Of all the screen names in the world, why choose “laagan”? The dictionary provides a number of words that can come together to produce a domain name that would be both catchy and suggesting on its niche; but why did I settle for something as unfamiliar as “laagan?”
Numerous culminating activities were held yesterday to commemorate the end of “Buwan ng Wika” celebration. Like an annual gathering, children and adults come to school in their “Kasuotang Pinoy”, participate on Pinoy games – like patintero, tumbang-priso, piko and agawan-base – and dance and sing to melancholic kantahing bayan. It’s fun and good to see boys dressing up as the brave katipuneros and honorable gentlemen on their barong tagalog. It’s nice to see young girls slaying the Maria Clara and Filipiniana look as they walk down the halls. But just as how the month of August ends, so as this revival of the traditional Filipino outlook.
It’s unsettling that the only concept of “kasuotang Pinoy” for these kids are limited to wearing long skirts and kimona, long sleeves and neckerchief, leotards and malong. It’s a failure how it was never explained to them how colorful and celebrating the cultures of Filipino tribes are. We have embraced colonialism so much that we have forgotten, or never have thought of, the early Filipinos and how they struggled for survival, how clothes play a significant role on their geographical adaptation, and what the general purpose of having them worn on such ways. Buwan ng Wika is not just a month-long celebration, it should be maximized to teach and encourage young people to reflect and ponder what’s going on with the country and how our culture and tradition should adapt to this changing world without forgetting our sense of identity. It is a month wherein we tell stories of adventure and bravery, or heroism and loyalty, of pride and love for oneself and country. August is a defining month for Filipinos; it’s an unraveling of oneself that even after a month of celebration, the identity is strengthen all year round.
I have chosen “laagan” not just because it’s a fitting word for someone who travels. Rather, I have chosen awareness and influence over mainstreamed familiarity – that the Filipino term associated with traveling is not limited to “gala”, “lakbay”, “byahe”, and “punta”. The Philippines is composed of 7,641 islands for that matter; hence more varied places and cultures to learn from. Let us practice pluralism and not single out the country on how the upper-class defines it. There is so much more that we have to learn from our country instead of backlashing each other because of our differences. We maybe an archipelago, but let us not let our islands keep drifting and parting away from each other.