I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Living in the Netherlands for almost three years now, I will not deny the fact that I like it here. Just like what I´ve said before, the country is so well-organized that I have liked it the first time I landed. But that is not all. I like the openness, the liberal-yet-politemindedness of the people. I can go on and on but I will reserve that for another article. Probably, I have not stayed long enough to hate it, what with how other foreigners describe the Dutch. Perhaps, I have been wearing rose-colored glasses without knowing it. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

This certain liking for the Netherlands has led the way to others thinking that I love the Netherlands more than my own country, the Philippines. There is a thin line between like and love, but even if I love it, I will not apologize. It has nowhere been written that you are a traitor if you love another country next to your own.

Just like it is not a sign of betrayal if you try to fit in a society you chose to live in, speak the language and get along fine with the residents there. Just like it is not a sign of betrayal if you choose to excel in another land, be useful to a social group catering not only to people of your country or carry a different passport to pursue your dreams.

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I hear many people say they love their country all the time. I read many people even write that in their statuses in social networking sites. But I wonder how many of them has really done something about this love. They are ready to wage war with other cultures most of the time because theirs is supposedly better and brighter. But their country cannot even count on them during national elections. Love is not less of a feeling just because you do not publicize it. It is good to hear a man say he loves his country but is it not more of a statement if you see it in the way he lives his life?

If we only measure our love of country by cooking and eating only local food, being friends with only our fellowman and speaking only our mother tongue, are we not ridiculing patriotism? If you say you love your country but also say you are much demoralized to take part in governance, to mean lazy to do so, does that not amount to lying?

Seeing the negatives next to the positives of what or whom you love does not mean that love is less. That only means that love is stronger and true, but not blind. Speaking a language next to your own is not a sign of betrayal. Even our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who was famous for his words, ¨Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa mabaho at malansang isda (A man who does not love his own language is worse than a rotten fish)¨ was a polyglot, conversational in at least 10 languages. He wrote his novels in Spanish and exchanged correspondences with Ferdinand Blumentritt in German. He was linked with women from different parts of the world. I suppose he woed them in their own languages. But of course, if you are a patriot, I assume, you know this fact. Even at the time, what Rizal had in mind was getting the message across, effectively. And just like what a friend wrote, ¨how can you endorse?¨

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Yes, let it be known, that I love the Philippines. The land where I was born in and where my family still lives. But I do not have to bleed to prove that. I prefer to show my love by doing my share in times of crisis and participating in governance, in trying not to disgrace her and in promoting her to present and future visitors. You will still not hear me say that it is the greatest country in the world though, or the Filipinos, the brightest race. Because I do not believe that our abilities should be dictated by where we came from. I try, as much as possible, to shy away from generalizations. Besides, this superiority complex between and among nations has only caused the world division, wars and a holocaust.

I dare not question who loves his or her country more or less. But I certainly take offense if my own affections are looked down upon. And so I pose this question: if one man verbalizes his love for his wife every second of the day but turns her into a slave and even lies to her and another man does not say it all the time but is faithful and does not make his wife toil, who has true love in his heart? #