Key Takeaway: The Philippines turns 118 on Sunday! Amidst the celebration of our country and what it stands for, why don’t we live out true patriotism: living a life of purpose for our countrymen and environment?
There’s a book called Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. A 2012 publication by Harvard Business Review, it’s curated and edited by, among others, a young social entrepreneur named Oliver Segovia. What’s special about it, to me at least, is that “Oli”, whom I’ve had the great honor to meet, is Filipino, and as one of the co-authors and editors, presented the following proverb in said book:
“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paruruonan [He who doesn’t appreciate his roots shall never succeed].” -Filipino saying
On Sunday, the Philippines as a nation turns 118 years old. It’s a time for Filipinos the world over to rejoice and be proud of what their nation has become – and, perhaps more relevantly, reflect on what it could still be.
It is known general history that we haven’t had an easy time since gaining independence from Spain. Independence that was, in essence, short-lived, when the Americans came and conquered in place of the European kingdom. We were almost ready to be truly on our own when Japan came, and not only after 1946 was it that we were finally able to stand on our own two feet.
And not even then did things work for the better. We all know the troubles that the 1970s and 1980s brought us, and a generation or two after that, here we stand: still a country of extreme polarities, a nation where peace and violence, as well as riches and poverty co-exist uncomfortably yet resignedly.
But one thing’s for sure: We will all unite as one to celebrate our country’s birthday on Sunday.
Independence Day is the day we became a country of our own – and, thus, the day we celebrate our values, our citizenship… what our country and we as a people stand for.
What do we stand for? Many will say we stand for the openness and optimism that characterizes our daily living. The value of bayanihan that leads us to, out of the goodness of our hearts, help someone in need. Our ingeniousness and creativity (and, arguably, our wit).
But I challenge us all: Stand for, and live out, your true call of duty to your country.
A life of purpose is never self-oriented. It is other-oriented. Just like what the Church, the perennial institution of prominence in the Philippines, teaches, as mentioned by Jesus in the Gospels: Love your neighbor as yourself. Live your life beyond yourself, beyond your own hopes and dreams, and live it to include the hopes and dreams of those around you.
Turn bayanihan into a lifestyle. Be not just open, but inclusive. Be not just optimistic, but a true ray of light in others. Turn into reality not just innovation, but social innovation. Don’t just defend and die for your country: protect and promote the interests of its people, its environment.
This is true citizenship, true patriotism.
Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!