SOMETIMES , MEN AREÂ Â classified as Â being either Hosts or Guests. Over time, they exchange places. But today Â we are hosts to hundreds of our beloved Boholano brothers and sisters- from far and wide.Let us play the part, live up to our billing.
For Boholanos, hospitality is among the first virtues. No wonder, even if the Spaniard Admiral Miguel Lopez de Legaspi was in hostile spirit looking for a group of brown Malays that attacked a Spanish group earlier, Bohol’s Rajah Sikatuna gave the Â fair-haired alien the benefit of the doubt.
They even mixed their own blood in a goblet and drank thereof -signifying the first international treaty of friendship in Philippine history.That ,in fact, is the spirit of theÂ Sandugo Â celebration. Even the Â Holy Bible says: “Be hospitable to strangers, they could be angels in disguise”.Â And Sikatuna did even know then what a bible was.
Even the Japanese have their own version through her poet Kobayashi Isra who waxed: ” In the cherry blossom’s shade -there’s no such thing as stranger.”
Significantly, it was the Spaniards who planted the first Cross on Philippine soils, marking the beginning of the Christianization of the country. Angels in disguise?
Bohol Day on July 22 is a climax of two celebrations this month half a planet away from each other – one, the earlier CONBUSAC in New Jersey, USA and now , the TBTK in Bohol. And Edgar Chatto took the pun out of the original -“you can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy” by stating that “You can take a Boholano out of the heart of Bohol but not Bohol out of the heart of the Boholano”.
Yes, one can have two homes, but his real home is where his heart is.
So, let us all Â be the genial hosts as we rekindle the fire of hospitality in every hall we find our guests this month. Be it in the family or clan reunions – where tales of flashback of history and then the Â time we Â had led separate lives- endear one to the other in the realization of the Â filial bond that ties which Â defies both time and space. Be it in the class reunions, where one can always hark back at those innocent times when friendship had no price, freely given and freely taken by us.
Be it as professionals, the friendly cop on the street, the intrepid tricycle and taxi driver, Â the stevedore and tourist guide, the waiter and chambermaid, the nurse and the doctor, -let the spirit of kindness to our visitors be our motto for the rest of July.Â For as Mother Teresa said :”Kind words may be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”. Or who was it who said ” Who practices hospitality entertains God Himself.”
If not for friendship, then for heroism, our visitors deserve our warmest welcome. The millions of dollars they remit back home is one of the important facets that made the Philippine’s credit rating robust to international Â arbiters of sovereign health; they support many lives and bankrolled many of the houses, cars and businesses we see in Bohol. Â Many of them had selflessly given in many disaster situations, medical missions, livelihood grants and immersion in Bohol communities.
That is what is meant by “you cannot take away Bohol from their hearts”.
Let us feast Â them to near death (including exaggeration) of old Bohol Â culinary staples, new found yummies and fusion delights- and prove that our growth is not just monetary. Let us bring them to new tourist spots and newbie activities we have discovered and let them become thereby the living ambassadors of our true worth-armed with a Â wide-smile, symbolic of Â a satisfied guest.
Let us regale them with truthful accounts of the nation’s general Moral recovery- coming as is does under the wake of Â a son whose mother Cory helped us get back the democracy we have long lost to a tyrant.Â Tell them of “There is Good News Here in the Philippines ” – of real economic growth (highest next to China in Asia) Â and more importantly- let us all speak of Â a renewed pride in being a Filipino, in Â being a Boholano.Â And make them more proud of the roots that they all came from.
That is hospitality of the highest order- making our Â guests feel good about themselves.
Bohol may be known as a premier tourist destination but the one jewel that not all provinces, nay the world, have – is the trait of Â being hospitable. It is not a rarity that the hosts leave the luxurious bedrooms and amenities to accommodate their guests.Â On record, sales of cars and vehicles in the province skyrocketed Â as these happy days near- because the hosts want their relatives and guest friends to enjoy the convenience of mobility in Â modern living while they are here.
One also notices- that the homecoming Boholanos do not necessarily reside inside hotels and resorts -for fear that they might insult the hosts. For theÂ Â hoi polloiÂ ,many of them scrimp ,save, beg and borrow months ahead so that they can have their own version of “joyful togetherness” with kin and friends who are Â homeward bound. That is Boholano hospitality.
A whole bevy of activities , on the other hand, await ourÂ balikbayansÂ Â for the rest of July- designed to make our guests homecoming Â a “great moment to remember”.
But the feeling is mutual, as well. Being a hospitable race, we are as happy hosting as the guests are in visiting. For as the deathless sage Kahlil Gibran enunciated ” If not for guests, all our homes will be graves” (lonely). Or as Edward Hyde postulates ” It is not the quantity of the meat but the cheerfulness of the guests Â that make the feast.” Amen.
At the end of the visit, parting( with our fellow Boholanos) Â is always such sweet sorrow as the great Shakespeare laments.
Unlike in Portugal, where one poet-wit shot ” Visits always give pleasure- if not the arrival, then the departure.” Bohol is no Portugal, in that respect. “You’re always welcome -till the next visit! ” Shalom!
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