Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 2012W04 Featured Pages

I had prepared a set of pages to highlight this week.  But the events surrounding the Costa Concordia disaster had outweighed the choice in favor of something much more deserving of our undivided attention.  In an event which has been so appropriately deplored as illustrative of the death of chivalry in the Western culture, reports of unbridled heroism exhibited by the Filipino kitchen crew is like a breath of fresh air in a suffocating miasma of “each man for himself, God for himself” ambiance of selfishness and unmitigated greed.

The report had brought to the fore my unshakeable and deep seated faith and belief that heroism is integral to the cultural DNA of the Filipino people.  The highlighted sonnets were minted with an altogether different set of events for inspiration.  But acts of chivalry and heroism are rather portable and applicable to a different set of circumstances, because they emanate from within the soul of the doer.  They embody the very essence of being of anybody who is so heroically inclined.

To the heroes of Costa Concordia, regardless of nationality or ethnic background, as my modest salute to your act of heroism, I highlight the below excerpted sonnets.  May your heroism be so contagious that it reverberates into the consciousness of the younger generation who badly need the inspiration and guidance of the generation before them, and may the impulse survive the corrosive ravages of the ruins of time.

Once again, as has been my wont, for the benefit of those who cannot be bothered to click the hyperlinks, the featured pages are reproduced in full hereunder:

=== Begin Excerpts === top p. 146 =


Should lessons gleaned from History provide

       Due faith and courage for your future course,

       Be best prepared to emulate with pride

       The brave defenders of your sacred shores.

       Allow not blunt your own awakening

       By rhetoric that politicians use

       To thwart your conscience into weakening

       The selfsame vehemence of vengeance's cause,

       The which would break the fetters of your soul

       And tear the mask of shameless tyranny.

       Default's the cross of falsehood bearing all

       Unreason for your seeming destiny

              To drown, in surfeit, bliss of ignorance,

              To crown, in glory, sweet irrelevance!!


Of friends and foes you earned the poets' praise,

       Your legend beauty fared romantic fame,

       Your languor proves the vanquish of your race,

       Your wants and woes, their very sins proclaim.

       The insolence of your perdition made

       An otherwise noble inheritance

       A mockery of aspiration's need

       To cross the threshold vagaries of chance

       That though subdued, undaunted yet in quest

       To brave the tide, sans fears of the unknown.

       Conquered yet undefeated, unredressed,

       Let grievance architect your own renown:

              Or tears, or sweat, or blood, such price defray

              For priceless proves the prize of liberty!


       So often did you pay the price before,

       What cause have you to now so hesitate?

       With cross and sword Magellan [1] reached your shore,

       With spears and sword, his death, Magellan met —

       Who came to make you vow to Philip’s [2] fame,

       Your sons, unbowed, preferred Magellan slain,

       For which you got the mark of Philip's name,

       Imposed by legions of the realm of Spain.

       The name you took, you fought the insolence

       With del Pillar [3] and Rizal’s [4] arguments,

       And Bonifacio [5] with more forceful means

       Imposed on Spain defeat's predicaments:

      Retreat, did Spain, in came th'Americans

      With Monroe's Doctrine [6] and George Dewey’s [7] guns!


Weakened, outgunned, you fought George Dewey's force,

       With precious lives defended Tirad Pass, [8]

       Your weak ones did provide the dismal course

       Of your demise, and Aguinaldo [9] was

       To self-exile consigned to negotiate

       Your sole surrender to an enemy

       Who promise of reforms did elicit

       In lieu of much coveted liberty.

       Reforms enshrined your glory as Rizal,

       And martyrdom enthroned, you idolize

       Inaction's cause and lose the wherewithal

       To build a nation strong, and free, and wise:

              Martyrs are but a nation's mournful loss,

              The nation must survive a martyr's cause!

=== End Excerpts === top  p. 148 =

For those unfamiliar with Philippine history, the following notes on the proper names referenced in the sonnets may prove instructively helpful.

=== Begin Excerpts === mid p. 150 =

[1]   Ferdinand Magellan was the commander of the Spanish Armada, which first landed on Filipino soil in 1521; was killed in the ensuing battle when the natives refused to pay homage to the king of Spain.

[2]   King Philip II of Spain's name is the origin of the name Philippines; the term Filipino originally meant Spaniards born in the Philippines, as opposed to ones born in Spain.

[3,4] Marcelo H. del Pilar and Jose P. Rizal were the main leaders of the Reformists, who argued for Philippine representation in the Spanish Royal Courts.  Rizal, executed by the Spaniards for sedition with his literary works, was subsequently consecrated under American occupation as the National Hero.

[5]   Andres Bonifacio was the founder of the first organized revolution against Spain; later slain in an internal power struggle with factions supporting Emilio Aguinaldo.

[6]   By the principles of Monroe's Doctrine the United States declared war on Spain; the American colonization of the Philippines was a spinoff of the Spanish-American War.

[7]   Admiral George Dewey was the commander of the Asiatic Fleet which sank the Spanish Armada in Manila Bay in 1898.  Most Filipino historians consider the encounter a "mock battle" since Spanish forces were already under siege by the Philippine revolutionary forces, and confined to a few blocks of Manila.

[8]   Tirad Pass was the only access to the Headquarters of the Philippine revolutionary forces in the Filipino-American war.  The fall of Tirad Pass directly resulted in the surrender of the Filipino forces.

=== End Excerpts === mid  p. 151 =

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