I know one local historian in Batangas who takes pride in everything Batangueño. Nothing wrong with it. The error begins whenever he starts to brag that Batangueños are the bravest in Filipinas, that they had the most sophisticated lifestyle during the early days of our country, that they contributed the most to Filipino history and culture, etc. Similarly, a Visayan FB friend proudly declared on his wall that “we are Visayans first, then second Filipinos.”
This is no longer patriotism. Neither is it nationalism. This is REGIONALISM at its finest.
I am a Tagálog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagálog second”. It’s because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.
My roots are from Tayabas. I grew up in Metro Manila. Now I live with my family in La Laguna. Yet my loyalty and affinity do not belong strictly to any of these places. In fact, my family and I feel excited to travel to other parts of the archipelago and mingle with other Filipinos from different races and experience and feel with them how they live their Filipino lives. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the pili nuts and Mayón Volcano of the Bicolanos. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the guitarras and the Fiesta Señor of the Cebuanos. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the elegant ancestral houses of the Ilocanos in Vigan (and how I love their pinacbét!).
The durián of Daváo, the tarsier of the Bojolanos, the binasúan folk dance of the Pangasinenses, all of which are non-Tagálog articles. But I consider them mine, and I am MIGHTY PROUD of them all, because I am a Filipino.
That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando, Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).
My love for San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (my adoptive hometown) is the same love that I feel towards Isabela, Basilan although I have never been there. It’s the same kind of love that I have towards Parañaque (the place where I grew up) and Unisan, Tayabas (my roots). I pride myself of Cebuano and Negrense achievements even if I’m not Visayan. I can even call Bulacán Province as my home even if I have no filial connection to it. My heart bled when Daváo City was bombed and Batanes was ravaged by a recent typhoon. This is because I am a Filipino. Had I limited myself to being a Tagálog, I wouldn’t have cared much for other parts of Filipinas. That is why I do not support regionalism. Too much of it leads to divisiveness.
This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. if a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagálog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagálog comes last.
¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!