Home Is Where the Heart Is

nationalism 01Returning from vacation is always a delight. There is something very comforting about the familiarities of home. Traveling involves a lot of tension, from making airports on time to dealing with people who speak a different language and impose new cultural behaviors. Like handing important items one to the other with two hands instead of one.

The two-handed gesture is profoundly important to the Japanese. And clearly it is popular in Hong Kong as well. It means this:

  • “I know that this item I am giving you is important to you, and to take good care of you, for you are important to ME, I shall cherish the item (your credit card, perhaps) and give it to you with two hands.”

Is there a similar tradition in the Philippines? I don’t know. I knows there are rules for being considerate of elders and esteemed others, including the blessings that children give to respected older people.

But I digress. This blog is not about hands or blessings. It is about home. And the heart.

Well, maybe it is about blessings after all.

  • The Philippines is my home.
  • America is my homeland.

I have always argued that it is possible to love more than one person at the same time. Attraction is a natural response to something of beauty or worth or interest. I believe it is an intellectual choice, however, a discipline, to cherish one’s spouse and not to ACT on other enticing emotions. In other words, to raise that one special love upon a pedestal for good treatment and protection.

My Philippine home is like that. I’ll defend her to anyone, and against anyone. Just like America. Yet this affection does not prevent me from engaging in bickering little nitpicks about my home’s quirky flaws, both irritating and adorable. It is rather like marriage, after all.

As our resident enumerator Ed Lores points out in his series of articles on The Hierarchy of Loyalties and Ethics, we develop many allegiances and bonds, working upward from self to family, community, church, country, world and God.

I would only append that it is possible to connect, emotionally and sincerely and deeply, to more than one family, community, church or country. When the Mars One project gets people on the red planet a decade from now, a few people will share allegiances to more than one planet. Now as for the “self” and “God”, they are indivisible, eh? Unless you are Gemini or a pantheist.

But make no mistake. I may be American but the Philippines is my home. She gets my dedication and attention, and it is with her that I share a special bond. She gets the emotional attachment, and the intellectual choice, of which nation I will work avidly to prize and protect and dedicate attention to.

Now perhaps you were born here and hold natural citizenship. That’s rather like a shotgun marriage, you know. You did not have a choice as to which nation you would marry.

But you do have a choice as to the degree of loyalty and passion you put forth for your homeland. The intellectual commitment. The dedication. The discipline and effort and acts.

Are the legions of corrupt natural born citizens carrying out a love affair for the Philippines, do you think?

Most of them are ardent nationalists and passionate about keeping foreigners out. They certainly cherish the Philippines and hold her pure and apart from whatever tarnish a foreigner might bring.

corruption 01That’s peculiar, is it not?

Is one’s homeland to be protected so that she can be ravished at will?

I rather think it is wise not to attach too much patriotic fervor to the color of a person’s skin, or the shape of a person’s eyes, or where that person was born.

Nor should one use nationalism to prop up bad behavior. Or allow others to do that.

Love and commitment and patriotism are emotional, yes, but the rational acts that preserve and protect one’s love ought to be disciplined. And highly principled.

Of what value to the community, really, is a corrupt patriot?


Source of “Nationalism” Photo: Five Rupees

20 Responses to “Home Is Where the Heart Is”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Your rant against corrupt “patriots” is well-argued. I am attempting to approach this from the most dominant world-view in this country: Catholicism.

    Catholic Vote Phils argues that corruption is a “second level, temporal problem” unlike its non-negotiable “life” issues and leaves it to the voter to discern who to vote for. Some of its allies even said that their supported candidates may have had “checkered pasts, but on the whole have supported life and family.”

    If you ask me, there is a flaw here, when you are not angered by corruption and do not put it as the first and foremost criteria in choosing leaders. Which is why they ended up praising Imelda Marcos and the Arroyo sons as heroes after the RH vote.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m fascinated by the “realities” we create for ourselves by holding to certain values. That Estrada and Enrile and Honasan and the Marcoses can be held in high patriotic regard fascinates and horrifies me. And that the Chief Custodian of Moral Values, the Catholic Church, would back such people ostensibly to BETTER the Philippine state, amazes me. It is a reality that is fiction. Dangerous. Damaging. And they believe it and live it. We can do better than that.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. The perception that corruption is a “second-level, temporal problem” is at the core of the Catholic pathology: the false distinction between the value of a life and a life of value.

      2. I am currently reading Ray Mouton’s In God’s House and I am re-convinced that the Church has lost all moral authority. In my comments in news media, I have submitted that in order to regain that authority, the Church must observe its own ‘sacrament of penance’ by confessing the sexual abuse of the clergy — in number and in kind since the start of the last century to account for those in living memory. Mouton makes the same call but goes further. He emphasizes that the Church cannot recover from its “fall from grace” until “all documents relating to clergy abuse through the past years, decades and centuries [my italics] are released by the Church in every diocese in the world and the Vatican”.

      3. Pope Francis may possess charisma but justice must be done before reconciliation. “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” And should the heavens fall, true believers may cling to the hope of the Church rising from the ashes like a phoenix. Alternatively, they can follow the Faith and not the messenger.

  2. We all know how obsessed the catholic church is on “salvation” and eternal life, thus, pro-life stance is non-negotiable. What is ironic is that tolerating corruption is a form of tolerating stealing, which is against one of the 10 commandments; based on what i can remember from masses, breaking at least one of the 10 commandments is a “mortal sin.”

    • Joe America says:

      The pro-life stance as non-negotiable is not in the best interest of living humans, so the Church must be living with a very convincing, statistically unchallengable, belief that there is an afterlife that we can consciously comprehend. They should not lay that belief on those of us who don’t buy the statistics. Those of us who are concerned about preserving the planet to sustain human life.

      Right. “Do not steal. Unless you also are against RH, then go ahead and steal.” That kind of morality.

      Yes, you are exactly right, but it is beyond ironic.

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. The intro reminds me of: “I have two hands, the left and the right / Hold them up high, so clean and bright / Clap them softly – one, two, three / Clean little hands are good to see!”

    2. But I also digress. My mind throws up the following responses:

    2.1. Attraction, as to persons, is first chemistry then intellect. Attraction, as to countries, I don’t know. We are born into a country but can choose to live in another. Can we love both? Yes. Can we love in equal measure? I don’t know. I am physically and ‘intellectually’ attached to Australia, but I am remotely and ‘emotionally’ tied to the Philippines. My assessment is that, quantity wise, I think about the Philippines (and its problems) more than I do about Australia. But I prefer to live in Brisbane rather than Manila, which is 5,817.78 km away. So which is my home? If home is where the heart is, then I would have to say I have two hearts. The left and the right.

    2.2. And I am an ardent nationalist of both countries. I am a good and loyal Oz citizen, but my passion is with that strumpet to the north.

    2.3. If home is where the heart is, the “heart is a lonely hunter”. The Carson McCullers novel of that title is “a compelling portrait of isolated characters and of their longing for self-expression, human connection, and spiritual integration”. That sounds a bit like me.

    2.4. But, at the very bottom, the question that is begging to be asked is, “Why is there a need for a nationalist identity?” If we were incorrupt, it would not matter where we live. It would only matter that we strive to lead ethical lives in consideration of others. And in doing so, we honor and uplift ourselves, the country we live in, and the world.

    • Joe America says:

      haha, my mind upchucks, too.

      “Why is there a need for national identity?” Well, for cherishing and protecting of the people within. Same reason as to why “free love” is not really practical for those of us at this particular point in time and space and civilized development. And the statement is, being corrupt is being a very lousy patriot. So is buying or selling votes.

  4. JosephIvo says:

    My parents had different nationalities, I lived more than 2 years in 7 different countries. Where is my heart? I only can answer during the Olympic games. If one of the 7 countries wins, I feel proud. When two play each other, it gets more difficult and the real hierarchy gets clearer, I think that the country I was born in gets ultimately on top. But then I realize that it is not all about sports, there is food, free thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, music and enjoying the moment, nature and many more and in all these categories the ranking is different. And then a country is just one artificial level, what about community, race, language, I feel very European too, neighborhood…

    Just as I appreciate the beauty of one person, the intellect of another, or the musicality, cooking skills, humor, dancing style… just to name a few. Marriage does not cover all bases but a few important ones, indeed.

    Is there a need for national identity? For cherishing and protecting of the people within? That didn’t work out very well in my country, we were part of France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Holland and now Europe is more and more cherishing and protecting us. Is my country or my marriage defining me? Just as my family, my education, profession, friends, sport hero’s and so on. My nationalism was never as deeply imprinted as it is in the USA or tentatively in the Philippines.

    Long live the Philippines! (anyhow?).

    • Joe America says:

      Just plain poetic . . . they all define you, but none can confine you, you are a child of the world.

      Well, not a real child, you see. A figurative one, and I’d reckon about a whisker shy of buddhaesque. When one acquires enough experience and hard knocks and guilts, and sifts them through the synaptic and emotional membranes enough times, one achieves a certain kind of all-seeing innocence.

      Congratulations on your place at the higher end of the civilized continuum. Kindly don’t jostle Edgar as you reflect there . . .

      • edgar lores says:

        Oh, I got a world bro.

        The other identity we don’t need: a religious identity.

        And another: a sexual orientation identity. However, we do need a male/female sex identity — for reasons. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          The problem with a religious identity is that it defines us in terms of somebody else, so we put less effort into being us.

          Male female is good, exquisite, even.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Philippines is my home. America is where I find work.
    If Philippines cannot ensure my safety, I go to America.
    If Philippines cannot feed me, I go to America.
    If Philippines cannot employ me, I go to America.
    If Philippines cannot give me justice, I go to America.
    I am not patriotic. I am not nationalistic.
    I offered my vote to highest bidder. I take the money and vote with my brains.
    It is people’s money. It is my money. I have to take it. But my vote is my vote and I am the only person that can know who I vote.
    Philippines I come home. It is a place where my retirement pension goes a long way.

  6. cha says:

    But where lies the heart of the lass from under the bridge?

    Which way to the bedroom where rests she in the dark?

    Why, she sighs, am I not the princess in the car passing by?

    When was it decided that this be my lot in life?

    If indeed my home is where my heart lies,

    Where then is my heart on this sad sleepness night?

    • Joe America says:

      The analyst was doing fine until the poet swept in and laid waste to his rigorous thinking. I think there are a lot of sad hearts among young people in the villages (age 16 to 30), and there is a point at which sadness becomes resignation and a plodding acceptance and as much happiness as can be drawn from simple things. The ultra-poor children, the scraps of people in boxes and under bridges, are the shame of this nation, many nations, and the Catholic Church.

      • cha says:

        “The ultra-poor children, the scraps of people in boxes and under bridges, are the shame of this nation, many nations, and the Catholic Church.”


        Every year, on one cold winter night in June, some of Australian businesses’ CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) sleep out on one Sydney street with nothing more than cardboards and a sleeping bag to protect them from the cold. The event is organised by St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic charity to raise funds for the feeding and care of Australia’s homeless. The CEOs who participate are “sponsored” by friends, family and work colleagues who donate generously to the charity.

        Maybe the CBCP can think up something to similar to help raise awareness of the plight of those who “live in boxes and under bridges” as well as actually help them out. Maybe they can even call their first batch of participating CEOs “Team Buhay”.

        • Joe America says:

          I think the CBCP political priests are too busy promoting the right to life to worry about the living. It would be wonderful to see a nationwide obsession with taking care of children better. And while we are at it, making public education totally free to abide by international human rights guidelines.

        • The Mouse says:

          The CBCP, seems to me, is a very odd ball. It’s like their stuck in the 16th century Las Islas Filipinas. I understand their stance of pro-Life. What I don’t understand is why they have to meddle in politics esp that politicians in the Philippines are really…. “eh”. They’re too much like the El Shaddai and INC, except that they’re more on the vocal side while the INC is more “stealthy” — bloc voting.

          This is something I have NOT seen in the CICM/ICM Catholic schools and churches where I grew up. In CICM/ICM schools, charity is encouraged.. CBCP, meddling with politics seems to be encouraged. The CICM, unlike other Catholic institutions, do not endorse candidates but remind people to vote wisely.

  7. Stephen Sy says:

    I do not understand the logic of China of claiming the whole South China Sea as theirs. This has antagonized practically all it’s neighbors. Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, etc. Every once in a while there will be issues where they need the help / cooperation of their neighbors such as the Malaysian aircraft incident, the recent kidnapping of a Chinese national in Sabah and brought to Sulu. What are they thinking? It is not as if they can transfer their country to a better neighborhood can they?

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