Like most people on the internet, my online cadence is a little different from my real life self. It might surprise you but my friends can attest to the slightly detached, non-crying, unsentimental version of me. Online, I have the voice of a kind and overly concerned godmother. Offline, I roll my eyes, shrug my shoulders, and sweetly encourage people to ‘go and get over it’.
Despite my (sometimes) flat emotional landscape, what I hardly ever am is angry.
But then the Philippine elections happened and I felt something stir inside of me. It was a tiny seed of a flame that grew and mounted as they counted ballots and tallied polls. As the political drama unraveled by the hour, I came to recognize it more clealy as the slow-rising anger of love.
I am proud to be Filipino. I don’t think I say it enough. But for what it’s worth, I am deeply rooted to my beautiful, messed up country. It is the team I was born into and it is the team I choose to cheer for, especially now in my late 20’s, when I am most free to leave for greener pastures.
If I am angry, which I am, it is only because I am invested. This is the place my nieces will grow up in. My future nephew will know Manila as his birth city. My children, no matter who their father is, will forever carry Filipino in their blood. I, for better or worse, will never know another place as home.
And even if I do, it will never be the same way. No other place in the world will ever be as mine as the Philippines.
If I am angry, which I am, it is only because I so desperately want more for us. I carry in me the ridiculous hope that we’ll survive our own dysfunctions and walk into the freedom I believe we deserve.
And if I am angry, which I am, it is only because I am broken by how little we strive for, how quick we are — as a nation — to settle.
There was a time when my cousin, Gab, had a girlfriend who cheated on him. “Don’t get back together with her!” was my adamant request. But he did, eventually. I, on the other hand, ended up not talking to him for a week. I can be brash and petty at times. I apologized, we made up, and after a couple of weeks, they ended up breaking up for good.
We laugh about it now — we were teenagers, we were silly. And while he had every right to make his own decisions for himself, the obvious truth is that my anger came from a loyal and hopeful love. The kind that wasn’t afraid to ask someone to demand for more. And the kind that would hide and sulk for a week because it dreamed of grander dreams for the person that it loves.
We should all hope to be able to love someone (or something) that much. And I shouldn’t have to apologize for it anymore.
When I talk to people who are apathetic about the state of the nation, I’m always quite surprised. They shrug their shoulders at what is unfolding. There is nothing they can do, they insist. This is how it always has been, they claim. “I love the Philippines,” they tell me.
Then where, I wonder, is your tirade?