Our culture is our mother no matter how distant their semblance to us. We take up their name and stride chin-up. Our mothers show the world to us as they lived it with variations and idiosyncrasies. They teach us lessons uniquely as our fingerprints. The world of a child is but a reflection of the parents and yes, mostly from the mothers.
Our culture is our mother in the light that cloaks us our way of being. As it was always iterated in books, we are powerless in choosing neither our mother nor any of our circumstances during our birth. We, too, have the same relation with our culture. We either live in daily celebration of what is, or we slump into our stature dreaming the American Dream (or just pretty much any white man’s land to migrate on) embracing the strand of opportunity that presents. Thus, the diaspora began.
However, this departure from the culture isn’t only on a geographical means but there is a more pervasive and more alarming form, the fleeing to our culture. It cannot be taken away, though, that our society is compounded by third-world struggles: hunger, corruption, famine, homelessness, and illiteracy are of the top of this list. It cannot be taken away from those people on the streets and have nothing to chew on but a molded morsel of bread―considered as lucky man in the gutters of Manila―that there is something inhumane pouncing the country. There is an enough reason as they say to live a better life if not abroad at least in the confines of the façade erected by capitalism and industrialization.
The development industrialization harnessed in our country benefitted a multitude of aspects in our living. It improved health services and treatment procedures. Technology promoted connectivity among distant love ones. Highways and transportation made travelling a lot easier and faster (if you have been in SLEX I think you know what I’m talking about). And so the list goes on. In spite of this, the utopia that it idealized is but partly or fully nightmarish to others.
One of a well-versed example of this dilemma is about the case of the Kalingas. Being fortunate enough to watch the documentary of Kara David “Ang Huling Mambabatok” allowed me to ponder even closer to this tenet. Now, the Kalingas a tribe of pride warriors covered in tattoo―man and woman―that symbolizes honor and beauty. They were proud people who boasted of not being taken over even by the Japanese troops. However, modernization threatens to erase their culture that once held their head up high, it even made their sons and daughters into shame. As they walk on the lowlands they clothe, or better yet conceal the etched dignity in their skin. What’s worse is that no one in the tribe shows interest in continuing the culture.
Even more so our education is indifferent to these cultural problems. Sure they deliver the impeccable textbook explanations. Sure they included without amiss all tribe names or traditions. But what lacks is the activity and dynamics to allow students into realizing the importance. They should teach how to promote a genuine appreciation of what they are learning.
Instead, we are dealt with exonerated ideals that stems to this apathy. Our culture is to promote what sells in the market. What is important is what makes more money. Of how much acclaim is engendered. The more noble jobs like teaching to remote places are less and less of a choice; every one is eyeing for a little of this and that and that is only appropriate and rational―we live in a society were economic stature is valued. But my appeal is that the government takes action on this one, on this single piece of DNA that we have as Filipinos. Let us preserve it, no let us cultivate it!
After all, our culture is our mother waiting for us at dusk after playing outside the house oblivious of her. And as we step back in all we need to do is take her hand, bow our heads, and surrender to her embrace. For as Dr. Rizal, our national hero, professed “kung sino ang hindi lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan ay higit pa sa mabaho at nabubulok na isda”. And sure, even as straying, like the prodigal son, we too will be welcome back in an unprecedented abundance that we thought was not even there. Our culture is still but how long must we run away to a mother that cradled us in a womb of priceless heritage.
July 19, 2010