I am often faced with the question on what exactly is nationalism. I hear of it very often. It is discussed in coffee shops and schools.
In its bare bones, nationalism means “identification with one’s own nation and support of its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.” More simply, it is sticking to one’s own nation and defending its interests.
The whole concept embraces a wide range of interests. Nationalism, to me, is not just dying for one’s country or buying a product that is Philippine-made over an imported product known for its durability.
I thank the brave men and women who took part in the shaping of my nation’s identity and freedom. The names of those who were the forerunners of my country’s freedom are as from a roll call such as doctor Jose Rizal, Gabriela Silang. Andres Bonifacio, Melchora Aquino (Tandang Sora), Teresa Magbanua, Josefa Llanes Escoda (check out the P1,000-bill) and Apolinario Mabini. There are even names that, to this day, still intrigue me.
Who was the last general to surrender to the American forces at the end of the Philippine-American war in 1902? There are three names that stand out.
My sister, Thelma, once told me, “Your history teacher, my friend and colleague, reported that you have this ‘glazed expression on your face’ while she discusses the day’s lesson.”
I took that to mean that my grade school teacher thought I was not listening or did not understand a thing she was saying. I have forgotten that teacher’s name but, Ma’am, here is some good news: I recall the names of the three war heroes who were last to surrender to America: Gen. Miguel Malvar, Gen. Macario Sakay and Gen. Simeon Arboleda Ola.
There was once controversy as to who really was the last man standing against America. I will not defend the claims of each of their families about this matter. By the way, I remember Malvar because he sided with Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio.
I am talking about nationalism because April 9 is Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) or formerly Bataan Day. How do we, as a people, teach nationalism to the people in our neighborhood?
Some examples of nationalism to me include knowing where to throw garbage, paying the exact fare when taking public transportation, refraining from profiteering and returning excess change when purchasing something. Other examples include paying taxes and relearning aspects of our culture, like knowing the national language along with mastery of the local language. It would be a shame to go to a country abroad and get asked what “ampalaya” is in English and come up with a bitter, glazed expression on our faces.
What about you? What will you do to promote nationalism?