Home Opinion Columns Rip Van Winkle and Filipinos’ Epochs

Rip Van Winkle and Filipinos’ Epochs


Last Sunday, our church speaker derived lessons from Rip Van Winkle on how we could be ‘sleeping’ through time and miss matters that we should have been involved with, often to our detriment. While he related the story mostly on how we miss saving our souls due to being ‘asleep’, my mind flew to how Filipinos could be ‘sleeping’ and miss saving themselves from their past and current situations.

The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the years before and after the American Revolutionary War. The story goes that Winkle wanders into the mountains with his musket accompanied by his dog, Wolf, to escape his wife’s nagging. On the way, he hears his name called amidst thunderous noises. He also sees a man carrying a keg. Winkle, with Wolf, follows the man and reaches a hollow where a group of bearded men are playing bowling.

Not asking the men how they know his name, Winkle drinks their liquor from the keg and soon falls asleep. When he awakens, his musket is rusty, his beard a foot long, and Wolf nowhere to be seen.  Returning to his village, he does not recognize anyone. A portrait of King George III in an inn had been replaced with a picture of George Washington. His wife had long died. He meets another Rip Van Winkle who turns out to be his now grown son. Only one elderly woman recognizes him as the long-lost Rip Van Winkle.

Winkle then realizes that he had been gone, asleep, for at least 20 years. He missed the era of the American Revolutionary War.

Fully awake but not listening to our church speaker anymore, my mind was on Filipinos, who, to me, had been asleep for three centuries under the Spanish colonialists; over a century under American influence; and three years under Rodrigo Duterte’s regime.

It took three centuries before the Katipuneros, led by Bonifacio to wake up to the fact that only in armed rebellion could the Filipinos liberate themselves from the clutches of the Spanish oppressors. The Filipinos had been lulled by kegs of liquor laced with religion, fiestas, and the sword to forego their being exploited, raped, plundered.

It is over a century now and many Filipinos are still asleep thinking that they had been saved from the nagging of Spain by the American Imperialists. They hear the glittering noise of Hollywood and follow the sounds of happiness  of being in America, drinking the keg of liquor laced with mis-education, entertainment, sports, and dreams attainable only by a meager few – not for the vast majority who are dispossessed of their lands, plundered off their resources, and deprived of their democratic rights; led to believe that they are free under a Filipino government like Marcos’s, they are asleep to the fact that those in government are in cahoots with the US imperialists in exploiting the peasants, the workers, and the poor Filipinos. Most Filipinos are asleep just letting those in the government enrich themselves, never in the service of the Filipinos but just for themselves.

And the last three years and ongoing, Filipinos are asleep to the prevailing situation under President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime. Many, even zombie like, with the throng of commuters, they just go about their daily lives forcing themselves to wake to join those rushing to work, to school, to wherever to eek a strand of life. They are attracted to the noise of working overseas, drink kegs of liquor laced with Eat Bulaga, trolls’ fake news and fallacious thunders making them accept EJKs; unfulfilled and continuing promises of bringing home OFWs, eradicating corruption, drug situation, employment creation, ending contractualization, raising salaries of teachers; etc.

Thank goodness, however, that there are those who are already awake. Their beards may have gone long, but they are awake and are waking up the other Filipinos from their being asleep. And it is easier to nudge the Filipinos from their slumber with the issues like farmers becoming more impoverished with the Rice Tariffication Law which is killing the agricultural sector, the Lumads’ resources being plundered, continuing devaluation of the peso which shoots up the prices of goods and services, traffic crisis, and with others, most urgently, the encroachment of imperial revisionist China on Philippine shores and resources.

And if the Filipinos do not wake up, Rip in Rip Van Winkle may as well be Rest in Peace although peacefully asleep does not mean there is no revolutionary war going on. # nordis.net

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