A Manila-style world class NYE countdown

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We are amazed when cities of the world welcome the New Year from the last minutes of December 31st up to the first hour of the first of January. It’s not just about the colorful fireworks but also how they highlight the best of their cultures embodied by their famous landmarks and customs. They consider it an annual tradition where locals gather as one hopeful nation and watch a fresh start unfolds at the tick of first midnight of the year.

Here in the Philippines, we opened the New Year differently and dividedly – literally. Although it’s not really bad to celebrate in different places at the same time, the fact that it is being done separately doesn’t count the reality that we are somehow divisive in a very special occasion. In many countries, despite divisiveness and conflicts, they celebrate in one public venue and witness the change of years together because it is a rare moment for them to unite, reconcile and enjoy as one. We Filipinos are boasting ourselves as a unified country, but are we able to show it to the world in the first hours of the New Year?

We never had one countdown celebration in an iconic landmark like what New York does to Time Square or Paris does to Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower. We were not able to get featured in any international media because we can only offer typical fireworks displays and musical concerts sans paying tribute to cultural or historical symbols our hopes and aspirations in our country’s next chapter. We never staged our biggest and most united Filipino-themed countdown party that we can show globally and we can be truly proud of.

This leads to a proposition that is actually long overdue, as far as I am concerned. Manila has the majestic and historic clock tower at Manila City Hall. As part of our everyday lives for the past seven decades, the clock tower remains to be the distinct symbol of time, not just to the capital city but to the entire Philippines.

The Manila clock tower is situated at the nerve of the country’s historical core. It is surrounded by some of the most important structures the equally-iconic Post Office, the Metropolitan Theater which is known then as our “cultural center”, the Legislative Building which currently houses the National Museum and the august walls of the old powerful citadel called Intramuros. It is our Big Ben – a landmark that was and still serves as a witness that stood the challenges of a fast-changing world but never lost its endurance and elegance.

No local or national celebration in recent memory that highlight the Manila clock tower. As one of the most famous landmarks in the Philippines, it was never used in a globally-publicized special event to prominently represent our country like the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Manila clock tower may not be as huge as those structures, but the story and history behind its existence is more than a reason to show its hands strike at 12 every January 1 around the globe.

As we celebrate the seventh decade of this iconic structure in line with the upcoming 450th founding anniversary of the City of Manila in 2021, I call on the national government and the city government to pay homage to the grand old tower of the Filipino nation. It is time to show it to the world as the icon of every New Year’s Eve celebration in the Philippines starting New Year’s Day 2020. It is the perfect time to project a real Manila-style NYE countdown party that the world deserves to watch and admire.

 

 

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Depensa sa Lupang Hinirang at bakit dapat tayong “mamatay nang dahil sa’yo”

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Ang Marcha Filipina Magdalo o Himno Nacional na mas kilala bilang “Lupang Hinirang” (o “bayang magiliw” sa mga nagmamadaling sumagot) ay ipinanganak sa panahong unti-unti nang nagtatagumpay ang hukbo ni Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo laban sa mga pwersang Kastila.

Kung susuriin ang mga pangyayari tungo sa June 12, 1898, ang Pambansang Awit ay maituturing na suma-total ng libo-libong digmaan sa loob ng 333 taong pananakop ng Espanya sa ating arkipelago. Tagumpay man o hindi, taglay ng bawat titik ang talino, tatag at tapang ng milyon-milyong indio upang sa wakas ay makamit ng lahi ang kasarinlan. Sa lahat ng panahon at pagkakataon, ayon sa pananaw ng mga ninuno nating mandirigma, handa dapat tayong mag-alay ng buhay para sa kalayaan ng bayan at para sa kapakanan ng mga kababayan. Ika nga ng pinakahuling linya nito: “aming ligaya na ‘pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo”.

Malaya na ang Pilipinas. Natapos na ang malalaking sigalot at ang kalakhan ng bansa ay lumalaban na lamang sa mga pagsubok upang sa araw-araw ay manatiling busog at buhay. Sa pagbabago ng ating lipunan, may saysay pa ba ang linyang “ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo” ngayon? May dapat pa bang mamatay para sa ating bayan?

Ito ang argumento ng ilang kritiko ng Lupang Hinirang, partikular ng kontrobersyal na huling linya. “Defeatist” diumano ang pakahulugan nito sa puntong hindi akma ang kamatayan upang maging dulo ng bawat paghahangad sa tagumpay. Wala na raw rason para itulak ang pag-aalay ng buhay para sa bansa, bagkus, mas nararapat na lamang itong “mahalin”. Kung tutuusin, mas positibo ang “magmahal” kaysa “mamatay” nang dahil sa Pilipinas sa panahon ngayon.

Hanggang saan ang kaya nating gawin para sa pagmamahal? Kaiba ba ang konsepto ng pagmamahal sa pagitan ng bansa at sa isang tao, hayop o relihiyon? Isang halimbawa ang seremonyas ng kasal kung saan lutang lagi ang katagang “till death do us part”. Handa tayong mamatay para sa pustahan: “peksman, mamatay man” o “cross my heart: hope to die”. Sa paniniwalang Kristiyano, lalo na sa mga Katoliko, bakit natin hinihingi kay Inang Maria ang panalangin “ngayon at kung kami’y mamamatay” o “now and at the hour of our death”?

Ituring nyo na akong konserbatibo sa usapin ng pagka-makabayan ngunit para sa akin, alinmang pagbabago sa alinmang bahagi ng Pambansang Awit ay maituturing na pandaraya sa mga datos ng ating kasaysayan.

Ang planong pagpapalit ng titik ng Lupang Hinirang ay isang porma ng “historical revisionism”.

Nananatili ang Lupang Hinirang bilang pinakamataas na himno ng bayan upang ipagdiwang ang bawat dunong at dugong inalay ng ating mga ninuno para makamtan ang kasarinlan. Nananatiili ang Lupang Hinirang dahil salamin ito ng sakripisyo ng mga nasawi sa gitna ng giyera o sa pakikipaglaban ng prinspyo para sa causa ng demokrasya. Nananatili ang Lupang Hinirang sa ating pambansang kamalayan upang patuloy na ipaalala sa atin na pahalagahan ang bawat layang tinatamasa natin hanggang kasalukuyan.

Walang dahilan para pagdiskitahan ang huling linya ng Lupang Hinirang. Pagbabalik ng kabutihang-asal at hindi pagpapalit ng mga salitang hinabi ng kabayanihan sa Pambansang Awit ang solusyon sa bumababang moral ng ating bansa.

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Pangarap. Dunong. Lakas. Pag-unlad. Maynila. Isang tula ng pag-asa

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This poem is part of Aurora Metropolis’ #Manila447 Series in celebration of Araw ng Maynila. The views expressed by the author does not reflect the view of all organizations he represent or he is affiliated with.


 

PANGARAP. DUNONG. LAKAS. PAG-UNLAD. MAYNILA
Isang tula ng pag-asa

 

Gusto kong makita at mahanap,
Siyudad kung sa’n ating nilalasap,
Pamumuhay na may hinaharap,
Mamamayang may mga pangarap.

Kabiserang ganap ang pagsulong,
Gobyernong handa laging tumulong,
Sa pagsubok ay hindi uurong,
May galing at walang hanggang dunong.

Kagitingan niya ay sadyang likas,
Kisig niya’y hinding-hindi aalpas,
Ganda’t tingkad man niya ay lumipas,
Kasaysayan niya’y tunay na lakas.

Ang kanyang tunay na hinahangad,
Bayang Manileñong may dignidad,
Tapat, ‘di maihahalintulad,
Kapit-bisig para sa pag-unlad.

Patuloy mong dalhin ang bandila,
Ikaw ang natatangi niyang tala,
Ngalan mo’y laging idadakila,
Pagpugay nami’y sa’yo, Maynila!

 

 

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