31 May 2010
Paalam is a very sad word. It's the Tagalog word for "goodbye" and, for some reason, I find it waaay sadder than the latter. Two nights ago, the Apo Hiking Society, my all-time favorite Filipino singing group, staged the last of their series of farewell concerts after they decided to disband after 41 years of making great music. The final concert was aptly entitled Paalam nAPO!
I wasn't at the concert, not even in the one that was held in Cagayan de Oro. I had to settle for the pictures and videos posted on Facebook and Twitter. I really wanted to watch at least one concert in the series, but time and circumstance weren't on my side. I could've gone to CdO for the concert there, but I had work. I would've wanted to go to Manila and watch the final concert at the Music Museum, but, well, I didn't have that much money. The thing is, now that I think about it, it was just as well because it would've been too painful for me. It would've been too sad.
For someone who has always considered the Apo a huge part of her life and so much a part of who and what she is, it would be total torture to see them perform knowing that it would be the last time they'd be performing together. I remember the first and only time I watched them in concert. I went by myself since none of my friends was available at that time. It was held in UP Diliman. The moment they came out on stage is a moment I will never forget for as long as I live. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't realize I was crying. Really, really. I think the lady seated next to me got irritated at some point because I was singing along with the group the entire time! In the most quiet way I could, at least. I knew most, if not all, of the songs they performed that night. And, I was so happy that it was my favorite, Kabilugan ng Buwan, that they chose to play with (they sang different versions of it). The concert was exactly as I expected and imagined it to be; it was great! Unforgettable!
I remember when I found out that the Paredeses were planning to move to Australia for good, the first thing I thought about was what was going to happen to the Apo. And then, I was relieved when they still continued to have shows together. Then, last December, when they officially announced that they were disbanding, like a cheated girlfriend, I was totally heart-broken. The very night I read about it from Sir Jim's Twitter account, I listened to all Apo songs I could find on YouTube and I cried like mad. I was inconsolable that night! I know that some people may think I was overreacting and all, but that was really how I felt. It actually took me a day or two to recover from the sadness I felt.
I was only 12 years old when I became aware of the Apo and their music, and I remember already liking them then. I remember singing Batang-Bata Ka Pa in my freshman year in High School. And, that's actually when my love affair with the group officially started. From that time on, they became my favorite singing group. When one's that young, s/he only has the most popular and "in" singers as favorites, but it wasn't like that for me. As early as that time, I was already into them and they weren't even that popular among my age group. That was 1992-1993-ish. And, I have continued to love them until today and will probably continue to love them until I die.
Another thing that will always make the Apo special to me is the fact that they will always be a part of my Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) experience. Their song, Ewan, has been the "national anthem" of many batches of Philippine delegation for years, up until now. In fact, even our foreigner counterparts know the song by heart. It's actually the most popular Filipino song in SSEAYP history. And, as for our batch, most of the Tagalog songs we sang while in the program were Apo songs. And, I couldn't be happier then.
The Apo will remain in every Filipino heart they touched with their wonderful music. They may never perform their songs together again, but the performances that made them one of the Philippines' greatest and finest, will always be very clear and fresh in our minds and hearts. The Apo has made Original Pilipino Music richer and more colorful. I thank them with all my heart for their music and for everything that is the Apo experience.
Maraming-maraming salamat po, Sirs Jim, Boboy and Danny! You are living inspirations for all of us! :)
16 May 2010
Lanao del Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the country, what with the serene view of the great and historic Lake Lanao and the beauteous Sacred Mountain, also known as the Sleeping Lady because of the seemingly peaceful, sleeping lady formed by the magnificent mountain range’s shapes. Such beautiful scene, really. The province is also gifted with rich natural resources and is home to a people and culture unique and different from any other peoples and cultures of the country. I remember my father saying that when one outsider comes to visit Lanao del Sur, as soon as he sets foot in the area, he will surely see and feel the difference. It was as though he was transported to another planet. That’s how unique and special this place is, he would say.
Having been born and raised in the area, I’d say with confidence that I am quite aware of the things that have been taking place in the land as well as the issues concerning her people. There is just so much good to say about the whole place. But, like any other thing in the world, with all the good and beautiful things also come bad or negative things as well as truths that can only be described by the words, sad and ugly.
The Meranao (can also be spelled as Maranao or Maranaw)is called such because we are the people of the lake, ranao being the Meranao term for lake. This means that the lake is not only the people’s source of living, where the people do washing and bathing; the lake is, more importantly, our very identity. The lake defines us as a people. Thus, without the lake, we, Meranaos, will cease to exist.
Growing up, I have always been made aware of this fact. As a result, I became very active in organizations and activities whose main objective, or at least one of the main objectives, is the preservation of the lake as well as the culture of our people. During my college years, I, together with other students, under the guidance of our advisers, spearheaded activities specifically targeting the betterment of the people, the area, and the lake. We participated in talks, volunteer outreach programs, campaigns, information drives, concerts, forums among others, and, through our publication, we wrote and campaigned about our advocacy. I believe it is imperative for us, as Meranaos, to dedicate ourselves and do all we can for this endeavor. In my case, the preservation of what’s good about our culture and our lake became a personal mission. And, up until this very moment, this remains true.
Being active in our endeavor does not only make me privy to the good things about our people, I have also become aware of the problems and issues concerning our people and our communities. Well, not that one needs to be active to see what's going on, but many just look with unseeing eyes and listen with deaf ears. Many Meranaos have become so caught up in their own worlds that they have forgotten to care about the very thing that makes them who and what they are. Concern for our lake and environment, and the preservation of our culture have become things of the distant past. A lot of people just don’t care anymore. The things that make our culture great, unique and special have been forgotten, or worse have become the very thing that justifies the bad things that a lot of people do.
Take for example, the elections. Families and families cheat one another and even kill one another because of their want of power, prestige, wealth and what-have-you. They do wrong because they have to win or they have to stay in position. Lest, their family pride or maratabat be hurt. Maratabat is supposed to be a very positive thing for the Meranao, but nowadays it has become the very reason for wrong doing. It is indeed sad. I would say that our ancestors probably find what’s going on really funny and sad at the same time.
A lot of people refuse to follow rules or even laugh at rules because they say they are under nobody’s rule. They are free to do anything they want. You tell them to clean up their front yards or start caring about the lake, they sneer at you and tell you off to your face saying that you have no business telling them what to do because they are people of noble origin and they can survive without you interfering with their lives. They just don’t care if the whole place is a mess so long as they can enjoy the autonomy of living their lives the way they want to and without anyone ordering them about because that goes against the family maratabat. That’s how most people see it.
Knowing this, I personally think that the best way to deal with our problems and issues at hand is through maratabat. We should tap each one’s maratabat and innate love for our culture and place to make each person take action. After all, we all take so much pride in our place and culture. We are a people of royal ancestry, even divine if we were to take into account the tales from the Darangen. We are always so proud of our land, the land of the unconquered people. There is a need to go back to our history and bring back the real reason why we are such a proud people in the first place.
We can have such a bright future if we can change the present mentality of our people. Or maybe change is not the most appropriate word, maybe change track or re-route is better. That is, we re-route our maratabat or change where it is pointed at. The solutions to our problems actually lie in our very hands. Nobody can change our situation except ourselves. We have to take responsibility for our land and our people. We have to bring back the maratabat that we have for our land, our culture and our lake. Rather than having only one’s face to save in mind, we should all think of saving one another.
Another thing that can help us achieve such change is through education. Educating the people about the important role that they play in community-building and cultural and environmental preservation is very important. People must not only be taught about their role and what they need to do because that may not work, they should be made aware about how, as proud dwellers of the land and builders of the communities, important they are. It is only through the people that the change we want can be achieved. Not just the leaders are needed, equally so the people from the grass roots are needed. Yes, we should start from there. Each and everyone should be valued as equally important so that a common maratabat should arise in each heart. Pride for our land and pride for our role as people.
There is so much pride in doing good. It has always been considered as the primary thing to stick to. Our ancestors took pride in the fact that their names never got tainted with injustice or anything bad. Our history would tell us that. Like they always say, history repeats itself. It is high time that it should in this land. We bring back the real maratabat (pride) of the Meranao. That way, the future would look good, wouldn’t it?
09 May 2010
Since today is Mother's Day, I'd like to begin this entry by greeting all mothers out there a very HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! And, of course, most especially to my mom!:)
I haven't been able to blog for a long time because I have a very hectic schedule this summer and because my Internet connection had been problematic the past weeks. There were times when I'd wanted to blog, but I couldn't open Blogger. It was really frustrating. But, for a few days now, it's been okay. I hope it continues to be like this. Thanks to the technical team of Discovery Net Service.
It's been a very tiring summer. I'm handling three classes, one of which is a Monday-to-Saturday class. But, it's been so much fun. It's really true what they say, when you love what you're doing, you don't feel the exhaustion. Some people ask me if I ever get tired. Of course, I do. But, being tired doesn't mean I need to stop what I do, does it? I'd be more lost and out of it if I were idle and doing nothing.
Another thing that's been keeping my mind busy is the coming National Elections. I've already mentioned in a previous entry that I am supporting Sen. Richard Gordon and Bayani Fernando in their bid for the presidency and vice presidency respectively. I support them for no reason other than that I am convinced that they are the best and most fit people for the positions they are vying for. Like I always say, I've been for Gordon since Day 1.
Even before Noynoy Aquino decided to run for president after some supporters clamored for him to do so after his mother died, I already knew whom to vote for. The very first time that the names of those who wanted to run for president floated, I was, in fact, torn between Gordon and Bayani. They were my Top 2 because I know their track records and I like the way they do and run things. I believed in both of them. And then, something happened that finally convinced me that Gordon is it. When finally, Bayani decided to be Gordon's running mate, I really thought that the Transformers (that's what they initially called themselves) is THE power tandem. If only, I kept thinking and I still do until now, people would realize this.
I've been hearing a lot of political debate around. I know of two very close friends having a huge fight because of an argument they had about their candidates. Heck, I even know of some people who take attacks against their candidates as personal attacks to them. The thing is, I do understand why some people would support this and that candidate. Really, I do. I just really hope that we all realize that all of this is not really about the candidates that we are rooting for. It's about the country, our country. More than anything else, we should be for the Philippines, not for the candidates who, later on and whether they win or lose, will continue and move on with their lives the way we also will.
As for the local elections, well, it's basically the same as it has always been. A lot of vote-buying taking place all over the province. The automation, instead of being a solution to problems, has even proven to be a cause of problems. I never really saw it as a solution. So long as political violence, killings, vote-buying and other such things are present, changes like these will just come to naught. Manual or automated elections, it's the same story. The only solution to electoral and political problems are the people. We, ourselves, need to decide and work for a clean, just and honest election.
Let us all pray for our country. Let us do our part. Let us vote wisely!