Touchstones in the Bloodline

Emilia Zozobrado
Posted February 10, 2011 from Philippines

(A Tribute to the Filipino in the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Philippines (EDSA) People Power on February 25, 2011)

(1) I had no name to begin with Coming from something or somewhere I have no way of knowing The man with the G-string, the girl with the malong and combong I started as a self-sustaining image Simple, humble, candid ..., contented and impregnable in the honesty of my excellent identity.

(2) There is a story in the spontaneity of my movements A tale bearing no malice in the frankness of its expression Seemingly vulnerable, unyielding in its innocence A tale of conviction, of love, of endurance A tale of freedom, of peace, of courage A tale of harmony in coexistence A tale of sensitivity and sensibility determined to get going Relentless in every endeavor, surviving in every purpose, flawless in every instinct

(3) I spread my colors with unassuming confidence I bear my losses with uncompromising courage I rejoice at my victories with uninhibited gratitude I glide in my caprices and luxuries with unpretentious tolerance I am full, I am free, I am funny I have no intention to be otherwise I am proud, I am happy, I am strong I have no reason to be otherwise I am simple, I am humble, I am honest I was never meant to be otherwise But I am always endangered, ever challenged, sometimes offended, sometimes oppressed So I fight and hide, disguise and despise, scream and scramble, rise and duck But I never give up ..., I am peerless

(4) There is a part of me that goes a-wandering ... to the dark, the heat, the cold, alone Away, astray, not unafraid, but daring A part of me that defies the rest of me and tries to outsmart the best of me A part of me that goes beyond my dimensions and seeks out beyond my horizons A part of me that always comes back for good Keeping the whole of me its instrument in all it stubbornness, in all its adventures, in all its absence The part of me I wholly belong ... the part of me that stays for keeps.

(5) Here I was since time began, and right here I remain But my will and choice to stay has not been, cannot be, and will never be an excuse or an assurance from any change For here you came, You ...., with your oriental identity ... With your glib tongue and trading tricks you lured me into what you call “commerce, business, and trade” I responded with warmth and sincerity You offered me tea and in return, in humble trust I brought out my priceless possessions, fruits of my unfaltering intentions for betterment, wealth of my pure and simple natural endowments And from then on my existence became you and me

(6) The Spanish fleet, that’s how I remember your coming With the faith you call “Christianity” you introduced in full authority Cruel, discriminating, overbearing ... you lambasted my peace and freedom and devastated my identity You forced me to be what I never wanted to be For three centuries and seven decades you made me a subject of suppression, oppression, repression Until you succeeded transforming the peace-loving me into a savage A savage desperate to get back all that is due me, get even, and more matter what the cost It took me a lot of bloodshed and disillusionment And you became an enormous part of me.

(7) A friend, that’s how you introduced yourself to me Attractive, innovative, deceptive Fascinating in your language ..., convincing in your pseudo-sincerity You stood by me in my fight for freedom and offered assistance for progress But in your own subtle and secret way you made me a submissive victim In your conquest through “education and development” And lavished on what you so brag about in the name of “assistance” You rendered confusion in the meaning of friendship and misspelled my independence Turning it all to your favor in undefined motives I flinched You took my being so much for granted, and took from my friendship so much advantage You suck my confidence and freedom In the guise of a friend you try to change the course of my desired destiny You leave me no choice making me over-dependent And forced out undeserved gratitude from me At your mercy, you have me at your beck and call Swallowing your bait, hook, line, and sinker Helpless and trapped, you have made your presence an essential part of me.

(8) You exploded right in my midst Tired, worried, disillusioned and sick, your sudden unwelcome entrance caught me off-guard You, with your world-famous modern technology Forced into me in a raging war A short occupation that left indelible ugly marks in my history Wounds of a lifetime that never ever heal ... of nameless violence, nondescript cruelty, unspeakable damage. A nightmare that goes beyond forgetting ..., a tragedy beyond forgiving With the ravages of your conquest so dark and devastating I sunk stricken with inconsolable grief and indescribable poverty Yet, all in all, you are still a part of me.

(9) Comes the time when the man with the G-string, now expert in push-button technology and modern survival complexities Stands as simple and humble as the Banaue Rice Terraces in all its grandeur - a reflection of the creature that shaped and molded it with his own bare hands and indigenous means; that ever so essential brainchild of my native wisdom in response to necessity, in the guise of an attractive charmer that insults the most modern technology, unequaled in the simplicity and precision of its function, equally unparalleled in the formidability of its innocent charm and beauty, Still maintaining that ancient style and perception that scares modern and technology-dependent networks ... suspicious, offended, unyielding, determined Comes the time when the girl with the malong and combong, Now superb in modern trends and fashion ..., well-equipped in superficial and artificial extravagances of humanity, and beyond reproach in the amenities and sophistication of social behavior and education – going out of her way to all colors and angles of cosmopolitan influence to domesticate an alien projection Stands as candid and enduring as the Maria Christina waterfalls in all its splendor as it inches out from the pure and simple serenity of Lake Lanao to the gorgeous laughter of a world-acclaimed tourist attraction, and sacrifices such beauty and freedom to transform herself into the primary force that propels an indigenous society to intimidate the world’s leading business tycoons – the oil magnates, in her self-sufficiency Still maintaining that primitive air of indifference that ever threatens the influence of modern art and permissive society Suspicious, offended, unyielding, determined The man with the G-string The girl with the malong Suddenly, there are lots of their kind - ethnic identities, each different from the other in form and passion, Each distinction giving essence as they blend with each other in excellent eloquence Seemingly lost, outmoded, and outshone in the kaleidoscope and kleiglights of the ever-changing rhythm of space and time Screamed and glared in unpretentious intolerance and uncompromising disapproval Outraged... , emerged in one overwhelming identity The Filipino Culture. My name My identity My uniqueness My perfection Armed with a common identity, sustained by a common goal Reinforced by love for one another ... determined to fight for no less than peace and justice Joined hands to oust a dictator

(10) The EDSA revolution The February 1986 miracle The Philippines people power The emergence of the true Filipino The sanctity of the Filipino Culture Faith and action of a culture that refused to be dehumanized The world stood still And time marveled at the fortitude, wisdom and endurance of the so-called beggar sitting in gold. I stood still I am a Malay I am a Chinese I am a Spaniard I am an American I am a Japanese I am a European Who am I? A voice, firm yet gentle, told me I am perfectly one in being perfectly all The man with the G-string, The girl with the malong I drink the tea the Chinese offered me I wear the sombrero the Spaniards brought me I place the necktie right where the Americans have it I use the technology the Japanese taught me I echo the laughter of cosmopolitan standards But I never removed my G-string and malong The convenience of wrapping it next to my skin, come what may, cannot deceive me It gave me enough confidence that I can never be lost And I have never changed I am no less than and no more than what I was and what I will be I have grown These changes, nurtured into being through the life of me to be and not to be kept me securely at pace with the rhythm of time That the Chinese introduced commerce, business, and trade at the time I was enjoying my very own barter trade in unquestionable self-sufficiency That the Spaniards introduced Christianity at the time when my faith was stronger than ever in the existence of superior beings, gods and goddesses of love and war, of sun and rain; when my native innocence did not allow me to imagine a God - Bathala, One God so powerful as to be responsible to everything inside and outside of me and even beyond, alone, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent; when my primitive wisdom prompted me to realize and recognize a nameless Someone Somewhere taking care of me and the rest That the Americans introduced education and progress in western mode at the time when my own system sufficed to maintain an ideal pace and harmonious coexistence and a fair communication and evaluation, affording me a code of living effective and efficient for my purpose That the Japanese engaged me in a raging war, bringing out the beast and the survivor in me, in the wilds of my own jungles, in the depths of my own waters, in the tranquility of my own meadows; straight and sure as the flight of an arrow from the bow to its target as nature had harnessed my expertise in survival That the modern universal influence brought about by my own initiative and motivation propelled by sensitivity and sensibility in the awareness of cosmopolitan standards and dimensions caused me a lot of confusion, envy, pride, anger, hatred, shame, and ambition Here I am and here I remain Simple, humble, candid, enduring; Exciting, attractive, dangerous The height, the depth, the breadth of your power The touchstone of your survival The banner of your existence Your very own THE FILIPINO CULTURE.


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