Sunday, June 11, 2017

Anecdotes about Loyalty and Patriotism

in observance to the 119th anniversary of Philippine independence, June 12 1017 “Kalayaan 2017: Pagbabagong Sama-samang Balikatan ."
Dr Abercio V Rotor

Story 1 – Friendship and Loyalty

Once there were two friends Tony and Ben who grew up together in the same neighborhood, went to school together, often on the same bicycle. They were teammates in basketball – Tony the taller played center, and Ben guard-forward. On drinking spree, whoever gives up first is helped by the other to be able to reach home.

[Photo: Tom Sawyer (right) and Huck Finn, characters of Mark Twain's novels, represent genuine friendship of two boys in rural America in the 18th century. This anecdote depicts the opposite of this respected tradition of friendship. Internet photo]

Then one fine morning when they were walking in the woods they encountered a big black bear. They had trespassed in its lair. Tony and Ben know how ferocious this 500-pound beast could get. Without any warning the bear took off for a chase. The two friends ran for their lives. Tony climbed a nearby tree, while Ben could do nothing but to lay prostrate on the ground feigning dead.

Here came the bear, sniffed the motionless body, groaned and lapped the face and nape. It was the scariest moment in Ben’s life. He drifted from consciousness, When he woke up he saw Tony beside him.

The two started to walk for home without a word. It was eerie quiet along the way until Tony broke the silence. “Tell me what the bear whispered, Ben?”

“Oh, yes.. The bear told me never to trust a friend who is a coward.’”

On recovering from the frank answer Tony begged, “Paki-usap lang, Ben. Can we keep this incident a secret? Just the two of us … please.”

“Sure, no problem.” Came a flat, cold answer.

A week had passed when Ben received a visitor, a relative. She heard of the incident. “Poor Tony he was nearly devoured by a black bear!” She even made a sign of the cross. 

She left Ben with clenched fists and bare teeth.

The incident severed the years long friendship of the two, never to be restored.

But providence made the two meet again, this time in a mall in the city. They hardly recognized each other. But age left familiar marks to keep memory alive. Ben had a small boy by his side, serious in his look and uneasy.

Tony took the soft side of the tense conversation, shifted his attention to the boy. “And who is this cute little boy? Tell me, what’s your name, little man.” and cocked his ear for an answer.

The boy hid behind and mumbled. “Come again?”

Ben came to the rescue, “BB, daw” with a tinge of sarcasm.

“Baby? But he’s already grown up.?”

“No, BB – Black Bear.” Silence, then both roared into uncomfortable laughter.

“He is my grandson, BB Jr.” Another uproar, then the mall fell silent. x x x

Does friendship really build loyalty? Does it promote patriotism? There’s a saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” If we can’t even keep our commitment in friendship, how can we build one on a higher plane, on the level of sacrifice, service, altruism and the like which are denominators of “love of country, defend its cause … “that this country shall be great again.” How far have these two friends reached on the Maslow ladder (Hierarchy of Needs), and say at the end, “We have reached the level of self-actualization.” Maybe yes for Ben, but that’s another story.

Story 2 – Career and Patriotism

It is customary to conduct an informal survey on what courses senior students would pursue in college. Schools take pride of their graduates, especially their outstanding alumni.

As the school year was about to end and the members of the graduating class were very eager to enter college, the teacher a kindly old lady, asked each one what career he or she will pursue. It was a sort of open forum and the teacher emphasized the zeal of patriotism and nationalism. She premised on what one can do to a fellowman.

The first respondent, one among the top students, rose, “Ma’am, I’ll be a doctor, a physician.” To which the teacher asked the reason, “to take care of the health and to heal my sick fellowman.” The teacher smiled and nodded.

Came a hand up from behind. “And what will you become Henry?” asked the teacher.

“I’ll be a soldier, ma’am – and become a general - if I can.” “And… ,” “Ma’am, I’ll defend my fellowman, even to die for him.”

No sooner did Ma’am Lapeña see so many hands vying for the next to share. “Ma’am I’ll be an engineer. I ‘ll build farm-to-market-roads so that my fellowman would not be walking to town.”

Ma’am Lapeña was thrilled by the eagerness of her students. Wouldn’t you if you were in her shoes? They have their dreams – lofty, too. Pharmacist, pilot, scientist, biologist, meteorologist, architect, businessman, even astronaut.

Except one at a corner. His thoughts seemed very far. “How about the young man over there?” Ma’am Lapeña pointed at Juan. All heads followed,

Scratching his head he stood up, look at Ma’am Lapeña. “Yes?”

“Ma’am, simple lang, po. I like to be that fellowman.” The whole class burst into raucous laughter. The school principal who was passing by peeped and grimed, wondering.

“OK, class sit down, please everyone take your seat. Write an essay.”

“About our future careers, Ma’am? “

“No, no, about Juan, the fellowman.”

Juan Tamad is a comic character, likened if not worst than Rip Van Winkle who slept for twenty long tears. But we have accepted him - myth and real – erasing the guilt of pointing a person like him. To an extent, Juan Tamad jolts one from his lazy bench. One good thing about him is that, he is assumed to have no other vices.

Story 3 – Oh, God, there’s no mistake

I dreamt I asked God something trivial -
Why so small are the duhat fruits;
When the watermelon, frail and crawling,

Bears the biggest fruit on earth.

“There must be some mistake,” I said

And waited for any response.
“There must be reason in faith,” I implored.
But only silence that I heard.

All of a sudden I woke up in a jolt,
A berry had fallen on my head,
Whether by Sir Newton’s law that it fell,
Or a Darwin’s finch came to tell.

I raised my hands to the sky and cried
In atonement and in praise,
“Oh God, there’s no mistake,
There’s no mistake.” ~

It’s difficult to profess loyalty, patriotism, nay not even reverence, to someone, to your organization or country for that matter, when you are critical to the point of questioning the wisdom of the Creator. ~

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