Thursday, May 20, 2004

What is nationalism? (Review on the Filipina Toral's McGraw-Hill book)

Patricia Evangelista, 19, Mass Communications sophomore of the University of the Philippines recently bested 59 student contestants from 37 countries in the 2004 International Public Speaking competition conducted by the English Speaking Union In London reports Alfred Yuson in the Philippine Star. Our thanks and congratulations to Patricia.

In her speech, Patricia said, "Nationalism isn't bound by time or place. People from other nations migrate to create new nations, yet still remain essentially who they are."

What is nationalism? How do you measure nationalism? How do you behave to show your nationalism?

Previously, candidates for elective positions in government would describe themselves as nationalists, patriots. In these recently concluded elections, I did not hear those words at all. Candidates talked about what they will do for the less fortunate Filipinos and these are mostly palliative solutions. Candidates talked about the burning issues of today—unemployment, oil price increases, corruption in government, rebellion in some areas of the country, possible poll cheatings, and the like, and what they will do in the first 100 days in office. Short-term, not visionary.

In the past, we eagerly await our Independence Day. We prepare or buy flags and adorn our houses with flags, proudly. We go to the Luneta Grandstand to listen to the President’s Independence message and watch the parade all the while gleefully waving our flags. We discuss that experience during family meals for as long as we remember them.

Today, June 12, an important day in the life of our country, is remembered only for its being a regular holiday and an occasion to oversleep or get out of the city.

Nowadays, it is fashionable to bash our own country and find fault in everything we are and everybody in government and business. Deservedly, you might say. In my supervisory class the other day, the participants in their late 20s and early 30s looked lost when I told them about our kundiman when we were discussing Filipino values and worldview. It seems they never heard such beautiful music.

Like Patricia, for me nationalism is giving back to our beloved country what it has so lavishly given us—our identity, our values, our worldview, food, water and a home we could proudly claim our own. Nationalism is valueing our uniqueness as a people. No matter what designer clothes you wear you are bound to hang a rosary in your car’s rearview mirror, smile all the time for no reason at all, cover your mouth when you laugh, like everything imported, think a meal is not a meal without rice, eat more than three times a day.

No matter where you are, you have a high threshold for pain and suffering, can sing and dance on the first note of music, have a high tolerance for corruption and a short, forgiving memory when it comes to history. There’s more in Neni Sta. Romana’s book, “You Know You’re Filipino If.”

For me, then, nationalism is to stop lamenting the sorry state we are right now, but doing something about it. Nationalism is looking forward and dreaming of good things for our country. It is more than applying “band-aid” solutions to the problems of our poor, but really moving towards uplifting our personhood and building our service-orientation capabilities in order for us to compete in a borderless world. Nationalism is appreciating our uniqueness and developing those into our core competencies. It is not only having a slogan, it is having a grand plan and implementing that plan resolutely.

Nationalism is bringing into our country the bests of the outside world and melding these into the fiber of our daily lives. I am likewise proud that Janette Toral is the first Filipina to be published by the very discriminating Mc-Graw-Hill Asia with her book, “Digital E-Commerce Workshop.” Nationalism is getting into the mainstream of globalization and participating actively in the best way we know.

Nationalism is not a simple word, it is an action word. Nationalism should move our duly elected government officials to stop politicking and start working for our country and all the sectors of our society.

Nationalism is not a choice. It is an honor, a duty and responsibility of every body who claims to be a Filipino wherever they are and whatever is their station in life. The poor, the rich, the healthy and hearty, the disabled, the Visayan, the Ilokano, the student, the streetchild, the lawyer, the carpenter, the young, the old—we are all Filipinos, pure and simple. No such thing as half-Filipino and half-this. We are all Filipinos.

What can little boys and girls do, they can start loving and using Filipino products and services. They could start caring for the naturally beautiful environment around us. They could start studying about arts and sciences and forget about getting into showbiz or politics early on. They could start honing their talents that could help our country move into globalization.

What do you intend to do about your being Filipino would measure your nationalism. What we do for our country is what we do for our family and friends. What we do for our country is the single most important legacy we could give our children and our grandchildren. Nationalism also means loyalty.