Thursday, June 12, 2008
Time and again, June 12 arrives and the commemoration of the Philippines’ colonial independence becomes somewhat obtrusive, what with the sudden appearance of red, star-studded white and blue flags everywhere, among other tangible yet suspiciously intentioned ways of showing one’s Filipino-ness. The depressing state of affairs hereabouts—the fare hike, the mounting inaccessibility of food, the rising criminality that sometimes victimizes me, the lack of conscience of corrupt officials—becomes all the more devastating, driving me into contemplation if my own personal attempt to remain Filipino no matter what is but a grim and determined chauvinism of sort, an empty pride, a reckless idealism. The disenchantment is increasingly taking its toll with my greater association of June 12 as the fateful day I did a version of Belinda Bright’s Ang Kapitbahay than that historic moment when the unfurling of the Philippine flag in Kawit, Cavite proclaimed the natives’ break from Spanish bondage. This becomes even more perverted when the presidential decree of holiday economics perplexes me on what date to celebrate my people’s freedom from the colonizers: on the extra weekend, or on the original calendar mark? In times like this, I cannot just chew some fruit gum to ease the crisis away; instead, I subject myself under an identity grilling in order to check myself if I still suit the definition of what’s Filipino. The following are not local beauty pageant questions, so stop me from mouthing sugarcoated answers after each interrogative punctuation mark:
1. Do I wish to stay in my country even under the most distressing points?
2. Do I support my country by patronizing local products, from toothpaste to food to books to television shows to films?
3. Do I communicate using my national language?
4. Do I identify with my poor masses?
5. Do I sincerely write about postcolonial stuff?
6. Do I pursue the virtues of my national heroes?
7. Do I abide by my country’s constitution?
8. Do I support my country’s government?
9. Do I perform my job well in order to contribute to nation-building?
10. Do I practice Filipino customs/norms/traditions/rituals?
The list, of course, can get kilometric, and I hope in all of these, my answer is that resounding response from an excited bride being wedded to a Nobel-nominated Jon Avila deadringer. But let me give myself a cliffhanger to further my confusion despite my undoubtedly Filipino blood, physical features, citizenship, and geographical location: define Filipino.
P.S. Mukhang Latina na naman ang mananalo…