Lamentation | Inquirer Opinion


12:18 AM November 25, 2016

There are not many things that we share in common, but they are enough. We belong to one race and to one motherland, the Filipino people living in the Philippines, the only land in this earth reserved for Filipinos. Our race and our motherland bind us.

For most Filipinos, we also are Filipino citizens. Some Filipinos have migrated to other countries, taking up citizenship there, but are Filipinos, nonetheless, part of the race that have arisen from the Philippines their motherland.


Most Filipinos, too, are brown-skinned. Intermarriages with other races may have darkened or lightened that brown skin, but Filipinos remain one race from one motherland. From one province or region to another, different languages are spoken, different crops are grown, different foods are prepared, but Filipinos are one race from one motherland.

From here on in, many similarities and many variations keep us alike and keep us different, from costumes to customs, from crops to minerals, so varied and so colorful that it is hard to imagine all these come from one people and one motherland—but they do. And this is the story of one race, one motherland, so the same and so different.


In the natural sense, what is different between us is also what makes us unique as a race and makes the motherland so beautiful. Truly, the statement that there is unity in diversity finds spectacular translation in the Filipino, in the Philippines. If only we can understand it. If only we can appreciate it.

But that is the elusive journey that has eluded us, the challenge that frustrates us. It even seems that the harder we strive for oneness, the deeper we drive the divisiveness. The more we look for great leaders, the more we discover the ones who tear us apart. We had hoped politics would define the common good and governance to work towards it. Instead, politics turned partisan and we cannot understand politics anymore if it were not so. From a simple mechanics meant to find the common good of a people that the Divine put together, politics now threatens to break us asunder.

The problem with partisanship is not that it defines our preferences, but has used those preferences as stimuli for our disintegration. Poverty has been its ugliest fruit, and corruption its most effective tool. What is common is not anymore what is good for all of us, just that we remain one race in one motherland. We are fast becoming only like animals bound by shared territorial boundaries and climate—and little else. Because the common good from where our aspirations and sacrifices has become nebulous, more recognized by contrasts and conflicts rather than one vision and a common cause.

No wonder that change is always the operative campaign spirit, and disappointment the operative consequence. I wonder what it is with politics and governance that turn good men and women into bad, that those who refuse to change their lofty values become the first to taste ignominious defeat. Why is it that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Does this truism have no opposite reality in a world that submits to duality? If power such a corruptive influence, why, then, does politics seek power? With elections every three years, why are we such in a hurry to trigger the corruption of more people?

I ask these questions every so often, forced by circumstance to do so. And the most special of circumstance of all is when we as a people begin to behave as though we are not one race from one motherland.  I ask these questions when my optimism is under siege, when the noble dreams are being overtaken by the increasing nightmares, when the bright future we seek is overwhelmed by the wars we wage—not only against poverty, not only against corruption, not only against drugs, but the ones we wage against each other.

It is superfluous for me to provide more specific when the fundamentals themselves are cracking up. Of what use are specifics when these are not causes but mere consequences? It is times like this when doubts generate fear and conflict. Yet, I know that we must build, that change comes only when we build, and build, until, dreams, not nightmares, come true.

How does one build in a context of war? Who can build when what is paramount is what and who we hate and not what dream we will pursue and fulfill? We have become so caught up with what we dislike that the most we seem to hope for is to see our enemies defeated, shamed, and eliminated.


There is one silver lining in the dark clouds. It is our young, the new generations who are rejecting our preferences for fight or flight and insisting on the way they want to live their lives. It matters little anymore to them whether we like what they want or what they do; it seems they know we have become too busy fighting our wars to notice them building their dreams. And the more they ignore what we are doing to ourselves, the more there is hope that the future, their tomorrow more than ours, has a chance to be very different, to be very much better, that our past and our present.

I must, therefore, look to the future by looking to our youth to bring themselves there by themselves. And I must do my best, my utmost, to contribute to their journey by not being another obstacle they have to avoid along the way; hopefully, a stepping stone, a corner stone, struggling to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

As one author friend, Alex Lacson, wrote before in a moment of wisdom, there are twelve little things we can do each day to make the common good become the highest good as well. The little things are so little that they are easy to do. They are so simple that they are noble. They are so doable that they can turn lamentation to celebration.

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TAGS: differences, divisiveness, Filipinos, Philippines, Unity
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