I was raised high up on the tall mountains of Bukidnon, in the heart of the island of Mindanao.
A goodly part of my life so far had been spent roaming the lush green valleys and the cool clear springs of this dear land which I call home. As a child, I was fond of playing barefooted under the cool rain showers that are a constant even during the hot summer days. The trees that stood tall and proud near our house had been my childhood towers as I played out my dreams of magic and adventure. I was a chivalric knight off to defend the castle from a rampaging dragon. Wooden sticks were my magical swords, and the fallen branches from a tree- my noble steeds. Those were the days: where the sweat on my brow and the scorched brown flesh of my arms were my armor as well as badges of nobility and testaments to my supreme courage.
As I look back to those times I always marveled at what a life I had lived back then, alas, I could not say much for what I have now. Reality is a far fiercer adversary than my dragons back then, and the vileness of a corrupted society a far painful thing to confront than that of a bruised knee or a sun burnt skin.
I am now in my twenties; the reality of adult life had already started making its hard poundings on my yet semi-virgin conceptions of life and of the world. And as I reminisce the past it also got me thinking about what I had stood for then and what I stand for now. Would my past childhood self be proud of what my present self had become?
I guess it is not so much about being proud of what I have become and what I have done but more so if I had become the valiant knight that I had wished to be back then. Was I able to courageously face the evil that threatened my castle? Was I able to defend the helpless and the oppressed? Was I able to stand for what is true and pure as befits a true knight? Questions that I am afraid in asking myself for fear of the wretched answer, for fear that I had become far from the man I once wished to be.
To be a knight, one must be courageous. When I was but a boy, courage for me was about being able to climb the tallest trees or to fight-off the neighbor’s dogs. What is courage for me now when I have more years to my name and more pains to my years? I read a book once that said that “courage is not about the absence of fear but of having the strength to face those fears”. I am no coward, that I am sure, but it would also be a lie to say that I had not let my fears dictate my life. My fears back then had stopped me from pursuing love, excellence and freedom. My fears had stopped me to be kind and considerate. My fears have led me now to the path far from my dreams of knighthood.
Call it epiphany or call it plain childishness, but I still wish to be a knight. Not a knight with the shining armor and the magical sword (though having both would be damn cool!) but to be as a man who stands for what is right and what is good and to have the courage to defend them. I guess it is not so much about being prudishly righteous, but more so about simply doing what is right. I guess it is not so much about being brave, but more so about having the strength to defend the things that matters most: Love, Family, Friendship and Freedom. The castles that are worth defending are the homes and the lives of those that I love. And the evil dragons that should be fought-off are the malice that corrupts the mind and the personal fears that preyed on our hearts.
I will be a knight – nay, I am a knight! And as such, I will stand for what is true and what is pure. I shall be courageous in my actions without giving fear room in my heart. I shall give aid to the needy and protect the helpless and the oppressed.
Those were my dreams when I was a child, and I will spend my life pursuing those dreams. For a life spent without a dream to attain is a life spent in darkness.
If you want to be a knight, then ride with me in the pursuit of love, honor and excellence as what befits a knight.
Be a knight with me! And we shall go forth on this life as men that would make our childhood selves proud. Let us live our dreams and not let fear chain us in the dark corners of apathy and mediocrity.
Ito ang taya ko para sa aking sarili. Ito ang taya ko para sa Bayan.