finding hope – thoughts on Philippine Flag Day

image courtesy of http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Mid-day. I get a tweet from one of the dailies that I follow, telling me that May 28 is Philippine Flag Day.

Philippine-huh?

I have a vague memory of having heard of this celebration–a few times throughout the years, I suppose. But I cannot for the life of me explain what it means, except that it’s obviously a day to honor our national flag.

Perhaps it’s the timing of it that has made it quite obscure among most Filipinos; if this day were observed during school season maybe people would’ve had better retention.

“Timing” on another level, too, must be involved in the public snubbing of Flag Day this particular year: It unfortunately(?) coincides with the national soap opera that is the impeachment of the Chief Justice–its concluding episode, in fact.

There was absolutely no one in my Facebook or Twitter lists (save for those news and public affairs groups) that made mention of the (non)event. I don’t see it trending anywhere.

So does it even still hold any relevance to the Pinoy of today?

This Inquirer article tells us that the National Flag Day commemorates the Battle of Alapan, cited by General Emilio Aguinaldo in his memoirs as “the first combat of the Filipino revolution of 1898.” The article relates:

The gun battle ended in victory for the Filipinos, who took their Spanish prisoners to the revolutionary headquarters in Cavite that same day.

As they approached the headquarters to the shouts and cheers of the locals, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Philippine Revolution, waved the Philippine flag that he had brought back with him from exile in Hong Kong.

It was a moment of glory for the revolutionists and for the Filipino people. It was the eve of the birth of a new nation…

But the road to the victory at Alapan had not been easy or bloodless or without tears.  From the first day of the Philippine Revolution, which broke out in August 1896, the Filipinos’ struggle was hard and tragic.

Children lost their fathers, wives their husbands, families their daughters and sons. They suffocated in the crowded prisons of Fort Santiago or were executed in Bagumbayan or perished in the battles that took place within and outside Manila in the succeeding months and years.”

Back in those days, our men and women died for the freedom and dignity of our land and its people.

Today?

I know that for the cause of freedom and dignity, there are still people dying or risking their lives or giving of themselves now, doing whatever it is that they think best: in the remote boondocks, planting seeds of revolution and shedding blood; or out in the streets marching with their huge placards and angry words; or using their pens and the media for their advocacy; or working to “empower” communities; or striving to bring justice to the marginalized; or feeding the hungry…

I know, too, however, that many more are content at being bystanders or sideline commentators, and that there are even those among us who prefer to look away and just remain sheltered in our respective shells. For a growing number of us whose hope for the nation’s future has all but crumbled, running away has been the thing to do, for the sake of protecting the freedom and dignity of the self and of people held dear.

If I may go out on a limb…

I wonder: How many of us have taken to prayer?

Have we tried to pray for our country and our people?

I am reminded now of evangelist, educator and publisher D.L. Moody, who said,

Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.”

Awareness of how jaded we have become as a people makes me yearn even more for a change in perspective, for a looking beyond ourselves for hope that this nation can still rise and that our people can still enjoy the freedom and dignity that we all dream of.

Praying for our country may actually be the most patriotic thing that we can do. Naniniwala ako na kung taus-puso at tagos sa kaluluwa lamang nating ipananalangin ang ating bayan, di natin maiiwasang lubos na buksan ang ating mga mata sa mga realidad nito, at di rin natin mapipigilang gamitin ang ating mga kamay (kakayahan) upang maging kabahagi sa pagtugon sa mga realidad na ating makikita.

Moreover, if it is the Lord’s sovereign will and faithfulness that we will depend on and His wisdom that we will seek, He shall direct our way to act in accordance to this will of His, and we won’t need to scour our limited minds for our own futile and (sometimes) self-destructive ideas on how to take part in the renewal of our land.

Call it simplistic. Call it naive. Call it superstition.

Call it FAITH.

May I enjoin you to spare a minute or two, as we observe Philippine Flag Day, to pray for our country and for our people, wherever you may be right now? Not in memorized verses, but in words coming from your heart?

Can we make this a daily habit? Beyond these impeachment proceedings, beyond this administration, beyond the decades to come…

May we just keep praying, and not lose hope.

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