Music today is very influential to teenagers. Some may even say they cannot live without it. The reason could be because of the artist singing their favorite songs, the beat or instrument used. Or it could be the message of the song. I like music, too. How a song would make me feel, the lyrics to be exact, is what is important to me. I usually listen to foreign artists like Taylor Swift and Jessie J. Lately, I took notice of Noel Cabangon’s music.
His voice and guitar skills blend perfectly. His song writing is also something else.
I first heard Mr. Cabangon perform during President Noynoy Aquino’s inauguration. His songs promote nationalism. He identified his work as “noise” that he hopes will awaken dignity in us. One that stands out is “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino”. The lyrics provide examples of how to be a good Filipino citizen. This inspired me but it is not so usual to find a Filipino to be all that is described in the song.
And the question came to me – what does it take to be a good citizen, or a good person, at least?
I am reminded by my values education class where positive values are emphasized. We are instructed well about these, yet it seems like we do not exhibit them. Why do I say this? I have been hearing a lot of bad news about the country. There are never-ending issues about manipulated elections, second-hand choppers allegedly sold as brand new by the former First Gentleman to the Philippine National Police, officials blaming each other, road accidents involving violence and resulting to death. These happenings seem to indicate that we are losing the values we were raised with.
Concern for others, discipline, obedience and respect – where did all these go? It appears that government officials who cheat and steal people’s money have no shame for themselves. What about the values we Filipinos are known for, like hiya? Even private citizens give the impression that we have no concern for one another. We became used to bad news that it appears as if it is part of daily life. It seems so common in our society that it is hard to trust those around us. Could it be that our values are compromised by selfishness? When shall I hear more good news than bad?
In August of this year, a 12-year old girl named Janela Arcos Lelis carried the Philippine flag across floodwaters and rain. What she did was hailed heroic, in honor of the national symbol. She was given recognition and awarded a cash prize. Thinking about that, I believe that what she did may be done by anyone else put in the same situation. But why did she catch so much attention? Perhaps it was because she was too young to be expected to do that. Or maybe because no one would rely on it at a time when saving one’s self must come first.
Time and again, we are amazed that some people are actually good. We learn about our Army personnel sacrificing their lives to rescue flood victims of typhoon Ondoy; taxi drivers returning tourist bags filled with money despite poverty. These give me hope and make me realize that all is not lost. It is possible to rediscover Filipino values that may have faded away. But where do I start looking? Change is quite difficult for us, the youth, when we observe that those we look up to are the very ones who lack the ideals we should imitate.
Then again, I come back to Noel Cabangon’s song. It advises me to listen to my parents, study hard, fall properly in line, avoid prohibited drugs, and to cross streets in designated areas. These would reflect discipline and respect. I will value honesty and encourage my friends to do the same. Soon, when I reach legal age, I will protect and fight for my right to vote. My ways may be simple, but they can go further. If we all start with something small, we may be able to change things around us.
Drivers shall obey the rules, traffic enforcers shall refuse bribes, and civilians shall take responsibility of their trash. Those in power shall be guided by their conscience in doing their duties. If we look inside ourselves, we may find something to contribute to this cause. We may even inspire others to do the same. I hope this may also be your realization. I love my country and I advocate for the return to time-honored Filipino values for my sake and for the sake of the future generations. I may not be as influential as Mr. Noel Cabangon, but I can be a good Filipino. We all can be.