by Julian Felipe
Bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan.
Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo’y buhay.
Lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting
Sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.
“I am proudly Filipino.” A hundred–no, make that a thousand and more–times I’ve heard myself say this line. But what does it truly mean to be proud of one’s race? Of one’s lineage? Of one’s heritage? Is this what they all call patriotism? Can it be measured only through words or be proved only by heroic deeds? Or is it something you just cannot limit to several paragraphs? A beacon as bright as day itself persistently burning in your mind? A force as unstoppable as every beat of your heart? I know not, but I am certain that in order to fully comprehend or somehow grasp it, one has to know his homeland.
Sa dagat at bundok, sa simoy ay
sa langit mong bughaw,
may dilag ang tula at awit
sa paglayang minamahal.
Over two weeks ago, I was given a chance to become a tourist in my own country. “How?” you ask. My mom had a visitor who came from Canada. She stayed for almost two weeks to take a break from all the demands of her busy life. During one of the times my mom and Cheryl (yep, that’s her name) were talking, the word “tour” came up. Fast-forward to a few days later, my mom had offered to take our visitor on a tour of several places in the country. Having no classes at the time, I was able to join in two out of the five days they’d be touring. One of the places we visited was the town of Taal, Batangas. There, we were given a glimpse of what the Philippines in the 1800s was like (Note: Back then, the Philippines was under the reign of Spaniards. If you don’t already know, my country was Spain’s colony for 333 years, so there’s quite a lot of Castillan influence going on.) We went to several ancestral houses, museums and plenty of old churches. Everywhere I look, stories abound. It was there in every piece of antique furniture, every page of yellowed books and letters, every crack in the stone-laden floors of centuries-old structures, every color masterfully applied to portraits that depicted the era’s everyday life, every smell and taste of the town’s own cuisine. No words could speak of my fascination, but the spark in my eyes gave voice to the awe I couldn’t keep bottled up inside.
Ang kislap ng watawat mo’y
tagumpay na nagniningning.
Ang bituin at araw niya
kailan pa ma’y di magdidilim.
Seeing fragments of my nation’s history made me appreciate who I am more. It had fueled the fire of pride I was feeling for the men and women who made my country what it is today. It transported me back to a time when life was quaint, but not entirely easy. It opened my eyes to a profound moment in history when the Filipinos’ love for their country fanned the embers of revolution aimed at sovereignty. It had, in a nutshell, explained what being a Filipino (Pinoy) is all about.
Lupa ng araw, ng lualhati’t pagsinta,
buhay ay langit sa piling mo.
Aming ligaya ng pag may mang-aapi,
ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.