Freeman Cebu Business

Loving our country

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces - The Freeman

The other day, while standing beside Mandaue City’s Administrator, I got reminded of my pledge to sing the national anthem whenever possible. Although I have not been remiss yet in that promise, but it was a novelty for me to hear Atty. Jamal Calipayan sing our national song during the opening ceremonies of their program, not just as rote but with a tone of commitment. I was quietly awed.

We seldom hear people sing our national anthem with gusto. This small thread of music, which seems to be apparent in every Filipino does not extend fully to the national hymn. Perhaps it is because we always have canned renditions when we have formal activities or even the flag ceremony that we have somehow taken for granted the singing of our anthem as an exercise, which we can mouth without heart.

This brings me back to my daily traffic ordeal. For those of us who travel north daily, and perhaps for the southerners too at certain points, we find ourselves stuck between unmoving cars and audacious, sometimes careless motorcycle drivers, who weave through the gauntlet just to get ahead.

Now how does my early statement relate to this thought?

In moments when I am caught in the quagmire of unmoving cars, I hold myself from a curse, and remind myself that this is my country. My only beloved Philippines, and in this case, Cebu province. There is no amount of ranting that I do that can ease the flow of vehicles, though I admit that I succumb to an invective now and then when I hit a pothole and a motorcycle cuts through in the small gap I make.

So I entertain myself while in a standstill, with the many good things I find in our home, the Philippines. Oh yes, I get distracted by the hanging wires and the line of cars that park at thoroughfares that eat up the road. I watch the frantic cadence of the traffic police as he sorts an unruly throng that just pops up now and then to cross when vehicles are at rest regardless of a pedestrian lane.

He mans the road rain or shine. Though dust and mire. He has to smile when splashed with water from a car that hits a puddle while he gracefully evades motorbikes that slither through. Like me, he works to earn his living and possibly after work, gets home to warm-cooked inun-unan and rice. I hope his wife appreciates the risk he is taking daily, while she ladles food into a dish. After eating, he may have time to watch the latest coverage of a basketball game with his sons, or help them with their homework if he is not spent after all the calisthenics at work.

I love my country because I do not have to bring my passport around to prove my identity. I am free to relate with others because we understand the nuance of our culture. I appreciate why we are forgiving, and why sometimes we have to stand our ground to we do not get trampled on.

I love my country, where the seasons just take in rain or shine, and my wardrobe need not require me to put on the heavy burden of winter clothes. 

I love my country, and I can boast of many things about our people, more than the number of islands and unique languages that we use to communicate, aside from more than 80 dialects we are richly blessed with.

In the Philippines, we are free to be creative. We can liberate our imagination and genius to design, invent and discover what our minds and hands can do. And even if we sometimes get frustrated for the seemingly lack of support for our passion, we are not prevented from thinking and coming up with new things. 

Here we can practice our faith without the fear of being ostracized or captured unlike in other lands. Our elderly is respected and given privileges. And in times of disaster, we readily strive to help each other and rise above our circumstances.

Generally, we are not wasteful.  Being a third world country has taught us to be judicious and wise in the use of our resources, though we, like other countries in the world, whether rich or poor, are plagued by a corrupt system that has reeked discomfort in our reputation.  In that I assume we are not alone.  The world suffers with us in this aspect.

I prefer to think well of my country amidst the political tug-of-war, otherwise why live here? And if we go abroad to add to the wealth of some oppressive nation, we have actually failed our country by not using our brain where our countrymen will profit more. Those of us who are able, can slowly, brick by brick, contaminate the young, to think well and work hard to keep our country, OUR country, freely ours, undictated by the richer and more powerful nations with dwindling populations. 

The young, in this we are wealthy. And if our population grows with proper discernment, then we can foresee an even brighter Philippines. Let us then teach them to love our country. So we can lie the truth as we sing…”Alab ng puso sa dibdib mo’y buhay!”

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