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On Filipino Identity

delotavo's diaspora

delotavo's diaspora

I read a column on the Star about urging we Filipinos to understand our culture and make use of anything good from it for national development.  The point was actually simple: learn where your stance, look at the rest of the world and move out to prove your worth. This has  triggered me to post what I had written before in UP. Though this is just an excerpt of the whole article , it nevertheless bears the core content of my idea.

The Filipinos have become a legend the world over. So they say. They are known to be the happiest people in the world; the primary factor being their knack of finding something to be cheerful about in the midst of adversity, crisis, even in suffering. Pop psychology, culled from the various religious schemes from cultures around the world, have often pointed out that happiness is either: an acceptance of one’s present lot, shared in comity with the rest of human kind or the Aristotlean notion of happiness being the perfection of one’s capabilities by its practice and fulfillment. Which of these is the Filipino’s?

Analyzing recent pop icons of Filipino ascent [Manny Pacquiao, Filipino OFW’s, Pinay internet hetairas], it is clear that the cheerfulness that Filipinos have been famous for is intricately connected with roots of extreme poverty. Destitution is the motivation; the dream: a better life somewhere. There are necessary elements for a typical Filipino success story: A penniless childhood, devoted but poor parents working to make ends meet, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity propelled by heroic self sacrifice and fervent prayers to the Divine, leading to sweet happy endings of riches and infamy and becoming a household name that in turn will inspire thousands to reach for the stars. Filipinos have to work harder, one lifetime at a time, to achieve a state of existence that people at the other end of the world have only to work for in two hours stops, only to waste it away on boredom and marital, middle-life crises. But then, the same is true with every third world country. That Filipinos seem to have a good time through is beyond logic. That Filipinos could make jokes as they row through seven-feet high monsoon floods or still be the texting capital of the world despite an oceans-wide gap between the rich and the poor baffle, amaze and annoy most foreigners. What is their secret? they ask. How do Filipinos do it?

When other countries have become so well off that even Chinese toddlers already have laptops and a teenager from Notting Hill, London can buy a cappuccino that costs as much as two days’ wages for an average Filipino worker, why is it that Filipinos can still laugh so heartily as they lose their homes to monsoon floods or even make jokes about their own situations or feel almost nothing at the way their politicians have, time and time again, not only worsened the economic situation of the Philippines but have almost criminally debunked the hopes and dreams of those who have voted them because they precisely promised the opposite, even invoking the power of the Divine? It could not be that Filipinos are stupid: the country has had its fair share of intellectuals and history glitters with the achievements of these admirable men and women who have brought enlightenment and progress to the country. A very priceless commodity in the Philippine market today is manpower: individuals who have been schooled into skills and knowledge necessary to keep the cogs of the national economy from breaking down. It could also not be a political immaturity, for there was a time when the Filipinos, in one glorious exhibition of bravery and unity, brought down a dictator and ushered in a future pregnant with possibilities for a better society. The problem was, and it exists to this very day, nobody ever knew how to make those dreams of prosperity a reality. The country had to open its doors to the outside world and seek its answers there.

With the tsunami of foreign capitalism and its inevitable cultural ramifications, the Filipino barely had a chance to recover its breath, look around, analyze what has just happened, formulate answers derived from his own experiences of what had gone wrong with the system in which he was placed. Nay, the world was simply too fast for him. It could be that the cultural enslavement that has crippled the Filipino from the earliest stages of colonial rule up to now, more than a hundred years after its end, has not yet been overcome. We are enslaved by a poverty of identity. It is a hard reality that many Filipinos have less in life and suffer for it: no amount of policy or law can ever conceal that. It is also true that this has been the situation for hundreds of years, and many more. It is time to break from the prototype of how a Filipino is perceived by the international community.

Yes, they are happy, but it shouldn’t be because they accept their lot on life and suffer cheerfully. It shouldn’t be that the happiness Filipinos are known for should come from the fulfillment they feel from having sacrificed so much working abroad and in God-knows-where-else just to provide a better life for their loved ones. This is not how a Filipino should end up. Precisely, this cultural mechanism is being used to educate future generations of what progress should be, when what they need is a Cultural renaissance where the worth of the Filipino is not in how much he is willing to sacrifice in a foreign shore, but in how he can give so much of himself in his own land, for his own country, within the reach of his loved ones, and within the bosom of his own native home. The State should provide more opportunities for progress by utilizing its own resources, by feeding its own people, by fostering its own opportunities for growth not from foreign gold, but from what the people themselves can give: through a decreased export of manpower, through a better system of managing local assets and turning them into capital for the profit of its own native users. These, in the long run, lay the foundations of basic material stability and constant economic growth needed for a cultural system closer to the experiences and values of Filipino life. These are necessary for the establishment of a Filipino’s sense of being. These are the foundations of a true Filipino identity. By localizing Filipino pride with opportunities for economic prosperity closer to home and more grounded on native comity, the State will pave a way for a stronger, happier nation.

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  1. October 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    ai napala scholarly naman. nahiya ako hehe. kasi magpopost din ako sana… haha

  2. inksdot
    October 20, 2008 at 3:57 am

    haha…hindi naman..ako dapat mahiya sa yo kasi ang galing2x mo talaga. idol kita, you know! hehehe

  3. October 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    bisan pigado, sadya man gihapon. amo na ang ginakahidlawan ko dira sa pinas…

  4. inksdot
    October 24, 2008 at 9:59 am

    hi kwan, thanks for dropping by ..i enjoy reading your blogs too..karay-a gid tana.hehehe

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