Sunday, July 20, 2008

t r a c i n g m y heritage ...

i watched a rondalla from boston, massachusetts today. a rondalla is composed of stringed instruments: banduria, octavina, guitar and bajo de una. it's a remnant of old spanish culture in the philippines yet more than half a century after, it's still alive. and it's thriving not in the blood of natural born filipinos but filipinos that have grown abroad. filipinos that were born in the states.

i first played the banduria when my brother started learning it in grade 3 in the philippines. i don't remember the reason why i couldn't play in the rondalla then but my brother could. so, i learned on it when he wouldn't play it. but that was it. i forgot and then six-seven years later, i would play in a rondalla in abu dhabi. i had come as a "saling pusa" or just a sit-in but i grew to love the instrument. i grew to love the teacher. and that made me stay more than ever.

i loved playing the banduria because it was the instrument that i was really able to master. enough so that i could widow songs on it. but the instrument i bought cracked under bad weather. i wish it had kept.

seeing the rondalla tonight made me think of the past. about how filipinos abroad long to belong and they somehow trace their heritage because they are not completely one thing or the other. they are not just americans but also filipino. as we all are ... we are not just one thing or the other. i honour the kids that laboured and have embraced this filipino musicality as their own and to be so jubilant in doing so. i love seeing second or third generation pinoys identifying themselves as filipinos because they don't forget. they don't forget where they're from. they may be foreign in their mentality or foreign in their speech but in the way they look and the values they hold, it's still very much filipino.

i pray that every filipino will continuously be proud of their origin - however dark, bleak or hard. as the saying goes - ang hindi marunong lumingon si pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. He who does not (know how to) look back at his past (where he came from) will not reach his destination. (

because the filipino is a great person. he is full of potential. he is full of talent. he is resourceful. he is strong, he is many things. he is faithful, he is loyal, he is humble, he is persistent. he is an asset. he is happy. he is light. he is inspiring. he is driven. he is many things. he can be whatever he wants to be. there is no limit.

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