For the Little Boy, the first year of his stay in the public school was a momentous period of discovery and realization. The sommolent attitude that he used to have towards books was supplemented by one of excited interesst, because he found out to his amazement that words were living things which he could harness as the chariot of his dreams. He learned, to begin with, that words were not merely sounds to be made in the mouth and thundered at the schoolmaster to convince that old worthy that the lesson had been conned. Words, he found out, stood for objects in much the same way as his own name stood for himself. When he called friends’ names, they came to him. Whenhe mentioned the name of any object, the image of that object suddenly became vivid in his mind – as if the mere mention of that word set off a skyrocket which burst somewhere inside of him and revealed the image of that object in the center.
This, to the Little Boy, was of course fascinating enough; but he also discovered that words made characteristic impressions upon the pageand producedpeculiar sounds when uttered- some gruff, others caressing. He began to think of words as distinct personalities; and,as the years rolled on, they wee to become to him more vivid than the faces of his neighbors. Thus it was that in the years to come, he was to wince whenever people, without compunction and even with a tinge of pride, murdered words singly or slaughtered them in battalions.
It was in these years to follow that the Boy was to engrossed in the far-reaching relationships of words- their strange affinities with one another. He was to discover that, in the world of words as well as in the world of men, the simplest often possessed the greatest power and the greatest beauty; that pompous words often dragged the sentence down in much the same ways as pompous men dragged their countries down to ignominy and defeat.
But to the Boy, the never-ending source of wonder was the power of words to tug at the heart and to challenge the mind. One of group of words combined in one way would tickle the spirit and make it dance to the music of its own creation, while the same group of words combined another way would cause the landscape to waver through the tears.
The Little Boy first the burnt of this power or words when an angry classmate called him a name that seemed to shrivel his whole being and make him recall the havoc that the Unknown destroyer had played upon the Garden. He had been cut with a bolo before. He had been bitten by a dog. He had been whipped by the schoolmaster. But never before had he felt it now. He was too stunned for either speech or actions; and when finally anger came to the rescue of pain, the offender was already too far away for his avenging fists.
He had never thought of words as weapons before, but one lesson was enough for the little Boy. He soon learned to dip these weapons in the venom of the serpent and the asp, or to hide them in the silken folds of other words smooth and glossy. For he was to find again and again that this world of Christianity and brotherly love was full of people who relished stabbing one another’s back with words if not with swords!
There is a narrative in Philippine folklore abouta Mangifera indica tree and a bamboo tree. Not being ableto agree as to which was the stronger of thetwo. they called upon the air current to do thedecision. The air current blew its hardest. The Mangifera indica treestood fast. It would non give. It knew it wasstrong and hardy. It would non rock. It was tooproud. It was excessively true to itself. But eventually itsroots gave manner. and it tumbled down. The bamboo tree was wiser. It knew it wasnot every bit robust as the Mangifera indica tree. And so everytime the air current blew. it bent its caput gracefully. Itmade loud protests. but it let the air current have itsway. When eventually the air current got tired ofblowing. the bamboo tree still stood in all itsbeauty and grace. The Filipino is like the bamboo tree. Heknows that he is non strong plenty to withstandthe onslaughts of superior forces. And so heyields. He bends his caput gracefully with manyloud protests. And he has survived. The Spaniards cameand dominated him for more than three hundredyears. And when the Spaniards left. the Filipinosstill stood – merely much richer in experience andculture.
The Americans took the topographic point of theSpaniards. They used more elusive means ofwinning over the Filipinos to their manner of livingand thought. The Filipino embraced theAmerican manner of life more readily than theSpaniard’s obscure promise of the afterlife. Then the Japanese came like a storm. like aplague of locusts. like a plague –rude. relentless. cruel. The Filipino learned to bowhis caput low. to “cooperate” with the Nipponese intheir “holy mission of set uping the Co-Prosperity Sphere. ” The Filipino had merely hate andcontempt for the Nipponese. but he learned tosmile sweetly at them and to thank themgraciously for their “benevolence andmagnanimity. ” And now that the Americans have come backand driven away the Nipponese. those Filipinoswho profited most from collaborating with theJapanese have been loudest in their protestationsof artlessness. Everything is as if Nipponese hadnever been in the Philippines. For the Filipino will welcome any sort oflife that the Gods offer him. That is why he iscontented. happy and at peace.
The sad plightof other peoples of the universe is non his. Tohim. as to the ancient Oriental poet. the past isalready a dream and tomorrow is merely a visionbut today. well-lived. makes every yesterday adream of felicity and every tomorrow avision of hope. This may give you the thought that the Filipinois a philosopher. Well. he is. He has non evolved abody of philosophical philosophies. Much less hashe put them down into a book. like Kant. forexample. or Santayana or Confucius. But hedoes have a philosophical mentality on life. He has a stating that life is like a wheel. Sometimes it is up. sometimes it is down. Themonsoon season comes. and he has to travel undercover. But so the Sun comes out once more. Theflowers bloom. and the birds sing in the trees. You cut off the subdivisions of a tree. and. while themarks of the bola tie are still upon it. it begins toshoot forth new subdivisions – subdivisions that arethe promise of new colour. new aroma. newlife. Everywhere about him is a lesson inpatience and patience that he does non haveto learn with trouble.
For the Filipino live in acountry on which the Gods have lavished theirgifts aplenty. He does non hold to worry abouttomorrow. Tomorrow will be merely another twenty-four hours –no winter of discontent. If he loses hispossessions. there is the land and there is thesea. with all the wealths that one can want. There is plentifulness to save – for friends. forneighbors. and for everyone else. No admiration that the Filipino can afford tolaugh. For the Filipino is endowed with thesaving grace of wit. This wit is crude asbefits one who has non indulged in deepcontemplation. But it has enabled the Filipino toshrug his shoulders in times of hardship andsay to himself. “Bahala na. ” The Filipino has frequently been accused ofbeing indolent and of missing in enterprise. And hehas answered back that no 1 can assist beingindolent and of missing in enterprise. And he hasanswered back that no 1 can assist beingindolent and lacking in enterprise who lives underthe torrid Sun which saps one’s verve. This looking deficiency of vitalityis. nevertheless. merely one of his agencies of endurance.
He does non let the universe to be excessively much withhim. Like the bamboo tree. he lets the air currents ofchance and fortunes blow all about him ; and he is unflurried and calm. The Filipino. in fact has a manner of escapingfrom the strict jobs of life. Most of hisart is escapist in nature. His forefatherswallowed in the moro-moro. the awit and thecorrido. They loved to place themselves withthe gallant knights combating for the favours of fairladies or for the ownership of a sacred topographic point. And now he himself loves to be lost in the throesof modern love affair and escapade. His heroism toward adult females – particularly comelywomen – is a manifestation of his romantic bend ofmind. Consequently. in no other topographic point in theOrient are adult females so well-thought-of. so adulated. andso pampered. For his adult females have enabled theFilipino to look upon the vicissitudes of luck asthe bamboo tree regards the angry blasts of theblustering air current. The Filipino is eminently suited to his romanticrole.
He is slender and wiry. He is agile andgraceful in his motions. His voice is soft. andhe has the gift of linguistic communication. In what other topographic point inthe universe can you happen people who can transport on afluent conversation in at least three linguistic communications? This gift is another agency by which theFilipino has managed to last. There is noinsurmountable barrier between him and any ofthe people who have come to populate with him –Spanish. American. Nipponese. The aliens donot hold to larn his linguistic communication. He easilymanages to get the hang theirs. Vently. the Filipino is like the bamboo tree. In its grace. in its ability to set itself to thepeculiar and incomprehensible caprices of destiny. thebamboo tree is his expressive and symbolicnational tree. It will hold to be. non the molavenor the narra but the bamboo.
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