If there’s one song I never tire of playing for my wife Elaine with my beat-up guitar, it would be Ebe Dancel’s “Bawat Daan.” Its heartfelt lyrics along with its LSS-inducing melody explain why.
Maligaw man at mawala
At umikot man sa kawalan
Sa bawat kailan
Ikaw lamang ang kasagutan.
If we go by Bea Cupin’s 2020 Rappler report, I’m not the only one who has made it part of my life’s soundtrack. In 2017 Bituin Escalante and Frenchie Dy sang “Bawat Daan” during the graduation program at UP Diliman.
Curiously, its music video does not present it as a love song. After it opens quietly with a drone shot of Dancel pausing at a crossroad, it shows the musician wandering in the massive UPLB campus and culminates with him praying at an open-air chapel before happily singing for an expectant crowd. In this context, “Bawat Daan” seems to suggest itself as a grateful nod to God for being at the front and center of one’s struggle for meaning – in Dancel’s case, discovering his calling.
For many Filipinos, it is impossible to live without invoking God’s crucial role in our lives. More so, when it comes to loving. I can still remember what our ninongs and ninangs advised Elaine and me during our wedding week. “’Wag nyong kalilimutang magdasal. Kahit ano ang mangyari.” That, we never took for granted over the years. Happily, we’re still standing.
Of course, like most newlyweds, we did not know in our early years what exactly were the many marital challenges that would make praying to God a non-negotiable. That is, until we got invited to a marriage retreat. There, we learned that lack of communication, rather than the usual suspects (i.e., money and third party), was the number one reason why “jugular” couple issues escalate. We also listened in disbelief to sob stories like the one about the couple’s best friend who slept with the wife, the husband who chronically womanized, and so on. Had there been no testimonies about how these couples picked up the pieces and repaired what they broke, the whole experience would have been a three-day temptation to despair.
I first came across that phrase through the philosopher Gabriel Marcel, who wrote: “There can strictly speaking be no hope except when the temptation to despair exists.” In 1942 Marcel perceptively captured what such a temptation entailed in the case of “a father (who) has been without news of his son…(who) had gone on a mission to a distant country…” and “the patriot who refuses to despair of the liberation of his native land which is provisionally conquered.”
In 2022, such temptation to despair could very well be what some of our most displaced kababayans are fighting against as they wonder how much longer they would have to adapt to the uncertainties of this pandemic. The same could be said of concerned Filipinos waging war against the well-orchestrated disinformation campaign glorifying “the golden years” under Ferdinand Marcos notwithstanding the 1986 EDSA revolution.
For Marcel, it is in situations where there is absolutely no empirical evidence to hope that one can hope. One cannot do so however by relying on oneself to effect “a favored outcome.” One can only hope in a higher power for something “as before, but differently and better than before.”
In this regard, it is worth remembering that EDSA was not part of the original protracted plan of Cory Aquino and her supporters after the Comelec declared Ferdinand Marcos as the winner of the 1986 snap elections. The plan was to engage in weeks if not months of civil disobedience to pressure Marcos to heed the people’s sovereign will. As it turned out, a totally unexpected outcome played out. Indeed, hope “appears as a response of the creature to the infinite Being to whom it is conscious of owing everything that it has and upon which it cannot impose any condition whatsoever…” Hence, the “Thee” in Marcel’s unforgettable “I hope in Thee for us.” To give his students an insight into the implications of this formulation, the iconic Jesuit philosopher Roque J. Ferriols shared this line from a poem in his now classic commentary on Marcel: “Hindi ka maaring mahulog nang mas malalim kaysa sa kamay ng Diyos.”
It must be pointed out that the “us” is by no means peripheral, because when one truly hopes, it is never on behalf of oneself. It is always on behalf of someone with whom one is in loving communion. That someone could be one’s spouse, one’s best friend, one’s family, one’s co-workers, one’s community, one’s country, with God as center.
As we grapple with the continuing uncertainty of this pandemic and the seeming certainty of the historical revision of 1972 in 2022, may those of us who are tempted to despair, at the rate things are going, remember that to the heart that truly loves, there is always a “Thee” each of us can hope in for “us” as a country. – Rappler.com
Von Katindoy went to EDSA with his classmates, teachers, and formators. He now teaches at two universities while pursuing graduate work.