Responsible citizenship

Panatang Makabayan

Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas

Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan

Ito ang tahanan ng aking lahi

Ako ay kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan

Upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapaki-pakinabang

Bilang ganti, diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang

Susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan

Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin ng isang mamamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas

Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan ng walang pag-iimbot at buong katapatan

Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Piilipino sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa.

Remember these words? If you were in grade school from the 60s up to perhaps early 90s (when some parts were changed), you should know “Panatang Makabayan” by heart. As I tried to recall the exact words, I stood up, raised my right hand to make the oath, closed my eyes to better remember, and was transported to my childhood schooldays.

I saw myself at my grade school quadrangle with rows and rows of pupils reciting this patriotic oath after singing the National Anthem—every school day’s morning ritual. Perhaps none of us then took this seriously as it was just one of those things everyone had to do in school. However, I remember that people would stop whatever they were doing while Lupang Hinirang was playing as a sign of respect to our flag and country.

Fast forward four decades later, as I recited the oath again, I was surprised at the impact of the words on me. Totally, I am convinced that Panatang Makabayan is the reminder we need as Filipinos these days.

People reacted positively to my previous article that said ‘responsible citizenship is the best way to give back to our country.’ This piece further expounds on the topic.

I maintain that the primary requisites of a progressive Philippines are strong and pro-people governance AND responsible citizenship. These will facilitate an enabling environment for the full development of our country and people.

Citizenship carries with it both rights and responsibilities.

As citizens, we are given an identity. We have a home. We are protected from foreign aggressors and other elements that may harm us. As the Panata says, “Ako ay kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapaki-pakinabang.” No other country will do these for us because the Philippines is our only country, at tayo ang mga Pilipino.

Laws are in place to keep order and respect our rights. Because we are in a democracy (no matter how young and imperfect it may still be), as citizens, we have rights: of suffrage, freedom of expression, association, and religion, to name some.

However, citizenship is not only about what our country provides us, nor is it solely about rights. As citizens, we have responsibilities that are often conveniently forgotten. These are obligations incumbent upon us if we are to keep our part in making the country move forward.

Responsible citizenship encompasses the simple and everyday things like cleaning our surroundings, treating others fairly and being honest in our dealings, as well as more complex concepts including love of country, political maturity, being law-abiding, and service to others.

“Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas” says the Panata. Responsible citizenship is loving our country. This means taking pride in our nation and in being Filipinos. We have a country unequalled in natural beauty. Let us know our more than 7,000 islands. There’s a lot to discover and appreciate.

Loving our country means knowing our history and protecting and preserving our heritage. It is in knowing the past that we better understand the present and prepare for the future. Visit our historical sites, study our national story, there is a lot to learn.

Taking pride in our national identity means not destroying what remains of our heritage but instead, restoring what can be restored and putting them to good use for the present and future generations to appreciate. A case in point is Manila’s neglected Metropolitan Theater. Such an important part of our heritage should not be lost. “Restore the MET!” is one worthy demand citizens may make.

Pinoy pride means using, supporting and promoting local products, food and industries. In a globalized economy, there’s a greater need to further develop our products to be able to compete and patronize our own rather than foreign ones flooding our markets. Look at Thailand and how its food, products and industries are developed and supported by the Thais. Filipinos doing the same will mean a more vibrant economy.

Responsible citizenship means being politically aware and involved. We complain about our politicians but remember that they are there because we put them there.

Ours is the power to change our kind of politics and the people occupying positions. However, only a politically mature citizenry can achieve these. One that studies and gets involved in issues; demands results, transparency and accountability from government; elects candidates based on programs, track record, leadership, credentials, and capacities rather than popularity, family affiliation or money.

“Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin ng isang mamamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas.” Panata admonishes adherence to laws. Simply, this means not abusing others, including our country. This means paying taxes, not committing crimes. This means demanding for the expulsion of people like Panfilo Lacson and Ronald Singson, lawmakers who are accused of breaking laws. They insult Congress and the Filipino people.

“Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan ng walang pag-iimbot at buong katapatan.” Serving our people is responsible citizenship. Studies show that most Filipinos now want to work or permanently live abroad. Migration, from being a temporary way to escape poverty has become a national ambition. While migrant workers significantly serve the country through their remittances, we should find a balance so doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists and workers also choose to stay and serve here, for our people.

Responsible citizenship goes beyond self and is not easy. It needs working on as the line “Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Piilipino sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa” says. Perhaps we should again recite “Panatang Makabayan”’ daily.

Elizabeth Angsioco is a columnist for the Manila Standard Times
Responsible Citizenship,” is republished here with permission from Ms. Angsioco

Guest Writer