Uhaw sa Katapatan at Kagandahang-loob

I checked my blog statistics and noticed an increased amount of visitors led by google to my site while searching for “Mga Pilipinong nakagawa ng kabutihan sa kapwa”,  “Mga Pilipinong nagsauli ng pera o gamit”, “Larawan ng kagandahang ugali ng mga Pilipino”, or “Mga tapat na tao sa Pilipinas”. You will remember, karikna, that I wrote something about the topic last October: PITAKA NG PAG-ASA: Isang pagpupugay kay Leoncio Pagtama at sa lahat ng tulad niya.

Amid the televised senate hearings on corruption in government and abuse of power that feed our national consciousness today,  Filipinos seem to search for a ray of hope for this benighted land by looking for individuals who chose virtue over greed even in times of great personal need.

Matapat na Ilokano now has a name in Leoncio Pagtama.

Barack Obama and the young man who asked, ‘Who wants to be a Filipino?’

AS I WRITE THIS, the American people are jubilating over the landmark electoral victory of Barack Obama. More than just the first black president, the 46-year old senator from Chicago, who captured a nation’s, nay, the world’s imagination, is a symbol of hope for humanity in crisis.

Speaking to a mammoth crowd representative of all colors, ages, creed, gender, and political affiliations, Obama began his victory speech with these powerfully historic words:

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
Watching the television coverage of the US elections led me to envy and resentment. Envy because clean, peaceful, and honest elections—such as the one Americans just had—remains a dream for Filipinos, and resentment because the country of stars and stripes gave us democracy but failed to teach us how to conduct our elections well (makes me wonder if they did that intently so they can continue to manipulate our government).

In this state of envy and resentment, I was reminded of an essay I wrote when I was eight years more carefree and less bald. This piece, borne out of anguish over the chronic hopelessness and despair in this country that I love, gave me my twenty seconds of fame as a national kontabida. The response it elicited was huge—from the angry call I received from a Philippine president’s son to the thousands of mail I got from readers, some sympathetic, but mostly hostile.
If Obama were Filipino, how would he respond to this essay? Continue reading “Barack Obama and the young man who asked, ‘Who wants to be a Filipino?’”