“A Filipino is like a mythological bamboo. He sways valiantly with the winds of misfortune, only to rise unscathed when the tempest is over to meet the warmth of the morning sun.” This quote by Dr. Felipe Landa Jocano highlights the Filipino’s ability to survive life’s typhoons and floods, earthquakes and sinking ships, and little by little to rise up and get on with one’s life as time passes.
It is okay to be knocked down once in a while, but we should not allow ourselves to be knocked out, or if badly beaten, to quit. It takes more courage and guts to survive and rise up then it does to grumble, bewail one’s fate and give up the fight. Without inner strength, faith in God, and an unwavering survival instinct, many times the battle is lost even before it has even begun.
We can learn from the bamboo. It is not only resilient in the face of storms. The bamboo has many practical uses. It can be used for building material, for making furniture, for decorative purposes, for fences. The young shoots are delicious as vegetables and in some countries are considered delicacies. The soil in the bamboo groves is a compost of the bamboo leaves and very fertile to enhance growth in one’s garden. Jun and I once visited a factory in China that processed bamboo into floor, wall, and ceiling tiles and laminated plywood slabs for indoor and outdoor uses.
Jun and I have met many adverse and challenging moments throughout our 47-year marriage and in the running of our business. But we have learned to see the difficulty not so much as a problem but as more of a challenge – a challenge to grow, a challenge to improve, a challenge to overcome, move on, and be stronger, a challenge to be useful and fruitful. We look at every difficulty as an opportunity for God to manifest Himself to us in His own inimitable way, a sort of epiphany.
One of my guiding principles in life is found in the Bible, in Romans 8:28. “In everything, God works for good, for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” ‘In everything’ … not just in the good things in life, but also in the not-so-good things. ‘ God works for good’ … it may be for my good, or He may use me as a channel to bring His goodness to others. It doesn’t matter whether I think it is good or not, or even if I don’t see the good; what matters is how God sees the situation and what He does with it. For this guiding principle to work, I only need to do two things: to love God, and to respond to His call to love others, following His guidance in faith that He only wants good for me.
Several weeks ago during his visit to Manila, Al Gore presented updated data about climate change and its impending catastrophic effects. Sometimes it is not easy to see the good in a situation like the devastation wrought by super typhoons or earthquakes, sudden sinkholes or violent volcanic eruptions. Sometimes it is hard to believe that the melting of an iceberg at the North Pole or the destruction of the coral reefs in Australia or the encroachment of the desert on villages in Africa should be of concern to me.
Where is the good in these natural and manmade disasters that Romans 8:28 assures us of? My faith tells me that somehow, somewhere, in His time, God will make His goodness felt even in these situations. I believe He is telling us to wake up and actively choose to protect the environment, His creation. I believe He is asking us to be like the bamboo – to not only be resilient and survive but to contribute positively to our surroundings. God is demanding us to put our faith into action, to walk our talk, to complain less about the increasing heat and the sudden severe rains by viewing them as challenges to respond to His love.
The inspirational song “God Will Make A Way” assures us that God will make His goodness felt if we allow ourselves to be led by Him through the storms, the deserts, and the wildernesses of life. He made a way for the bamboo to survive and be useful; how much more will He do for us, His children in faith as we respond to His love and His call!