We are still a young nation. Though we can trace our history to centuries before the coming of the Spaniards to the Philippines, the idea that we are one nation in one country is yet to be embraced by everyone.
We are proud because we share common values like malasakit and bayanihan, but we still see ourselves more as Ilocano, Bisaya, Bicolano, and others than Filipinos. It is more evident during elections.
Filipinos will campaign for a kababayan, one who hailed from the same region over the most competent ones. No wonder we get to elect into office corrupt and incompetent politicians.
During the Martial Law years, Ferdinand Marcos sent young soldiers from the North to kill the old rebels of the South. We often have brownouts in Metro Manila then. But everyone knew it had nothing to do with electricity distribution. The military was transporting our dead young soldiers. Their angry relatives became willing recruits to the army.
In short, colonizers and dictators used “Divide and Conquer” to rule us. These days, traditional politicians divide and conquer us using their paid troll armies.
The more divided we are, the easier it is for them to rule us. Troll armies target the uneducated mass, so they will learn to hate the educated middle classes who have been calling for reforms.
On the other hand, the oligarchs will continue to finance the trapos to enrich themselves further. Therefore, it is not surprising that the poorest of the poor vote for the champions of the oligarchs. I could still hear Duterte cursing the “oligarchs,” most of whom donated money to his campaign.
We Do Bayanihan
Bayanihan plays three vital roles in the lives of Filipinos. It is not evident to many, probably because we are swimming in it. Many of us benefit from the efforts of those who came together in the spirit of bayanihan.
Let me explain.
1. Because we care, we do bayanihan.
On June 6, 2022, Leni Robredo went to Sorsogon to help the victims of the Mt Bulusan eruption. She’s one government official who always comes first.
Of course, the troll armies did what they do best. They discredited her efforts. Never mind that the election season has passed, and she lost.
They ignored that she’s been doing this even before she entered politics.
The truth is that there are many Leni Robredo’s in our midst. And Leni knows this. She regularly gives online updates because people follow her lead.
In the spirit of bayanihan, these Filipinos channel to the OVP their donations. In addition, many of them offer their vehicles and even time for volunteer work.
The educated middle class, often labeled as elitists, go to where people need help.
Usually, I say Filipinos help those who are in need. That is because it is true.
However, in this piece, I must give credit to whom it is due.
Often, it is not the super-rich people who give donations.
Instead, the middle class, primarily working professionals, are the usual volunteers. They give whatever they can: money, time, and valuables.
They know the needs of the poorest of the poor. Some of them are their relatives and friends.
They fight for good governance. These volunteers know that the money we need to help our fellow citizens went into the pockets of the corrupt.
(Note: Education alone is not enough for people to be socially conscious and care for others. Social status still plays a role in how people think. More on that later.)
2. Because we want to progress, we do bayanihan.
These days, rightist elements in the government employ red-tagging to discredit those fighting for human rights and people’s welfare.
There are party list groups that demonize activists from the University of the Philippines. Anyone who fights for democracy is tagged as a communist and a terrorist. However, one does not need to be a communist to love our country.
But here is the point – and here is why this is what bayanihan is all about. The countless benefits we enjoy today, like 13th-month pay, eight-hour work days, leave, health, and maternity benefits, did not originate from politicians.
In the spirit of bayanihan, activists rally together to fight for all of these. Remember, bayanihan happens because people come together for the good of all.
Like the Makapili of old, the ungrateful troll armies are red-tagging all those who are fighting for our welfare.
In truth, they are buhay na mga bayani (living heroes) who fight for us without expecting anything from us. They are the true makabayan (nation-loving Filipinos).
3. Because we build a nation, we do bayanihan.
We cannot stop educating our people. Unfortunately, many of our fellow citizens have learned to hate the word “education.”
Voter education, for one, was portrayed as the attempt of the rich to dictate their choices. In truth, those who initiated Voter Education were mainly from the middle class.
A well-educated citizenry won’t allow political families to rule the country.
My mission is to help spread the spirit of bayanihan. Therefore, I will support the future projects of Angat Buhay. I know that Angat Buhay volunteers will come together, in a spirit of bayanihan, to uplift the lives of Filipinos.
Bayanihan is a people’s movement.
Those who want to perpetuate themselves in power will hate it. We will be the first to assist our people. We will continue to raise their awareness.
On my part, I will create contents that promote good citizenship. I know that other people like me want the same thing. So, one day, we will come together.
We will continue to be divided into regions and languages. But I hope that we will truly see ourselves as one nation one day to say genuinely, “Bayan muna bago ang sarili”.
Bayanihan is the glue that will bind us all.
There are many manifestations of bayanihan in our communities. Highlight them. Cherish those people who bring us together in a spirit of authentic unity.
Let us be thankful to nameless volunteers who come to our aid in times of natural calamities. There are many Leni Robredo’s in our midst. Treasure them.
Individually, we can do advocacy work. We do not need to wait for others to do bayanihan. We can do it wherever we are.