Once there was a dream called the Katipunan. It was a brotherhood of fire and passion, fighting for land, love, and freedom. It was the union of Filipinos tired of being controlled by outsiders and wanting to reclaim what’s truly theirs. But, though it had one goal, the dream was taking shape in too many different minds. Very different ones. And so, unity was disrupted by disagreement, and egos went bloating and flying in different directions. Magdiwang rivaled Magdalo, Bonifacio challenged Aguinaldo. And vice versa. In the face of the powerful outsiders, they preferred to dwell in conflict among themselves rather than resolve differences and be one. They fought against each other and took sides, jeopardizing our much longed freedom. They fought some more and CHANGED sides, until Bonifacio had to die by another Katipunero’s hand. Until Andres Bonifacio was killed by another Filipino. Kapwa Pilipino at Katipunero ang siyang pumatay kay Andres Bonifacio.
But why did they fight? Why was our country’s Freedom put aside? Were their egos really that big and important? Bigger and more important than taking back what’s ours? Worthy of giving up the dream? The dream ended and sadly, it ended in vain. Freedom was not achieved. Instead, tied Filipino hands were simply passed from one outsider to the next. And the rest, as it is said, is our country’s special history.
This special history has created many special creatures along the way. Among them are those who will forever be slaves, those who will forever be needing masters. Thus, the obsession with titles. You are but a slave if you don’t have one. And if you don’t have one, you worship those who do. These special creatures’ main objective in life is to please the master, blinded as they are by authority and status, by power and position. But what can they do? Our special history has been unkind to the masses, keeping them apart from the wealthy and learned and maintaining the gap between them, never allowing any lasting union of all kinds of Filipinos. Not even against the outsider who wanted what was ours. Prestige has been a force since the time of the Revolution according to one noted Filipino writer, and it seems our slaves of today are mere outcomes of the many years Filipino masses have been worshiping the high and mighty. Poor followers who’ve been taught to think that their poor lives are meant to be the way they have always been, and that things can never be any different.
Of course, how can things be different if the high and mighty won’t allow it? Prestige being a force, it gives power and title to those who have it. And having power has long corrupted many souls in this world, not just Filipino ones. This thirst for power (and each time more of it!) is what marks the difference between a Leader and a Master. A Leader respects and serves the people. They, in turn, earn the respect of the people who deem them worthy to serve. Masters, on the other hand, are masters because they simply want to be one. Forget earning respect and truly serving their followers, it’s all about the title and not ever letting go.
It is with this divide that we Filipinos continue in our quest for freedom and making our special history. Wherever we go – and we’ve gone places! – we take with us this disunity that runs deeply in our veins. But luckily for us, especially for the Filipino migrants, the rest of the world is not like the Philippines. There exist other possibilities out here, other ways, and we are free to make them ours. And as some of us see that a more equal and just way is possible, we are left to wonder about alternatives and ultimately hope that Filipinos will someday be capable of wanting this- a world without slaves nor masters. Kay S. Abaño
Dying Slaves and Merciless Masters. Juan Luna’s Spolarium displayed at the entrance of the National Museum of the Philippines. La obra “Spoliarium” es una pintura del filipino Juan Luna. Óleo sobre lienzo de 400×700 cm. Fue expuesta por primera vez en la Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes de 1884, ganando una medalla de oro en ella. En 1886, fue vendida a la Diputación Provincial de Barcelona por un importe de 20.000 pesetas. Aprovechando que se había enviado el cuadro a Madrid para ser restaurado, el dictador Francisco Franco lo donó al gobierno de Filipinas, pese a tratarse no de una propiedad del Estado español sino de la Diputación de Barcelona. Actualmente se expone en el Museo Nacional de las Filipinas. Text: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoliarium. Photo: http://manila-photos.blogspot.com/2010/01/painting-that-launched-revolution.html