March 24, 2013

Pomp, Patriotism, and Circumstance

Last Saturday I was able to attend the commencement exercises of my boyfriend's youngest sister. The last time I've been to such an event was during my own graduation, which was some ten years ago. Yes, it's been that long.

THE Graduation, oh yeah.

The whole ceremony lasted for nearly five hours, where around a thousand graduates took their first step towards the real world. I can't recall how it was during my graduation, but I've noticed that the ceremony was conducted in Filipino. While admittedly, there were some remarks that I didn't fully understand (partly because I was distracted by the sweltering afternoon, and also because the speakers were using such big words), there was one bit that got my attention.

For some reason, I was genuinely moved by the procession of the flags.

Perhaps it was because of the language used during the ceremony, or it could be the marching band that was playing to set the mood. We were told to stand up for the procession of the flags, and I remember putting my hand on my chest in anticipation of the national anthem. It turned out to be quite a long walk down the aisle to the stage, and as I was watching the flag make its way, accompanied by the snares of the marching band, my hand still on my chest, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of pride and respect for that modest symbol of our country.  Three stars and a sun, next to two bands of royal blue and scarlet red, carrying more than a century's worth of history.

I can only imagine how it was during the time of the revolution, when Filipinos were fighting to become an independent nation. Our country has been under the influence of Spain for over four generations, and the average Filipino during that time probably only knew whatever Spain was teaching him.  Meanwhile, the Katipuneros were fighting a battle against that superpower, and the flags that were being waved back then were born out of war and hatred towards the oppressor.

It was only when THE flag was hoisted-- the flag that bore the symbols of three stars and a sun--when the Philippines was finally able to declare itself an independent nation.  Finally, our very own symbol of freedom, to remind us everyday that we should always strive to protect what our forefathers had fought for.  Realizing how much significance our flag holds has filled me with all sorts of hope and desire to give my country the love that it deserves.

The procession of the flags ended with the singing of the national anthem.  With my new-found appreciation of the flag, singing Lupang Hinirang suddenly felt more personal.  At that moment, the words felt like a kundiman being sung to a lover who has finally accepted your profession of love, after being courted for so many years.

Bayang magiliw, Perlas ng Silangan.
Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo'y buhay.
Lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting.
Sa manlulupig, 'di ka pasisiil.

Sa dagat at bundok, sa simoy at 
sa langit mong bughaw,
May dilag ang tuwa at awit 
sa paglayang minamahal.

Ang kislap ng watawat mo'y 
tagumapy na nagniningning
Ang bituin at araw niya'y
kailan pa ma'y 'di magdidilim

Lupa ng araw, ng luwalhati't pagsinta,
buhay ay langit sa piling mo.
Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi,
ang mamatay nang dahil sa 'yo.

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