HomeCommentaryI make my own rainbows

I make my own rainbows

These symbols of hope are around us, present and constantly assuring us that all is not lost in spite of the bigger aggressive and ruthless opponents

Did you know that you can make your own rainbows? Yes, I create my own rainbows. Not hypothetical, abstract, conjectural or symbolic rainbows, as in a vow, a promise, or hope but a rainbow as in an “arc of a circle exhibiting in concentric bands the several colors of the spectrum and formed opposite the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun’s rays in drops of rain.” In short, plain and simple rainbows.

The other day, after a few days of no rain, the plants we were able to salvage after typhoon Karding (international name: Noru) and transferred to new pots needed watering. Using an old hose without a nozzle which needed to be aided by my thumb to control the flow and direction of the water, memories suddenly flashed back.

I remember how in 1998 I would water the grass and the plants using a hose, when I discovered how to make rainbows. The morning was as sunny and fresh as mornings should be, I was in a playful mood and instead of just directly aiming the hose at the grass, I pointed it upward in a sweeping manner so that the water would fall as gently as possible. With the soft wind carrying some of the droplets my way, I enjoyed the refreshing sensation of the droplets as they fell on my cheeks and slid down my face. Then I saw it, a rainbow, but only briefly. I trained the hose in the same direction at the same angle, I saw it again. I aimed the hose higher, this time I saw a bigger rainbow, then I held it at a lower angle, the rainbow became smaller.

It was a fun-filled play-experiment enjoyed by a 55 year old woman. Finally I drew my conclusion, yes, I can make my own rainbows.

But rainbows can be made only when certain conditions are present. Musts are sunlight and water. The water must fall at a certain pace, in tiny, even microscopic droplets, not too fast nor too slow. Then one’s back must be toward the sun. This sounds easy but when you have to use your thumb to control the water, it is difficult to maintain an even pressure because your thumb would grow numb and you would have to change its position every minute or so. It was while shifting my thumb that I discovered that the size of the arc could be lengthened or shortened by pointing the hose either upward or downward. And by twisting my wrist I could create a quarter, a half, or a full rainbow. The area covered by the fan-like fall of the water would determine the size of the rainbow.

Trying to recreate the childlike pleasure, and finding an excuse to indulge myself, I watered the plants this morning. While changing the pressure of the water from strong to weak, then weak to strong, I thought I saw two rainbows. So I adjusted the pressure and the angle and indeed I saw two rainbows, a small one under a bigger one. And when I adjusted the pressure further to create a bigger water fan there were more than two rainbows. I changed my position, changed the angle of the hose, adjusted the pressure, moved from one place to another, then back to where I originally stood, the rainbows would always be in the same place with the same size. Ergo, the rainbows remain where they are. They do not leave, they may not be visible to one’s eye especially when one of the elements is inadequate.

An aunt, a multi-awarded scientist, disagrees. She says rainbows can be rainbows only when the arc of colors is seen, much like a sound is sound only when it is heard. Thank God I am not a scientist and I choose to believe that rainbows are there and that the earth is covered by small, medium and big bends of kaleidoscope of colors and they envelope the earth all at the same time in graduated sizes, in some kind of infinity succession of colors.

A rainbow forms over the Ulu Baram rainforest in the Miri interior, eastern Malaysian Borneo state of Sarawak. (AFP photo)
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As rainbows are symbols of hope, this belief about rainbows being present all of the time, though unseen, can be translated to symbols of hope being existent in the terrain now.

All we have to do is look and we realize that they are nearby. The big and small rainbows all around us, doing all they can within their capacity, to remember, and never forget the memories of martial law in the Philippines.

These symbols of hope are around us, present and constantly assuring us that all is not lost in spite of the bigger aggressive and ruthless opponents.

In the many activities held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law and today’s effort to fight historical revisionism and the spread of fake news, I have met many young people trying to do what they can to counter this.

There is Bernardine, a 23 year old granddaughter whose grandfather’s newspaper was sequestered. She now writes incisive articles with her mentor about the whys of current issues plaguing Philippine society. Not content with just reading what is posted on social media, she digs deeper into the issue, investigates, draws out the real truth and shares this truth.

There is Karl, and his group, all very young students who are on top of Project Gunita, digitizing all the materials that they can get their hands on to preserve the memories of martial law.

There is Maegan and her sister Maia whose grandparents were incarcerated during martial law, who are very active in creative initiatives, one of which is called “Tara Let’s Bagets,” where the young are encouraged to share the memories of their parents or grandparents during martial law.

There is Ange who does not have second thoughts about sharing how her parents were incarcerated, tortured and killed during martial law. An effective speaker, she is now a member of an NGO securing rare books and publications on martial law.

There is Bryan who gets the message across through the theater. Unwavering in his commitment to support the cause of “Never Again, Never Forget” martial law, he devotes his time to various projects for the cause.

There is Inday of Save our Schools Network, just about 17 years old, who fearlessly talks about the story of the Indigenous People’s struggle during martial law and how the IPs fought the dictatorship.

There is no way we can describe the admiration we have for them. Or how amazed we are at the extent of work they were doing and the dedication they exhibited.

We cannot name all the young people doing what they can just as there is no way we can see the splendor of layers of rainbows covering the earth or identifying the young who are committed to preserving the memory of the horrors of martial law, but the knowledge that they are there all of the time, can quench our quest for proofs of hope.

Edita Burgos is a doctor of education and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.

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