My country is a country that disappoints. I can very well say this to myself now ten years after returning to my homeland in what was supposedly the better world of the West. Ten years ago I was willing to bet my stake on the future and promise of these beautiful islands, only to realize that things have not changed in those ten long years but have in fact deteriorated to a point of hopelessness for Juan de la Cruz.
If Rizal, Ninoy and our other heroes were alive today, would they have had second thoughts if the Filipino was worth dying for? Would they have asked where we have gone wrong?
I look at my children when theyâ€™re asleep at night and wonder what future awaits them here. Would I be raising them with the hope that theyâ€™ll be entitled to opportunities that will make them get out of this country someday, or would I be instill in them ways to be â€œmore Filipinoâ€ than their forebears are at present?
Of course, the rightful answer would be for them to grow up to be “more Filipino” than we are now. If todayâ€™s situation appears hopeless, the challenge lies in parents like me to mold the future movers of this land, a generation which will hopefully be enshrined with greater values than the culture of colonialism, corruption, greed and indifference that is so prevalent today.
I still believe that the Philippines is too beautiful a country to be left for greener pastures. Yet, we have seen the best of it being ravaged to the ground by the same leaders we chose to bring us to the apex of salvation; a meritocracy that promotes “globalization” by way of training its young to work in call centers and exporting legions of our seamen, nurses, caregivers and domestic helpers. We have lost the best of our brains and brawn to foreign shores while the teachers, scientists and inventors who choose to stick out in this homeland truly starve.
I can go on and on here about what is wrong with us as a race relegated to the tag of belonging to the Third World. Is it because we laugh so much at ourselves that we can manage to laugh at poverty even if it stares us in the face? Have we been so taken by the politics of patronage that we elect the same people from the same families over and over again? Have we been so blinded by faith even if the church we have put so much faith on has failed to put food on the tables where those dozen children should be?
Our sense of nationhood has become so fractured that most of us would now opt to “fly out” instead of “stay in” while finding more and more reasons not to love the Philippines. In our quest for survival, we have ignored our all-important connection to history and the extent with which our heroes shed their blood in the name of our independence.
I do not mean to underestimate anyone’s love for this country. I know that there will always be something that will lure us back to our roots, whether we are inhaling the fumes of Manila or savoring the medieval sights of Europe. But I do think that the betterment of the Philippines will not be achieved by rabblerousers who think it is their divine right to dictate our choice of leaders, especially when they too have fallen short of our expectations in the past. Change can only come from collective patriotism and volunteerism for the greater cause, in this case the awareness that there lives the silent majority who are lucky to eat two meals a day and have not owned a TV in their lifetime.
And if we have as much as lost our faith in our leaders today, let us not lose hope on the ability of the future generation – our children and our children’s children – to make a difference. Hope is eternal and we can only pray that it will happen. Someday. Soon.