It hits you hard, this picture of Israeli warriors going home from war.
The scene haunts for many reasons. The picture of Israeli soldiers, weary from war and warmongering from some other forces beyond their control, have packed their bags and carry their deadly war materiel to bring home, back to their lonely homes in the war-torn fields, some close to the borders of anger and remorse, repentance and regret.
This search for a homeland of the soul is a tricky business, convoluted and conflicted and conflicting.
Lebanon tries to put together a homeland for its people from years and years of dispossession.
Hezbollah, in the sub-text of its pronouncements why it engaged in a war with Israel in response to Israel's incursion into what Hezbollah perceives as Lebanon territory, attempts to do the same, in means and methods not perhaps within the definition of what is acceptable to the powers-that-be of the international community ruled by dictators of democracy in the First World.
And in Israel's aggressive campaign to add one more inch of a land, one day at a time, to its United Nation's constituted 'homeland' when Israelites went home from the Diaspora, remains a motive, eternal, perennial, perpetual.
It strikes me so hard because in the Philippines, in the homeland of the Filipino, there is not much of this passion to keep together the homeland, in physical and psychical terms.
A homeland has to be both--physical and psychic, territorial and psychological.
A homeland is a place in the map and in the heart, a bundle of emtions, a bundle of memory, and a space in the territory of the mind.
Or one where one is born, the birthplace bearing the remnants of the umbilical cord that links one to the past getting into the porous borders of the present and the future.
I think of all these as a person of the Filipino Diaspora and these things make me sad.
This sense of re-claiming what is left of the homeland is also one tricky business in the Philippines.
But hope is not lost.
I have seen exiles everywhere holding on to that hope, believing that the homeland is worth going to war for, a war in the mind, in the consciousness, in the culture, in the poetry of a seeking soul.
I have seen them, these exiles.
There are not many of them, just a handful, these real ones, as genuine in their intentions as those of the surf and sand and sun here and elsewhere. These are the people who know the business of keeping the homeland in the mind and in the heart, in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations that have gone past self-definitions and selfhood.
And now I see them, like the soldiers of the war, yes, weary and wary of what the future holds but nevertheless going home to roost and rest and recreate one big dream of one huge future for the coming generations of warriors for the homeland.
And I realize: one can only have one homeland. All the others are substitutes, poor substitutes.
A Solver Agcaoili
August 17, 2006