What can I say about Barcelona? It was my first time in Spain. Visiting Espanya is akin to meeting the mother I always knew I had, a mother I thought we all hate. Now that I came face to face with her, ready to rant and rave at the disappointing heritage that the Filipinos so very eagerly claimed, the perceived anger dissipated. I thought she was the source of most of the nation’s heartaches: the corruption, the apathy to nationalism, the colonial and crab mentality, the religious hypocrisy. But faster than this thought crossing my mind was the comprehension that it’s simply not the case. She is very much like me and I gasped at the realization of how much I love her. We speak the same language, love the same food, the beach and life and share the same warmth of close family ties and we specially love the siestas. We are both hopeless romantics and passionate about many things and I could see where the champagne taste on beer income came from.
Overnight, Barcelona became one of my favorite cities. She is the glorified vision of Manila, her most beautiful at her golden age, perhaps had the Philippines remained a province of Spain or USA. Looking at her is like traveling back in time when Rizal and his other heroic friends roamed the streets of Manila ever so proudly, constantly bringing her pride and joy. She’s magnificent, full of life, laughter, culture and grace.
Needless to say, this whole experience was very poignant for me. As I traversed her cobblestoned alleys, listening to endless street performers serenade us block after block, I secretly wished I could speak to Jose Rizal and show him what his sacrifices bought him. That would have been an agonizing scene. Who could have predicted that after nearly 115 of “independence”, the Filipinos continue to prove that as a people, they are not nearly as capable of self-governance as they insisted they are? True, I’m an American now but that does not strip me of my rights to criticize the Philippines, after all I spent half of my life there.