‘Aling pag-ibig pa/
ang hihigit kaya/
sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila/
gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa?/
aling pag-ibig pa?/
wala na nga, wala.
The past few months of Rock Edding through universities have seen me introducing Noel Cabangon and/or Paolo Santos to a large group of students all sitting on the edges of their auditorium seats. So the introduction of these two fine musicians always had a frisson of excitement held-back. At least from me. The students, however, are obviously thrilled. But both, being acoustic guitarists, Noel and Paolo usually start off on a calm note.
Last Friday was a different story.
I was posed with the challenge of introducing Radioactive Sago, a band best known for their jazz-poet-seemingly-on-crack energy. Lourd De Veyra, the lead singer is a powerhouse. Gut passion he draws from god knows where flows out onto his voicebox as he poetically spews out their statement.
I was so excited.
It was to be fantastic.
It was also very nerve wracking for thirty-something me who usually likes the downbeat swing of a buzz fading out.
So I step onto the stage with nothing but my heartbeat and the bleeps of their horn set, rim shots from where the drummer was, a steady thump from the bass guitar and the hiss of Lourd’s cigarette thrown into a cup of water.
A spotlight on your face does something to your mind. Especially, when you have a gym full of college students screaming at your direction. (What are they screaming? I wasn’t sure. Did they want me to leave? Aah, I think they wanted the band to start pronto. Very well then. Maybe I’ll just leave….)
But we were there as Rock Ed. I think. So let me start it. So help me, God.
So I said. “Ako si Gang Badoy at iniibig ko ang Pilipinas!” Screams are louder now and I stop. I think they’re saying something in unison. I strain. Then I realize the entire gym was shouting the rest of the “Panatang Makabayan”
“Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan!! Ito ---- ang tahanan ng aking lahi…!”
Fists raised. Neck veins popping. Voices crack. But in unison.
I forgot I was in Balagtasan central.
We should all have moments like this.
Over two thousand voices saying, in unison, “Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino…..!” (pause)
“SA ISIP, SA SALITA, AT SA GAWA!!!! (heart now pounding—Radioactive Sago jumps in with a jazz rift.)
End of story.
But not quite the end of my thought.
That was a picture of what we want to happen in the Philippines. Everyone, on fight mode, everyone’s energy onto professing love of country, with energy enough for a rock concert. Spilling over to volunteer work. Spilling over to studying well. Spilling over to developing ones talents to be able to contribute to nation-building. Spilling over to integrity in public office. Spilling over to road courtesy. Spilling over to being respectful to our elders. Spilling over to being kinder to the children. Spilling over to staying in the country despite.
What a privilege to be there in that moment.
What a privilege for you to read about this.
Burn burn burn.
Rock on, Baliuag.
Mabuhay ang Pilipino.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.