Alto Indio!

FEU Advocate
December 09, 2023 10:35

Alto Indio!

“Alto, Indio!”

The two words I am always greeted with before and after work. Tall white men with guns ask me for my paper. My cedula is what they look for; when they see me, they seek the paper to prove whether I lived in my own land or I was an enemy of their state. 

I go to work, off to my German bosses to count their money and bring stipend to my countrymen from the riches of their land. I had to provide for them, my family, my brothers and sisters; we only have each other left. I would do my best to protect them and ensure they lie in bed, not hungry. Even if I need to sell fans in the streets of Binondo or posters to advertise foreign silk sold in Escolta. I would do anything for my family. 

“We are all children of Christ.”

Funny how our priest in Tondo would say that in the holy language of Latin. But I doubt if he truly believed in it. They were actors. Staging every line for the people just like a play, they could even replace me in the theater and say the lines of Bernardo Carpio. Because if they truly believed in the words of their God, they would have never looked down on us; they would have never have seen our ancestors as uncivilized. This evil hypocrisy of using their Bible to justify their actions against my land is sickening. Yet they choose to convert us. 

Why were so many Christian lives taken? Why are so many fathers imprisoned and so many daughters abused? Why must my people kneel to their empire? Why must they be served sweet wine while my people are left hungry living in  the mud? Locals whose identities are defined by the color of their skin and legitimacy based on the papers they possess. But amid all this abuse, is revolution truly necessary? Yes! But how? It will all start with fear. 

Victor Hugues made revolting look romantic and glorious. But it was Rizal's novels that made me fear of forgoing change—what would be made of my people then? I am tired of cedulas commanding what my people can become in their own land, tired of white commanders harassing our farmers, and I am sick of being scared every time I step out of our house in Tondo. 

The time of living in fear must come to an end, and the movement needs to be made to become our own people and our own nation. Books have been read, and people have awakened. These documents they bury us with will be ripped apart by the voices of the oppressed. Burned by flames ignited by the hopes of tomorrow. This is how our revolution begins.

I would do anything for my family, but I would die for my country. 

- Rowell E. Jallorina Jr. 

(Illustration by Chynna Mae Santos/FEU Advocate)