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Panama: November, A Month of National Celebration

Stars and Quarters. Image by Laura, Flickr user photine used under an Attribution non-Commercial-non Derivs 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.

November is the month when Panamanians celebrate important moments of their history, specifically on the 3, 4, 5, 10 and 28th. To honor these days, the country get dressed in red, white and blue; the drums sound in the streets and the mornings wake up to the rhythm of the Dianas [es] – music traditionally performed at dawn by bands from schools and fire departments. At the same time, Panamanian bloggers also share their feelings and love for the country, their vision about their identity, and what it means to build the nation.

Contrapunto [es] is a very active Panamanian blog and its authors have dedicated many of their November entries to these celebrations. Starting on November 3rd, when the separation from Colombia is celebrated, Ariel Moreno -a Global Voices author- shares how this is a part of the Panamanian history that is a little bit blurry; as in all history, it has two points of view, in this case the Panamanian and the Colombian. Ariel highlights that 107 years later, Panamanians celebrate:
la oportunidad que tenemos de ser un país independiente, una nación joven que lentamente sigue forjando su futuro. Ojala que dentro de ciento siete años más el porvenir haya dejado de ser una palabra para los eslóganes de campaña política y sea una realidad y podamos ver hacía nuestra historia con la frente en alto porque hemos justificado nuestra razón de ser un país, nuestra razón de ser Panamá.

the opportunity that we have of being an independent country, a young nation that slowly continues to build its future. Hopefully within another one hundred and seven years the future has stopped being a word for political campaign slogans and instead it becomes a reality and that we can look at our history with our head high because we have justified our reason to be a country, our reason to be Panama.

From the interior of the country, Milciades Pinzón Rodríguez, in his blog Sociología de Azuero [es], writes that since its early days two countries were being forged inside one Panama:

De una parte el Panamá Transitista que respondía a interés foráneos, expresado en el eje colonial de Nombre de Dios-Portobelo-Panamá y, esa otra parte que por algún motivo se denominó el Interior Panameño; vale decir, las circunscripciones administrativas ubicadas al oeste de la Ciudad de Panamá, a las que debemos añadir, el Darién histórico, hacia el este.

Plantear la situación ístmica de esta manera supone reconocer implícitamente la existencia de dos mentalidades. La una mercurial, directamente dependiente de la economía mundial y, la otra, menos cosmopolita, más rural y forjadora del alma cultural del panameño; la que tendrá que cargar con la cultura nacional, material e inmaterial, que a la postre forjará la panameñidad.

On one side is the Transitory Panama which responded to foreign interests, represented by the colonial center of Nombre de Dios-Portobelo-Panama and, the other side which for some reason was called the Panamanian Interior; in this respect, we should mention the administrative regions located to the west of Panama City, to which we should add, the historic Darien, to the east.

To explain the isthmic situation in this manner comprises the acknowledgment of the existence of two mentalities. One mercurial, directly linked to the worldwide economy and, the other, less cosmopolitan, more rural and the forger of the Panamanian cultural soul; the one that would have to carry on the national culture, material and immaterial, which at the end will forge the Panamanian identity.

The author makes reference to Panamanian history to describe the differences between the Transitory Panama and the Interior of the country, as well as to explain how this duality and the mix of cultures and interests have formed the current Panamanians and their challenges.

Last year, Yohel Amat from the blog Así es mi País [es], also shared his feelings about these celebrations and how the meaning of what is the motherland changes with the years:

Solamente el paso del tiempo y la madurez que viene con él me han enseñado que la Patria es algo más que cantar el Himno los Lunes en el patio del colegio.

La Patria es ese sentimiento de pertenencia; de arraigo; de satisfacción de saber que no vagamos cual seres ingrávidos por el éter, a diferencia de muchos que han tenido que abandonar la tierra que los vio nacer.

Only the passage of time and the maturity that comes with it have taught me that the Motherland is something more than just singing the national anthem on Mondays at the school.

The Motherland is that feeling of belonging; of rooting; of satisfaction for knowing that we are not like lonely souls in the ether, different to many who have had to leave the land where they were born.

Yohel goes on and lists those elements, which in his opinion, represent what the Motherland is: beside that feeling of belonging, he includes that the Motherland is our children, our responsibility to the environment, our human capacity to overcome obstacles and still contribute to the country, it is the love from our mother and our consideration toward others, among other things.

Some bloggers also use literary resources to refer to those things that make Panama a special place. Nelva Arauz Reyes, from the blog Escritores de la Libertad [es], writes about a legend, where the architect of the world gave to the country its particular characteristics:

El ingenio del arquitecto no tuvo límites y creó todo lo necesario para que aquel lugar fuera realmente privilegiado y gozara de un toque de magia que pudiese enamorar a todo aquel que pisara su suelo, de modo que existieran no una, sino muchas razones para que quien lo conociera lo llevara siempre en su memoria y quien naciera allí no le quedaran ganas de irse.

The ingeniousness of the architect had no limits and created everything that was necessary to make that place a really privileged one and to enjoy a touch of magic that could enchant all those who step in its soil, so there was no one, but many reasons to carry it in the memory and for those who were born there, to never have desire to leave.

Panama has definitely been in Panamanian's thoughts during these days. Each one with their own style and concerns, acknowledges the good things as well as the weaknesses of the country, but the one common point is that they care about what has been, what is and mainly what will be the future of Panama.

In Contrapunto [es], Ariel wrote:

Creo que el verdadero patriotismo radica en reconocer el balance que hace a mi país ser mi país. No es su perfección, no son sólo las cosas buenas, son también aquellas cosas que nos molestan e inclusive la que nos avergüenzan.

I believe that the roots of real patriotism are in acknowledging the balance that makes my country be my country. It is not its perfection, neither only the good things, but also those things that bother us and even those that embarrass us.

In Así es mi País [es] Yohel Amat expresses with singular pride what is maybe the feeling of many about their own land:

Patria es nunca perder ese sentimiento de que hemos venido a éste mundo a cumplir un propósito; a llenar un vacío; a cumplir con una misión, pero siempre sin olvidar y sin dejar de agradecer el privilegio de haber nacido en la tierra mas hermosa de nuestro planeta: ¡Panamá!

Motherland is to never lose that feeling that we have come to this world with a purpose; to fill a gap; to fulfill a mission, but always without forgetting and being thankful for the privilege of being born in the most beautiful place in the planet: Panama!

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