[This post was created on Sunday, November 10, 2013]
Today my going to Church and taking communion had the special intention to be in solidarity with my countrymen the Filipinos in the wake of one of the worst land-hitting hurricanes in recorded history. Googling images using the terms Philippines, Haiyan, and Yolanda will be enough to get the whole picture… go ahead, please… because I hesitate to post some here…
Haiyan is the hurricane’s international name, Yolanda is its local name. The Y of Yolanda reflects the advent of this hurricane to us at the end of the year almost, since we name the typhoons alphabetically. Hurricane, typhoon, and tropical cyclone refer to the same thing, which is a type of storm.
I feel like picking up the entire sprawling archipelago and hug it tight, to comfort. The amazing thing is I know that somehow my mga kababayan (countrymen) will get over this because that’s how we are. Generally we’re simply naive that we can’t even think of berating God the way Job did. In Hiligaynon we’d all at once say in a resigned tone, “pag-buot sang Maka-ako”, with a bent head. The will of the Almighty.
The area worst hit by Yolanda had also suffered a magnitude 7 earthquake recently. Philippines is along the Pacific Ring of Fire as well as in the path of tropical cyclones. We are also affected by the El Niño. With these three things, at the least, it is easy to understand why our faith in God is a given thing. It doesn’t ask for philosophical considerations or systematic qualifications. Our faith in God comes as easy as breathing, a constant, so much so that even the worst of disasters is not strong enough to shake us off it. On the contrary, it is our lifeline and so the harsher the experience the tighter we cling to it. [ 13.Nov.13 Updates, below, links to 3 research websites, help elucidate what I’ve written in this post]
Earlier in our history there were those who called out to Bathala, a name that now has come to be heard throughout the archipelago by way of lessons in elementary school. Theologians will argue that this Bathala is not Yahweh or Elohim. This argument is irrelevant in this post, for a special purpose…
… Because I would like to translate Joey Ayala’s song Bathala into English as my way of being one with my people. I need to render Bathala as God in English, otherwise it won’t make much sense. I assume that when Mr. Ayala composed this piece he was referring simply to God, the One that the overwhelming millions of us go to church for on Sundays. I assume that when Mr. Ayala made this song he simply used Bathala to refer to the One whom I believe created everything, the Creator referred to in the Bible. Okay.
It can be argued that the globe is undergoing the cyclic ice ages and so humans have very little contribution to the warming. Okay. I don’t want to argue against that because I’m not an expert in that field. However, humans do so many things that result in the release of chemicals in the atmosphere, whose prevailing presence in turn blocks the escape of heat into outer space — the so-called greenhouse effect. Still, even if the cyclic ice ages is indeed the culprit of global warming it does not follow that we are free to do as we will with nature.
We do not have the freedom to unleash greed. Cutting of trees for profit. Mining for profit. Synthetic compounds for profit. Indiscriminate consumption for pleasure. The worship of ease and comfort. We are so submerged in greed that we cannot anymore tell between it and our skin. It cloaks us. Our souls are so soaked in it we feel like dying without it. We simply must consume frantically. We simply must have money in amounts beyond embarrassment.
The Homo sapiens sapiens is guilty of greed, from the poorest to the richest, from the most ignorant to those with multiple doctorates. So I appreciate it that Bathala is what Mr. Ayala used instead of Panginoon (Lord) or Poong Maykapal (God Almighty) or Diyos (God) because the song is like a confession of my people of the guilt to which we are part of. The mega-conglomerates of the global economy come to my mind as I meditate on this song yet I am reminded of Jesus’ words: forgive them for they do not know what they do.
The Mahatma Gandhi and Michael Jackson have said to the effect that if we want to change the world then we must start with our own self. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” A little less greed goes a long way. It’s a butterfly effect, like the phenomenon with the storms: a reduction in the propensity to consume will create a chain of events of unimaginable scale. Who knows, it may even prevent more super hurricanes from occurring again. Hurricanes are the collective manifestations of teeny-weeny changes of atmospheric pressures here and there over time, of tiny butterfly-wing drafts so to speak.
In calamities such as Yolanda my mga kababayan are simply too occupied to engage in blame games — that’s far from our thoughts. In solidarity, therefore, with this post I celebrate today’s going-to-church spirit of my country and render into English what sounds to me as our collective confession and supplication. I rest my diwa (inner self) and refrain from pointing a finger. Mr. Joey Ayala, sir, in case you come across this, please tell me on the parts that I got wrong; and I hope it’s fine with you that I have your song here, shared with the rest of the world. Here goes:
Likha Ninyo ang bawat bagay sa mundo
Lupang kayumanggi’t luntiang bukirin
Alat ng dagat at tamis ng hangin
You created everything,
the brown lands and verdant forests,
the saltiness of the seas and the sweetness of air.
Ang bawat bagay na nagmula sa Inyong palad
Ay may tungkulin sa mundong kinagisnan
Sa pagtupad nito ang lahat ay tinitimbang
All things that came from Your hands
have their own purposes in nature, the home they were reared in —
— the fulfillment of which entails reckoning to the detail.
Inyong hinugis at pinaahon sa lupa
Pinagkalooban ng talino at diwa
Upang mundo’y ipagyaman
him You shaped, established on earth,
provided with intellect and soul,
in order to enrich the world.
Naging ararong nagpaamo sa parang
Naging kumpit na sumagupa sa karagatan
Naging apoy na nagpalayas sa karimlan
became the plow that tamed the land,
became the vessel that battled the ocean waves,
became the fire that banished darkness.
Sa kayamanan ang mundong Inyong likha
At may bahagi rito ang bawat nilalang
Kung susuyuin lang mula sa kalikasan
in wealth this nature You have created
and all creatures can partake of it
were the acquisition of them be done mindfully.
Buhay-dalisay ay ‘di sapat sa iilan
Sila’y nasilaw sa kinang ng kasakiman
Ganid na diyos ang sinamba
simply-living for some is not enough,
they were blinded by greed’s glitter,
they worshipped a selfish god.
Pinaghati-hatian po nila ang lupa
Karagatan at himpapawid ngayo’y may bakod na
Kapwa tao’t hayop ma’y inaagawan ng tahanan
Walang nakaliligtas sa kanilang karahasan
Kaunalaran at kabutihan daw ang kanilang sadya
Subali’t ang lumilitaw ay ‘sang panggagahasa
They partitioned the lands among themselves,
the high seas and the atmosphere now have fences;
his fellow man and even the animals are robbed of their homes.
None are safe from their cruelty.
They say that progress and well-being is their aim
but what has turned out is violence.
Ako’y hinugis Nyo’t pinaahon sa lupa
Ang aking buhay ay dito nagmula
At dito rin inaalay
You shaped me and placed me in this world,
earth is my origin/my sustenance comes from it,
and my life is a gift to it.
Bigyan lakas itong inyong tanod-lupa
Upang umiral sa mapagsamantala
Panalangin ko’y Inyong dinggin
give strength to this earth-ranger of Yours
so to prevail against the opportunists;
may You hear my prayer;
so be it, oh God.♥
maraming salamat po sa mga may-ari ng mga litrato (thank you very much to the owners of the photos)