IN THE poem, “‘Di Na Tayo Umiibig Tulad Noon” by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, the speaker laments the dying art of wholehearted love, saying that we do not love as we have before because our hearts have become mechanical, unloving, and insincere.

The poem comes to mind because of the sad reality it brings about the prospect of love in the modern era. Technology has become the ruin of something as divine as love. In the poem, the speaker is seemingly disgusted by the fact that love has been limited—promises are made on paper, letters always have carbon copies, kisses are planted little by little as investments, and endearing words are now only whispered behind the dingy facades of motels.

Love has become a commodity in our hands, it has to be tangible, it has to be economical and it has to be capitalist. If it cannot be held or felt through the skin, it is deemed sublime. If it cannot be seen with the human eye, it is considered a hallucination. If there is no profit in the act, it is considered a loss and is not worth keeping. It seems as if in this time of technology—instant answers, 140-word thoughts, and egotistical selfies—we have lost touch with what it takes to love.

Perhaps with the proliferation of social media and the ability to sell oneself through a Facebook page or an Instagram account, people have come to believe that the world only exists for themselves; the heightened awareness of the self turns the people of this generation into vainglorious men and women. We are too busy thinking about how we look in other people’s eyes that we have forgotten to think dearly about other people.

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All want to be heard but no one wants to listen.

Maybe it is because of this self-consciousness that people cannot love properly. Is it possible that in this time of the glorified selfie that a person can still make room in the frame for one more? Where does the Other fit in one’s bloated ego?

We keep cramping our emotions for it to be able to fit into our capitalist culture. It needs to be stacked into neat piles before being handed over to someone worthy (more accurately “worth it”).

We will not love until we see something we want to possess in the Other. The self has been inserted into the act of love thus rendering it useless and aimless for real love, in its truest nature is self-less.

Perhaps Almario was right. We have become the poor sobs he referred to in his poem. Our hearts now beep and whirr away in a synthetic fashion as the plastic and motorized things of this era do—a far cry from the organic drum beats our hearts should resound.

And with Valentines now a wink away, what have we to give to those we claim we love?

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