Friday, 28 May 2010

Isang munting liham mula kay Jose Rizal (A letter from Jose Rizal)


I wrote this piece as an entry to the essay-writing competition organized by the Philippine Embassy in South Korea last February 2010 to commemorate the 149th birth anniversary of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.


It was so easy to be tempted to write the essay in English, but I thought that since the competition is about Rizal, who, when he was alive, encouraged the love for the country's national language, Pilipino, (or Tagalog, the dialect), I decided to challenge myself to write it in Pilipino.


I don't recall having bad grades for the Pilipino subject at school. Or I just simply refuse to remember that I had. Ha-ha-ha! So writing another essay in Pilipino after years of not writing one (I was forced to write a few at school -- weren't we all!), would be a good way to revisit those deep, rare Pilipino words and terms, and tricky phrasing of the language.


As to the form, I thought of writing a letter from Rizal himself because I myself wondered how would he feel today if he saw the daily migration of Filipinos to other lands in search of a better life, leaving behind families, friends and country, just to ensure survival of the people he or she holds dear. I, being one of them.


And yesterday, the Philippine Ambassador announced the winners....and ta-dah!


My entry won 2nd prize!


Here's the link to the announcement:


http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20100527-272341/Migrant-worker-wins-essay-writing-contest-on-Rizal-in-Korea


And here's the letter from Rizal.


My only request from you, the reader, is to imagine him talking to you from this letter.


The title of the letter is "Kailan ang uwi mo, Kababayan?"


(My apologies to non-Pilipino speaking readers; the English translation is not available.)



* * * * * * * * * * *


Ika-12 ng Hunyo ng Taong Kasalukuyan


Minamahal kong Kababayan,


Marahil ay nagkakilala na tayo noon pa at marahil ay nagkatagpo na rin ang ating landas. At sa pagkakataong ito, ako ay natutuwa at maka-musta ka man lang sa sulat na ito.

Sa katagalan ko nang nakatayo dito sa kinaroroonan ko sa Bagumbayan, marami na rin akong nakitang pagbabago sa pinakamamahal nating Bayan, mula sa pakikipaglaban natin sa mga banyaga, sa ating mga himagsikan at hanggang sa ating pinakamatamis na paglaya.

Ilang pinuno na rin ang nabilang ko simula nang iniloklok si Heneral Aguinaldo bilang kauna-unahang President ng ating Republika. At ako man ay natuwa nang nagkaroon tayo ng mga babaeng pinuno. At tiyak na natuwa marahil ang ating mga magigiting na babaeng kasapi sa rebolusyon na sina Gabriela Silang at Tandang Sora sa pagbukas ng kaisipan ng Pilipino sa pagtanggap ng katotohanan na ang mga babaeng tulad nila ay kaya rin magpatakbo ng ating bayan.

Naalala ko noon, ako ay naglakbay sa ibang bansa para mag-aral at matuto sa iba’t ibang kultura, sining at kahusayan. Subali’t sa nakikita ko ngayon, bukod sa mag-aral at mamasyal, ang mga kababayan natin, tulad mo, ay nangingibang bansa para maghanapbuhay.

Ito ba’y kinakailangan? Ang pakikipagsapalaran sa dayuhang mga lugar?

Marami na rin akong naisip na dahilan kung bakit nangyayari ito ngayon, pero ang mga dahilan na iyon ay marahil magandang i-kuro-kuro natin sa ibang araw at hiwalay na sulat. Hindi iyon ang dahilan sa pagsulat ko sa iyo. Sumusulat ako sa iyo para i-kamusta ka.

Kamusta ka na, Kababayan?

Kamusta na ang pamumuhay diyan sa Korea?

Maganda ba ang mga tanawin diyan? Kasing ganda ba sa mga tanawin dito sa atin? Madami din ba silang mga pagdiriwang at mga fiesta? Kasing makulay din ba at masaya? Mayroon din ba silang mga banda at mga parada?

Sigurado akong madami ka na ring mga kaibigan diyan. Kahit nasa ibang bayan, ang Pilipino ay palaging nagpupursigi na makapagtipon-tipon kasama ang mga kapwa Pilipino at magsalu-salo at makikisaya. Nasa lahi natin ang pagiging masayahin kahit saan tayo. Marahil ang mga kaibigan mong taga-Korea ay napansin iyan sa kaugalian mo.

Nakaranas ka na ba ng Pasko diyan? Tuwing Pasko ba, meron din ba silang Misa de Gallo? Meron din ba silang Noche Buena? Nakakatanggap ka rin ba ng regalo mula sa mga kaibigan mo diyan? Kahit saan man ang Pilipino ay pinipilit niyang gumawa ng paraan para maipagdiwang ang Pasko. Subali’t mas masaya marahil kung makakauwi ka rito sa atin sa Pasko para maging lubos ang kasiyahan ng buong pamilya mo. Kababayan, makakauwi ka ba ngayong Pasko?

Kamusta naman ang iyong trabaho?

Madali ba ang trabaho mo? At mababait ba ang mga kasamahan mo sa trabaho? Mayroon bang respeto at pang-unawa sa iyong pinag-tatrabahuan?

Sana ikaw ay masaya sa iyong hanapbuhay diyan at sana ikaw ay mayroong maunawain na amo. Kung maganda ang pinagtatrabahuhan mo, maski malayo ka sa atin, marahil ay hindi magiging malungkot ang mga araw mo at hindi mo palaging ma-iisip ang katagalan bago ka makauwi sa atin.

Kababayan, kung sakaling magkaroon ka ng problema, maging ito ay kaugnay sa iyong trabaho o sa iyong mga kasamahan, o maski pansariling problema, huwag kang mag-atubiling humingi ng tulong.

Palaging mong isa-isip na ang bawa’t problema ay may nakalaang solusyon. At ang lahat ng hindi pakikipag-intindihan ay maliwanagan sa pakikipag-usap. Huwag mong gamitin ang dahas para masolusyonan ang problema. Nakita na natin kung ano ang nagagawa ng karahasan at dahas sa tao. Natuto na rin tayo na hindi ito ang sagot sa hindi pagkakaintindihan at sa hindi pagkakaunawaan.

At huwag mong hayaan na ikaw ay alipustain at hamak-hamakin. Ikaw ay Pilipino; matagal na tayong malaya. Hindi na tayo nagpapa-alipin kahit kanino man. Huwag mong hayaang may umabuso at hamakin sa iyong pagkatao.

Kailan ka huling sumulat sa atin?

Sa paglalakbay ko noon, ako ay sumusulat sa aking pamilya. Ikinukwento ko ang mga kakaibang mga lugar na narating ko at mga iba’t bang kulturang natuklasan. Marahil ay sumusulat ka rin sa iyong mga mahal sa buhay at mga kaibigan dito sa atin. Sigurado akong sila ay magagalak at sabik sa mga balita tungkol sa iyo at sa iyong kalagayan sa Korea.

Alam ko sa panahon ngayon, hindi na ugali ang magpadala ng sulat sa koreo. Ngayon, meron na kayong tinatawag na Internet sa pagpadala ng sulat para maipahiwatig ang iyong isip at damdamin. At kung gusto mong marinig ang boses ng iyong mga kaanak, meron na rin kayong telepono.

At sa tuwing makakatawag ka sa pamilya mo, marahil ay ikaw ay natutuwa at nasisiyahan. Ito nga ba ang nararamdaman mo tuwing marinig mo ang boses ng iyong mga magulang at ng iyong mga kaanak? O lalo kang nalulungkot at marahil ito ay nagpapaalala sa iyo na sila ay nasa malayo at matagal pa bago mo sila makapiling muli? Huwag ka naman sanang malungkot dahil marahil silang lahat nama’y nasa mabuting kalagayan.

At kung mayroon kang asawa’t anak, nararamdaman mo ba sa kanilang mga boses ang kagalakan tuwing maririnig nila ang boses mo? Marahil ang iyong kalungkutan ay palaging napapawi rin tuwing maririnig mo rin ang boses nila. Sana ay palaging isaisip mo na ang mga dinaanan mong kahirapan at kalungkutan ay nagbibigay ng kasiyahan sa buhay ng iyong mga minamahal. At sana kanila ring pahalagahan ang iyong pangingibang bansa at huwag ibale-wala ang iyong pagsusumikap at sakripisyo.

Subali’t bago ako mamaalam, puede ba akong mag-iwan ng kaunting kahilingan?

Bilang isang Pilipino, sana palaging mong ibukas ang puso mo na tumulong sa kapwa mong Pilipino diyan sa Korea. Hindi naman lahat ng tulong ay may hugis ng salapi. Puede mong ibahagi ang iyong kaunting panahon o kaunting alalay sa mga nangangailangan nito, lalo na iyong mga bagong dating, nagdadalumhati at ang mga nalulumbay. Marahil ay kung ikaw naman ang nangangailangan ng tulong, sa aking palagay, kapwa Pilipino mo rin ang lubos na tutulong sa iyo.

At sana huwag mong kalimutan palaging magdasal. Ang iyong pananampalataya ay isang pinagmumulan ng iyong lakas at kabaitan. Ito rin ang magiging gabay mo sa araw-araw na gawain at pakikitungo sa kapwa-tao. Sa mga dasal mo para sa iyong mga mahal sa buhay, sana isama mo rin ang dasal para sa iyong mga kababayan. Sila rin ay nagdadasal para sa iyo.

Palagi mong alalahanin ang iyong kalusugan. Mababahala ang iyong pamilya kung sakaling magkakasakit ka at makaka-apekto pa sa iyong trabaho at gawain. Ang kalusugan mo ay isang mahalagang puhunan.

At sa araw-araw ng iyong pagawa at paglalakbay, palaging isauna ang iyong kaligtasan. Ang buhay mo ay mahalaga.

At Kababayan, nasa Korea ka man o sa ibang bansa, dapat palaging nasa isip mo na ikaw ay Pilipino: malaya, marangal at matalino. Dala-dala mo kahit saan ka man pumunta ang pangalan ng ating Inang Bayan at mga kulay ng ating bandila.

Hindi mo kailangan ng isang bantayog tulad nitong kinatatayuan ko para matawag ka na isang bayani. At lalong hindi mo kailangan ialay ang iyong buhay para tawaging isang bayani. Ang hinihingi ko lang na sana palaging nasa isip mo ang iyong pagka-Pilipino. Ikaw ay mapagmahal, matibay ang loob at dakila.

At sa kahabaan ng sulat kong ito na itinuturi kong isang karangalan, ako ay nasiyahan at nagagalak makikipag-usap sa iyo.

Ikaw ay isa ring bayani. Kailan ang uwi mo, Kababayan?

Sana tayo ay magkikita muli.

Ang iyong mapagmahal na Kababayan,

Jose Rizal

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Going back to the Roaring 20s





Molto grazie to Signor Maurizio and Signora Margarita for the invitation to join them at the Seoul International Women's Association's "Roaring 20s" party at the Grand Hilton Hotel at Seodaemun-gu.

As the party theme says, it's all about the 1920s: the costume, the look and of course, the attitude! With my hosts prepared to look the part, I was pressured to do the same!

So I googled the 1920s costumes and saw the easiest ensemble I could duplicate from my cabinet which contains mostly office shirts and pants, Nike tees and shorts, and a few mismatched socks.

After rummaging through dusty hangers and unpressed shirts, I was able to pull out a suit, a black shirt and a pair of white socks. Missing are a black fedora and a white tie. So off I hurried to Itaewon before the party day to look for a the fedora and white tie -- because who, in this year of 2010, would want to actually wear a white neck tie? Perhaps somebody from 1920s?

On the day, a Saturday, dressed up like a cross between Bugsy Malone and a gangster without a gang, I walked from my apartment to my hosts villa at the UN Village amidst the funny stares of the pedestrians I met along the main street. I didn't care if they thought I looked funny or amusing. I was Bugsy and they're lucky I didn't have a machine gun that afternoon. I only had a fake mousetache created by a marker pen. Hahaha!

At the party, almost everybody looked like they were from the 1920s -- with guys looking like the Godfather or another gangster like me (but with matching black-and-white shoes) and with the ladies with their frilly skirts, necklaces and headdresses.

The party was fun with all the costumes, the dancing, the food and the booze!

I didn't know the 1920s costumes were that easy, although I think the 2010 summer look is easier: a pair of shorts, a tee and a pair of sandals. And you wouldn't get that funny stare while walking around the neighborhood.

Ciao.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The 2010 Philippine Elections: The Vote Count in Korea

As I think I am one of the millions who are sooooo fed up with the current Philippine president's mismanagement of the country: from the long list of her corruption scandals, to her midnight appointments, her twisted perception of whom should be called a 'national artist', and up to her fake boobs, I just wanted a change back home. I am one of those who keep her economy afloat, but I get these scandals and insults to my intelligence as a 'thank you' note.

Well, we all wanted to make a change. So I went out and voted last April 10, 2010, at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, a month before the actual elections in the Philippines as allowed under the Overseas Absentee Voting (or Republic Act. 9189).

On May 10, 2010, after the closing of the elections that day, the Special Board of Canvassers, as the Commission on Elections representatives in Korea, led by its Chairman Sylvia Marasigan, started to count the actual ballots of the Filipinos who cast their votes in Korea. The actual count started past midnight (early morning of May 11, 2010) after the accounting for and mutilation of the unused ballots, and set-up and organization for the actual count.

The candidates who received the most votes based on the official results of the count for the ballots cast in Korea are:

President: Noynoy Aquino (651 votes)

Vice-President: Mar Roxas (665 votes)

Senators (Top 12):
1. Franklin Drilon (819 votes)
2. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (807 votes)
3. Pilar Cayetano (637 votes)
4. Juan Ponce Enrile (583 votes)
5. Teofisto Guingona III (545 votes)
6. Bong Revilla (531 votes)
7. Jinggoy Estrada (494 votes)
8. Rozzano Biazon (458 votes)
9. Jose De Venecia (382 votes)
10. Nereus Acosta (167 votes)
11. Zafrullah Alonto (141 votes)
12. Martin Bautista (113 votes)

Although I trust the new president-elect, Noynoy, I have a weird feeling about the winning senators, who are mostly from the show business. I hope they don't just sing and dance at the Senate floor, or just pose for photos showing their best angle, but I expect them to actually work on legislations that will look after the welfare of the Filipinos both at home and abroad.

On June 30, 2010, the new president and his vice-president will be inaugurated. I hope that day will also be a fresh start to get rid of corruption in government, to make the economy stronger and perhaps a date when things will actually change for the better.

Ciao.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Voting for the 2010 Philippine elections






It's a sizzling summer back home and it's not just the temperatures that are rising. It's only a week now before the Philippine national and local elections, and the political campaigns heading to the homestretch are as hot as the weather.

For Filipinos away from home, their chance to make their voices heard is through the Overseas Absentee Voting. If you are a Pinoy (like me) and registered to vote abroad while away from home (like me), you can make your vote count!

And so, even a month before the elections, I cast my own vote last April 10. Yes, that was three weeks ago. I wanted to vote early to make sure my voice is heard. For overseas voters, the polling centers (mostly in the Philippine embassies worldwide) opened a month before the actual election day in Pinas, which is May 10.

These votes will be counted after the polling centers close in the afternoon of May 10.

So, for all Pinoys living in Korea who haven't voted yet, I encourage you to make your votes count, and your voices heard.

Ciao.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Cheonan And The Land of the Mourning Calm....


This week, in front of Seoul's City Hall lay 46 portraits of the fallen sailors who perished in the sinking of a South Korean frigate, Cheonan, off the west coast of South Korea on March 26, 2010.
For the past month, daily headlines were all about the sinking, rescue, salvage and search of the frigate and its sailors. Of the 46, only 40 bodies were recovered; the six remain missing.


And on Thursday, April 29, they were all laid to rest.
I was at City Hall the day before to pay my respects. There were still long lines of people waiting for their turn to lay a chrysanthemum at the altar and because it was raining, I had to bring my umbrella. The atmosphere was sad, very solemn, and the music being played with its slow tempo and low notes reflecting the dolorous sentiments of the land in mourning.


The faces on the portraits of men, some of whom were very young, still kids, I should say, and a few older men, who may have been some of the ship's officers, looked proud in their Navy uniforms as if to say they were ready for battle. But sadly, they all perished without even going to one. These faces of men, who could be somebody's son, brother or father, will forever be etched in Korea's memory and history.
On the side of the plaza stood several standing boards with photographs of the ship, of the rescue and even of the crew on board the ship when they were still alive. And under the rain, these boards, too, were all drenched.


On the boards were a few more portraits of those who perished.


And as I was walking around, still with my umbrella and looking at the photographs, I noticed an elderly Korean woman also holding an umbrella and standing in front of one of those portraits - that of a very young sailor, barely in his 20s. And as she stood there, gazing into the wet portrait, she raised one of her hands to wipe the rain off the sailor's face, just like a mother would wipe the tears rolling down her young son's face. She just stood there quietly, as if in prayer or perhaps in a silent conversation with the sailor in the portrait bidding him farewell for she will never see him again. It was a very sad scene to see.


I moved on and continued to walk around the boards, I again saw the same scene. This time, two high school girls, still in their school uniforms, standing in front of another portrait while they shared an umbrella. The portrait was also that of another young sailor. Could he be their friend? Or relative? Or even a brother? The girls stay huddled together, standing silently, perhaps also saying prayer for the sailor in the portrait, and also bidding him farewell.


I am not even a parent, and yet knowing that these faces on the portraits could be a mother's son whom she will never be able to hug again, or somebody's father who will never see his children grow up is really sad, to say the least. And the most painful sorrow to experience, they say, is when a mother buries her own child. There are no words for that.


The rain did not stop. Why would it? As the whole land mourned for the fallen, the heavens also shed tears for them.
I decided to leave the place, and in mournful silence, I made my way to the tent where they laid out condolence books on a long table for the mourners to write down their farewells. I walked to the table, got hold of a book and pen, and wrote my own simple prayer to the fallen Sailors of Cheonan...
"May you all rest in peace...."