Pliant Like The Bamboo
Ismael V. Mallari
There is a story in Philippine folklore about a mango tree and a bamboo tree. Not being able to agree as to which was stronger of the two, they called upon the wind to make the decision. The winds blew its hardest. The mango tree stood fast. It would not yield. It knew it was strong and sturdy. It would not sway. It was too proud. It was too sure of itself. But finally, its roots gave way, and it tumbled down. The bamboo tree was wis er. It knew it was not as robust as the mango tree. And so every time the wind blew, it bent its head gracefully. It made loud protests, but it let the winds have its way. When finally the wind got tired of blowing, the bamboo tree still stood in all its beauty and grace. The Filipino is like the bamboo. He knows that he is not strong enough to withstand the onslaughts of superior forces. And so, he yields. He bends his head gracefully with many loud protests.
And he has survived. The Spaniards came and dominated him for more than three hundred years. And when the Spaniards left, the Filipinos still stood only much richer in experience and culture. The Americans took the place of the Spaniards. They used more subtle means of winning over the Filipinos who embraced the American way of life more readily that the Spaniards' vague promise of the hereafter. Then the Japanese came like a storm, like a plague of locusts, like a pestilence rude, relentless and cruel. The Filipino learned to bow his head low to "cooperate” with the Japanese in their "holy mission of establishing the Co-Prosperity Sphere.” The Filipino had only hate and contempt for the Japanese, but he learned to smile sweetly at them and to thank them graciously for their "benevolence and magnanimity." And now that the Americans have come back and driven away the Japanese, Filipino have been loudest in their protestations of innocence. Everything is as if...
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