The Fall of Traditions

Traditions are a significant part of what makes a culture. It is like one of the colorful threads that weave together to form the pattern that is a nation’s culture. And this culture is also a very significant component of a people’s identity. Sadly, some of these traditions are gradually declining in practice. And some of them are already but a part of history.

Religion is, more often than not, a strong identifier of a nation. In our small town, it used to be that the people cared more about religion and its traditions. I remember those nights, when I was small, when we would pray and sing hymns and praises in honor of a saint. After that, we’ll have a procession from one house to the next with the image with us. We’ll be doing that every night until the days are fulfilled.

Now, I no longer see that happening. Though, I can still hear the prayer leaders singing hymns and praises and praying the usual prayers. But the difference is clearer than a transparent sheet. This time around, they do it in the middle of the afternoon. A time which is hardly any good if you wanted more people to join in.

When I was small, us kids were encourage to go with them, to pray with them, to learn about the traditions of our place with them. Now, it’s just the old people, the prayer leaders, a few people.

Worse still, they’ve reached the point when they no longer send the image from one house to another. Instead, they let it stay in one house and the prayer leaders will just go their. My mother told me it was because they are already getting old and are old enough to reason that they tire easily. It’s not exactly some sound reasoning given that, usually, the houses in our place are hardly even five meters apart. But, yes, they are already old.

That’s just one of those that are gradually nearing non-existence. There also used to be theater in our place. A tale of kings. I’m rather certain I never understood what that story was all about because they used a deeper form of the local dialect and I was too small then to understand such. It used to play around the time of the local fiesta, about the end of May.

Now, I cannot see even a shadow of it. Even if it was a small town production, I know I can give them credit for the costumes and the effort they give to make the play successful. But theater has died in our town.

I have also heard of stories, read some, and watched some on TV and movies about a courtship practice called the harana. It’s when the guy visits a girl’s house with a song to sing to her. The guy throws some rocks into the girl’s window to get her attention and open up, then, he starts singing and playing his guitar while she watched him, and he tries to win her heart with a song.

No, I can never say for myself if those things ever happened because it was already dead when I was born. Or, they never really happened that way.

Perhaps, if I look deeper into the history of the Philippines, I’ll find more of these things – traditions that were once integral to the lives of Filipinos. And if I do, it’ll be sad as it can only mean the undoing of centuries worth of traditions, history, and culture.

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The Disappearing Family

familyThe concept of family all over the world is breaking down. Some have even accepted that the notion of family is merely something from the old days and modernism simply does not include a tight family in it. A picture of a happy family can easily be dismissed as fiction given that the concept of family has been greatly diminished since the picture of real family today usually consists of one missing parent with the remaining members not exactly in good terms with each other.

Divorce has become such a common part of a normal American life that some people from other parts of the world, including the Philippines, want it incorporated into law. Currently, there is only annulment in the Philippines but that doesn’t help families from breaking up. Couples simply go separate ways without even going through the process of an annulment; mostly because it is a rather long and expensive process.

For a developing country, and even industrialized nations, for that matter, the breakdown of marriage and family – the basic building blocks of community and society – can never be a good news.

Most teens of today would argue that the changing values of people are simply a part of the future – like the evolution of entertainment and technology. It can be said that it is simply synonymous to the change in kids of yesterday bringing around giant boomboxes with a tape containing a few songs to kids of today bringing around tiny tiny media players containing hundreds of songs, among others.

So, why did family begin to disappear?

See, from films and literature, it is clear that courtship, the supposed beginning of a relationship that leads to marriage and family, has changed a lot. People, apparently, used to respect the process and sanctity of marriage. That is, evidently, not the case today. There is now what is called, “friends with benefits” – something that my professor last semester in Society and Culture repeatedly mentioned in class around the last days of the semester when we were discussing “modern society” and family planning.

And, as marriage goes, so does family. And as family goes, the same thing happens to community, society, and civilization.

One might argue that family is just one of the things that make up a society and its demise cannot mean the destruction of human civilization. Indeed, there are other factors that make a society work. But as it so-called a “building block” of society, it is an indispensable part of it.

Take for example the progression and evolution of human society itself. It used to be, according to written history, that humans were nomads usually traveling groups in search of sustenance. Then, humans began to settle, setup camps, and began to abandon to traveling for food in favor of growing crops and domesticating animals. Soon, these groups became villages. But at the core of these ancient villages are families working together to make the village survive. And in these families were members who were working with each other each with a responsibility to keep to the family and society. These villages worked and evolved. Otherwise, if the families of yesterday broke down, we wouldn’t be here.

Life was much simpler back in the ancient days. Societies worked well enough to build what we have now. Family was present. Today, we look at a world full of complexities. We are faced with innovations and technology that “make life easier” or “make life easier”. Ironically, these “innovations” themselves are what destroy the core of society and make things worse. People have much more things to deal with today than what people of the old days can even imagine.

If we have all these things at hand, how can we even say that we can make society work without its core? Without family? The way things are today, we can only conclude that, ultimately, we are headed for destruction – by ourselves.