June 11, 2013
Tatlong Bituin at Isang Araw
Transforming a plain white sheet of paper into the Philippine flag has been a childhood ritual every Independence Day. Instead of cutting out colored paper to save time, my older brother and I used to color the equal bands of blue and red patiently with crayons, and in the triangular white space on the left, depict Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao meticulously with three yellow stars, and set a bright sun right in their midst as the final touch. Attaching the completed masterpiece – or so we thought – on our gate was the glorious moment. Looking back, they honestly turned out to be crude and imperfect replicas of our country’s flag, but I always knew I would be passing on the observance to my future children.
Apparently, flag-making with children could not wait any longer for my future biological progeny because I decided to pass on the tradition to my students, my musical children, this year. I did what any appreciative modern mom would do and posted a photo of them with their own magnum opus, complete with beautiful imperfections, on Facebook and showed it off to the world.
Soon enough, they will learn that the original flag was sewn by Doña Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo, and a niece of Dr. Jose Rizal, Delfina Herbosa de Natividad in Hong Kong. They will be taught that it was first displayed in battle on May 28, 1898 and unfurled during the proclamation of The Philippine Declaration of Independence from the rule of Spain on June 12, 1898 by President Emilio Aguinaldo who envisioned the flag’s design.
I shall tell them how much I adore the poetic ring of our national flag’s official name and how its lyrical quality would simply be lost in translation: “Tatlong bituin at isang araw.” I shall let them see for themselves that our flag is one of the best-designed flags in the world.
They will also probably develop “Pinoy Pride” eventually, but I do not want them to merely learn that. I want to teach our children more. Preponderant emphasis has been put in this sense of pride but lesser importance has been directed to teaching the next generation how to be good citizens.
As a result, Filipinos are beginning to have a sort of pride that is shallow and a kind of pride that even borders on the absurd as manifested in those who have negative things to say about our country and our government but pounces on every foreigner who makes the same observations.
In the wake of the Sabah brawl, I was saddened to come across an image of a boy wearing a cap with the Philippine flag as a design while peeing on the map of Malaysia. “Pinoy Pride” was written as a caption. The illustrator was Filipino. Heaven knows what he tried to achieve with that and shame on the many people who approved of the illustration by liking the photo on Facebook.
On many occasions, I have also witnessed kids wearing shirts embroidered with the Philippine islands while talking disrespectfully to their parents.
Recently, a certain politician came to our house along with bodyguards sporting Philippine identity in their attires. It took me three days to find and pick up all candy wrappers that the security personnel had strewn all over the place. They obviously mistook my potted herbs for trash bins.
These are just a few examples of how bearing our flag can become futile and even detrimental, and these are also instances where so-called “Pinoy Pride” failed.
Our kalayaan certainly did not signify freedom for the future generations to become irresponsible and bratty citizens. If we desire to change this, it is in our hands. Abdul Kalam rightfully said, “If a country is to be corruption-free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
I love our flag and I love the Philippines, but above flag-making, above pride for this nation, let us strive to teach our children how to be good and responsible human beings. That way, they will become respectable citizens not only of our country, but of humanity.
I think that is the most excellent way to wave our banner high, all three blazing stars of it and its radiant sun.