The Pinoy landscape can be lambent, vibrant, lush, temperamental, and tame. There are many sides to it just like the Pinoy himself. Inside the Pinoy beats a passionate heart that feels deeply for his family, his village, his country. Our origins are complex and so is this color palette with the same name.
Our indigenous religious belief was animism. We believed that supernatural beings inhabited rocks, trees, lakes, mountains, that natural phenomena like thunder, fire, wind, lightning were controlled by gods. We respected nature and did not claim it. Our relationship with her was infused with reverence.
We grew up in these islands that are steeped in legend and lore. We grew up with stories about gods and goddesses, warrior kings, and star-crossed lovers. Spirits floated around. Ghosts shared our homes. Elementals roamed the earth.
The cast of characters who go bump in the night are many—the tikbalang, aswang, sigbin, manananggal, duwende, agta, kapre, tambaluslos, wakwak, okoy, engkanto, diwata, santelmo...
The Western influence brought other threads we wove into our tapestry. We learned about God, commerce, power, class, education, patriotism. Then other stories came in, other ideologies like capitalism and democracy. Some influences are stronger than others, and have greater impact in the design of our collective tapestry.
We stand today as a people whose soul has metamorphosed so many times. But now, we seem to be caught in the miasma of self-interest and cannot see beyond that. Even in the virtual world, this is obvious. What makes it worse is that there is a lack of civility in how we communicate with each other. This can be seen in remarks uttered by persons, from those with great influence up to the vulnerable in our society. Those who speak with courtesy are seen as weak and foolish. This dynamic creates a polarization in society that can only be harmful for all of us.
We have to find our compass as a people again.
Nature’s Deep Green
The ORIGINS palette has a color called Lucid Green. It is the dark hue of foliage that grows in the understory. There on the forest floor, the plants are a dark green because sunlight, which is way above the tree canopies, can hardly penetrate the depths of the forest.
Lucid Green is also the color of the emerald waters of the surfing paradise of the North, which is off the coast of La Union. What is underneath the deep green waters that the surfers do not explore?
Where the river meets the sea are mangrove forests that protect our coastal areas. Mangrove roots reach down to the seabed and embed themselves, growing prop and stilt roots for stability to withstand the tides and currents, as well as to make it possible for the plants to breathe in oxygen in order to survive. The murky depths are home to many species while the branches provide shelter for birds.
The Myth of Sierra Madre
Hugging the eastern shore of Luzon are the Sierra Madre Mountains that range from Cagayan in the north to Quezon province in the south, a total of 540 km which makes Sierra Madre the longest mountain range in the Philippines. It protects areas of Luzon from typhoons coming in from the Pacific Ocean.
The myth of Sierra is a tale of jealousy, struggle, and pain, but most of all of love.
Sierra was a young mother with two sons Iloco and Tagalo. Her husband Lusong, a brave warrior, died defending the many fierce attacks on their land by Bugsong Hangin, the king of the mighty easterly winds coming from the sea.
Before Lusong died, he made Sierra promise that she would always love and take care of their sons. The devoted mother did exactly that. Every time the cruel Bugsong Hangin came with his army, she would lie down with her back to the sea and her sons would run to her for refuge. Her back bore the brunt of the attacks and she would keep her sons safe.
To this day, the cruel king has not been successful. To this day, Sierra keeps her promise to protect Iloco and Tagalo.
You may ask why Bugsong Hangin is hellbent on destroying them. It is because when they were young, he fell in love with Sierra but she rejected him because she loved Lusong.
Yes, dear readers, hell hath no fury like a man scorned. #TimesUp #OrangeTheWorld #IWillGoOut #WomenShould #YesAllWomen
What happened to “all is fair in love”? Or “make love, not war”?
Gold for Prosperity
Harvest season comes when the rice turns gold and the stalks take on the color of straw. Rice fields shine with the color of Humble Bee.
Rice in the Philippines symbolizes prosperity, luck, success, new beginnings. During weddings, we shower the bride and groom with rice grains to wish them fertility.
Rice is a staple, a part of every Filipino meal. Children are told not to waste rice, not even a grain. If you do, you will be punished by the gods and you will never know abundance and prosperity in your life. So does using rice as confetti portend a life of lack for a newly-wedded couple?
As the legend goes, the grains were a gift from gods and goddesses of a forest to hunters whom they invited to eat with them. After the feast, they were each given a sack of palay and were taught how to plant the grain. They also learned how to pound them to remove the chaff, to winnow them so that the wind separated the chaff from the grain. Then they were taught how to wash and cook the rice.
When the hunters went home, they shared the palay with the village. That was the first time that people learned to be farmers and not just hunter gatherers.
Today, we read about local farmers finding it so difficult to eke a living because they cannot compete with the prices of imported rice. All I can say is buy local if you can.
The Power of Purple
Next time you awaken early when the world is still dark, sit yourself down on a sandy beach or a grassy knoll and just watch the day break.
Dawn comes quietly. When the sun is about to rise, shy pink tendrils of light trace the night sky and the clouds turn into the color of Purple Paradise. As shots of yellow shimmer through the darkness, the colors slowly change from purple and pink to orange and yellow. If the day is calm and you are at the beach, you will see the sky reflected on the water, and the beauty of it leaves you breathless for a few seconds. That may bring a thought to flood you with a certainty that there is indeed a God, or whatever you may call Him in your religion. He gives us the night for slumber and gives us the day to live fully.
Dusk leaves quietly too, although the colors of the heavens are more intense. It’s as if the sky has to cleanse itself with fire before night comes and the black sky sparkles with a myriad stars.
The Story of Ube
Ube means purple yam and a variety called kinampay is a revered tuber in Bohol.
During a famine a long, long time ago, it was the only root crop that grew on the island. People believed that the ube was sent by the gods to save them and, therefore, they considered it sacred. Even now, there are still Boholanos who kiss the ube if they accidentally drop it.
A lot of tourists are surprised by the color of ube ice cream and other ube sweets, although many of these now use food coloring.
In Bohol, ube kinampay is not so easy to find anymore. This is because plantations have given way to hotels.
The color Pink Skies symbolizes tenderness, harmony and inner peace.
Pink paints our skies but also blooms on land. We have many pink flowers like bougainvilleas, orchids, kalachuchi, and gumamela. Diving in our seas, we also see the pretty pink fan coral gracing the underwater world.
We may have warrior blood running in our veins but we also are a very social race that believes in conviviality. Why else would we be known in the world for our friendliness, hospitality, and fiestas? It’s in our DNA, this ability to make connections with people, to share what we have, and to fully enjoy celebrations. There is also that stubborn streak of optimism that buoys us up in spite of dark times.
Despite the difficulties that Covid has brought to our shores, the Pinoy still flashes that inimitable smile. It is part of the resilience that we are known for.
The Legend of the Makahiya
During my childhood, one of our games was to look for the makahiya (touch-me-not plant) in the town plaza or by the side of the road, to touch the leaves and see them fold inward. It was fascinating to see how the plant responded so quickly.
The legend of the makahiya originated in Pampanga. A couple Mang Dongdong and Aling Iska were finally given a daughter whom they named Maria. One day bandits came and they feared for their child so they hid her in the garden. The bandits hit them on the head and stole the money and jewelry they found in the house.
When the parents came to, the thieves had left. They went to look for Maria in the garden but couldn’t find her so they feared that the robbers had taken her too.
As they looked around in the garden, Dongdong felt something prick his feet. It was the first time for both of them to see that plant, whose leaves closed when they touched it. They believed that the plant was their shy Maria. Iska was convinced God turned her daughter into a plant to protect her from the bandits. The mother’s tears fell and every time one touched the plant, a rosy flower grew.
The plant is believed to have many medicinal properties. What makes the makahiya stand out is its instant response to touch. Read about how plants see, hear, and smell, – and respond, even if they don’t have eyes, ears or brains.
Colors of the Earth
Our ancestor spirits, known as anitos, were believed to protect us through life. They were either ancestors or guardian spirits of the family.
We recently celebrated Undas on November 1, one of the most important days for the Pinoy when we honor our dead. Unlike in previous years, many of us did not visit the cemetery but celebrated the day virtually because of the pandemic. Personally, I prayed to my dead ancestors to take care of the living. Binigyan ko ng trabaho kahit naka RIP.
The earthy hues Back to Zero and Barefoot are colors you can easily find in the Philippines. There are so many shades of brown including the color of our skin. We are after all called the brown race. Although this has a racist undertone just like the N word, and fair skin still is prized because of our colonial past, more of us are embracing the beauty of kayumanggi.
The Creation of the Philippine Archipelago
Our archipelago is located along the Pacific Rim of Fire, an active volcanic zone, and our country was formed because of volcanic activity.
The legend of the creation of the Philippines is about a family. There were two grandfathers Maguayan whose kingdom was water, and Captan who ruled the sky. Maguayan had a daughter Lidagat, who reigned over the sea. Captan had a son called Lihangin, the god of the wind. It came to pass that the sea married the wind, and they had four children, three sons—Licalibutan, Liadlao, and Libulan— and one daughter Lisuga.
Again, it’s a story of love, also of vanity, ambition, greed, betrayal, retribution, and the importance of family in the act of pardon.
The parents passed away and the grandparents took care of the children. Then came the day when Licalibutan, who had a body of rock, who was strong and brave, and who was bequeathed his father’s control of the winds, forced his brothers to support him in his plan to attack their grandfather Captan in his stronghold in the sky.
The lolo got angry and hit them with thunderbolts. Licalibutan broke into pieces and was cast out to sea. Some of his parts were so big, they stuck out of the water, and became known as land. Liadlao, who was made from gold and who was always happy, melted. So did Libulan, who was made from copper and who was weak and timid. The sister Lisuga searched for her brothers because she missed them. When her grandfather saw her, he was still angry so he struck her too. She was made of silver and was sweet and gentle. Her grandfather’s blow broke her into a thousand pieces.
Captan went down to the sea and tore it apart in his rage. He accused Maguayan of plotting against him. The other lolo denied it and said he was sleeping deep in the ocean. Tulog pala.
After Captan calmed down, both grandfathers mourned the deaths of their grandchildren, especially the sweet Lisuga. Despite trying their best, they couldn’t bring them back to life. So they decided to give each of them a light that would shine forever. Liadlao became the sun, Libulan became the moon, and Lisuga became the stars.
For the instigator Licalibutan, no light was given. Instead he became the land that supported the human race.
The story of the first man and woman comes after the creation legend with the bamboo taking a special role. Read about this legend and many more here.
The Great Reset
The pandemic shook the world, and the reverberations still keep coming. Disruptions in the economy, politics, and our everyday life on top of the health crisis, leave us grappling with survival strategies.
The World Economic Forum which spearheads the Great Reset initiative gives the context and opportunity for our present situation.
The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads, managing short-term pressures against medium- and long-term uncertainties.
As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.
We need new ways of thinking. An example is Kelsey Leonard, an indigenous American Indian and a scientist. Here she talks about this exciting proposal of giving water the same rights as humans…
Remembering Our Beginnings
Many of us have grandchildren, children, or are dreaming of having a family sometime in the future. Isn’t it our responsibility then to do the best we can now to live a sustainable life so that we are able to leave them a world that will provide them a good quality of life?
That is the gift of knowing our origins. It makes us understand the past so that we can develop the future in a more concrete way. And while we are navigating our way forward, let’s bring the legends, myths and stories that made us who we are.
Most of us want the same things. We want to live in a society where the values of decency, integrity, truth, and civility matter. We want to live in a world where kindness matters. A world that is safe, just, and that offers opportunities for everyone, not just a chosen few. Because we all deserve to live a happy, peaceful, abundant life.
We, from our leaders to each of us, have to work to achieve this world. We need to see each fellow Filipino as part of a people, as someone who deserves to sit at the table as every one, as someone who has a gift to contribute to the collective.
Then we have to transcend national thinking to see ourselves as part of the global community. We need to see the truth that the collective is not only one race but all of humanity. To not forget the habitat that nurtures all of us, and to understand that we don’t control nature. We are part of it.
To learn more about the other color palettes of Boysen Color Trend 2020, read this link.