Sunday, May 8, 2011

On William Henry Scott and U.P.

One of the pleasures of Summer is having an hour or so of free time each day to read non-work-related books. :) Most of the books I read in a year are hastily consumed by my eyes during this golden period of lazy breakfasts and shorter work hours.

I've heard of William Henry Scott through my dad and former professors in UP, but never had the opportunity to read him until now.

My golly! I'm in love!!

He's a White Filipino, and I love him for loving the Philippines as much as much as every UP graduate and every Filipino ought to.

A Yale and Columbia University alum as well as being a lay missionary, his literary output is staggeringly broad as it encompasses scholarly works, sermons and strongly-worded articles speaking against the corruption of Martial Law, advocating unity among the Filipino youth and begging them to take action. But always, he writes with a distinctive voice that perfectly blends simplicity and profundity.

In one of his many articles, he writes:

"The State University (Aside: where he taught for several years, alongside the likes of Teodoro Agoncillo) ... is supported by the sweat of the Filipino people's labor and therefore exists only to serve them, and so it aims to produce public-spirited, civic-minded men and women conscious of the responsibility which their privileged status entails and willing to dedicate their skills to the service of their fellow men rather than to the advancement of their own careers and the prosperity of their own fortunes..." (emphases mine)

Several months back, a viral video went around featuring Winnie Monsod's last lecture, where she exhorted her students to help our country by staying in it. Since then, the video has inspired backlash, with a lot of expats rising to defend themselves (defensive much?) and lambasting Prof. Monsod for being narrow-minded, backward, illogical, etc. (Click here and here for anti-Winnie reads.)

I think we would do well to remember W.H. Scott's perspective. He saw nation-building as a godly act, and, like former UP President Salvador Lopez, understood that "not only our individual redemption but also the redemption of our country lies in the hollow of our hands."

The way I see it, it's a lot like Faith. Christians today (in the Philippines, at least) don't have the same appreciation for their faith because they are no longer being persecuted. They don't have to celebrate mass underground, hiding from fascists who seek to exterminate them for breaking the law. In the same way, many Filipinos today don't appreciate the freedom that our forefathers died for, since we breathed in the air of liberty from birth.

Freedom was just the initial step towards becoming a great nation, but if all of us leave the country, claiming that self-actualization is not a sin, who's going to stay in the Motherland to do the hard, dirty work? For as long as Filipinos love greener stateside pastures more than the dirty patch of land we call "ours," we cannot call ourselves "great."

I'm not saying that staying in the country is the right choice. I'm saying it's the HARDER choice. (It's a different case with UP graduates, however. For us, most especially, I really believe that staying in the country, working for its betterment, is the ONLY thing to do.)

It's harder to stay here, because it's unpopular, and migrating is so "now." Next, we have to live with all the corruption, traffic, heat, low wages, etc. We have to put up with a LOT, actually, just living our day-to-day lives. But it will not last forever.

William Henry Scott BELIEVED in our country, and loved it so much he chose to stay in it, despite all the terrors of Martial Law. Why can't we true-blooded Pinoys do the same?

Yes, I'm a fanatic. Yes, I've been brought up to believe that Filipinos SHOULD stay in the country, to serve it during the best years of my life and not to avail of its resources in order to leave it at the first opportunity. And yes, I realize that logic has little to do with this argument. It all boils down to FEELINGS. It all boils down to one question: How much do you love your country?

I've heard the arguments. I've talked to people on either side of the fence. But in the end, I've made my choice. I pray that I can hold on to it for the rest of my life.

Pasensiya na, I'm a UP grad. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Of Books and of Baguio

Recently, I had the most wonderful three-day weekend in Baguio with my bosom buddies from Ex Libris Philippines. We took the Victory Liner Deluxe bus (highly recommended! Only five hours travel time and no stop overs, with an in-house loo!) and arrived on a cold Friday morning. An unexpected blessing: early check-in was allowed at our lovely hotel, so we had more time to stroll around the Summer Capital!

Of course, we made it a point to visit as many bookshops as we could in the city proper, so we paid homage to CID, Jet, National and Book Sale. But Mt. Cloud Book Shop was in a class all by itself!

I arrived in Baguio with two bags, and departed with five. Three of those bags were full of books, some purchased for as low as P10.00 - P20.00!! \

Aside from eating, sleeping, and book shopping, we also played Guesstures, read aloud from Arnel Salgado's "Kidnapped by the Gods" (and learned new ways to use words like anon, foliage, firmament in everyday language!), and screamed ourselves hoarse during three hours of playing Left for Dead and Counterstrike in an internet cafe. Haha, we forgot to be our mature, professional selves and became high school teenagers all over again!

I felt a bit like Rizal, who spent most of his money on books when travelling abroad ... then again, I had ample funds left over to ensure that I took a shower and ate three lovely meals a day. :p Who needs mountains of souvenirs when you've got tons of memories, snapshots, and dozens of books?

Sa uulitin!!
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog