(This has been my reactionary paper on one of the lecture given by a schoolmate, poet and author – Mr. Christian Cordero way back October 5, 2005)
The lecture of Christian Cordero, a former seminarian and alumnus of the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, bears tripartite elements that epitomized his discussion, dubbed as Pili, Pinangat asin Peñafrancia. These are the things copiously found and enjoyed by Bikolanos in different respects. Each of these threesome elements would ring a bell even by just a muter of their names. These proudly configure a Bikolano spirit wherever he may go; from a delectable delicacy all throughout the venerable religious esteem.
In Christian Cordero’s Bikol sociological exegesis, I could not help but capture his points into two contrasting concisions – the two faces of Bikol – beauty and poverty.
These also got its substantial showcases, as I happened to browse a fabulous coffee table book, “Ina and the Bikol People,” published last 2002, as spearheaded by Rev. Fr. Wilmer Joseph Tria. The book has a considerable parallelism with that of Christian’s lecture. Wherein, inside the book, edits Bicolano’s way of life mobilized by their culture, religiosity and industry. Nonetheless, beside the enticing beauty of the Bikol panorama, are strings of poverty in different tunes: homelessness, unhealthy housing, unemployment, ill-health, inadequate education and the like – all strung together to bring melancholic rendition behind the consoling beauty of Bikol.
Thus, the two faces of Bikol.
Behind the noble symbolism of pili, pinangat and Peñafrancia are smoldering political and social issues. Bikol at her very best has indeed a God-given beauty; beauty that brightly yielding with another “sense of beauty.” However, could ‘she’ be at home amidst quagmire of poverty?
In a halfway or perhaps, obvious reason, dirty politics is deemed as the sinister that brings about the toll of poverty. Few others (as well as in Cordero’s lecture) advocated the change in constitution for a better socio-political condition, rather than change of every individual’s thrust in life. I retorted, on the other hand, that, “no effect is greater than the cause” (barrowing a philosophical ideology).
If poverty is the effect of dirty politics, how much more is dirty politics are the effect of dirty political individuals.
If it was not of this ‘particular individual,’ thousands of Filipinos must not have suffered much of being political prisoners, of being tortured, of being harassed of their own property, of basking under the heat of the sun trumpeting the dawn of the EDSA phenomena.
There is no conflict in the world that big that would outsmart the conflict inhabiting within man’s soul, though he is just a mere speck in the universe. Therefore, no matter how much change and beautification we do with our constitution if within it are ‘deleterious serpents,’ we would still be singing the melancholic hymns of poverty and political strife.
I believe that a better metamorphosis of a political society begins not when you try to capture it from a distance. Rather, when one begins to see it from within and radiates it all throughout. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen would rather say in his book, Peace of Soul, “there can be no world peace, unless there is soul peace.” I further believe that one cannot give what one does not have.
As for Bikolanos who’s determination is as tough as a pili-nu shell; with gentle character as welcoming as the exceptional taste of pinangat and with religiosity patterned after the heart of INA, our Lady of Peñafrancia, I believe, we will be going home joyfully carrying our sheaves.