The Philippine Pledge of Allegiance

The Philippine Pledge of Allegiance

Recently, I received an email from my good friend and the husband of my wife’s cousin Andy from Bulacan which contained nothing but the following:

Panatang Makabayan

Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas.
Ito ang aking Lupang Sinilangan.
Ito ang tahanan ng aking Lahi.
Ako’y kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan
Upang maging maligaya, malakas at kapakipakinabang.
Bilang ganti, diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang,
susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan.
Tutuparin ko ang tungkulin ng isang mamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas.
Paglilingkuran ko ang aking Bayan ng walang pag-iimbot at ng buong katapatan
Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa gawa at sa salita.

I was scratching my head and was wondering what gives. Have I not been a good Pinoy? Yes, I took up Canadian citizenship many decades ago after I accepted the assistant professorship at the university in Regina. That was my livelihood and I decided to teach my Canadian students as a Canadian. But I truly love the Philippines and it shows from my speech, my writing, my behavior, my taste, my culture. (Dual citizenship was not yet in vogue.) I read the email once, twice, a few times and of course I recognized it as something I learned in my Tagalog class in Arellano High School some sixty five years ago. It is the Pledge of Allegiance in Tagalog. He knows I love the Old Country even though I have resided away all these years. Here is my translation (patawarin niyo ako kung hindi tugma.):

Pledge of Allegiance

I love the Philippines.
This is the land of my birth.
This is the home of my people.
She nurtures and helps me
to be happy, strong and useful.
In return, I shall listen to the advice of my parents,
I shall follow the regulations of my school.
I shall fulfill the duties of a patriotic and law-abiding citizen.
I shall serve my country without envy and with complete loyalty.
I shall strive to be a true Filipino in thought, in deeds and in word.

The wording in the original Tagalog is so sweet and heart-warming that I decided to send it to my email friends, most of whom are Filipino senior citizens like myself residing in Canada or the U. S. My email friend Virgilio Gonzales from Connecticut recognized it immediately as the Philippine pledge of allegiance. Another thought it was a Boy Scout Pledge he learned in grade school. A third thought I was sending them another product of my poetic bent. I told this friend that I wish I can write this beautifully.

But more than the wish to have written it is the wish that every Filipino, especially one who aspires to be elected to office in the Philippines, lives up to the pledge. It is a blessing and a wonderful opportunity to serve one’s homeland if elected but unfortunately even the very intelligent and popular succumbed to the lure of the lucre and the corrupting power. Thus, the poor Philippines gets corrupt politicians election after election.

Some would say that our manner of government is inherited from the colonial powers that ruled the Philippines: Spain for three hundred thirty three years, the United States for forty some years and Japan for three. Indeed, corruption and mismanagement were not started in the Philippines. Greed and dishonesty are common human failings, more so when one can get away with them.

Some would recall the famous remark of President Manuel L. Quezon, “I would rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans.” And of course, hell is the proper place where the shameless thieves flourish.

The Pledge of Allegiance should be a required reading and memorization for every Filipino child. It expresses the innate patriotism of a Filipino and the true character and duties of a citizen. It is a reminder of what true service to one’s country really means.

Compare that to the Canadian Oath of Allegiance which goes like this: “I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors. So help me God.” Recently, certain Canadians have proposed to replace the Queen with simply Canada.

Or to the American Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It is symbolic and sometimes the signals are lost in real life.

Aren’t we meticulous, delineating the nitty gritty parts of what our love for the Philippines mean?