The only thing that ties me to this quilt-patched land, is memories of a flag: red, white, yellow, and blue.
Red is the blood used to paint our doorways—protection from ghostly wolves that sought our firstfruits. It is fight, even if our weapons are terribly flimsy. Bamboo tinted spears, mashed with berry paint and maskara on our brows is our arsenal. We fight in, and with the shadows. Light chases them down. Memories of GomBurZa, Noli Me, Balintawak, Tirad Pass and even EDSA remind me of how the wounds are slowly closing. Red is the color of our scars.
White is the gifts we received from our conquerors. The plow and the print: an awakening of consciousness new. White is the color of skin that polished us. White is also the gift of void, bleakness and forgetfulness. In exchange for the new, we shafted the old: our language, our anitos. A gift of disconnect: resolute Babel collapsing, burying us in tongues filled with sorcerous lisps. We curl in vain our own lips to fit their shapes. We speak gibberish now. The ghosts scoff at us in an even newer language of their own invention.
Yellow is the sweet sun which kissed us tenderly—even as we were surrounded by bolo, spear, sword. The sweet sun fights to give us light, and reaches out to us misunderstood. It shaped our land—softened our soils and gave it fruit. It is mangos, and papaya skins, and ripe bananas. It gives us joy and sweetens our sweat.
Blue are the lakes beneath which linger our roots. With the water is our identity: our hearts, our gait, our dance: the light shuffling of feet, the sway of brown hands, the wind waving at the rice buckets bobbing on our heads. We were never a warlike people. When we are wounded, we seek refuge in our seas, in the saltwater wounds that so painfully clean us of dastard memories. They sting like a freshwater song. Like the harsh howling of the monsoon rains, and the tides rising and falling with our chests. Humming.
We forget and we remember, like the ebbs and flows of the shore, the coastal highways that we leave in peace, like a languid dance. They float in and out of history—as one hops in and out of bamboo rods as they dance the Tinikling. The songs, they string us well. String names like humble Rizal, larger than life, and manic Bonifacio, who looked us straight in the eye. Names that sing of the prairie wind—softly massaging the hard grains that we till quietly in the fertile soil.
Soil—what ties us together is our history.