Months ago, a Visayan Facebook friend of mine wrote on his wall, saying “we are Visayans, first, then second Filipinos”.
My response to his perspective: I am a Tagalog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagalog second”. It is because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.
That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando, Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).
This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. If a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagalog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagalog comes last.