Feet of Clay

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Oh, Messiah! God of nations!

Come and help us with Thy grace;

Thou hast power over countries –

O’er the billion miles of space,

For the prayers of Thy people

For the rescue of Thy race

Our Lord is marching on!

Oh, aid us with Thy Power!

We all lift this silent pray’r;

Oh, the Savior who has power

Over distance, might and air,

Deign to grant us but the power

And the will to do and dare

Our faith is marching on!

He shall come in all His glory;

And shall help us win the world.

“We shall crush thee!” – is the challenge

Which in answer we have hurled.

See the Eagles of the nation’s Freedom flag

Now flies unfurled;

All the nation’s marching on!

He is trampling down the soldiers

Of the angry king of hate;

They shall fall and beg for mercy

But this time, they are all too late.

They have marched to loot the nations;

They shall meet a well-earned fate,

As justice marches on!

So we leave this flaming challenge

At the vassals of the world

We shall fight with all our weapons

Til’ the struggle oft is done.

We shall march out all victorious

With the tyrant on the run.

Oh, God is marching on!

This is a poem entitled the Battle Hymn written by my late father Maximo V. Soliven when he was in high school, circa 1946.  That year the Philippines was granted independence by the United States of America in accordance with the Philippine Independence Act, more known to us as the Tydings-McDuffie Act, issued by President Harry S. Truman.

Tomorrow, Nov. 24, will be his 14th death anniversary. He would have been 91 years old. Many who lived during his generation can tell us the stories they’ve been through that made them the scouts of the nation, the fore guards. From the time the Americans came, the Japanese War, the Battle of Manila, the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Martial Law to the death of Ninoy Aquino and the People Power Revolution. Not to mention the many natural disasters – earthquakes, flooding and volcanic eruptions as well as man-made disasters.

During my teenage years I was excited and a bit anxious to witness and be part of the People Power revolution. It brought out that intense and passionate feeling of love for country.  It actually made me a tough cookie. It made me deepen my search for identity, my understanding of culture even more.

This pandemic should teach the younger generation solid lessons in life to make them better and stronger citizens. Our youth are seeing, hearing, reading and sensing many things good or bad. They seem to be weak and easily become victims of mental illness or mental distress. Why are their feet made of clay?  What are we doing wrong?

This young generation should not let the opportunity of learning pass them by. This crisis is indeed a test of the human spirit, being a Filipino and a global citizen in a time of great need. Living in this crazy world has made them look into their very core. It should strengthen their inner spirit. Parents should spend more time with their children and help them process everything that is going on around them. We must instill good values and take this time for reflection to deepen our understanding of our history and culture. By doing so, we may be doing our country a great favor.

Let us not rely on government and media to do all these. Families and communities must communicate and be united.  Duterte’s fickle way is not helping us move forward. He is quite confusing. I don’t understand how he can appoint questionable people to lead us. I don’t understand how he can easily let culprits get off the hook. Doesn’t he realize that as he does these things, he destroys the fabric of our land, he destroys the spirit of the people?

The President must be very tired. He is fighting people left and right. He says things I’m sure he doesn’t mean to say. What is happening to him? He actually reminds me of President Trump. Let’s see how the wheels will turn, if they do, this week. Abangan!

*      *      *

As the House prepares to investigate, in aid of legislation, the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas president Danilo Ramos made a call to include in its investigation the accountability of mining companies that led to the worsening condition of typhoon-hit areas.

“We should not do an investigation just to provide a band-aid solution. The House of Representatives should probe what is the root of the problem, the continued release of water from dams during Typhoon Ulysses, the legal and illegal logging, and large and small-scale mining operations that triggered massive flooding in several areas in Luzon,” said Ramos.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said that flooding in the province has been worsening every year and that national government interventions are needed, such as dredging operations and re-greening programs. Of course, we also know that Cagayan is a hotspot for black sand mining.

Reports say that the flooding was caused by the release of water from Magat Dam as well as the swelling of smaller rivers in the basin, but we know there is more explanation to do on the matter. The President himself ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into the mining activities in Cagayan Valley. And lo and behold, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reported that the 10 casualties in the region happened in illegal mining sites. Due to this, he issued a cease-and-desist order on illegal small-scale mining operations in Cagayan and Isabela.

Earlier, the President seemed to put the blame on climate change. But our country’s illegal mining and illegal logging are just too glaring for the world to see.  It will be hard to cover up and use climate change as an excuse to what just happened during Typhoon Ulysses. So, what has been done to stop them? Our only warrior for change and a staunch advocate for green peace was the late Gina Lopez who, by the way, didn’t get the appointment as DENR secretary – I wonder why. Her ghost continues to haunt us. I hope our President is serious, although he didn’t fight for Gina at that time, as he vowed to boost forest protection efforts to prevent a repeat of the recent disaster. Let’s see what happens next!

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