“How long have you been away from the country?” Laruja asked Ibarra.
“Almost seven years.”
“Then you have probably forgotten all about it.”
What is nationalism?
Put simply, it is the act of loving one’s country. Nationalism is what brings the people of a nation together; it is what unites us, it is what defines us. Nationalism binds the men and women of a country, and such a bond puts aside the differences of individual persons, instead forging something greater – a union of people.
Yet, nationalism is more than a thought. It is more than a whispered word, more than a hidden love. It is action. It is service. It is in the heart of the voter, choosing his future leaders; it is in the heart of the teacher, educating the next generation; it is in the heart of the policeman, protecting his countrymen; and it is in the heart of all those who are not afraid to say they love the Philippines, and are not afraid to show that love through service.
This act of service has defined our country for all its existence; it has inspired those who have fought for it, and continues to inspire those who fight for it. The Propaganda Movement of old sought equality for the Philippines, and they offered their words and their deeds to the cause of the native Filipinos. They wrote, and opened the eyes of those who could not see. They fought, not for blood, but for justice. They awoke a nation long enslaved by Spanish rule, kindling a fire that would not be halted. They live on through their love, and though their time has passed, we remember.
Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, Jacinto, Del Pilar – the names of legends, the names of heroes. They led the revolution against Spain, daring what the Propaganda Movement did not. They took up arms, fought for liberty, and died in the thousands for the nation that could be. They faced adversity, knowing that something greater lay ahead – the hope of an unborn nation, the light of a united people. They did not see their dream fulfilled, not while still alive. Yet their stories, their examples, and their sacrifice served to inspire all those who came after them. And though the time of revolt and warfare has passed, though the cries of red blood and black skies have faded away, though the names of the fallen have slowly evanesced into nothing, we remember.
And, remembering the love of those before us, we must look ahead. We live now in a nation of hardship, where, instead of foreign enemies, we face far more elusive foes. We fight poverty and corruption, fight ignorance and strife, and still keep the hope for a better nation. Yet, these dangers threaten to defeat us. They taunt us at every corner; they fight us in every dishonest politician, in every illiterate child, and in every man and woman who turns their backs on the country they once knew.
Perhaps nationalism is dying. Perhaps its time has passed.
Yet the moment we give up on our country, we are truly lost.
In a time where politicians and actors are barely distinguishable, in a time where the slightest attempt at change is quickly extinguished, in a time where voters live in fear of retribution and in a time where another poor child is a commonplace occurrence, we need nationalism more than ever. For what drives us to serve our country if not true love for its welfare? What leads us to compassion if not unity?
Today is the time for heroes. Not heroes of battle; not heroes of rebellion; but heroes of humble service.
Home page by: Martyn Tan, Rylee Dela Cruz, Derick Cu