By Icoy San Pedro

IF in social media, you happen to open one personal video for viewing, you’re instantly given the option to view or review other available videos. At one such instance, I was redirected to one personal video that showed how American children reacted to their parents’ coming home unannounced after serving several months on military duty. Nothing in it that involves fancy editing or special effects really, just the usual mushy stuff that tugs at the heartstrings. And although we’re not Americans, we relate in a way perhaps because children missing dads and moms are always sad.

Then I thought, while it’s quite obvious that the videos were meant to be sentimental choo-choowariwap, its subliminal agenda might also be to keep instilling in the targeted American viewers a more personal love of country or appreciation for that one particular word we pinoys like to always say but fail to grasp, nationalism. Yup, that word. After all, it’s a few days after Independence Day, isn’t it? 

I remember our late moderator in high school, Mr. Leoncio Deriada, asking us. What is nationalism to you? Apparently, until that moment, I have never really given it a thought and only then had I become aware that everyone in the class never even had the vaguest idea how to define the word. For us (he said), it’s simply wearing the barong Tagalog and showing the Philippine flag. When one really thinks about it, just those two things that showed what nationalism is, makes up for a poor presentation for any child’s show-and-tell. Sadly, adults can add up another feature: parades and flag-raising ceremonies by local officials in front of government offices. Voila! 

Deny it or not, the spirit’s not even there. It had also been the same many years ago, I happened to ask one ram soldier whom I had befriended if he had ever felt a certain pride during the EDSA takeover. Emotions were high then and I was expecting to hear something inspirational. All he blurted was a lot of personal stuff but nary a hint of that one word or even a vague context of something similar. Among pinoys now with different passports, one of the thing noticeable, especially during the past elections is their continued downgrading of the country’s status as though, once upon a time they’ve never been residents. I’m also reminded of a Swiss doctor who noted why Europe and generally all its cities and towns suffer from a seeming overdose of statues and monoliths of both national and local heroes and heroines.  All in comparison to here. (In jest, I recall telling him it’s quite expensive to erect statues in our country and being a poor one, we’d rather devote the money somewhere else. Note: they’ve no sense of humor.) 

In closing, you be the judge. What is nationalism to you? Aside from our national clothes, parades, flags and flag-raising ceremonies, how else do we define it? Pass your papers, finished or unfinished before June 12, next year.

Source: Mindanao Times (