COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
I don’t know if the definition of our problem is right but for a long time now we assign colonialism as the root cause of our societal ills, then neo-colonialism and now, globalization. And in fighting against these external forces to our internal woes, we assert nationalism as our just stance. Unfortunately for the Philippines though, nationalism is quite hard to concretize for the archipelago is composed of many nations, each with its own language (dialect), culture, and historical tradition.
Actually, nationalism is too honorable a defense against colonialism, neo-colonialism, and globalization. These cheap acts by foreigners in imposing their will on us only speak of insecurity and crass materialism. Survival isn’t remarkable too as a defense that we have to compromise at every dip and turn. It is simply that we have grace — that fluid and leisurely stance/attitude/movement in life.
Take for instance, globalization. Where is grace in eating Mac Do burgers and in fast food restaurants? By nature, we eat slow and leisurely and oblivious of time, in company of family and friends, over small talks and laughter and drinks. We partake food in this gracious manner either at home in early evenings or weekend gatherings, during festivities, on picnics at the beach, or even when we just hangout in a restaurant or canteen. And not with Styrofoam and plastic spoons. Eating with bare hands is even more graceful.
Where is grace in wearing maong jeans? Levi’s, Benetton etc. have indeed disgraced our bearings. In a tropical and humid climate like ours with a blazing sun, maong pants or tight jeans is really too thick and rough an apparel to wear. The loose fitting trousers, malong, sablay, patadyong, and loose shirts in light weight material and bright colors are what fit the scene.
Try going to the beach which is what this country is made of, and you want to go barefoot in the sand, wrapped only in malong or robed in kaftan with batik or Thai-dye prints. And we call our natives baduy when they rightly fit the land and climate! Instead, we who are wearing tight jeans under the tropical heat in the Pacific Rim look like mutants with constricted bodies – courtesy of globalization.
It is our inherent humanity and compassion for others which gives us grace in manners and outlook; making us hospitable even to wretched souls, making our nurses and caregivers abroad serve with tender loving care to strangers, and making us love life and be happy despite our limitations.
And the constantly bright sun and the blue seas surrounding the islands gives us a feeling that time is eternal, allowing us grace in movement. There is no changing of the seasons which make time short and compartmentalized; prompting one to change wardrobes, cramp his activities to fit in each season, to be always on the run against time, and become either scrimpy or wasteful. Yes, we can lie on the beach anytime of the year which is a holiday activity for a Westerner.
Indeed we have time in our hands, and life thereof. And living in the islands protected by the waters, under a blazing sun and clear blue skies, we simply have grace.