I spent some part of the late evening Saturday and early morning yesterday to read up on "Huling Gabi sa Maragondon," Rene Villanueva's Palanca Award-winning one-act play way back in the early '80s. In the piece, Gregoria Bonifacio begs for the life of her husband Andres, condemned to death along with his brother by the Revolutionary Government's military court.
I had no real reason to read the play except that I was thinking of staging it for the benefit of the community here. The material is written in an archaic Tagalog of an older time, a Tagalog you hardly hear or read these days, what with the obscenity of mass media mangling the Filipino language. I have my doubts about how people would react to this piece, but I have hopes as well.
History has not been kind to Emilio Aguinaldo. On the one hand, he had the privilege of being the Philippines' first President, though the ink on Andres Bonifacio's execution was less than seven months old when he sold out at the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, thus beginning his exile. He did, of course, regroup his forces and declared independence for the Republic.
History has even been worse to Bonifacio. He was always painted as a doting follower of Rizal rather than someone capable of independent thought, and later on the revolution of the masses he started was hijacked by the bourgeoisie. That internal struggle cost the Revolution precious ground through the outbreak of the war and later would claim Bonifacio's life. He even lost his billing on the five-peso denomination and has to share a sidelight with Mabini.
An interesting sidelight here: despite all our pulling for the underdog, in reality Filipinos have tended to follow the safe, established, conformist path. How many heroes have fallen that we were not aware of? Even more, what kind of valuing do we have that makes heroes of people who run out of their country --- and worse, keep on coddling the people who drive these people away from the country?
Case in point --- name any common Filipino family from the middle class whose aspirations for financial security are dependent on one of the daughters or sons going abroad. Second case in point --- how many times have we heard the government, particularly this administration, crow about the "success" of the Philippines because we remain a viable source of cheap labor?
For this mid-term election, how little, indeed, have we heard that the need for change starts from acknowledging that we must. How little, indeed, has been our capability to perceive beyond the convenient images being churned out by the candidates' PR machines.
I must confess that I am rather cynical about the youth of today, they of the high-powered electronics and Portable Play Stations and iPods. I do pray that they remember the smattering of blood of all those common people who cared for more than comfort, whose love for freedom and their countrymen have led them to sacrifice their lives. In particular I am the product of those who weathered the privation of the Pacific War, and my life has been nowhere near as scarred as their entire generation was.
The best we can do is honor their memory and challenge ourselves to make sure their legacy lives on in the transformation of our society.
PAG-IBIG SA TINUBUANG LUPA ni Andres Bonifacio
Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya
sa pagkadalisay at magkadakila
Gaya ng pag-ibig sa sariling lupa?
Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala.
Pagpupuring lubos ang palaging hangad
Sa bayan ng taong may dangal na ingat,
Umawit, tumula, kumata't at sumulat,
Kalakhan din niya'y isinisiwalat.
Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog
Ng may pusong mahal sa Bayang nagkupkop,
dugo, yaman, dunong, katiisa't pagod,
Buhay ma'y abuting magkalagut-lagot.
Bakit? Alin ito na sakdal ng laki,
Na hinahandugan ng busong pagkasi,
Na sa lalong mahal nakapangyayari,
At ginugulan ng buhay na iwi?
Ay! Ito'y ang iang bayang tinubuan:
Siya'y iona't tangi sa kinamulatan
Ng kawili-wiling liwanang ng araw
Na nagbigay-init sa buong katawan.
Kalakip din nito'y pag-ibig sa Bayan,
Ang lahat ng lalong sa gunita'y mahal,
Mula sa masaya'y gasong kasanggulan
Hanggang sa katawa'y mapasa-libingan.
Sa aba ng abang mawalay sa bayan!
Gunita ma'y laging sakbibi ng lumbay,
Walang alaala't inaasa-asam
Kundi ang makita'y lupang tinubuan.
Pati ng magdusa'y sampung kamatayan
Wari ay masarap kung dahil sa bayan
At lalong mahirap. Oh, himalang bagay!
Lalong pag-irog pa ang sa kanya'y alay.
Kung ang bayang ito'y masasa-panganib
At siya ay dapat na ipagtangkilik,
Ang anak, asawa, magulang, kapatid;
Isang tawag niya'y tatalidang pilit.
Hayo na nga, hayo, kayong nagabuhay
Sa pag-asang lubos ng kaginhawahan
At walang tinamo kundi kapaitan,
Hayo na't ibangon ang naabang bayan!
Kayong nalagasan ng bunga't bulaklak
Ng kaho'y ng buhay na nilanta't sukat,
Ng bala-balaki't makapal na hirap,
muling manariaw't sa baya'y lumiyag.
Ipahandug-handog ang busong pag-ibig
At hanggang may dugo'y ubusing itigis;
kung sa pagtatanggol, buhay ay mapatid,
Ito'y kapalaran at tunay na langit!