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Her Beauty and Fragrance Was Prominent to Him

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Pag Ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa

Written by: Andres Bonifacio

Alana M. McHugh

Enderun Colleges

The poem “Pag-Ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa (Love of Country)” was written by Andres Bonifacio during 1896 as an exhortation to Filipinos to stand up against the Spanish and their unfair treatment towards Filipinos and their country. Bonifacio is the narrator of the poem whose audience is the Filipino people. Despite it being written centuries ago, his poem is still significant today. The message that emanates throughout the entire poem can be seen from the very fist line, “What love can be /purer and greater /than love of country?”. This initial message of pride is one that resonates with most readers and encourages the view that the country should be envisioned as a whole, rather than focus on the individualistic self. From this, we can see that Bonifacio tries to convey the importance of being proud of one’s country and heritage. He perpetuates the notion that there should be nothing but love, faith, and support for the country that has given its people everything. In addition, he further advocates and encourages all Filipinos to fight and resist the Spanish Colonial rule over the Philippines. Bonifacio speaks to his audience, asking them to revolt against the governing body for freedom and independence.

        The underlying theme that is portrayed is an overwhelming sense of patriotism. This is meant to invoke ardent feelings within Filipinos to incite resistance and revolution. Evidence of the theme of patriotism can be discerned by the author’s call to action for the sake of the home country. Continuing throughout the following stanzas, Bonifacio addresses the readers directly by showing them why the Philippines is worth fighting for. He descriptively outlines the irreplaceable experiences given to each person by their homeland and unreservedly states that we are indebted to serve our country, because of the safety and security she has provided,

Ah, this is the Mother country of one’s birth,

she is the mother on whom

the soft rays of the sun shine,

which gives strength to the weak body.

His fervor is explicitly expressed in his repetition of ‘country’ throughout the first half of the poem. Bonifacio seeks to empower the reader by rhetorically questioning their devotion to their homeland and emboldening them to action,

And if our land, Filipinas,
is offended and her honor, reason, and dignity outraged, 
by a traitorous foreign country;

What unhappiness and grief 
will invade the heart of the Filipino?
And will not even the most peaceful 
Rise to avenge her honor?

From this stanza, we begin to see a change in tone from being reminiscent of all the wonders Philippines has to offer as a homeland, to a passionate patriotism fueled by Bonifacio’s love of country and his willingness to dedicate his life towards its freedom. He motions for everyone to join in his crusade not just for themselves, but for their country and its independence.

        Bonifacio’s passion exudes a sense of romanticism through his use of metaphors, symbolisms, and other literary devices to describe the Philippines and relay its current social situation. By relating the Philippines to motherhood, Bonifacio displays the ways in which one’s country provides the same nature and nurture a mother would, and the significant impact she has on one’s development. Through this personification, the reader is moved through the relation made to a mother-like figure and is meant to react more emotionally. Bonifacio sought to evoke deep feelings of loyalty and devotion towards the cause for Filipino freedom. He wanted people to stand up against the imperialistic rule that was abusing the Filipinos. The repetitive references of the homeland as being an entity that should be cared for holistically (including its people) sheds light on the motivations that inspire Bonifacio’s diction. His use of repetition and symbolism is used to emphasize the importance of standing together, united as a people.

Another vital technique throughout the poem was the use of metaphors. A significant part of the poem to me was his analogy of the Filipinos as slaves. He uses this reference to describe the current political and social environment of the Philippines as being enslaved by the Spaniards and the need for them to be free from oppression,

the future that is hoped

will free the slaves,

where can this be found but in one’s native land?

This metaphor of slavery brings awareness to the dire circumstances that are plaguing the Filipino people of that time. The writer’s description of slavery provides insight into the feelings of entrapment by an abusive power. He shows that the current situation should not be accepted or normalized for the sake of compliance. Furthermore, the imagery used in each stanza of the poem provides a vivid description that can be easily translated to the Filipino people. Bonifacio’s vehemence towards the Spanish rule is shown through the symbolisms, metaphors, and other important literary techniques that embody the atrocities faced by his country and people.

        This was an important message Bonifacio felt he had to disseminate to his fellow Filipinos because during the late 1800’s, around the time this poem was written, the Philippines was still under Spanish Colonial rule. Throughout this period, Bonifacio worked alongside Jose Rizal and was also one of the founding members of La Liga Filipina. His role in protesting the need for political reform was very influential. However, over time he grew impatient with peaceful protesting and left La Liga Filipina to work towards a more aggressive revolt against the Spanish. This point in his life, and the culmination of other personal experiences and hardships, is what influenced this poem as he sought for the people’s patriotism to encourage them to dedicate themselves to saving their motherland form the thrashes of colonialism. This happened right before the Philippine Revolution in which Bonifacio played a necessary role in the planning of the uprising. There was great social and political instability, with the Spanish feverishly trying to fight back against the looming rebellion. Bonifacio was later to be a key component that helped change the course of Philippine history towards a free and independent nation (despite their independence not being recognized by the Spanish or Americans).

        The historical significance of this poem was to impassion Filipinos through uproar and frenzy so that they fight willingly against the Spanish. Referring back to the first stanza, Bonifacio states, “What love can be /purer and greater /than love of country?”. He reinforces the belief that the revolution is for more than just oneself. By connecting two powerful emotions of love and patriotism, he makes it almost impossible for any Filipino reader to not be impassioned and filled with vigor. His inspiration to rally and unite the people was executed through his understanding of the political atmosphere and the needs of Filipinos. Bonifacio was able to tie in current events and relate it to the people and inspire them to action.



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