It was Friday, March 6, 2009. I was still drained from a week-long written revalida/ comprehensive examinations in Philosophy. Our superiors allowed us to unwind outside the Seminary’s confines, take a breath of fresh air, and forget the hardships of the week. We still have an oral revalida on the Monday to come, but that would be easy. I can ace it, I told myself.
I went to Robinsons Place Lipa with some of my classmates. We dined out, ate like a pig, and laughed off the hardships of studying Philosophy. After that, I excused myself and went to Netopia to surf the net and to relax. It was the heydays of Multiply, Friendster, and Yahoo! Messenger. Just like a warrior who survived the hardships of battle, I updated my friends and contacts that I surpassed the first, and the harder part of the Revalida (I could have just tweeted it then but Twitter was not yet known that time). When I logged out my Yahoo! account, I immediately saw an image of the Master Rapper, Francis Magalona, on the news box. (Believe it or not) I just saw the photo, but I did not dare read the headline because I was in a hurry to go back to the Seminary on time. I thought that Francis is going well on his battle against the Big C.
I went back to the Seminary later that afternoon, did my usual stuff, and followed the usual Seminary schedule. After dinner, we went straight to the TV Room for our scheduled TV Viewing and recreation. We tuned in on 24 Orasand were all shocked to learn the news that Francis Magalona passed away. Almost of all of us fell silent, stunned by his sudden demise.
After our compline, I went to my room and turn my radio transistor on. Almost all the radio stations are playing Francis Magalona’s songs as a tribute to the beloved Man from Manila. In silence, I said my prayer for the eternal repose of his soul, and expressed my regret for losing another Filipino legend.
I first met Francis when I was about four years old. My kuya, an artist, was busy then painting a portrait of Francis Magalona in a one-eighth illustration board at our old kubo. The face was familiar. He’s the man behind the infectious patriotic song Mga Kababayan Ko. And I have watched him on the movie Mama’s Boys with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., and Anjo Yllana.
I saw Francis as a revolutionary young face that will achieve great heights. He challenged the conventional music style of his age. His music paved way for the unification of the then-opposing sides of Pinoy hip-hop and rock by experimenting on the merging of rap with rock music. After all, music is the language that should unite us, not divide us.
But more importantly, I saw Francis as a young man, whose heart is united with his beloved land. He redefined patriotism. He made it easier for the youth of this generation to appreciate and understand. And he showed us how great a race and nation we are.
Pride. Identity. Meaning. Perhaps, he saw that before we can shout to the world that we love our country, we must first know what it really means to be a Filipino.
I saw Mga Kababayan Ko then as an anthem which promotes Pinoy pride and identity along with the songs Ako’y Isang Pinoy by Florante and Tayo’y mga Pinoy by Heber Bartolome (and later recorded and reinvented by the Man from Manila himself). These three songs, together with our regular Monday school anthem Ako ay Pilipino, were my first inspirations to love my country, to appreciate my Pinoy identity, and to be proud of my ancestry. And this was long before Pinoy Ako by Orange and Lemons.
But he was gone too soon. Had he not died on that fateful Friday noon of March 6, 2009, he may have personally done greater things for our country and to our countrymen.
But as in all war and tragedy, life continues. He may have gone too soon but his spirit, music, and legacy still continue. Thanks to her wife Pia and the rest of the Magalonas, the Francis Magalona Foundation was born.
The Francis Magalona Foundation was established to realize in each Filipino a true sense of Filipino pride, personal integrity and a commitment to positive change through awareness campaigns and personal development and skills building programs. Its tagline, Finding a Meaning in every Filipino, is an invitation to every Filipino to ask themselves the significance of their identities as a Filipino. How is it to be a Filipino? How do I promote my pride and identity to the whole world?
Up to this day, I still shed a tear whenever I see the videos of Francis Magalona’s death on YouTube. I may not know him personally but his patriotism was one of my influences. He is somehow responsible for what I am right now.
He may have gone at a young age but what is more important is that he had lived his life with meaning. He has influenced a whole generation. He has inspired many with his music. And with that, he is already immortal.
On the third anniversary of his death, let us remember The Man from Manila who have inspired many by his great music, who have been a good father to his children, who have been a good husband to his wife, and who have been a modern example of Filipino Patriotism.
You may have gone Francis but your legacy of music and patriotism will remain in our minds and hearts forever.
Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat Kiko!
Kickass photo courtesy of scarypet.deviantart.com