The question is never really what you want to do. It is how you want to do it. That is what, figuratively speaking, separates the men from the boys; the statesmen from the politician.
All of things sound good, they always do. But, ultimately, they will always be just things that sound good. The fundamental basis for any social improvement and national character-building is not to say we need to be a nation, but impart that sense of unity and nationalism from birth.
And why…by golly that’s done through education and culture and the arts. If history is the memory of the country, culture is its soul. The arts are what helps define the soul and character of a country. As we have just seen, culture and the arts are under attack and are faltering as social institutions. Education is collapsing under the weight of poor planning, limited infrastructure, diminished education and graft and corruption. Our students are no longer taught to be thinkers, or artists, or poets, or entrepreneurs or anything. They are not educated. They are given skills to be functioning laborers, not even of our society, but of other countries.
Consider, what was it the Propagandists and the Revolutions, and Varela and Burgos before, first do? They defined what it meant to be Filipino. In the case of Varela and Rizal, it was by claiming the word “Filipino” for themselves.
Things like this, well, they’re pretty and sound wonderful. But from saying to doing…that’s a long and difficult road.
It starts in the school rooms of our children.
National strength can only be built on character. A nation is nothing more or less than its citizenry. It is the people that make up a nation and, therefore a nation cannot be stronger than its component parts. Their weakness is its failings, their strength its power. Show me a people composed of vigorous, sturdy individuals of men and women healthy in mind and body, courteous, brave, industrious, self-reliant, and purposeful in thoughts as well as in actions, imbeud with sound patriotism and a profound sense of righteousness, with high social ideals and strong moral fibers-and I will show you a great nation that will not be submerged. A nation that will emerge victorious from trials and bitter strifes of a destructed world. A nation that will live forever, sharing the common task and advancing the welfare and promoting the happiness of mankind.
The upward climb of mankind has been universal. In the human landscape, there are peaks and valleys, and deep chasms. Generally, there is a need for potent social upheavals, volcanic in proportions, to raise the lower levels to grow at heights.
The battle for existence and the survival of the fittest has ever the rule of life, in nature and among men.
It is a heroic task to awaken and apply these faculties so that our people should become what rightly they should be: morally virile, refined, persevering, public-spirited.
I want our people to grow and be like the molave, strong and resilient, unafraid of the raging flood, the lightning or the storm, confident of its own strength.
We are Orientals. Orientals are known for their passivity and placidity. In the world of humanity, we look upon a quiet lake from which adventures and enterprising may reap enjoyment and gain. I refuse to allow Filipinos to be so regarded.
We shall be a flowing stream, a rippling brook, a deep and roaring torrent full of life, of hope, of faith and of strength. Through self-discipline, we shall harness all our energies so that our power spreading over the length and breadth of this land will develop its resources, advance its culture, promote social justice and secure happiness and contentment to all the people under the aegis of liberty and peace.