Ang Bayan Ko

"Ang bayan ko'y tanging ikaw... Pilipinas kong mahal. Ang puso ko at buhay man... sa iyo'y ibibigay. Tungkulin ko'y gagampanan. Na lagi kang paglingkuran. Ang laya mo'y babantayan, Pilipinas kong hirang..."

We used to sing that song every morning. We sang it after the Philippine National Anthem during our elementary school flag ceremony. I'm not sure if I really understood what it truly meant to love my country, though, back when I was a child. "Pilipinas kong Mahal" (My Beloved Philippines) was one of my favorite songs. I liked the melody. It was nice to sing because it had that nice melancholy tune.

But, right now, what with everything going on in my country, I want it to become more than just a song. You see, my beloved homeland has been going through some serious shaking lately. I know no country is perfect. We all have our issues. Yet most of our current state of events will leave the hearts of most people shattered, crumbled like weathered down debris.

Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) entered our territory and took several thousands of lives along with her. I'm not sure what the latest count is right now. 10,000? It seems to get higher with each passing news update. And we've only just been recovering from a heart-rending earthquake which also took place in the Visayas region prior to this super typhoon, too.

And then there's the political landscape to consider. Citizens this year have been in uproar because of the uncovering and the unfolding of the controversial "Pork Barrel Scam". Government officials are apparently given "pork" which they are supposed to channel to development projects. Apparently, several (if not a lot of) officials have directed large - very large - sums into their pockets instead. They have been rumored to do this through the services of the *ehem* amnesiac "Pork Barrel Queen" who in turn have gained her own profits in billions.

Sigh.

These are some of my country's biggest issues. And yet there are many more lesser known ones, ones which, if we would poke and ponder, could possibly make our hearts ache all the more.

Thank God the Philippine spirit is resilient. Thank God we have learned to smile in spite of everything. But we need to make a change. Drastic changes, I believe. I do not have a formal proposition nor a ten-step action plan. I only have the words "Bangon" and "Wake up."

Wake up while magnifying the good - the resilience, the bayanihan, the loyalty, the ingenuity. Wake up while killing the ungood - the bitterness, the corruption, the ningas kugon, the bahala na, the crab mentality, the maƱana. Bangon. That's all I can say. Bangon.

Rise up, dear Philippines. God has greater plans for you. I love you with all my heart.

Photo taken from The Matchbox Sessions
https://www.facebook.com/TheMatchboxSessions

If you'd like to extend a helping hand to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, here is a list of organizations accepting donations: 
http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2013/11/10/list-orgs-accepting-donations-typhoon-yolanda-victims-313033.

You can also check this link out for those outside the country: