This week, I was lucky enough to catch PETA’s play Noli at Fili Dekada Dos Mil and Jerrold Tarog’s movie Heneral Luna.
After watching Nicanor Tiongson’s modern retelling of Rizal’s greatest novels and Jerrold Tarog’s adaptation of Antonio Luna, I fell into a brief silent spell as I started to think about the importance of stories and why we need more of these if we want our nation to progress.
“It is in our nature to need stories. They are our earliest sciences, a kind of people-physics. Their logic is how we naturally think. They configure our biology, and how we feel, in ways long essential for our survival…Every culture bathes their children in stories to explain how the world works and to engage and educate their emotions.”
Jag Bhalla, 2013
It is in Our Nature to Need Stories
Language structures the way we think, feel, and behave. Stories go a step beyond that – they allow us to remember, connect, and survive as a community.
Do you see what I see?
Heneral Luna and Noli at Fili are two stories that can be very important to today’s generation. The storytellers have done a fantastic job in connecting history to our present lives, allowing us to remember and relive what shaped the Filipino spirit – it is the spirit that keeps us alive, the spirit that keeps us fighting with our fists up. It is something that cannot be simply viewed in the lenses of another foreign eye; where poverty becomes porn and our reality is stripped into nothing but another third-world nation that deserves pity.
What’s so funny?
No Filipino story is complete without a touch of humor! Wherever there is drama or tragedy, Filipino humor will inevitably show its face – and that’s how Filipino humor is, it’s very much in-your-face! This remains true in the play and movie. After feeling a multitude of emotions from an intense scene, someone has to crack a joke somewhere. It’s fun, ironic and bittersweet all at once.
How do I love thee?
We show our love for our country in different ways. Is one way of loving better than the other? Luna confronts us with this idea when he says, “Bayan o sarili?” At times, we have to ask ourselves how we can respond to this call. The characters of Noli at Fili were faced with this dilemma several times during the play. It was their responses that ultimately determined their fates and consequently, the fate of the larger community.
Stories like these can be empowering. It fuels the imagination and invites every Filipino to reflect and think about oneself and the role each one has to play as a citizen. While our answers to the question: How do I show love for my country? may vary, Luna taught us the same lesson that Ibarra learns at the end of the play – To love your country means to go beyond yourself. Call it a cliché, but really, we can all use a bit more selflessness in this country.
So I’m wishing, hoping, and praying (just like the song) that these stories stay with us and that there are more to come. Our generation needs it. The next generation needs it.