Fifteen years later

By: Madrileña de la Cerna September 10,2016 - 09:16 PM

Today is the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attack, and there are certain lessons that will never be written down in history. One lesson is that there is no such thing as “faraway.” It was the awakening of the idea of global connectedness for us. It also exposed us to the love and respect of people all over the world who had no reason to care about pain beyond the simple fact that we are all human. Sept. 11 taught us that what happens in one place has ripple effects that extend across the globe. We should never stop looking out into the world and paying attention to issues, cultures and global realities that are different from our own. We should never stop recognizing that it’s our common humanity and our capacity for empathy that connect us all.

Lesson two — you can’t put a timeline on healing. Healing from trauma in any form can take an unpredictable amount of time. The scars aren’t always obvious and they usually can’t be erased with a quick fix. That is why we have to be able to look beyond what we can immediately see, to be compassionate, understanding and supportive of those who have been hurt — for as long as it takes.

Third lesson is that behind every major headline is one person’s story begging to be heard. In the Sept. 11 attack, every major story in the headline — the mass genocide, hunger and injustice that we hear about everyday — is one person’s story. Remembering this lesson can grow your heart a thousand times and inspire true empathy.

Lesson four — your values will always be challenged in times of chaos. And that’s exactly when they matter most. In the face of fear and chaos, it’s vital to hold on to your values tightly. It may be difficult, but that’s when those values are most at risk.

There is a never-ending supply of good in the world. The good in people continue to shine. That moment in time, all races, ethnicities and religions joined together to mourn those who were lost, rebuild what had fallen and create a renewed sense of community. It wasn’t the first time that would happen — and it certainly wasn’t the last.

September 11 taught the true value and impact of compassion. Our task, each and every day, is to live our lives at peak goodness and humanity — even when we’re not in a crises situation. If we do that, we’ll never lose our sense of hope that the world truly can be a better place.

* * *

Prof. Carmelo Tamayo, one of the great mentors of local cultural heritage, passed away two weeks ago. I knew Prof. Tamayo as a fine arts professor from the earliest days of the UP Cebu Fine Arts Program in the early 1970s. He exposed me to several interesting information about Cebuano culture and history particularly about the cultural history of Carcar. I enjoyed the long talks with him about Carcar’s cultural heritage, something we both share since his roots are from Carcar too. It was fun sitting beside him during faculty meetings and other activities in UP Cebu so I won’t miss out some information in the cultural scene. We sat together as cojudges in the first two years of the Sinulog where he taught me what to look for when judging a cultural event. Whether it was local art, music, dance, literature he had always a story to share. When there were art exhibits, he always entertained viewers. His favorite subject of his painting which I will remember him for was the tartanilla. He was also a graceful dancer, and he showed this when dancing the Rigodon de Honor sometime in 2005 at the Rotunda of Carcar during the heydays of the Carcar Heritage Society’s attempts to resuscitate the cultural heritage of Carcar.

In 1984, he invited me to a fiesta in Matutinaw, Badian, the barangay where the Kawasan Falls is located. The barangay was celebrating the fiesta of Santo Nino. We left early dawn of that day, so we took a very sumptuous native pamainit in Carcar so we could be on time for the mass in Matutinaw.

After the mass, everybody assembled in front of the chapel just across the sea. And we watched a group of old women in their best saya dancing the Sinulog — first with bare hands, and in the second part, they took one baby each (perhaps their grandchildren) and danced the Sinulog with the babies accompanied by local instrumentalists (drum and bugle corps was not very popular yet). After the dancing, we had our pamahaw, a very heavy native breakfast, in one of the town’s old houses where everything was native from the furniture to the silverware, the cooking utensils and the hosts’ attire.

It was like attending a fiesta in prewar times. Since it was a fiesta, we had lunch in another old house with more food served from the colonial recipes.

At that time, the hosts hired the services of the best cooks in Carcar (catering was not in vogue). We stayed on until afternoon where, after all the endless stories about the place, we were treated to another round of culinary feast, the merienda featuring the local delicacies. It was the most complete fiesta I ever attended in my whole life.

Thank you, Prof. Tamayo, for sharing your life, your art, your passion.

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TAGS: 911, attacks, terrorism, UP-Cebu

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