It feels like a kind of loving
February 19, 2015, 5:55 pm
Filed under: opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


More as devotion, this kind of love has no bearing on the common notion though it feels like one for me. Or how does one explain the enormity of emotions it draws out—so compelling that we agonize over this beloved’s miseries, want to right the wrongs done to her, and even die for her sake? Yes, apparently it’s mother, this “loved one” for Filipinos.

And to my mind, this kind of love does begin at birth when with twin mothers we’re nourished in parallel yet dissimilar ways, one, with breast milk and the other, with the sun, air, sea, mountains, birds and flowers. Both as life-gifts, hence, taken for granted in our youth, until in a mysterious process, these rise from caverns within: first, as response in song, dance, and poetry, next, as work. While both revert to one’s own need of expression first, and existence, even a future, second, in the end, like atoms these coagulate into a mass wherein without our being conscious of it, we’re fused.

Drawn to symbols of her, like clarion calls or torches that flare in the dark, we’re magnetized when poised on us; either her wins, or defeats or dangers become ours. Yet, that’s not all—especially in exile whether or not of our choosing, longing for its gifts gnaws at us, seeing in alien landscapes her contours, grasping at likenesses in scents and sounds, envying the comforts and choices denied of her.

Or how would I explain the deep helplessness I felt at the Vancouver Public Library one afternoon over a sparse showcase consisting mostly of thin flash fiction volumes, CDs of telenovelas, children’s books not labeled Pilipino but Tagalog, that puts this sub representation at the far end of country collections in a shelf shared with the Vietnamese? Akin to finding out how a mother dressed inappropriately has been pushed aside, I crept home, nursing a hurt.

When I cried over a documentary film on women desaparecidos as one by one their oh-so-engaging-smiles served as ironic bitter punch to their unknown suffering to this day, I couldn’t explain why I did to a handful of Canadian women who had attended the small conference on an increased violation of rights. But they understood with their focus on the poignancy of the message spelled out in the constant juxtaposition of the country’s beauty and the rawness of brutality.

And what about when I grabbed the microphone in another conference on women’s history, and raved about the vastness of the Filipino’s reach versus the European and North American episodes presented. We’ve crossed the same paths, I proclaimed, sensing that no one seemed that much aware.

Books identify ‘love of country’ as patriotism, a concept linked to further abstract terms like “cultural attachment to one’s homeland” in varying contexts such as geography and political ideology. Could this be translated to my spasms of sorrow and pride in exile for what I would otherwise shrugged off had I stayed? Honestly, if I’m enraged over the evils the Philippines faces while its citizens scrape for a living, I wonder how I would respond to an accusation of not having the right, as I had traded my citizenship for another. Guilt does rankle in me at times, but I think this would absolve me: if I didn’t leave, I wouldn’t be as impassioned as I am now. More than it “does make the heart grow fonder” distance condenses the love-gifts of and for a mother.

Published in Peregrine Notes by Alegria Imperial, Market Monitor, February 16, 2015, Manila, Philippines

3 Comments so far
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Yes, I feel the same when browsing in the ‘other languages’ section to find barren shelves while others are bulging. And how can one ‘love for mother’ when our section is labelled as ‘Tagalog’ and not Filipino? I have been puzzled at the seeming propensity to call our national language ‘Tagalog’. You are Ilocano and I am Bisaya and when each of us insist on our own dialect and not try to feel proud of ‘Filipino’ then our ‘mother’ is indeed a figment of the imagination.

Comment by tedalcuitas2012

I’m glad you agree with me, Ted! This issue even cost me recently a publication of my bilingual haiku. And because I wrote a column about it, it almost got me in hot waters a really serious one. I don’t understand why we all know this in the Philippines!! Nobody I have spoken to about this says, it’s ‘Tagalog’. It’s ‘Filipino’! Yet no one apparently minds how on foreign soil and among foreigners, it’s ‘Tagalog’. Doesn’t the Philippines have somebody looking into this? Maybe you’re right…do we even acknowledge the existence of a ‘mother’?! Thanks again for stirring passion in me about this on this cold spring-y evening, haha!!

Comment by filipineses09

Hi Guia- serenpedity! I didn’t know you replied to my comment. It was just today that I finally changed my WP password as I ignored it for so long thinking I didn’t need it anymore with my website: philippine canadian So I am reading someone else’s blog and noticed ‘filipinese’ ..How are you? Do you want to reconnect now that I have a website? I still have the same email but my phone is 604-620-4140 as we moved to the westend.

Comment by tedalcuitas2012

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