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    Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if it is the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.” – The New Frontier  by Khalil Gibran

    This statement appeared in an article written by Gibran in Arabic, over eighty years ago. Yet I find it so contemporary particularly for my country  in its preparation for the coming May 14, 2007  legislative  and local elections.  I am sad and angry by how our  political situation is going on but I am not going to bore you by  writing  about these problems.

    I would like to share the full text of Khalil Gibran’s New Frontier as part of my yearning desire to ask each politicians who are governing my country and those who are aspiring to govern or corrupt it; to ask each Filipinos and myself what are we doing for our country and countrymen; and going further,  to ask each world  leaders  to question themselves: what are they doing to this world.

    To completely immersed in this article written by one of my favorite writers, you can try to substitute “Middle East” to whatever country you belong to, like in my case: Philippines.

    Here it is…

    There are in the Middle East today two challenging ideas: old and new. The old ideas will vanish because they are weak and exhausted. There is in the Middle East an awakening that defies slumber. This awakening will conquer because the sun is its leader and the dawn is its army.

    In the fields of the Middle East, which have been a large burial ground, stand the youth of Spring calling the occupants of the Sepulchres to rise and march toward the new frontiers. When the Spring sings its hymns the dead of the winter rise, shed their shrouds and march forward.

    There is on the horizon of the Middle East a new awakening; it is growing and expanding; it is reaching and engulfing all sensitive, intelligent souls; it is penetrating and gaining all the sympathy of noble hearts.

    The Middle East, today, has two masters. One is deciding, ordering, being obeyed; but he is at the point of death. But the other one is silent in his conformity to law and order, calmly awaiting justice; he is a powerful giant who knows his own strength, confident in his existence and a believer in his destiny.

    There are today, in the Middle East, two men: one of the past and one of the future. Which one are you? Come close, let me look at you and let me be assured by your appearance and your conduct if you are one of those coming into the light or going into the darkness.

    Come and tell me who and what are you.

    Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; is the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.

    Are you a merchant utilizing the need of society for the necessities of life, for monopoly and exorbitant profit? Or a sincere, hard-working and diligent man facilitating the exchange between the weaver and the farmer? Are you charging a reasonable profit as a middleman between supply and demand? If you are the first, then you are a criminal whether you live in a palace or a prison. If you are the second, then you are a charitable man whether you are thanked or denounced by people.

    Are you a religious leader, weaving for your body a gown out of the ignorance of the people, fashioning a crown out of the simplicity of their hearts and pretending to hate the devil merely to live upon his income? Or are you a devout and a pious man who sees in the piety of the individual the foundation for a progressive nation, and who can see through a profound search in the depth of his own soul a ladder to the eternal soul that directs the world? If you are the first, then you are a heretic, a disbeliever in God even if you fast by day and pray by night. If you are the second, then you are a violet in the garden of truth even though its fragrance is lost upon the nostrils of humanity or whether its aroma rises into that rare air where the fragrance of flowers is preserved.

    Are you a newspaperman who sells his idea and principle in the slave market, who lives on the misery of people like a buzzard which descends only upon a decaying carcass? Or are you a teacher on the platform of the city gathering experience from life and presenting it to the people as sermons you have learned? If you are the first, then you are a sore and an ulcer. If you are the second, then you are a balsam and a medicine.

    Are you a governor who denigrates himself before those who appoint him and denigrates those whom he is to govern, who never raises a hand unless it is to reach into pockets and who does not take a step unless it is for greed? Or are you a faithful servant who serves only the welfare of the people? If you are the first, then you are as a tare in the threshing floor of the nations; and if the second, then you are a blessing upon its granaries.

    Are you a husband who allows for himself what he disallows for his wife, living in abandonment with the key of her prison in his boots, gorging himself with his favourite food while she sits, by herself, before an empty dish? Or are you a companion, taking no action except hand in hand, nor doing anything unless she gives her thoughts and opinions, and sharing with her your happiness and success? If you are the first, then you are a remnant of a tribe which, still dressing in the skins of animals, vanished long before leaving the caves; and if you are the second, then you are a leader in a nation moving in the dawn toward the light of justice and wisdom.

    Are you a searching writer full of self-admiration, keeping his head in the valley of a dusty past, where the ages discarded the remnant of its clothes and useless ideas? Or are you a clear thinker examining what is good and useful for society and spending your life in building what is useful and destroying what is harmful? If you are the first, then you are feeble and stupid, and if you are the second, then you are bread for the hungry and water for the thirsty.

    Are you a poet, who plays the tambourine at the doors of emirs, or the one who throws the flowers during weddings and who walks in processions with a sponge full of warm water in his mouth, a sponge to be pressed by his tongue and lips as soon as he reaches the cemetery? Or have you a gift which God has placed in your hands on which to play heavenly melodies which draw our hearts toward the beautiful in life? If you are the first, then you are a juggler who evokes in our soul that which is contrary to what you intend. If you are the second, then you are love in our hearts and a vision in our minds.

    In the Middle East there are two processions: One procession is of old people waling with bent backs, supported with bent canes; they are out of breath though their path is downhill.

    The other is a procession of young men, running as if on winged feet, and jubilant as with musical strings in their throats, surmounting obstacles as if there were magnets drawing them up on the mountainside and magic enchanting their hearts.

    Which are you and in which procession do you move?

    Ask yourself and meditate in the still of the night; find if you are a slave of yesterday or free for the morrow.

    I tell you that the children of yesteryears are walking in the funeral of the era that they created for themselves. They are pulling a rotted rope that might break soon and cause them to drop into a forgotten abyss. I say that they are living in homes with weak foundations; as the storm blows — and it is about to blow — their homes will fall upon their heads and thus become their tombs. I say that all their thoughts, their sayings, their quarrels, their compositions, their books and all their work are nothing but chains dragging them because they are too weak to pull the load.

    But the children of tomorrow are the ones called by life, and the follow it with steady steps and heads high, they are the dawn of new frontiers, no smoke will veil their eyes and no jingle of chains will drown out their voices. They are few in number, but the difference is as between a grain of wheat and a stack of hay. No one knows them but they know each other. They are like the summits, which can see or hear each other — not like caves, which cannot hear or see. They are the seed dropped by the hand of God in the field, breaking through its pod and waving its sapling leaves before the face of the sun. It shall grow into a mighty tree, its root in the heart of the earth and its branches high in the sky.

    The New Frontier, 1925  – K.Gibran

    Khalil Gibran

    All work is empty save when there is love. When you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.” – Khalil Gibran

    My dear Philippines, where are you going now???

    My dear Filipinos, tell me who and what are you?? – Rosanna Sarte

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    Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it. – Christopher Morley

    It was raining when I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris yesterday. The custom official asked me “Vous avez- quelque chose   declarer ? Tous vins, spiritueux, cigares, parfums…” . I nervously presumed he was asking me: “Have you anything to declare? Any wines, spirits, cigars, perfumes…” I couragely blurted out the only french line I know: “Excusez-moi, Je ne parle pas francais! ” (Excuse me, I don’t speak french).

    Oh my God…I recall my first week in Italy. I felt like a trapped rat not knowing where to run to get my food. It was difficult to communicate so I decided to enroll in an Italian class.

    First day of class…

    I have never felt so intimidated in a class as I just did in my Italian class. From the moment my severe looking professor showed up, I knew I was in trouble. She was spewing Italian like a champ greeting everyone out in the hallway and I whispered to one of my classmates, “Are we supposed to understand this?”

     I was fine to introduce myself. I tried learning the basic conversations in italian beforehand.

    “Mi chiamo Ros (My name is Ros).”

    I remember that much at least, but when Professor Martini went around the classroom asking “Come va la vita?” (How’s life treating you?) well I was stumped… mostly I was just terrified at the fact that not only am I taking a class at 8,30 a.m. which is terribly early for me who rarely crawls into bed before 2 a.m., but also that this is a FOREIGN LANGUAGE class.

     Oh oh, I begun perspiring. I frantically tried to retrieve from my memory bank my Spanish in college as it has some similarities with Italian but all I could think about was Adios Patria Adorada, Noli Me Tangere (works of our national hero, Jose Rizal) and how I used to sit in class reading a love letter inside my spanish book. Luckily I received a high grade for Spanish but that was approximately one million years ago!

    I managed to make it through class with my sweating palms, nervously writing down all the words I didn’t understand and promising myself to study those first five chapters my Professor asked me to do. grr

    It’s good for me to feel dumb sometimes, keeps me in my place.


    Today, I learned 10 phrases in French …here are some examples with matching pronunciation:

    A. During candid conversation

    • 1. “Would you stop spitting on me while you’re talking!”

    “Voulez-vous cesser de me cracher dessus pendant que vous parlez!”

    (voo – lay voo se – say de me cra – shay de – su pen – dan que voo parl – ay)

    • 2. “Reality and you don’t get on, do they?”

    “Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n’est-ce pas?”

    (le ree – al – ee – tay eh twa voo ne voo zen – ten – day pah nes pah)

    B. On helping others

    • 3. “Stop bothering me!”

    “Parle à mon cul, ma tête est malade” (parl a mon cul, ma teht eh ma – lahd)

    • 4. “Do it yourself.”

    “Faites-le vous-même”  (fay – teh le voo mehm)

    C. Inside a restaurant…

    • 5. “This restaurant isn’t as good as Mc.Donald’

    “Ce restaurant n’est pas aussi bon que le Mc.Donalds’
    (se re – staw – ran neh pas o – si bon ke le mac don – alds)

    • 6. “How many of your customers have died?”

    “Combien de vos clients sont morts?” (com – byen de vo clee – ent sont moo – ree)

    D. Greetings

    • 7. “Haven’t the police found you yet?”

    “La police, ne t’a pas encore trouvé?”

    (la po – lees ne ta pa zen – cor troo – vay)

    • 8. “You’ve got a face that would blow off manhole covers”

    “T’as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d’egouts!”

    (ta zoon tait a fair saw – teh leh plahk de – goo)

    E. Dealing with parents of children

    • 9. “Your children are very attractive. Are they adopted?”

    “Vos enfants sont très beaux. Ils sont adoptes?”

    (vo zen – fant son tray boh. Il sont a – dop – te)

    • 10. “My God your children are ugly!”

    “Mon Dieu, que vos enfants sont laids”

    (Mon dyer ke voe zen – fant son lay)

    By the way, don’t forget to speak french with your nose!


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