By Hazelyne M. Elgar
Listen to me!
You might think we are a poor nation,
but when I look around me I do not see just poverty.
Instead, I see farmers, back bent from sun up till sun down
nurturing the land.
I hear fisherfolks heaving, as they gamble with their lives
amidst angry winds and rough water just to nourish their families.
I feel the weary legs of children from far-flung barrios,
as they cross rivers and mountains and walk for miles,
just to get to school because they still dream.
I see determination in the eyes of street children playing tag
with cars flying past on a ruthless highway
in order to augment their parent’s meager earnings.
In the face of destitution the Filipinos are steadfast. That is courage.
You rebuke us for the graft and corruption plaguing our government,
but when my eyes skim the front pages of broadsheets I do not see hopelessness.
Instead, I am inspired by stories about pushcart classes
and strangers swimming in deep murky flood waters to save nameless individuals.
I immerse myself in news about how my countrymen unceasingly believe in the spirit of unity.
I revel because millions of Filipinos still voted for change.
At times when we are at the receiving end of the world’s censure,
I choose to see the noble intentions of fallible men to help.
In tumultuous situations, when the urge to hold others culpable is difficult to resist
I hear a leader embracing the liability just like a leader should.
In the face of adversity, the Filipinos are united. That is courage.
You chastise millions of my countrymen for leaving our motherland to seek greener pastures.
Answer me this: have you ever listened to how they whimper at night because they long for home?
When Filipinas, forced to work away from their dear ones,
shed silent tears as they lull to sleep infants not their own
I begin to understand what unconditional love is.
You lure away our engineers, artists and teachers with a promise of a good life.
The loving hands of our nurses tend the health of your people.
Do no dare ask why we need to fill the void in your labor force!
The Overseas Filipino Worker is intelligent, ingenious, hard working and resilient.
I see that, and in my eyes they are heroes.
In the face of obligation, the Filipinos are self-sacrificing. That is courage.
You are at liberty to express your opinion about my country,
but you can never take away my pride, for I belong to a people united in faith and love.
I am Filipino, and no matter where I go I will always be one.
I do not doubt that the time for change will one day come for the Philippines.
Our flag, cast in the sun’s glorious light, will be waving high.
My countrymen’s sacrifices will not be in vain. We will face the future with courage.
As one, we will reach out to the world and the world will embrace us.
Believe me, because I will take the lead.
Friday, 21 January 2011
By Hazelyne M. Elgar
Posted Friday, January 21, 2011