The history of ideas is like a drama in many acts

“The history of ideas is like a drama in many acts” – Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder

I have always hated history back in high school. It was all ‘what year did this person do this thing’ – when did the war start and when did it end, who started it all, and where. The Filipino presidents and national heroes turned into something of an acquaintance, someone whose names I was familiar with, but whose stories I never knew, nor did I care to understand.

A lot of things have changed since then. In a span of four semesters in college, I have taken about five classes about history: Kasaysayan 1 (Philippine History); Theatre 160 (History of the Theater); Arkiyoloji 1 (Philippine Archaeology); Philosophy 10 (History of Philosophy); Global Studies 197 (Contemporary Islam). In these five classes, the same eras popped up, but all with a different story to tell. I began to love history.

What influenced me the most was the semester when I was taking Theatre 160 and Philosophy 10 at the same time. I took Theatre 160 every Tuesdays and Thursdays, while I had my Philosophy 10 every Wednesdays and Fridays. During the first few sessions of my Theatre 160 class, we had a quick overview of theatre history, from Ancient Greek times to the present era. During that same week, our professor explained the development of Philosophy, also starting with Ancient Greeks.

It fascinated me, how looking at history through another perspective absolutely changes the way they are being taught to others. My favorite example of this was our one session during Kas 1 wherein our professor just continuously debunked every lesson we were taught back in high school. We were taught lies, because until now, the Americans have an influence on the way we teach children Philippine history.

History went from being my dreaded written memory test, to a thrilling five-act play.

I began to see how overly dramatic people were before, especially during Ancient Roman times – with emperors creating monuments and having year-long celebrations. I pitied their greed, feared their power, and sympathized with the destruction they have brought on to themselves. I wondered what it felt like, to discover something so new and so different, to witness the whole world change their lifestyle because of one person’s inventions… or one man’s advocacy – of religion, of politics, of literature, of art.

It all seems so grand. It was impossible to imagine that all of it occurred in the same planet I am living in right now. I guess the human mind has yet to adapt to such a wide perception of humanity. If we were able to comprehend everything that has ever happened in every continent of this whole planet, we wouldn’t have a problem getting along.

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building process,” said Carl Sagan. And come to think of it, the same could be said about history.

 

I have been taught in my history classes that the history we know today is not a linear traditional novel. Some parts are purposely being kept hidden, and other parts are only being discovered today. And everything we are taught in our era today will not be the same thing we teach children in the future.

Some say we preserve the past as a warning to us today, to not repeat the same mistakes. But, there is no telling what the main goal of history is, as it is still being written as of this moment. People will always use history for their own personal agenda. But there will always be those who pursue it in all its forms, and those who continuously try to understand it.

The history of ideas is like a drama in many acts
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Nakakatuwang isipin na
Sa anibersaryo ng pagsunog mo’y
Biglang bumuhos ang ulan.
 
Para bang sumasabay ang kalikasan
Sa pagluluksa sa mga nawala
Kay tamis makita ang bawat patak
 
Kung dumating ba ng mas maaga
May masasagip pa kaya?
Wala nang magawa kung hindi mag-hinala
Note: Isang taon na ang nakalipas nang masunog ang FC, o Faculty Center, ng UP Diliman. Ito ang nag-iisang larawan na nakuha ko sa loob ng FC. 

Sige Na, Ako Na

Sa bawat sinag ng araw na ang binabalik sa akin ay ambon,
Bawat oras ng bukas na magiging isang simpleng kahapon,
Sa bawat sandaling huli na ang pag-dating,
Bawat “hindi ako pwede”, “busy ako”, o ano pang sinungaling.

Kahit ako na ang maghintay,
Kahit ako nalang ang magpuyat,
Kahit ako nalang ang tumayo dito
At ikaw nalang ang lumakad palayo

Sige na, ako na ang magdudusa.

Kung ang kapalit naman pala ay ika’y hindi na mapapahamak
Kung ang kapantay naman ay ang iyong tuwa at ligaya
Kung ang kailangan mo lang ay ang aking puso at diwa,
Ok lang, mahal, sige na, ako na.

Isang pahayag na dati’y sobrang tamis
Ngunit ngayo’y sobrang laki ng hinagpis
Pinipilit na ngumiti sa bawat sandali
Kahit na mata’y pula sa hapdi

Sige na. Oo na. Ako na ang may mali.

Sa bawat imbitasyon, bawat lakad, at bawat hamon,
Bawat pagtawag ng saklolo na hindi mo naririnig
Bawat oras na sinayang sa paghintay at pagtimpi
Bawat pagkunwari para lang ika’y bumalik.

Ako ba’y naririnig na ngayon? Sige na, ako na.

 

Ano ba… Ako nalang palagi.

 

Hindi… Ok lang.

 

 

 

Teka.

Ok nga lang ba?

Sige Na, Ako Na

A Love Letter to Self-Love

Dear self-love,

Your cousins, sisters, brothers all outshine you
Eros, Agape, Filia, Storge, just to name a few
But out of all the people in your family
Only you have ever left an impression on me; you see,

No language in the world does justice to your name
No culture that romanticizes the warmth of your flames
Oh, am I the only one that yearns for your existence,
The only one overpowered by your silent presence?

Thank you for taking care of me when no one else did
Chanced meetings in dark places, how ironic, isn’t it?
How much I crave you when you’re away,
And yet, underestimate you whenever you stay.

Why not seek glory and fame like the others?
Yet, I’m thankful, for your humility has pushed me farther
It is selfish of me to have you to myself, but am I
To be blamed when all else has seen you, and without a pause, simply passed by?

But oh, you have taught me what love meant, and
It was giving what you have without bargaining for your end
I want to have you as mine, to close all our distance
Such sentiments will defeat your purpose, an insult to your existence

And so – an open letter
For the curious, the wounded, those who yearn to feel better
For those who still look for solace in their own embrace
For those whose shadows save them from grace

A Love Letter to Self-Love

World Hijab Day

WIN_20170201_120532.JPGMy professor for GS 197 – Global Studies: Islam in Contemporary Europe – encouraged our whole class, Muslims and non-Muslims alike to wear a hijab for one whole day, in support of World Hijab Day. And this is what I learned.

Continue reading “World Hijab Day”

World Hijab Day

An Open Letter To The People Who Have Been In My Life this 2016

This letter is for the people I got to work in the theater with” to the people who helped build Tisoy Brown, The Dressing Room, and Comedy of Errors – from the artistic team, to the tech team, to the performers themselves; to the people who helped build my own small play, “Animo, Pilipinas Naming Mahal”; to the people who helped build and bring back UP SIKAT from the ashes. This letter goes out to the people who had their hearts crushed by other theater practitioners, and managed to rise back up stronger than ever.

But most of all, this letter is for those who have influenced my decision to shift out of the program, and for those who have continued to encouraged me to explore something different. The ones who witnessed me at my lowest, when I was confused as to what path to choose. The ones who have led me to the goal I have now. This is most especially for you.

2016 is one of my bleakest moments of my life.

This was the year our indigenous people were rammed by a police truck, that people were killed mercilessly under the excuse that this was a ‘war against drugs’, and so much more. This is the year I’ve become inspired to be more nationalistic, more critical, and more determined to achieve my goals of combining Psychology, Teaching, and Theater Arts.

This was also the year I realized what truly mattered – that my time spent with my family is not something I’m willing to sacrifice for rehearsals, and that I still valued my education more than anything.

This was the year I entered a theater company. And this was also the year I left.

 

Nonetheless, I just want to say thank you for making me fall in love with the theater. I’ve been lost for the most of this year, but thank you for leading me to see my own path. I’ve probably said this to you before, but just as how you never got tired of telling me “It’s fine” whenever I asked you if it was okay for me to rant, I will never get tired of thanking you. I’ve said this to many people, and maybe the fact that I’ve said such a thing to so many people will make you doubt if it’s true. But it is.

 

Even if I am not to spend the new year with you, know that I still love you. Deeply. Know that I still whisper a list of names before I go to sleep, and know that I am thankful even just for your existence, as your name gives me even just one more second to delay another inner battle.

Thank you for 2016. Cheers – to a longer list of names, and hopefully, to having no need of a list at all.

 

An Open Letter To The People Who Have Been In My Life this 2016

#KwentongLakbayan 2016

October 19, 2016. The day the police rammed over our own people, I was with my Philo 10 class, visiting the camps of the indigenous people in the new CAL building. It was my first time this year to see them.

We were listening to the story of the Dumagat tribe leader, when an Anakbayan member showed us pictures of the incident on his phone. Pictures of a foot under a police van. I was there when he showed it to them.

It was… as if… time had slowed down. From the moment I saw their reaction… to the moment we were dismissed. The anger and grief in their eyes. It was like molten lava pooling in their eyes – wanting the people they hated to burn, and yet feeling momentous sadness as the hatred coursed through them.

Seeing them, I could feel a hundred thoughts running through their mind. They say a picture says a thousand words, and as we saw that picture, this was mine:

“Why would they do this to us?- Protecting the people who once violated our same ancestors… -What if it’s my friend? Are they okay? Who went to the Embassy? Think, think! – Wait, where are they now? What’s happening there?- Why is this happening to us?! Putang ina! Wait…Will they be safe? ….Will we?”

I called a friend from UP Manila, and he said that his friends were detained, and so were those who were badly injured, and so were the doctors who tried to help them. The police were still watching over them like vultures, waiting for their dead carcasses, excited to bring it to their boss, and feast on their triumphant battle.

I cried in the parking lot.

October 20, 2016. I did not let any insensitive sentiments pass by without them knowing this simple fact: with the freedom of speech comes an acceptance of criticism. I tried to educate as many people as I could, hoping that my voice could be heard in a void full of people who are always just full of themselves.

And I kept going, even if I had faced a handful of criticisms that had gone below the belt more than once, because the voice of the Dumagat tribe leader was echoing deep inside my mind, “You don’t need a college degree to know if you’re in the right. And if you are, then always, always choose to fight.”

October 21, 2016. I used to tell myself that I was a girl on fire, and the spit I received from strangers have doused my flame, but when human rights get trampled on with no care, I promised that I would fight. I don’t give a fuck who would stare.

As I raise my statements to the sky, hoping to attract and catch as many eyes. The broken bones my own people have had to endure had become my dried wood, and the police’s denial of the incident has become my gasoline. The friction between the police van’s tire against asphalt became the match that sparked my anger. I am so sorry. Blood had to spilled, just so eyes could be opened.

How many more gallons should be splattered on the ground before we finally receive what you’ve already had since the day you were born?

October 26, 2016. I didn’t know they were about to leave so soon. I went as soon as I could, and talked to a member of the Southern Mindanao tribe. He talked about the mining in his land, and most of all, he talked about how thankful he was to be here. Here, in UP Diliman.

That night, we had the Hugpungan, a cultural performance by the different national minority groups. I had chills the whole night, watching children talk of battle stories in front of us, amazed at the bursts of yellow, blue, red, and black all over their traditional clothes. These are children that are deprived of what we call a childhood full of innocence and Disney movies, and instead were given the battleground as their theatre stage.

After their performances, our Chancellor, Michael Tan, and the male and female leaders of the national minorities gave some closing remarks. They said, “We hope that next year, when we come back, we will no longer tell stories of our hardships, of war, and of tragedy. Hopefully, next year, we will bring with us stories of triumph.”

The host announced the different national minority groups for a curtain call. They danced in a circular motion around the stage. She invited our Chancellor to come up with them, along with other respectable leaders. The others started to invited the audience. Slowly, more and more people filled up the stage, dancing freely, chanting, “Ayan na. Ayan na. Ayan na ang sambayanan.” They mingled and merged as one uniting force – senior teachers, people of authority, students, indigenous people, children… All moving in one direction.

I was left astounded as I watched this spontaneous scenario unfold onstage. People of all ages, of different backgrounds, smiling, interacting, despite all odds – because their one goal was finally accomplished. A hopeful ending to this journey full of pain.

October, 2016. I cannot pinpoint the exact date, but this month was the month I found my purpose. This Lakbayan has changed my collegiate experience. The montage of martyrs showed every Iskolar ng Bayan who had not only dedicated their lives to the national minorities, but also died for them. I knew, then, that I wanted to be one of them.

As someone who is determined to become a psychologist, people forget that mental health is not just an issue of the proletariat or the peti-bourgeoise, but also of our national minorities. That we voice out our concerns for the health of the middle class, than the health of the children who have witnessed the burning of their schools, and other unthinkable tragedies, says a lot. I am not saying that we should disregard people who face monsters under their beds, just because other people face monsters with guns.

What I imply is this: do what you must to ensure that the people you believe should have what they must have WILL have what they must have, and I will do the same.

The indigenous people believed that UP Diliman was the safest place for them to stay, and they have stayed in many, many places. In their whole year, we have guranteed them 2 weeks away from military forces.

14 days of peace and shelter for them, in the rest of their 365 days.

14 days of enlightenment for me, in the rest of mine.

And I will not stop fighting until that 14 days of peace, turns into a three hundred and sixty-five.

#KwentongLakbayan 2016