When talking about the importance of Community, first we must understand its definition. Now what is Community? Well according to one of its definitions in Merriam Webster, Community is an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common place. From its definition, it gives you a picture of what it looks like to be in a community. Everytime I hear that word, I always picture it with a scene from Filipino paintings were people living in “barrios” celebrating fiesta or dancing the “Tinikling” or the act of “Bayanihan”. My question is, is the sense of being in a community still exist?
Living in a community, for me, is great and also important for a person’s growth. I remember growing up, when things were still simpler, almost every Sunday, we had a community cleanup in our Barangay, where everyone, young and old, went out and brought their broom sticks or “silhig tukog” and we all worked together as a unit to clean our Barangay (Tabok, Mandaue City, Cebu). That kind of scene is embedded in my memory, the kind of scene that you could only see nowadays in the provinces, the kind of scene that I wish still being practiced in our barangay today.
It’s sad to think that as we move forward to a more modern and progressive society, we lost track of our sense of community. Everyone seems to be busy with work, business and other affairs in life. Though I am not complaining as I am also a working class citizen myself. It’s no ones fault everyone has to work, we have to work to live, to eat and to survive. But as we strive for a more progressive life, we must retain our roots, our tradition and our sense of being in a community.
The reason why I talked about the importance of Community is because, it is where we mold the next generation. It is where we teach the young ones the importance of awareness, empathy and responsibility. With the things going on in our country, with all these Gang fights, Drug related crimes, drug use and even suicide, we forgot that these can be prevented if we have worked as one, as a unit, in providing a better community for everyone. Like before, in our Barangay, during the feast of our Patron Saints, we have this Clean and Green competition. We are grouped into “sitios” and we have to make our sitio the cleanest among others. Although it was some sort of a competition, but the idea that everyone has to be involved was a great practice to be responsible in life, to be a responsible citizen and it may not be a drastic move to suppress all those problems but it’s a good start. Giving them the sense that they are or everyone is an integral part in creating a better community. That everyone has its role in providing a better life and future for the next generation.
Another memory of mine that until now, I still remember, is during the Christmas Season. We all know Filipinos love Christmas, right? We literally have the longest celebration starting from September. When I was a kid, we had something to look forward when this time of the year comes around. Everyone in the village will decorate their houses with Christmas lights and lined the entire streets with lights. It was a beautiful sight. I don’t have a picture of that but try to imagine how beautiful it was. As a kid, it was as though I was in Disneyland. The best part about that was everyone looked forward for it. We couldn’t contain our excitement and we always prepare these lights to be put on. It was a great scenery seeing people helping each other to decorate the entire street with Christmas lights. For me, that was the Bayanihan, it may not be the kind where people carry an entire house, but it was still bayanihan in the sense that people were coming together. And the moment it’s time to light up, everyone gathered outside to marvel to the beautiful lights. It brought the best of everyone. Don’t you want that in a community? The point of this story is that we can work hand in hand to create something beautiful. There is cooperation, unity and love all around. I have loved that memory because it showed me what a great community I was living in. This may not solve the drugs and crimes in our country, but if only we rediscover that, we can turn things around.
Before I conclude this one, there is one thing I would like to share from a personal experience. Although this is somewhat a family thing, but back when I was still young, probably in Elementary, our family clan or relatives would organize what we called “Amazing Race”. Every summer, the elder cousins, the ones in high school, will gather the young ones and some high schoolers and team us up. They then gave us the first clue and we had to finish an obstacle to get the next clue, kinda like the Amazing Race show but in teams not pairs. We took it seriously and even though we knew the price was just the pride of having won the race, we worked together as a team. The reason that I shared this is, if all local government units and barangays in the Philippines will organize this kind of affair, youths of today will divert themselves on self improvement rather than spending their time on online games (not that I am against of) or drugs. Although there are some activities organized by the private sectors, but these involve registration and other things and let’s face it, not everyone in our country could afford a kilo of rice, much more a registration fee. The LGUs and Barangays should be in the forefront in organizing these activities, not just during Children’s day, that involves Sports, Arts , which I will be talking in another post that I will write, and Community based activities. In this way, the youth will have something to look forward and not just give up on life and turn their lives doing drugs or being in gangs that fight almost every night. And we, as Citizens of this country, must also take part in creating a better community for the future generation instead of just complaining and throwing every single problem there is to the government. We must be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I couldn’t give a concrete answer to my question above as I am reluctant to say either yes or no but I do believe, in some ways, the sense of being a community is still there, and I do hope you can.
I hope this post of mine has awaken that sense of being in a community in you and will encourage to do so, because honestly, as I was writing this one, I miss those days, I miss those memories I shared in this post. They will be forever memories of my life, but I hope someday, these memories will be reflected again into our Community.