developed a more progressive music culture. Unlike the samba that saw the popularity of Brazilians Jobim, Gilberto and Getz, or reggae which catapulted Bob Marley and Jamaica to fame, Filipino music never infiltrated the American market. Why, because of the ease by which we assimilate to any culture. While this is a good thing, still, we don't get to promote who we are and what we can offer in a huge way. Local bands would copy a song, note for note. And what's more, the singer would try to mimic the voice and manner of speech of the singer. As JKX would say, ayayayay!
Even the art scene should not be spared. I have long lamented the fact that when children draw cartoons, they would do anime characters. Why? Simply because they don't have any alternative. It has been a long dream of mine to create a full length cartoons with a team of creative talents, working with them from pre to post production. Maybe Biag ni Lam Ang for starters. But as I am a poor man, that will remain to be a dream for yet a very long time. Maybe someone out there could pick the idea. I don't care. As long as we start creating our own.
This entry is getting to be so long and boring, I wonder if you have reached this point. If you did, thank you for bearing with me. Maybe you can share your comments. I'd love to hear it. At any rate, how can we expect the young to understand the urgency of having a better tomorrow? How do we imbibe in them pride of who we are as a people? Certainly, it will take more than the singing and the reciting of the national song and pledge but it should be a start. So, boys and girls, sing loud and take pride that you are a Filipino. If not, who else will do that for you? You cannot cover your identity by make-up or any law made by man. You will always be who you are.