Weekly Word

[Weekly Word] True citizenship

Illustration by Kevin Christopher M. Tee (2015); editing by Allister Roy S. Chua (2015)

Illustration by Kevin Christopher M. Tee (2015); editing by Allister Roy S. Chua (2015)

| ˈsɪtɪzənˌʃɪp |

On Friday, my country is celebrating Independence Day – the day it, 117 years ago, declared independence from our first (and longest-ruling and arguably most influential) colonizers, Spain. This is a time to be proud of my Filipino heritage (or comparative lack thereof, as my family and I are purely ethnic Chinese) and for the glories of our country, its many failures and challenges notwithstanding. Hence, this week’s Word.

When we talk about citizenship, the first thing that comes to people’s minds (myself included, before) may usually be about their being a Filipino citizen – what allows them to hold a Philippine passport et al, used interchangeably with the word “Nationality” – especially when it comes to filling out those registration or application forms everywhere. My 100 million compatriots and I are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines and we are thus subjects and constituents of PNoy who represents the Bayang Magiliw on the global stage.

But that’s where things get all the funner. Because we are Philippine subjects, it is our legal (and perhaps even moral) obligation to follow her laws and be good citizens who contribute to the betterment of the country, not bad ones who suck life from her. I believe that a citizen cannot really say they are a citizen until they observe the laws – the commandments, you can say – of their country. No one is above the law. Now that is true citizenship.

Observe basic regulations. Pay the proper taxes. Keep the peace. Know the laws, even. Proactive citizenship does not condone ignorance of the law – it’s a known fact that that isn’t a valid reason – and in fact, knowing the law will be to our benefit, as aside from knowing what’s forbidden, we’ll also know what we are entitled to. I myself don’t know all our laws and I think it’s my responsibility to know them, especially the Constitution – that’s being conscious and mindful of the socio-political environment I live in.

And it’s not just about national law. Even down to the humblest institutions public and private, good citizenship means observing their rules and helping keep the peace and order. Even following the simple policy of Cleaning Up As You Go – CLAYGO, they call it in my alma mater – is both good citizenship and stewardship already.

If you don’t like the rules or think it’s useless to follow them (such as tax evaders who refuse to pay taxes not because tax, but because they feel and know they don’t go to the national treasuries anyway), well, it’s not our position as citizens to rebel against them. Even the sovereign isn’t above the law; what more us? We cannot call for social change (call for law revisions, for instance) if we ourselves are renegades. Good citizenship – and in fact, godliness – involves following them even if you don’t want to. (Of course, there’s also the alternative of leaving.)

With that, I wish my fellow Filipinos mabuhay at maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan – para sa bayan at sa Diyos.


noun (mass noun)

  • the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country


Middle English, from Anglo-Norman French citezein, an alteration (probably influenced by deinzein [“denizen”]) of Old French citeain, itself based on Latin civitas (“city”); + -ship.

In other languages

  • Bahasa Indonesia: kewarganegaraan
  • بهاس ملايو:
    • كورڬنڬارأن (kewarganegaraan)
  • Cebuano: pagkalungsoranon
  • Deutsch: die Staatsbürgerschaft; die Staatsangehörigkeit
  • Español: la ciudadanía
  • Filipino: pagkamamamayan
  • Français: la citoyenneté
  • 한국어: 시민권 (simingwon)
  • Italiano: la cittadinanza
  • ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាពជាពលរដ្ឋ (pheap chea polorod)
  • Latino: civitatula
  • မြန်မာဘာသာ: နိုင်ငံသားအဖြစ် (ninengansarraahpyit)
  • 日本語: 国勢 (こくせい); 市民権 (しみんけん); 公民権 (こうみんけん)
  • ພາສາລາວ: ພົນລະເມືອງ (phonlameuong)
  • ภาษาไทย: พลเมือง (Phlmeụ̄xng)
  • தமிழ்: குடியுரிமை (Kuṭiyurimai)
  • Tiếng Việt: quyền công dân
  • 中文: 國籍 / 国籍 (guójí); 公民權 / 公民权 (gōngmínquán)

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