There’s no better way to excavate the long-buried cry of the Earth’s brown child than on this day of his reflection—or celebration? —of his mortality. He is aware of this as often as he settles himself in bed at night to sleep, but comfortable in unperturbed confidence that he has even in his most slumbering forgetfulness a likeness who does not perish, his immortal other-self, what he calls his soul.
His realization of the inevitability of death does not scare him, nay, he is constantly consoled by the firm belief of his continuing existence in a life hereafter. But does it ever occur to him that his soul could just be as immortal as his own subjectivity?
Of what constitutes his inner self —his lofty thoughts and ideals, his perduring dreams and aspirations, his noble feelings and emotions—which, admittedly, can outlast him and can survive and thrive against changing seasons, even the vagaries of social arrangements through time?
Yes. But this phenomenon of one’s soul’s immortality can manifest only insofar as its constituent elements are remembered and embraced by some future human creatures to serve as guiding posts for their own life’s journey. Otherwise one’s soul hardly imprints a posthumous reward of memory. Or, in Rizal’s exhortment, one’s life is as worthless as a pebble in the field for not becoming part of an edifice.
Who would sing six stanzas of Andres Bonifacio’s “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”, written more than a century ago, if they did not remind us to use them as weapons in today’s continuation of his unfinished revolution? Who would hearken to the echo of Dagohoy’s bodyong sounded across 80 years of his continuous rebellion—a revolutionary government no doubt— against the Spaniards if it did not remind us to be resolute in our revolutionary base-building and resistance against the present-day tyrants? Who would swear to the sharp blades of Heneral Antonio Luna’s punyeta if we did not find it imperative to determinedly drive away the American troops brought in by EDCA and the VFA to our sacred shores at this time of postmodern Philippines?
One’s soul—especially the Filipino’s spirit of resistance and struggle against the enemies of the brown race—must derive its sustenance from the wellsprings that are our heroes’ ideals and living souls. And so, the celebratory impulses of the Filipino people’s story of resistance and struggle must manifest in surges of artistic outburst in the following verse narrative –
Hymn: Child of the Brown Land
The fingers of the morning sun
keep pricking on my breast
as I trek on the entire expanse
of the brown land.
And my heart grimaces
at the sight of misery– the fangs
of poverty gnawing at the flesh
and soul of my people.
No more shall the racing hours overtake the dreams
of the brown man. He is awake and has risen
and dared to face the challenging sunblades in the east,
albeit he still crawls. clutching at the scorched and
hardened earth, licking the bitter of his tears, his sweat
and blood streaming down his chest and armpits,
down to his navel and loins and genitals, and down
to his ankles and soles, until they soak the dust
and sand on the ground, fertilizing the land,
converting into sugar the salt on his skin.
No more shall he drink the bile of death, but the green
of hope; no longer shall he dwell on the cracks of the earth,
no longer the shadow of regrets and anger his forbidding shelter,
nor the whiplashing winds and rains, bladed sheets that
enwrap his toila and his nakedness. He is awake and has since
risen and raced against the sun in historic vigorous trek.
Since the beginning of time, he has been the child
of the soil, and the hymn of his strifes and struggles
has rendered sustained growth to the harsh justice of the blest
among the blessed—they to whose fierce eyes he has bended
his knees, they whose voice commands the quality of his own
children’s food and clothes and shelter, the shapes and sizes of
their bodies and the limits of their thought and the music of their
words—they whose foreheads bear the mark of nobility and
lordship. . . are they not the demigods to whom he has consigned
his birthright and the license to tinker his kitchen and his hearth?
who has sipped the rich juices from his coco-shell goblet, sacred
fountain of his breath? in the most wretched groveling obeisance
to the legal scriptures, shackles of enslavement?
And his own offsprings— branchlets of the dreams that sprout
from the warmth of his loins and groins. . .they have grown up
beautiful, perfumed by the scent of grasses and wild blossoms.
Can they rub with their fingers the gold and gemstones
unearthed from the bowels of the towering mountains? Wear
rings and bracelets and pendants and anklets of pearls fished
from the depths of seas? Will their days be blest and will they
own the fruits of the songs and hymns he versifies from day to
day in endless honest toils by his scrawny knotted hands? Will
they be provided tomorrow’s share of laughter and glee? Or
shall they but inherit the soil that clings as dirt in his hands?
Oh no. No, they will not cry. Nay on their faces
shall be etched the outlines of defiant hope, fire for ever
burning on their breast fueled by a distant vision in their eyes
and an unquenchable thirst for justice on their tongue.
[Part Two of this verse narrative shall be posted in the next issue.]