by Jullie Y. Daza
Every president who is called upon to deliver a State-of-the-Nation Address is essentially painting a dream and asking his or her people to work and help achieve that dream. After six SONAs of each and every president, what do we remember of their speeches but a few punchy lines, one or two quotable quotes, the rest being a fog of words and sentences?
Like rating a fortune-teller after his forecast of the New Year’s foreseeable gains and losses, only the most dedicated pundit and oppositionist would bother to record what was reported in the latest SONA and later, at an appropriate time, to bring it up as a set of pluses and minuses, mostly the latter, against the speaker. Under circumstances the other presidential candidates in 2016 might not have foreseen, this President is now forced to be the fightingest Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. After Marawi, he has promised to end the NPA’s attacks on government forces and civilians; the dream comes at a high cost.
Now, more than ever, the flag’s symbols must be understood and defended with more vigor by the young and ablebodied, every citizen who professes to love their country not only because it’s the only one they’ve got but because it’s their homeland and cradle of their dreams. (During the presidential campaign, only the candidate from Davao posed with the flag, conspicuously, for his propaganda materials.)
A few days ago, balladeer Anthony Castelo announced at a party that his best friend, Freddie Aguilar, is now the presidential assistant for culture and the arts. Freddie, father of the universal song hit “Anak,” almost won an appointment as head of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, until critics who have never written a song or lyric or performed in an arts festival shouted it down. Today, Freddie’s dream, one I happen to share, is to change the last line, a defeatist one, of the national anthem, “Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo” (To die for you, beloved country).
Freddie knows the power of words – have you heard the lyrics of Anak? – and he believes that that line should revert to the old version, “Lupa ay langit sa piling mo” (My country in heaven’s embrace). Now, that’s a dream young and old, high and low, can own.