NEW YORK CITY | I would like to invite you to the Philippine Consulate General of New York’s 150th anniversary of the birth of Andres Bonifacio on Tuesday November 26 at 6:30 pm. The evening is also a Friends of FilCom fundraiser to benefit the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in central Philippines.
FilCom stands for the Filipino American Communities of the Northeast. The Consulate is hosting a simple reception for this fundraiser, with the Bonifacio Day celebration as the evening’s edifying entertainment. The Consulate will update the New York community of the developments of the typhoon, relief efforts, government and international aid. That is the first part of the evening. Donations to the fundraiser will go to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation.
The evening’s second part (the entertainment) will consist of a poetry recital, a life account reading by the New York actor Debralee Daco (David Byrne’s HERE LIES LOVE), and a film screening of an austere short film by Lav Diaz, one of the greatest Philippine film auteurs of all time.
I will deliver a performative recital of a poem written by Andres Bonifacio. The wonderful actor Debralee Daco will interpret the role of Gregoria De Jesus, the wife of Bonifacio. Daco will read from De Jesus’s autobiography, an account of her life with her husband.
Both the poem and the Daco’s reading from De Jesus’s autobiography function as contextual material for the evening’s film screening: a 30-minute short film, Prologue to the Great Desaparecido. It is Lav Diaz’s introduction to his most important upcoming feature film The Great Desaparecido which questions truth and history around Philippine Revolution and Philippine Independence.
Debralee and I wish this evening will be enlightening, edifying and in aesthetic terms entertaining. We want our readings to serve as a suitable prologue to Lav Diaz’s Prologue.
Lav Diaz, you see, is considered “the ideological father of the New Philippine Cinema.”
The poem I will interpret written by Andres Bonifacio is entitled Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (c. 1896). I will deliver it in English and Tagalog. This is the English translation of the poem.
Love for the Homeland
What love can be
purer and greater
than love of country?
What love? No other love, none.
Even when the mind repeatedly reads
and try to understand
the history that is written and printed
by humanity, this (love of country) can be seen.
Holy love! when born
of a pure heart,
the humble and the backwoodsman, the poor, the unlettered
become great and respected.
Love of country
is always the desire of a man with honor;
In songs, in poetry, in his writings
the greatness of the country is always the theme.
Nothing dear to a person with a pure heart
is denied to the country that gave him birth:
blood, wealth, knowledge, sacrifices,
E’en if life itself ends.
Why? what is this that is so big
to which is dedicated with utmost devotion,
all that is dear
and to which life is sacrificed.
Ah, this is the Mother country of one’s birth,
she is the mother on whom
the soft rays of the sun shine,
which gives strength to the weak body.
To her one owes the first kiss
of the wind that is the balm
of the oppressed heart drowning
in the deep well of misfortune and suffering.
Entwined with this is love of country,
everything that is dear to the memory,
from the happy and careless childhood
to the hour of death.
The bygone days of joy,
the future that is hoped
will free the slaves,
where can this be found but in one’s native land?
Every tree and branch
of her fields and forest joyful to behold,
’tis enough to see them to remember
the mother, the loved one, and the happiness now gone.
Her clear waters —
they come from the mountain springs,
the soft whisper of the rushing wavelets
enlivens the sorrowing heart.
How unfortunate to be separated from the country!
Even memory is in sorrow’s embrace,
nothing is desired
but to see the country of one’s birth.
If this country is in danger
and she needs defending,
Forsaken are the children,
the wife, the parents, the brothers and sisters
at the country’s beck and call.
And if our land, Filipinas,*
is offended and her honor, reason, and dignity outraged,
by a traitorous foreign country;
What unhappiness and grief
will invade the heart of the Filipino?**
And will not even the most peaceful
Rise to avenge her honor?
Where will the strength
to take revenge and to throw away life come,
if none can be relied upon for help,
but those suffering from slavery?
If his suffering and slavery
are in the mire of deceit and oppression,
one holds the whip, the chains that bind,
and only tears are allowed to roll down.
Who is there to whom her condition
Will not fill the soul with sorrow?
Will the heart most hardened by treachery
Not be moved to give her its life blood?
Will not, perchance, her sorrow
Drive the Filipinos to come to the rescue
of the mother in agony, trampled
underfoot by the mean Spaniards?
Where is the honor of the Filipino?**
where is the blood that should be shed?
The country is being oppressed, why not make a move,
you are shocked witnessing this.
Go, you who have lived
in the full hope of comfort,
and who reaped nothing but bitterness,
Go and love the oppressed country.
You who, from the stream of your breast,
have lost the holy desire to sacrifice,
Once more let true love flow,
express that love for the imprisoned country.
You from whom the fruit and flowers
of your life have been plucked
by intrigues and incomparable sufferings,
once more freshen up and love thy country.
You, so many hearts that… ?*
of cheating and oppression of the mean in actions,
now rise up and save the country,
snatch it from the claws of the tyrant.
You who are poor without… ?*
except to live in poverty and suffering,
protect the country if your desire is to end
your sufferings, for her progress is for all.
Dedicate with all your love —
as long there is blood — shed every drop of it,
If for the defense of the country life is… ?*
this is fate and true glory.
Wish me luck.
- His Excellency, President Andres Bonifacio? (rappler.com)
- The Little Plebeian in every Balikbayan (fernandezjrp.wordpress.com)
- A long Lav Diaz Taster (theartsofslowcinema.com)
- 7 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Andres Bonifacio (filipiknow.net)
- NHCP celebrates Bonifacio @ 150 (rappler.com)