Macagba: Lessons from pain

Beyond the classroom

THE recent Nescafe tagline for me is very striking. Unfortunately not in a good way. The endorsers of the product would claim that it is better to “bumangon sa buhay na walang pait.”

At the onset, you would seem motivated to agree about this claim. But imagine a coffee without the bitterness, can it still be considered coffee? Essentially the bitterness is part of the identity of a coffee. Taking away the bitterness aspect of the coffee is like taking away what uniquely makes coffee a drink.

However, while coffee here is the product being sold, there seems to be a repercussion on how the endorsers relate the idea of defacing bitterness from life. The subliminal message sent by the product’s tagline brings us to an existential and an interior struggle of understanding pains and struggles in the context of living. Will the avoidance of pains and struggles bring us to a more worth living life?

As a teacher, I have witnessed how this generation run away from challenges and opportunities because they fear feeling and experiencing the pain. As a result, this generation attempts to live by the sidelines, not wanting to try or to take some risks. Consequently, because they do not want to welcome a certain level of struggle or pain, they fail to actualize their fullest potentials.

In a discussion in my class about the flag, I brought up to them an issue regarding the last line of our national anthem, “Ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo.” This issue has been something that our legislators talked about in the past months as a group of senators attempted to change the lyrics to something more positive since dying seems to be a defeatist act. When the class was asked about their view on this, a good number agrees with the idea that dying is such a negative stance.

But considering the context by which this song was composed, isn’t it dying can be consider the highest, if not the epitome, of loving? The undeniable passion to die comes from a sincere and authentic desire to love.

In today’s context, however, to die can be taken not just in its literal but figurative sense. To die can entail a certain level of sacrifice or generosity of a resource or personal talent. We show our love by offering aspects of ourselves to other people. This sacrifice or giving up of something brings us to an emptying process, not for the sake of personal deprivation but for greater causes bigger than oneself. The more we give and love, the more that we develop the community around us and our inner self flourishing to greater actualization of our potentials.

Perhaps, one of the reasons why the growth of our country remains to be limited is because we have conditioned ourselves not to be hurt, staying in the safe zone, preventing ourselves to die and give to others. Metamorphosis happens with a lot of pain. Pain prepares us to grow and love even more. Are we ready to be transformed? If yes, then perhaps we must also be ready for the pain.


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