I enjoy learning of the history of the Philippines, although, as in college, I can take it only in small portions. Some characters certainly stand out, putting their personal stamp on the nation, for good or ill: Rizal, Aguinaldo, Marcos. I think history will dump Ms. Arroyo in the dust bin of largely smaller than life people who wasted an opportunity by putting out propaganda but achieving little. This is not unlike many cheaters in the Philippines who tell stories to rein in the suckers, of which I have been one more times than I care to admit. Truth has little bearing on the matters of these crooks, for their fundamental aim is deceitful, so why would they overlay the manipulation with truth? No, manipulation is overlaid with deceits, one after another to bury the truth in places where it can cause little damage.
But the aim of this blog is not my traditional picking away at the warts of Philippine society, but rather to express an observation recently gained.
Filipinos have more depth of soul than most Americans. I have no statistics to back this up, and am not going to spend any time defining “soul”. It is just my sense of things.
Americans grow shallower by the year as television and consumerism and reality-show relationships diminish the place where soul once resided. It is rather the difference between reading a romance novel and reading Charles Dickens. America is full of shallow romance with less meaning every passing day.
But Filipinos retain their soul, which I would describe as not exactly literate, but of the heart. It is poetic, not always in words, but in spirit. Read the writings of Rizal and others, the passions expressed in Edsa, the awareness of the way the empowered take what is not theirs and give struggle to so many impoverished families. Perhaps it is the ache that is so huge. The sending of sons and daughters overseas, the relentless awakening early to slog on the tricycle or whack roadside weeds or stoop again in the rice fields, and the belief in goodness in spite of what one must deal with daily. Ha. And the mysteries of all the superstitions that haunt the day and night and death and birth and even building a house.
I came to respect the white lady who inhabits the eerie roots of the huge trees on my jungle property in Mindanao. She, to me, gives glimpse of the Philippine soul. Deep, mysterious, complex, mystifying, hard to see, sometimes dark, often full of fun, sometimes a little scary, and arising with passion again and again, in search of the light, no matter the hurdles placed in the way by God and other jokesters.