Love and other things

HISTORY MATTERS - Todd Sales Lucero - The Freeman

Valentine's Day in the Philippines has always been big. Of course, Filipinos have always been known to celebrate even the simplest occasions with much enthusiasm. Despite our long history of colonization, wars, and political upheavals, most Filipinos tend to find joy in most things.

The concept of love is something that many Filipinos are very much into, especially considering that our most current constitution, the 1987 Constitution, contains the word “love” in its preamble. A college professor once told us that our Constitution is the ONLY constitution in the world that has the word “love” in it, and it may well be true. Of course, it would take some time to go over all constitutions to see which other nation has managed to insert in their most fundamental laws of the land a word that is often not associated in legal documents.

Most other countries share almost similar terms in their preamble --justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity-- which we also have in ours. Not all countries have the word “God” in their preamble like us, Brazil, or Papua New Guinea. At least two nations, Russia and Papua New Guinea, mention the word “ancestor” in their preamble, something that is also uncommon in preambles.

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One of our country’s fascinations is the tragic love story between our national hero Jose Rizal and Leonor Rivera. Until now, Filipinos celebrate their story as told in the characters of Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara, protagonists in Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere”. The recent success of GMA’s “Maria Clara at Ibarra” has encouraged students and teachers to be interested in Rizal’s novels. With over a hundred episodes in a short run, many have concluded it to be a commercial success.

Everyone knows that Rizal based Ibarra and Maria Clara on himself and Leonor Rivera. Recently, a cousin of the Rivera-Kipping family, descendants of Leonor Rivera and Englishman Charles Henry Kipping, shared with me two letters from the 1920’s written by Leoncio Bauzon, a brother of Silvestra Bauzon, Leonor’s mother. Many were still unsure about the true story surrounding Rizals and Rivera’s relationship then, and it fell on both families, such as Leonor’s uncle Leoncio, to clarify matters posed by reporters and writers.

Leoncio also wanted the editor to print his reaction to an article about a stage play focused on the romance between Rizal and Rivera. Then, and now, many still continue to blame Leonor’s mother as the cause of their breakup. In fact, it is common knowledge now that Silvestra actively guaranteed that letters to and from one would never reach the other, eventually driving a wedge between the two. Leoncio’s letters shed some light as to why Silvestra broke up the romance, and why Leonor married Kipping.

When we think about it, Rizal’s and Rivera’s love story was about different kinds of love. Silvestra ending her daughter’s relationship with Rizal was an act of maternal love, wanting only for Leonor to have a happy and safe life. Leonor’s decision to acquiesce to her family’s forcing her to marry Charles Henry Kipping was a form of love, a daughter’s filial love. And, of course, we know that Rizal’s ultimate sacrifice of his life was the highest form of love --love of country.

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Love doesn’t always have to be said or written, but it can be demonstrated. In fact, showing love is sometimes more powerful than saying it. Love is not just the relations between two individuals, but rather something bigger or grander, such as the love of one for his country. Like everything else, love comes in many ways.

Speaking of love, I would like to greet my maternal uncle, Bebot Lucero, a very happy birthday. This uncle spent his entire life showing the greatest love to his family and friends, and I and my mom have been the recipients of his great love of family over the years. So to this uncle, thank you and happy birthday!

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