This photo was taken in one of the oldest Churches in Bohol, The St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral which can be found in Tagbilaran City. This young man who prays by the stairs of the church really struck me as I, like him, prays though lately, have not been the constant church goer. Like him, I pray for great strides in my life, great health and the companionship of the Holy Spirit. The constancy of the reminders of my own vulnerability as a man who is tempted by transgressions made me even hold on to my prayers every day, not just every Sunday.
On one of my Bohol jaunt-slash-work assignment, I took the habit of taking a stroll on the famous Panglao Beach in Bohol and one sunny Sunday morning, I came across a family whose only boy enjoyed the white sands, the sea and the sun. I asked politely if I can take a photo, they agreed so I have the rarest opportunity to take on my most daring first time family-outing photoshoot. What I have captured was a happy family whose innocence is a hallmark of proverbial life in the countryside, sheer happiness at whatever it is being freely given. In this case, the sea and the sun. I could never have made a careful thought of it until a good friend who is also a famous travel blogger who became a business partner, Daniel Karlo de Leon pointed out one night as I showed him this photo stacked in my Ipad. I captured innocence at sea, of a child whose dreams are forever glared in his eyes and his fervent prayers, gleaned through his young face.
The opportunity I took while taking this photo has immensely taught me that innocence is one virtue we usually discard when we grow up to where we are. In our attempts to earn a good education, acting the educated persons that we are, we shun innocence. Perhaps too, because of our efforts to safeguard our own personal interests and that of our loved ones that we started to question the motives of others, shunning in the process our own humble beginnings and innocence. Too commonly also, because of our stature in society that we forget to value innocence because we could have wished otherwise and if the winds blew on the other direction, we complain, we witchhunt and we lambast people, society until it crumbles.
Innocence is the greatest virtue only reserved for the young and children in us. Perhaps, as one life is lived fully well and freely when one is a child that when he grew up in society, his freedom is also seemingly shortened or worse, impeded. For some efforts to conform, we choose to let go of our own self-freedom over what we think is great even if it means discarding our own innocent gaze of the world. We fail at society because we truly is not innocent, worse, we despised. We easily discard innocence in the name of trust but sadly, we trust not heartily. We trust based on what we see and hear, or perhaps feel but we never even trust those that we do not feel but have made us indirectly a beneficiary. So true with our national identity that we started to question integrity of institutions while forgetful of how our questioning is reverberating back towards us. Like an echo, our questioning and bullying perspective of what society should be in swift accordance to our own design is coming back to us. Ergo, it is wise to choose innocence and value it a lifetime than piously appear as if one is Zeus who rules the world but never the heart of men.
A very unassuming marker sits grandly on the pre-departure lounge of the fastcraft ferry terminal in Tagbilaran City that ultimately led me to a better understanding of the historic journey of Bohol towards liberation from the Japanese during the Second World War. It was said that there were 1172 men and officers of the Third Batallion of the 164th Infantry Regiment of the American Mission who docked in Tagbilaran City, the very spot where the pier is located to help liberate the island.
The young men and women as well as gentlemen and officers was led by a young Lt. Colonel by the name of William H. Considine and they landed at exactly 7:00 in the morning of April 11, 1945. The American mission was composed of six (6) landing ships, six (6) landing crafts for infantry, Two (2) landing crafts for support and one (1) landing craft intended for a medium rocket.
Upon entering the pre-departure lounge, I was fortunately seated at the front mono-block chairs and alas, the marker caught my attention which incidentally, at 7:00 in the morning of October 23, 2011, I am taking photos of the marker and studying its texts. I was rather impressed of how rich the cultural heritage of Bohol was and is from the time of Sikatuna in Bool to the Spanish inspired Churches under the colonization and to the American liberation and influences.
Firstly, I have been to church that are with Spanish influences, been to the blood compact and also the Provincial Capitol which was built by the Americans in 1946 under the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946. Transitionally, Bohol has matured well enough to be a grand province replete with culture, traditions, norms, history and its pivotal role in nation-building.
The City of Tagbilaran is thus liberated from the Japanese on May 25, 1945 by Major General William H. Arnold of the United States Army. The unassuming marker speaks of its glorious liberation so next time you travel from Tagbilaran City, forget not to check the marker! You will be amazed.