Two notable but related events rocked my world this past week.
The first was finally getting to watch Hamilton the musical on Disney Plus. This groundbreaking musical by Lin Manuel Miranda about the guy on the US 10 dollar bill, United States’ founding father Alexander Hamilton is something my 12-year-old daughter had been fan-girling over for years and when the movie version was finally released on Disney Plus early July, this dad moved heaven and earth to get access to it.
Since the Philippines does not have access to the subscription streaming service yet, we begged, stole and borrowed from friends and relatives who were Disney Plus users in the US and enrolled in a VPN so we could log in and view the hit musical my daughter had been dreaming of.
My daughter regularly played Hamilton songs in our car so we were all familiar with the music and the musical. We have also penciled it in our family bucket list but the release of the movie suddenly made it more accessible so we took the chance to watch it. Over the past couple of weeks since it was released, we’ve seen it three times as a family, the last time with subtitles turned on so we can catch up with and understand the lyrics of the rapid fire rapping.
For those who haven’t seen Hamilton, I would highly recommend it. There is a reason why it is an award-winning musical, having won a bucketful of Tonys, a Grammy, and even a Pulitzer Prize. It was honestly jaw-dropping how the writers, producers and performers made the life of an obscure historical figure so catchy and interesting using R&B, hip-hop and rap. Those who have friends or relatives with Disney Plus access and the tech savvy to wrangle with VPN settings should not waste this shot to see it. Hopefully when Disney Plus makes it to our country, Hamilton will also be available.
In a nutshell, Hamilton: An American Musical is a musical theatre production that tells the story of obscure American founding father Alexander Hamilton. It covers his ascent from poverty to power, becoming his country’s first Secretary of Treasury and his contributions to the US Constitution. This seemingly boring topic was made into a hit musical that became so popular that tickets allegedly sold for up to $10,000 per pop during Lin Manuel Miranda’s final theatre performance as Alexander Hamilton in July 2016.
What made Hamilton even more relevant these days is the musical was set during the American Revolution, when they were fighting for independence from the United Kingdom and struggling to build their fledgling country after having won their freedom. Watching how people lived, bled and died for the concept of freedom and a country they can call their own hit hard if you are a Filipino acutely aware of what is happening to our country these days.
Aside from the catchy tunes and superb choreography, Hamilton gave me an intense appreciation of all the hard work the founding fathers of any nation went through. Despite all their foibles, they tried their best to give us a system that can stand the test of time and even survive terrible leaders determined to destroy everything a country is supposed to stand for.
If there was one song that hit me hardest, it was “Dear Theodosia” that was sung by Alexander Hamilton and his rival Aaron Burr to their respective children.
The important part goes like this (emphasis mine):
Dear Theodosia, what to say to you?
You have my eyes. You have your mother’s name
When you came into the world, you cried and it broke my heart
I’m dedicating every day to you
Domestic life was never quite my style
When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart
You will come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away…
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr basically sing the same theme to their kids: Theodosia and Philip. Both men were willing to bleed and fight, make their nation right. They wanted to lay a strong enough foundation for the country they will pass on. They ached to give the world to their kids, who can blow us all away. Someday.
Listening to that song as a parent these days was heart rending. Nobody is willing to bleed and fight to make our nation right anymore. Our nation’s foundations are being rocked and nobody cares. People’s loyalty lay with personalities and their vested interests and not the country’s future. If we continue to do nothing and refuse to take sides, as Burr did throughout the musical, opting to always “wait for it” instead of acting immediately, like Hamilton; at the rate and direction our country is going there will be absolutely nothing right left to pass to our kids.
The way things are going, instead of our kids blowing us all away someday; our country’s foundation is already being blown apart right now and we are all guilty of being afraid or willfully ignorant so we do nothing but watch from the sidelines.
I felt that way because of the other notable thing that rocked my world this week. Our so-called public officials executed ABS CBN last Friday, in one fell swoop dealing a mortal blow to press freedom and access to non-propaganda information to millions of Filipinos and at the same time depriving 11,000 employees all over the country of livelihood during a time of economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that our government has utterly failed to contain.
Our founding fathers who built our nation, hoping to build a strong enough foundation would be mortified at our government official’s acts and decisions these days. We should be horrified and outraged.
As long as most of us continue to wait for it, wait for it…. while our country is being blown apart, our kids will never be able to blow us all away because they’ll be too busy fixing what we allowed to be utterly destroyed with our self-interest, fear and apathy.
If you come to think of it, our generation deserves everything that is happening to our country. Unfortunately for our kids don’t. Are we, like our current government, leaving them to fend for their own when their time comes?*