The Pinoy Is a Maya, not an Agila

The Maya Pula should be restored as the Pilipino national bird.

Symbols such as these are important, because they represent the heart and soul that drive a nation and its people.

Thus, when Fidel Ramos decreed that henceforth, the Philippine Eagle should be the Filipino national bird instead of the lowly Maya Pula, many Filipinos were heartened.

Already suffering from a depressed national psyche as the derided The Sick Man of Asia in a sea of roaring Economic Tigers, the Haring Ibon’s appointment was a timely boost to the Pinoy's bruised national garbo.

Here, at last, was a symbol every Filipino could be proud of---Pithecopaga jefferyi, last survivor of the fierce raptors of the Dinosaur era, with the second-longest wingspan among the world's great eagles.

Yet, the high-flying Haribon is also symbolic of many things which are not right with our country.

It is a solitary patrician, soaring among the lofty mountains where it is rarely seen, beyond the reach of ordinary mortals like you and I.

Unlike the small and plebian Maya Pula, it is big, white and proud. Like the multinationals and oligarchs who continue to hold the masses in their grasping claws.

In contrast, the black and red Lonchura atricapilla jagori  lives close to the ground, humbly sharing its abode with the small and sundry.

The Haribon has a lavish, luxurious lifestyle. It is a predator high in the food chain, preying on lesser animals below it on the social totem pole, and needing an inordinate amount of forest to survive.

Compare that to the frugal Maya Pula, contentedly subsisting on the crumbs that eagles and kings casually brush off tables of conspicuous consumption, generously sharing in its poverty the little it has with the members of its flock.

Unlike the Haribon who would die without his forests, the Maya Pala is equally at home in the boondocks and the city, gracefully co-existing in the buildings and rice fields which men build, on what were once its home and playground.

The Filipino is neither proud nor patrician. He doesn't need either mansion, car or mistress beyond his simple needs to be happy.

He is humble. He is frugal. He is generous. He is a survivor.

And it is in being small, dark, and humble that he is strong.

We are not Haribon.

We are Pinoy.

And the Pinoy is a Maya.

As the good book says in the Gospel according to St. Mark, chapter ten, verse 31:

But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.

Let’s put the Maya Pula back into the Pinoy’s heart and soul, where it rightly belongs.

(Note:  Contary to what many previously thought, the Maya Pula (Lonchura atricapilla jagori) is a distinct sub species endemic to the Philippines considered as the Philippines National Bird until 1995.  Also sometimes referred to as mayang bungol , or mayang bukid , it is often confused with the European Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), or Mayang Simbahan (Sausa, 2010)

Photo: The Mayang Pula prefers to flock together over rice fields where its chime-like calls make for wonderful music. Jimboy Muñoz