My Lola Sosing died not witnessing how, after a century, her stories of wars, survivals, and freedoms finally meant something to her audience then, to us. We used to be awed by tales of how in her youth she and her sister evaded the Japanese soldiers, and endured all the Spaniards-inspired “luhod sa munggo” sessions.
But that was when we were still impressionable kids, when a samurai’s sword lingered in our imagination like Voltes V’s laser sword. The vision would loom larger than life. To Lola Sosing, it was life itself.
I grew up eventually. This time, my parents would tell the tale. No longer though are the characters in foreign suits with alien faces and names although there was a session on how an American official released a big, hungry dog and attacked a Filipino in what was then the US Bases in the Philippine soil.
Magellan gave way to Marcos. Swords and cannonballs turned into tanks and machine-guns, like the ones you see in video games and arcades. In their tales and in the scars that they still bear, the reality of the struggles they went through rang clearer to me now. Still, it was never enough for me to understand the big fuss about this so-called Centennial celebration.
Or about living and a Pinoy at that.
Amidst various forms of poverty, I could not relate to the pealing of the bells, the parade of floats, and the firecrackers display. Lea Salonga does not seem enough a reason for me to raise my head and sing Lupang Hinirang with pride and reverence.
A revolutionary-friend called the celebrations a mockery, and even said that the Philippine revolution is ongoing, especially in the countryside.
This may be true, an uncle told me, but changes in world economics have forced the Filipino to look beyond what ails his nation. Later, he emigrated to US with his family — he had looked beyond.
I went ahead and asked my parents what the Centennial means to them. My mum said: Learn from the pain and the blood shed during those and these dark times, but remember too the friendship and the love that banded our nation together.
I remembered the People Power at EDSA. The memory of it was closer and it brought back tears of joy. But now is now and it screams hunger and disease.
“Since you were little,” my father had said, “we have instilled in you the love that breaks through all obstacles, the mind that ably faces the past, the present, and the future with wisdom and conviction. Use that and you will know what it means to be Pinoy beyond one hundred years.”
“Those were the best things we have earned from the many named and unnamed heroes that guided us through life, that guided us to you.”
My Lola Sosing never left a will when she said goodbye before the Centennial. But she left us all with the greatest inheritance: our understanding of our birthright. Now I know why it is worth not just dying for, but living for. Beyond one hundred years.