For Adrian Clark Bandija delivering a poem to commemorate the life of a man widely considered as Bohol’s most illustrious son was an “honor and privilege. “
Bandija delivered the poem, “Dalagang Pilipinhon” (Young Filipina/Filipina Maiden) during the 121st birth anniversary of the late Pres. Carlos Polestico Garcia held at the Bohol Cultural Center.
Garcia, who hailed from Talibon town, became the eighth president of the Philippines.
Bandija, 17, a student of Dr. Cecilio Putong National Hugh School, was the winner of “Indigay sa Balak” (Poetry Contest), one of the highlights of this year’s CPG Day. Other highlights include chess tournament and the opening of Cafe Caloy Coffee Shop.
Bandija said he memorized “Dalagang Pilipinhon” in just a week after he was told he would join the poetry contest held on Friday.
Garcia was known for his eloquence in writing and delivering balak (poems) during his time and earned the nickname as “Prince of Visayan Poets.”
In “Indigay sa Balak,” the contestants were given a contest piece, the “Dalagang Pilipinhon,” written by Garcia for the junior category.
On the other hand, for the open category, the contestant wrote his or her own piece in Visayan and must adhere to the topic about “makinasudnon” (patriotism).
11 participants have joined the “Indigay sa Balak” including Bandija who captured the ethos of our times in verse. He was declared winner with P5,000 and trophy.
Rogelio Pangiligan Jr, 64, won against six other competitors for his graceful and impressive delivery of his poem “Padayon Kaliwat Bol-anon” for the open category. He received P5,000 and trophy. He also won as magbabalak (poet) which he received another P5,000.
Pangiligan said he started writing Visayan poems when he was 51.
CPG is regarded as one of the greatest presidents. But what lessons does his life 121 years ago have for today’s youth?
Reading a biography of CPG can give valuable life lessons for the younger generation of any era.
“President Carlos P. Garcia led with his heart, as well as his mind. That’s why he is a good example of leadership for today’s youth. He is the real lodi (idol),” said Bandija.
Bandija said few millennials have shown interest in Visayan poems.
“I hope the contest will encourage young people to cultivate the arts of public speaking, debate and poetry in the vernacular kay karun nawala na halos,” he added.
Prof. Marianito Jose Luspo on CPG:
Carlos Polestico Garcia was 4 years old when the Americans came and made the Philippine Islands a colony. He was therefore schooled under the American colonial system. Not surprisingly, like most of his contemporaries, CPG cultivated all his life a close regard for America. Still, CPG never lost his sense of patriotism. More importantly he became imbued with a strong sense of nationalism, that is, the attitude of putting his country’s welfare over and above other countries’.
CPG’s nationalism became more evident after the war. In the early 1950s, in the debates that culminated with the signing of the Laurel-Langley Agreement, CPG stood firmly alongside the brave few who agitated against granting Parity Rights to Americans under the Republic, as well as against allowing the operation of American military bases in the country, a stance that earned for CPG the enduring hostility and distrust of American politicians.
Now it may be argued that CPG’s nationalistic stance was merely in pursuance of the Nacionalista’s opposition to the programs of the then ruling Liberal Party. But when he became President upon the untimely death of President Magsaysay in 1957, he distinguished his administration by continuing to pursue nationalist policies.
Thus, in 1958, the Garcia administration succeeded in hitching the Bohlen- Serrano Agreement, an accord that reduced the stay of the US bases from the original 99 to a mere 25 years. It was also during CPG’s term that the Bayanihan Dance Troupe first earned both international adulation as well as the sense of pride and appreciation by Filipinos in our local folk dances. This happened after government lent full support to Bayanihan’s desire to perform at the 1958 World Expo then held in Belgium Also around this time, the Philippine government successfully negotiated with the US government for the return of documents seized by American troops during the Philippine-American War – the so-called Philippine Insurgent Records(PIR) , the magnetic lode of so many researchers who want to know more about our nation’s historical past.
But perhaps the greatest proof to CPG’ commitment to nationalistic values is found in his Filipino First Policy, the definitive program that distinguished the Garcia Administration, outlining programs of governance aimed at putting the Filipino ahead of others in the economic, business and social fields of endeavors.
Recently, I have been asked why is it that CPG never became popular among our people( no Garcia portrait in Philippine currencies, no major Manila thoroughfare named in his honor, etc.), both before and even now among millennials, especially the Boholano kind. Perhaps one reason is that Nationalism during the time of Garcia had never been popular at that time.
We have to admit that from the 1950’s to well into our time, Filipinos have been notorious for the so -called “Stateside” mentality.
How do you think Garcia’s nationalistic policies be received by the PX generation?
On the other hand, how would our present- day generation living under this prevailing climate called Globalization appreciate the rhetoric of Filipino First? In other words, the CPG legacy is saddled by the misfortune of having occurred at the wrong historical place and time, a beautiful song sung amidst the noise of adverse realities.
Still today, we continue to remember his birthday not just because he happened to be one of ours, but also because this ” one of ours”, the Lone Blue Star in the Bohol flag, once gave our people a dream and a greater vision of ourselves as Boholanos, as Filipinos.